Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: relationships

Parenting Tip #4: Support Your Spouse

As my husband and I were discussing parenting (we often do) we realized that a large part of parenting is supporting your spouse. You may wonder “what does that have to do with parenting? Turns out it plays a large role.

There are many ways to show support to your spouse:

  1. Being there for big moments 
  2. Upholding the rules set by partner
  3. Recognizing when help is needed and giving it
  4. Being happy for each other’s successes.
  5. Listening to the problems/triumphs
  6. Bragging about spouse to others
  7. Touching:  a hand squeeze, a hug, a high-five

Parenting is a tough job.  It takes time, hard work, perseverance, patience, creativity, and divine help.   When you feel overloaded or alone, it’s hard to endure through the tough moments (yes, everyone has tough moments).  I’ve found that the only way to get through it is to have support.   Unless you are a single parent (a topic for another day), that support ought to come from your spouse.  

These moments of support are not time-consuming or costly. It can be as simple as Rosen 2011 1277walking in the door at night and giving your spouse a hug.  It might mean showing up to his or her presentation, performance, or work party. It could even be as easy as asking “What can I do for you today?”  One of the best ways to support your spouse is by continuing to “date” each other.  Taking the time to do fun things together allows you to remember why you got married in the first place.   Weekly dates keep the fires of romance burning and they help you remember that there is more to life than parenting!

Rosen 2011 1023

Over the years, my husband has given me tremendous support. When I held piano recitals, my husband would always be there early to hand out the programs—a huge show of support since it meant he had to leave work early.  He would also hand out treats after the recital, allowing me time to visit with the parents of my students.

But how does this help our parenting? Happy spouses make for happy parents. When you know your efforts are appreciated, or even noticed, you feel valued as a person. Feeling valued as a person allows you to focus on others—the kids—and not yourself.

Another part of being supportive is being willing to sit down together and come up with a parenting plan.  Although you can’t cover every possible circumstance, you can set some guidelines for yourselves that put you and your spouse on the same parenting page.  When parents take the time to do this, something wonderful happens.  The kids soon realize that their parents are a team.   The kids will not be able to manipulate or pit the parents against each other.  (If you don’t think kids do this, you don’t have kids yet!)  This is a big step in positive parenting! Even though kids express the idea that they wish they could pit one of you against the other, the truth is that if they know the parents are united, they feel secure and confident.

IMG_1766If your parenting feels disjointed, if you feel alone even though you have a spouse, if you need encouragement or recognition, now is the time to take your honey on a date, sit down somewhere, and discuss how you can support each other in ways that matter to the two of you.  Your kids will thank you for it later.   

 

Written by: Phyllis Rosen

Summer 2012 Issue

The Summer 2012 issue of Stance for the Family is now available! This issue covers important topics in education, relationships, death, and many more. The topics discussed are so important to our families, and the authors have presented the ideas beautifully. We hope you will find the information and inspiration you need to take a stance for your family, and for families everywhere.

The articles in this issue are

– An Unexpected Event
– A Sure Foundation: Coping with Infertility
– Does Father Know Best
– New Infants and Parental Relationships
– Taste the Bitter
– Engaging Family Literacy Practice
– Family Dinner
– My Brother’s Got a Bad Case of the Washingtons

We appreciate the time and effort the authors, editors, and designers have put forth to make this issue possible. We also thank our generous sponsors and donors. This issue is available to download by clicking on the image in the column on the right. To order a print version, please contact the editor at sftfjournal@gmail.com.

Realizing Love’s Loss

by Laura Nava

The cultural ideals set for love relationships between men and women appear beautiful and enticing. Thousands of books and movies portray the most exquisite romantic situations. Holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the pinnacle of all romantic holidays—Valentine’s Day—suggest the absolute importance of romantic love expressions in modern American society. While celebrating love for each other is wonderful in itself, false expectations and affectation of genuine love are a byproduct of the over-romancing tendencies within the culture. Obsession with these idealized romantic expectations, or romance addiction, and lack of consciousness deteriorate the ability to maintain authentic relationships. Solutions are available to those who choose to change—the addiction can be cured.

In her book Escape from Intimacy, Anne Shaef identifies the dangers of romance addiction. In short, romance addiction is a condition that compels the addict to crave romance and its accoutrements to unhealthy levels. A few of the symptoms found commonly in society include being in love with the idea of romance and moving from one “cause” to another. A cause according to Shaef means going above and beyond what is necessary in romantic scenarios. Moving from one cause to another leads directly into the final symptom of romance addiction—feeling disappointed simply because the setting is not romantic and dreamlike.1 In the end, the romance addict goes from one cause to the next in search of pity and praise but never feels satisfied. Normal life begins to lose its luster.

