Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The End Has Come

I just wanted to publish a closing post. It is the end of the semester and the class that this blog was for has ended. I'd like to say that I feel blessed to have had this opportunity to share my thoughts wit any of you who have been reading.
This class has taught me so much about so many things. I now feel like I'm slowly gaining a knowledge base from which I can draw insights that I can share with future clients. I feel like I may know what I 'm doing one day. This course has helped me see that I truly am passionate about this major and the things that I can offer to others by choosing an occupation in this field.
I want to give a little shout out to Brother Williams who has been an amazing teacher. He never failed to make a class interesting and fun. He never failed to bear his testimony of what he was teaching and I really appreciated that. He inspires me to try and be the best counselor I can be some day.

I hope to keep this blog running, but it may not be as consistent as it has been so far. But if I ever find something to share, I will try to make sure that it reaches you guys.
Thank you all for reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed it! :)

Aging in Marriage

I just wanted to give a short post about couples who have reached the empty nesting stage and have gone beyond it. When the children are raised and have left the home, the couple is left with each other. You may not be the same two people as when you married, and there is now a feeling of absence that wasn't there before. In some cases this change in the family dynamic can ruin a marriage. Some couples are just unable to recreate that bond and that intimacy without their children there. I just wanted to say that it's possible and that couples should do all they can to make sure they stay connected as they age.
There are so many ways that a couple can reestablish their intimacy together to something that is perhaps even better than that of when they were first married. There is a friendship there that can be rekindled and strengthened by going on dates and spending quality time together.
Maintaining love maps throughout marriage can be a great help because you will have then played a part in the changes your spouse has gone through over time. If you find that you did not maintain enough  of a love map through your marriage so far and you realize that your spouse has changed, all you have to do is start building it again. Couples who are now empty nesters need to make sure that they are getting to know each other again.
This stage in marriage can be a wonderful time for a couple that presents countless opportunities for adventure and independence. It's a time that may allow for travel, a time for grand children. It's a time for establishing a life that is 100% yours and your spouses.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is that when you get to this stage, don't give up if it doesn't feel right anymore. Work hard at creating a marriage with your spouse that you want to grow old in. That's the dream right? It can always happen.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Adoption, Abortion, Parenting. What is the right choice?

This week we had a discussion about unplanned pregnancy and what happens when this occur. In some cases, people will marry the father for the sake of the baby, some will adopt, but in today's world most will abort their pregnancy.
I will say right off the top that I do not support abortion for personal reasons and reasons that I hope to share with you today. If there are any non-LDS, pro-choice people out there, I hope you can read this with an open mind.
I would like to argue in this post that in these cases, choosing to parent/marry or abort the child may not be the best option. Adoption is an option that not only takes responsibility, but ensures that the child will be cared for and loved within the best means available.
In quite a few cases women will marry the father of the child and have that child together. This does take responsibility for that child and I am more than convinced that those who make this choice feel that they are doing what's best for this child. I am even more convinced that these people do the best they can to love and provide for them. However, in a lot of these cases the parents, or single mother (if you simply choose to parent) do not have the proper resources to raise that child. They are often uneducated, unprepared and financially deficient. Also, if there is no real bond between the parents, getting married will be a quick fix with long term consequences that will lead to heartache and regret. A marriage will not survive for the sake of the child alone. Adoption is the only way your child will be given the best opportunity to be raised with the best resources available.
Abortion is indeed an option. You do in fact have the agency to abort your child. I don't want to argue too much about when the life of child begins in the womb. But I will say this: Regardless of what your opinion/belief is about when that life begins, do you honestly know when it begins? What if it does in fact begin at conception but you have decided it doesn't? What if when it develops a heart beat, or starts looking like a baby it begins life, but you abort that child at the 19th week? You call it a baby once you know you're pregnant right? Doesn't a baby have life?
In my opinion, abortion does not take responsibility for what happened. It is the mother taking actions in order to act like it never happened. But it did. It is an attitude of denial. I would also like to point out that if you abort that child, you have prevented it from attaining the potential it would have had in life. You have either done it for convenience or you have done it because you feel that child will not have the best life. Well, how will you know what life they will have unless you give it an opportunity to live it?
Women everywhere that are pro-choice will say that they have the right to control their own body and should do what they feel like to it. They are absolutely right. But, didn't you choose what to do with your body when you chose to have intercourse? Even if you were protected and the protection failed, you made the choice and agreed to the risk of pregnancy when you chose to put your body through intercourse. Why is it the baby's fault.
I will get off my soap box on that now. I truly don't want to offend anyone who may be reading this.
Instead, I will move on to adoption, which I think is the best choice in many of these situations. Adoption not only takes responsibility for the pregnancy but it also provides that child with the opportunity to receive the fullest potential of life. It gives couples who are unable to have their own family a chance to love your little baby as much as they possibly can and provide for it the best possible means. It also gives you the chance to have a connection with that child if you choose without having to raise them. An abortion makes that impossible. You could get to see that child develop. At the very least you can give it a chance to.
Below is a chart listing the similarities and differences between adoption and abortion in order to support some of the things I have said:

Adoption vs. Abortion

You can pursue earlier goalsYou can pursue earlier goals
You can live independentlyYou can live independently
You will not have to parent prematurelyYou will not have to parent prematurely
You will avoid being forced into a hasty marriage or relationshipYou will avoid being forced into a hasty marriage or relationship
If you are a teenager, you can resume your youthful lifestyleIf you are a teenager you can resume your youthful lifestyle
NoteThere are no similarities between parenting and abortion. One important similarity between adoption and parenting is that you can give life to your child and watch your child grow up.
Your pregnancy ends with giving lifeYour pregnancy ends with death
You can feel good and positive about your choiceYou may feel guilt and shame about your choice
You will remember giving birthYou will remember taking a life
You will have plenty of time to plan you and your baby's futureAbortion is final; you can't go back on your decision
You can hold, name, and love your babyYou will never know or treasure your baby
You can have continued contact with your babyYou will miss the opportunity to see your child develop

Adoption is the best option in most cases and although it is a consequence of unplanned pregnancy, I think it is the biggest reward to live through the 9 months of pregnancy knowing that you gave a fertilized egg cell a chance to live a full life (just as you have) rather than the consequence of knowing you prevented one. 

Does a Woman Trade Her Head For a Mop?

This week there was a lot of discussion about whether or not an education is wasted on a homemaker. Throughout history there has always been heated debates about whether or not it is sexist to say that one of the most important jobs for a woman is homemaker. Many women will say that this is offensive, degrading and mind-numbing; others will say that there's not point in seeking higher education if you become one. I say that homemaking is a very important job for a woman and that higher education is not only used in this job, but is very valuable.
I would first like to argue the idea that becoming a homemaker is mind-numbing and of low-intellect. In doing so I will be quoting an article we read by Dennis Prager who believes that homemakers can easily be intellectually stimulating, possibly even more than those with paid jobs. He says that homemaking, "in the eyes of the dominant intellectual culture, [is] equivalent to advocating suppression of women [and that they]... because of patriarchy and other nefarious forces, have abandoned their minds to the lowest intellectual activity the human being can engage in." I personally think this is absurd as does Prager. I think that this ideal is what is offensive to the female sex rather than the homemaking itself. To say this suggests that a homemaker does nothing other than mindlessly do laundry and raise children (sometimes also husbands). But any homemaker out there can say that this isn't true.
Prager acknowledges that these activities aren't very intellectually stimulating, but he says this: "Any intellectually alive woman who is a full-time mother must therefore find intellectual stimulation elsewhere." This is more than possible for a homemaker and often times, the learning done this way can be more valuable than the intellectual stimulation people find in occupations. Full-time mothers everywhere can find this stimulation through talk radio, educational t.v. Prager, who is a host of a talk radio show says "The woman who listens to us regularly will know more about economics, politics, current events, world affairs, American history, and religion than a great majority of [people] who work full-time outside of the house." He goes on to say "there are also a myriad of opportunities to study outside the house - such as community college classes, book clubs, etc - and for volunteer work in intellectually more stimulating areas than most paid work." I mean think about it, lets say as a woman, you get a job as a secretary, or a nurse or an engineer. Sure, you become educated in your field, get a college degree that is limited to that field, talk to colleagues at lunch. But does it ever get more intellectually stimulating than that? When your job only calls for you to now how to do that job? A homemaker has the opportunity to continue to learn in any and every area she pleases and it can all be done while doing other things and with the help of family members. It's not about being equal to men and providing for your family.