 In the classic film, A Brief Encounter by Noel Coward, the main character Laura exemplifies these manifestations of romance addiction at various points within the story.2 Laura allows herself to slide into an affair due to her lack-luster marriage and the romantic settings of her extramarital escapades. Near the end of the movie, she appears to break the spell that romance addiction has cast. This movie demonstrates a typical affair showing that romance addiction gradually leads to detrimental characteristics that may have lasting effects.

The highly problematic nature of romance addiction presents itself in low self-esteem, vagueness (i.e. playing games or being hot and cold), and the ability to create a sense of instant intimacy. These characteristics portray an elegant romantic relationship in movies or books, yet they are undesirable in a real and tangible relationship.3 Low self-esteem can create a person who fishes for compliments. The labels witty and coy mask undesirable vagueness. And let us not forget the love-at-first-sight encounters that are highly celebrated but rarely turn into lasting relationships.

As romance addiction progresses the ugliness of the disease shows itself in the destructive effect it has on a person’s love-relationships. Romance addicts are left with little or no moral substance for them to give in a real love relationship. This leads to the destruction of love relationships between the couple, friends, and family.4 Devaluing the opinions of loved ones and purposefully acting in opposition to them are both signs that an individual is losing touch with reality. The fruit of love includes the gift of yourself—or more specifically your self. Self is the innermost genuine portion of an individual. The cankering of the self, which occurs throughout the stages of love addiction disease, leads to the root of the issue—the inability to give deeply to the love relationship.

Love addiction can be cured through consciousness—being aware of how we affect one another. The gift of real love is manifest in day-to-day caring and sacrifice, not in a box of chocolates or a vase on holidays. The book We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert Johnson delves into the details of how men and women have come to a state of ignorance to self. The book shows that such ignorance creates significant personal and cultural dilemmas. In order to give of one’s self, a person must have the ability to understand and share what they have to offer.

Johnson also exposes the common practice of blaming other people in relationships and the unhealthy emotional environment it creates. “Usually, we blame other people for failing us; it doesn’t occur to us that perhaps it is we who need to change our own unconscious attitudes—the expectations and demands we impose on our relationships and on other people.”5 These unrealistic expectations justify unhappiness, oftentimes leading to the dissolution of a love relationship. Gaining an awareness of and taking responsibility for one’s self creates a more successful love pattern to follow than the romantic ideal of being saved from reality by one’s true love. Remember—every individual has a valid and valuable self to offer. As we come to know our own limitations we won’t set expectations of others that they can’t meet.

Romantic expectations tend to push out rational thinking, which undermines the process of recognizing self and relating to others as equals to our self. Consciousness of self becomes integral to finding and maintaining genuinely loving relationships. “Ultimately, the only enduring relationships will be between couples who consent to see each other as ordinary, imperfect people and who love each other without illusion and without inflated expectations.”6 As individuals, we set realistic expectations for ourselves and recognize our personal limitations. If this is acceptable for the individual self, the question to answer is: why would the same practice not suffice for someone who we profess to love? Deeply caring relationships cannot exist if we continually place divine expectations on regular human beings. As we reject the hero and love goddess fantasies, reality allows a practical version of love to exist.

Placing ourselves in the mindset of reality can result in change. As with any other addictions, the addiction of divine expectations must be identified, accepted, and proactively eradicated from daily life. This process is, and always will be, a hard thing to accomplish, yet it is where solutions flourish. One of the first steps to eradication is acknowledging that you have a problem. Awareness is the key to finding help. Sometimes help comes in the form of self-education and goal setting. In other cases, helping yourself means seeking professional, psychological intervention. Whether you choose the former, the latter, or somewhere in between—the outcome of a healthier outlook on love will be worth the work.

Love is an integral part of everyone’s lives. Actively partaking of its happy effects is contingent on the ability to take responsibility for self and allow others the same opportunity. The unrealistic expectations of romanticism reject the self and thereby create a negative environment where love will not survive. The skills to engage in genuine love do not come easily in our romantically charged society, but learning how to find the appropriate balance of romance is achievable. The first steps to the process of giving and receiving genuine love are recognizing and then rejecting the pervasive nature of romance and its demands. As a culture we love love. Let’s keep it alive by keeping it real.

Endnotes
1. Anne Wilson Schaef, Escape from Intimacy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989), 47.
2. Noel Coward, A Brief Encounter (Universal, 1946).
3. Schaef, Escape from Intimacy, 48.
4. Ibid., 49.
5. Robert A. Johnson, We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love (San Francisco, Harper and Row, 1983), xii.
6. Ibid, 110.