Secondly, is the argument that an elite education is wasted on a homemaker.The article "A Woman's Education is not Wasted in the Home" does a great job of proving that it is not. Anne Maginnis asks "If a woman at home doesn't need an elite degree…does she need a college degree? A high school degree? At what point is a woman not worth educating at all?” An education teaches us values and practices, gives us character that we can then use in teaching our children. Getting an elite education allows us to provide our children with the best we can give. Erikson reinforces this by saying "A mother’s implementation of ordinary, daily practices of health and safety make her the central influence in preserving and nurturing life. A mother’s use of language in ordinary interactions expressing, explaining, and questioning make her the most significant influence in a child’s cognitive development. And a mother’s sensitivity and responsiveness to emotion make her the foundation of a child’s social-emotional strength. That is why her education matters so much." I am just a teenager, but I know that without my college education, even this far, I would have no political opinion whatsoever, no expanded knowledge of natural science, I wouldn't even have the same repertoire of hymns to share with my children. I owe my development as a person largely to BYU-I and I know that everything that I learn in my life contributes to who I am and therefore will influence my children because I will be influencing them. I want to be able to teach my children intelligent things, I want them to develop as best that they can and I know that college degree can only help me with that. Also, as a woman who may be a full-time homemaker for part of my life, I reserve the right to have that education for myself as well. Even if it doesn't contribute to my family, it contributes to me and that's what all of these strongly opinionated women are concerned about right? 

Personally, I want to have an occupation outside of the home, I will likely need to so that my spouse and I can sustain our home and family. But I know that homemaking is a very valuable position and that education is a major contributor to it. It is not wasted and homemaking doesn't have to be mind-numbing. 

If you wish to read the articles that have provided this information, here are the links:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Love Lab, The real keys to communication

         This week, in class, one of our assignments was to view a video clip about John Gottman's Love Lab. John Gottman is the country's leading expert on marriage and he has come up with some very important points about couple communication, particularly conflict resolution, that I feel are worth trying out in our marriages (current or future). Gottman suggests that communication itself is not the key to marriage as many therapists and experts would suggest, but is comprised a number of different factors. 
         The Love Lab provided "the most extensive and innovative research ever into marriage and divorce." It consisted of a room where the couples would move into for the day and go about their daily routines. The catch was that the whole time they were being monitored in their interactions. This was done not only through observation but sensors attached to the subjects measuring physical activities such as heart rate. At times, Dr Gottman would ask the couple to discuss an issue while in the lab, and he would watch for how they dealt with it and their reactions. Active listening has always been highly recommended among other things by therapists who work with couples but Gottman feels that "even happily married couples can have screaming matches-loud arguments don't necessarily harm a marriage... One of the most startling findings of our research is that most couples who have maintained happy marriages rarely do anything that even partly resembles active when they're upset." For Gottman, it goes far beyond these old-fashioned conventions and reaches into every aspect of a conversation.
        In conflict resolution, Gottman provides six signs that a marriage is going bad. They are 1) Harsh startup 2) The Four Horsemen 3) Flooding 4) Body language 5) Failed repair attempts 6) Bad Memories. One of the biggest out of all of these is the Four Horsemen. I would love to talk about all six of these, but that would be a reaaaallllllyyyy  long blog post. The Four Horsemen include criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. If your conflict resolution contains any of these, you could be in trouble and should seek to eliminate these from your marriage. These six things that Gottman mentioned are the real keys to communication because the affect every aspect of it, not just your ears or your eye contact but everything. If these things are in your life, you are not building a friendship with your spouse and you are not being emotionally intelligent. Friendship in this sense is "a mutual respect and enjoyment of each other's company" and the more "emotionally intelligent a couple-the better able they are to understand, honor, and respect each other and their marriage. This is the key to a happy marriage.

The information provided here is not from the video clip we watched but from John Gottman's book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work," chapter's 1 and 2.
It's a great book that I highly recommend. For even more reading you could read "Couple Communication 1: Collaborative Marriage Skills" by Phyllis Miler et al. This book provides more structured approach to communication that you could compare, contrast and combine with Gottman's theory. It too is a very good book.

Violence In Families

Hey everyone, so today I wanted to talk about a topic that can be very unpleasant for some, but is unfortunately an event that happens much more frequently than we would like to think.

       Violence and family do not go together when you hear them spoken out loud, but nonetheless it is present in the homes of many. This violence can range from child abuse, spousal abuse, emotional, physical, verbal, sexual - they all fit under this category. I would like to discuss the statistics on abuse in families, but then I would like to argue that in the cases of reuniting an abusive family member in to a family, there is hope. 
        For the purposes of narrowing the information, I want to focus on the sexual abuse of women and children. For women, "Quebec, Canada, found that 6.1% of women were physically abused and 6.8% were sexually abused. And a United Nations report concluded that at least 1 out of every 3 women in the world will experience physical or sexual abuse during their lifetimes" (Lauer, p.294). As for children, there are thousands of abuse cases that are substantiated every year, 9.5% of them being sexual abuse cases (p.294). These numbers are staggering for our world. This means that I could be abused, or you have been abused, or could be abused in the future. That's how many people we are talking about here!
       I would like to acknowledge before I go further that there are men and boys out there that are abused, almost as much as women, so as I talk about females being abused in the family I want to be clear that I do not ignore the males.

       So what happens when abuse, particularly sexual abuse, happens in a home? Well firstly let's talk about the effects it has upon the victim. Considering that many abuse cases happen when a woman is below the age of 18, these effects are most relateable there, but a number of them are universally applicable. The detrimental affects during developing years include: behaviour problems, higher levels of anger, lower academics/intellect, low self-esteem, substance abuse, unhappiness, health problems, trust issues, etc (p.298). All of these are just terrible effects that no person male or female should have to experience in the hands of someone else.
      The direction I want to take now is what happens to the abuser? Often times, when they are discovered, they are removed from the home and put into a type of rehabilitation program for a designated amount of time. Here, they are helped in trying to reverse their compulsions of sexual abuse, help them understand the consequences and hoped to reunite with their families. It is understandable that the family, particularly the victim will not want them back. Often times, the abuser relapses back into those behaviors. Also, while the abuser is absent, the family reforms and adapts so that their place is not empty and so reunion can be hard as the abuser now must reestablish their role in the family.
      Many of you may be thinking that reunion is wrong and crazy, that you yourself would never want them to come back,  but what if I were to tell you that it is possible for them to not only to come back, but also for the victim to forgive them? Also, that this may significantly decrease the likelihood of relapse? In class, we discussed a book by a marriage and family therapist that presents a therapy process that will do just that. The book is titled "Sex, Love and Violence".
       In this process, there are about 6 or 7 steps:

  1. Get the family together in a circle, therapist asks the parents what they know. Establishes parental authority, gets it out on the table, makes the victim feel more able to share, provides protection, removes denial. 
  2. Ask the offender. Keep probing them, offender will start to recognize the effects of actions, educates without lecture.
  3. Asks family what they think. Agree and add 1 more; that the spirit of the victim has been hurt. Family may not believe in religion but tend to understand what this means.
  4. Point out that it also hurt the spirit of the offender. Offender often agrees, starts to experience emotions toward actions.
  5. Other family members express feelings.
  6. Offender is asked to kneel in front of the victim and apologize. Victim is to stay there and process continues until the apology of the offender becomes sincere. 
It has been reported that after this process the offender very often is sincere in their apology and the victim sees that they are. In one case mentioned in class, other family members also got down and apologized for things related to the offense. 
       Now I'm not saying that this will grant immediate forgiveness or immediate sincerity, but the results show that the success rate of this method is very high. There is hope for the family and the family member who was temporarily cast out. With a lot of work the can be reunited and they can heal after such an event. The offender is often not evil, or malicious, they are often hurt, or struggling with something they didn't understand before. It's not so simple as tossing them out and casting them in jail. There is hope. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Making Sure Our Children Understand