How to Get Your Kids to Listen without Reminding or Yelling

by Caitlin Schwanger

Amy McCready—Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions

I recently attended Amy McCready’s Positive Parenting Solutıons webinar “How to Get Your Kids to Listen without Reminding or Yelling.” During the meeting, McCready, parenting specialist and creator of Positive Parentıng Solutions, explained a few basic principles to guide parents in their discipline strategies. Everything got better, she explained, when she began using positive parenting solutions: her children’s behavior got better, and her attitude improved. McCready stated that her vision for parents is that they won’t be able to remember the last time they had to raise their voice to get their children to obey.

How is this possible? How can you get your children to listen the first time? How can you stop misbehavior in your home? In the webinar, McCready explained a few basic principles that will help you on your way to parenting peace.

First, we have to understand why children misbehave in the first place. Bad behavior is a symptom of a deeper problem. We have to understand the problem before we can correct the bad behavior. Children (and adults) have two basic needs: they need to feel like they belong and they need to feel significant.

Children need to feel like they belong, that they are important to you. Children need to feel emotionally connected to their parents, to their siblings, even to their teachers. Children need a lot of positive attention from you. If they aren’t getting enough of that attention, they may resort to negative behaviors to get your attention, even if it’s negative. If something they do gets you to give them the attention they need, they’ll keep repeating that behavior. So one solution to bad behavior is to make sure that your child’s “positive attention basket” is full.

Children need to feel significant, that they are capable, that they make a difference, that they contribute. Often, this translates to children having a need to feel power, that they are in control. So, find ways to help your children feel like they are contributing. Have them help around the house–let chores be a positive thing. Also, give your children age-appropriate positive power. When it is appropriate, let them feel like they have a choice, like they are in control.

In her book, If I Have to Tell You One More Time, McCready provides parents with a “toolbox” of strategies for disciplining children. One of the tools she explained during the webinar was the 5 Rs of Consequences.

 

The 5 Rs of Consequences
1. Respectful—you need to be respectful to your child and to yourself. If you can’t deal with the situation right away, wait until you can be calm, collected, and respectful.

2. Related to the misbehavior—Make sure the consequence is related to the behavior so the learning event can take place. For example, if your daughter back talks, you shouldn’t discipline her by grounding her from her sleepover.

3. Reasonable in duration—The discipline should be reasonable for the age of the child. McCready recommended taking a puzzle away from a three-year-old for a day and video game privileges away for a week for a teenager.

4. Revealed in advance—You must reveal the rule and the consequence in advance. This gives your child the opportunity to make the choice. This gives them power and control over the situation.

5. Repeat—Have the child repeat the rule back to you. You now know that your child understands the rule and the consequence, and you now have a verbal agreement.

 

Positive Parenting Solutions has over twenty-five other tools for parents to use with their children. Parents have access to these tools through Positive Parenting Solution’s parenting courses and through Amy McCready’s book. For more information, see Positive Parenting Solutions, or the book, If I Have to Tell You One More Time.

 

Camp To Belong

by Emily Smith

I couldn’t imagine a life without my siblings. Although they weren’t my best friends from my early stages of life, I have come to love and appreciate them for the people they are. Unfortunately, there are children who grow up without sibling support in foster homes across the United States. Lynn Price, a former foster child, has changed this for many children. In a New York Times article she stated, “I realized that my sister and I had no memories of when we were kids. There were no memories of birthday parties, sharing clothes, helping each other with homework, or talking about boys. I thought about the kids who will miss out on something that is so critical to their growth and feelings of unconditional love.”

Reading her account moved me to understand why she took action. My sister and I shared closets, stealing each other’s clothes; this often resulted in yelling at each other when we got home from school and had realized that one of us had taken the other’s favorite shirt and unwittingly spilled something on it. These confrontations were all part of the bonding experience; although we hated each other sometimes, we could not stop loving each other. The experience of growing up together usually ensures a lifelong connection of friendship between siblings.

To help establish that connection between siblings who aren’t able grow up together, Price founded “Camp To Belong” in 1995, which reunites siblings who have been separated in foster care. Statistics show that 75 percent of children placed in foster care are separated from their siblings. “Camp To Belong” is described as “an international non-profit organization dedicated to reuniting siblings placed in separate foster homes and other out-of-home care for events of fun, emotional empowerment and sibling connection.” There are currently nine of these camps that reunite foster siblings. During this week, siblings are able to get to know each other; they make crafts and are given gift cards to buy each other birthday presents. They also ask each other questions about favorite sports and hobbies.

Many of us are lucky enough that we don’t have to ask those questions. We are able to grow up with our siblings in the same household with our parents. For those who aren’t as fortunate, Lynn Price has created an amazing organization to benefit the relationships of siblings. Too often I take my siblings for granted; reading about “Camp to Belong” gave me perspective and a deeper gratitude for the experiences I shared with my siblings.

You can read Lynn Price’s autobiography here: http://www.lynnprice.com/biography.html

Or visit Camp to Belong’s official website: http://camptobelong.org/