So this week, I think one of the most important things we discussed as a class was about teaching our children about sexual intimacy the right way.
It started when someone mentioned that there are a lot of youth who in their adulthood still feel like sex is a bad thing. This has stemmed from how their superiors including their parents taught them about it. Every adult knows that sex is a very special and beautiful thing that should be shared with the right person, but we turn around and make it seem that it is sinful to our children and fail to teach about the sacredness of it.
One student mentioned an object lesson they had learned at church in which a chewed piece of gum was used to represent someone who had done something sexual outside of marriage. This conveys the message that no one will want you after they have been impure. But this image doesn't just stay  in their minds as a premarital consequence but it transfers sometimes into how they feel when having sex with their spouse for the first time. These metaphors can cause an extended feeling of guilt and insecurity.

Other things that can cause our youth to grow up thinking of sex as a bad thing are:
- oversexualizing things
- avoiding discussion about it/ showing embarrassment
- focusing on sex as being a sin
- discussing sex after marriage and how it is not a sin
- using euphemisms

To avoid these things we need to make sure that we talk about sexual intimacy that teaches it is a wonderful thing at the appropriate time, instead of telling them to just not do it. The first, teaches them that it isn't a sin and that when it is performed in the right circumstances, it's ok. We need to teach our young men and women to be comfortable with their bodies and to love themselves, teach that modesty is about respect rather than oversexualizing body parts which makes exposing them dirty or unclean.
Most importantly we need to be prepared and comfortable with talking to our children as well. We can't avoid the topic or skirt around general ideas. We need to make sure the point is being made and that it is a positive one. Being confident and positive rather than advoidant or chastising creates less of a taboo toward sexual intimacy and allows our children to understand its true importance.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Struggle of Early Marriage (for week ending Nov 3rd)

Hey everyone!
Ok, so this week was a fun one because we got to talk about the early stages of marriage and what it's really like for a new couple. Now, don't let the title scare you away, marriage is still as beautiful as everyone makes it sound, it's just that there's a reality to it that the movies don't show.
In class, we came up with a list of struggles a newly married couple might have. I'm going to toss out there some that I remember and then discuss a few.

- Sharing a bed together
- Combining schedules
- Combining values
- Traditions
- In-Laws
- Working around and adjusting routines
- Finding time for each other
- Accommodating for isms about your spouse that you may not have known about before.

The last one is a struggle that I think everyone is aware of an I think that everyone is aware of because there's lots of jokes about it. I hope Brother Williams doesn't min me sharing but he have a great example of this in class. He told us about the day he discovered that his wife was 'evil'. What could she have possibly done? you may ask. Well... ya see.... she opened his mail. It may seem like an incredibly silly thing, and he may recognize that now, but a spouse has to be considerate and understand that this may not be something they are ok with or used to. His wife's explanation was that her mother had always opened everyone's mail and only gave to her husband the important stuff, whereas Brother William's family treated mail as a more private thing. So, from that they had to work to understand each other and make adjustments that worked for both of them.

Another one on this list that people may not think about it sharing a bed with someone. I know that I don't give much thought to how I behave when I sleep. I suppose I like to be under the covers, warm, on my side and I imagine I would wrap my leg around my husband's waist if I had one. But what if my future husband likes a cold bedroom and can't get comfortable if he's suck under my leg or he snores and it keeps me awake. Come to find out, sharing a bed with someone is not easy at all. The movies always make it look like they sleep a solid, cute, cuddly night together right away, but in reality it takes lots of work, practice, adjusting, etc. It may even take weeks or months before you both settle into a bed time regime that works for both of you and gets you to sleep.

I could go on forever about all the different struggles you may find when trying to combine two individuals into a united body, but really, the message I want to send is that you shouldn't be fooled by Kodak movie moments. There's lots of them in store, but there's lots of work to be done in between.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dating, and the Love People Share.

Now, we can't have a family relations blog without a little discussion about love.

OK, so it's 2013 and dating has the general definition of being exclusive with one person, a.k.a you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. In many places in society this means that you're saying I love you, having sex, perhaps even cohabitation after a while.
But really, this is not what dating should be at all. I am a culprit of dating exclusively and probably always will be, but I don't want that to detract from what I say in this post, because if you can form a habit that is better than mine, you will have a much more fulfilling experience.
Dating exclusively does in fact limit the opportunities people have of finding that special person out there. It hinders your growth as far as what your ideal partner would be like. More importantly, it makes it much more difficult to maintain the standards that you have for yourself. It also takes you away from being social with friends, going out, etc. You slip into a routine that is hard to get out of. Lastly, and I assure you I do not exaggerate when I say that ending exclusive relationships has to be one of the most painful experiences in life. Focusing on one person who is almost guaranteed to be an 'ex' at some point is just not worth the months of sadness and heartache that follow.

So why do I continue to date exclusively? you may ask. I don't know. All I know is that over the last year, I have tried to be better about not becoming exclusive with the first person I meet.

Dating multiple people in a short space of time is not a slutty thing. You aren't 'getting around,' you're just using the opportunity to meet the right person to its full potential. (Disclaimer: this type of dating requires you to be sensible, and maintain chastity).You're socializing, making friends, learning about yourself, and you're not letting it consume your life. It helps strengthen the standards that you hold for what you are looking for in a spouse.

What happens when you want to be exclusive? Well, first of, exclusivity should take a little while to get to. But once you're there, you should enter a state of courtship. This means that you don't just begin a free for all, but simply increase the intimacy and affection between you. This is not a time for sex or even heavy kissing. This is for wholesome activities that you can do together as a couple that allow you to learn and grow together. This is where the little things come in and the connection you ave together should strengthen. I promise you that if you spend this whole time making out, your connection to your significant other will never be as strong and meaningful as it should be.
Courting is so important for preparation to become a spouse. It teaches you to care about what's important and not focus on grand gestures and lust. It drives you to appreciate each other on a level that lust will never accomplish.

Men, Women, Are They Really the Same? (for week ending the 19th)

I think that for Family Relations, it's really important for us to not fall into the trap of political correctness all the time. In today's society we are so concerned with pleasing everyone and making everything equal. One way we try to do this is with gender. Movements such as feminism are so strongly bent on making it seem like men and women are completely equal but this movement in itself is skewed and flawed in a number of ways. For example, they want women to have the same job opportunity and salary but when it comes to the army or something that requires equal physical exertion, the testing requirements are lowered by them because they are not capable. So how is that equal?
Moving away from the political side of things I want to place emphasis on the biological and innate side of what makes men and women different. And they are different, it's a fact. This difference is not just in what identifiers we have on the outside. A documentary hosted by John Stossel discusses just these differences and I want to point out some of the things that he uncovered.
-Stossel in this video had a discussion with parents who actively tried to rear their children in equal, unisex ways. They would allow their children to play with whatever they want for example. If their son wanted to play with Barbie, they'd let them. In cases, they did in fact play with Barbies, but how Barbie was played with by each gender was different without the parent's influence. The boys would play with Barbie, but she'd be treated like a sword while the girls would dress her, give her words of affirmation, nurture her. The girls would marry Barbie to Ken while the boys would kill Barbie and try to save her life.
-They also attempted to teach their boys non-violence but no matter what they did, their sons still managed to turn their food into guns and start a shoot out while girls wouldn't.
- Marketing teams and product designers for major companies have also invested millions into producing toys that would appeal to the opposite sex but somehow, these toys just wouldn't sell. Even without any persuasion from these parents, the children seemed to gravitate toward toys that would typically fit their gender roles.

Even without the parents teaching them to be a certain way, these children were naturally falling in to the gender roles typically assigned to boys and girls. Societal veiws on what these roles are will always be there and will always influence how our children and ourselves behave, but it is only part of why we take on these roles. Their is an innate sense there of what our roles are and we naturally differentiate our behaviors as we grow up as well as receive influence. So how can we honestly try to insist that men and women are equal? They are not and I don't think that this should be an offensive fact, I am perfectly happy with the fact that men and women are different. I think it's important for men and women to have different roles, especially when it comes to starting a family because it diversifies what each person can bring to the relationship.

If you wish to view the video that I referenced here, search around for "Men, Women, and the Sex Difference."

Unfortunately I cannot provide the link for this one because it is embedded into my school website which is private... :(