Category Archives: Parenting

Independence and overparenting

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Independence and overparenting

As Miss M gets older, I’ve been thinking a lot about free range parenting. That’s definitely my style and I’m loving the independence it’s building in my toddler.

So far, we’ve been really lucky to not have people freak out when they see my two year old running around without mommy right there next to her. In fact, we were at Lagoon on Saturday and she wandered a little bit away and just stood by herself while lots of people came and went around her. Eventually, someone knelt down at eye level to ask if she was lost (I think; I couldn’t hear the conversation), and while a part of me is a little disturbed that it took as long as it did, part of me is glad that I didn’t have to be right there to ward off strangers and she explored a little on her own.

It was so different than an experience I had several months ago.

We took Monkey and two “cousins” to a playground for a couple of hours while our friends went to a concert. While it was a glimpse into what our life could look like if we had had another baby sooner after M, instead of “waiting” longer like we are, it was also an experiment in hands-off parenting. With three kiddos under six, it’s impossible to play “hands on” with each of them. Moreover, grownup-free play is important to child development, even at a young age.

In fact, this situation was the perfect kind of tribal play that evolutionary developmental psychologist Peter Gray champions.

The play area was full of kids. It didn’t occur to me to count, but Mack remarked that it was busy. There were kids that were toddlers, a few who were older (8 and 9ish, possibly older) and most in between. From time to time, I would lose sight of a child as others would get in my sight line or they would climb into a tunnel or behind a structure. For the most part, I could see them, but they couldn’t see me.

These kiddos knew where we were and that we were there if they needed us, but for the most part, they were free to play independently.

We sat outside the playground, instead of on the parent benches within the enclosure where most of the adults were. This wasn’t a problem until Monkey got up somewhere she couldn’t immediately get down from. After only a few moments another parent jumped right in and helped her down.

This “other mother” looked around and then at her friend and said something like “where is her mom?”

It struck me then (once again) how much I am not a helicopter mom. I definitely would’ve stepped in if M had been seriously stuck, but she hardly had a chance to try to work it out herself. It seems that we’re robbing our children of important opportunities to learn.

Free range parenting has come under a lot of scrutiny and even resulted in CPS and other “legal” action against parents who subscribe to it as it’s gained popularity. The crazy thing is, in many ways our lives are safer than they’ve ever been. We’re just extremely risk averse.

One of my many-greats aunts wrote in her journal about their trip across the plains to Utah. She and her friend would depart early, ahead of the handcart company, so they could play on the trail during the day and not get left behind the company. Agnes was nine at the time. It seems a little unbelievable to me that a nine year old could just be trusted like that. Even in my very free range parenting, I’m not sure I’d be ok with my child heading out on her own across the plains of the US unsupervised (and I’ve been out there; there’s still nothing there).

Sometimes I wonder what the cost is. Do we overparent our children into a perpetual childhood? Am I raising a child who will be unable to cope in a society of adults babied first by their parents and then by their government? Am I running a great risk of losing my child to a CPS worker because I admit on a public blog I let her wander even a little ways off at a crowded amusement park? I really worry about all these things.

No doubt we’re all doing our best. Even the other mom was just stepping in to make sure my child was ok. I want my kids to be empowered and independent (age appropriately so), not always looking to me for rescuing. I think a more free range attitude does that. As I’ve let go and let M explore, I’ve been amazed to find out how capable even a 2 year old can be. It’s exciting to see. I can’t wait for more to come!

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Photo from Fox13

 

Trying to keep track

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We have a terribly bad habit in my extended family: we don’t really keep personal records. I have an aunt who is a professional genealogist, but she “married in” and is not related by blood. Beyond that, I don’t think any of us are really good record keepers (I took an informal survey of my family on Facebook and most of us admitted to “trying” and doing it in stops and starts but not with real consistency).

In some ways, it’s not our “fault” as this bad habit has been passed down from our ancestors (and, yes, the irony in that strikes me), according to my mother. For example, Elizabeth Caldwell, a grandmother of mine, who came to Utah with the Willie Handcart Company, wrote little to nothing of her experience. Meanwhile, her sister, Agnes (who is an aunt), was much more prolific and her stories have been told repeatedly in LDS general conferences, the movie 17 Miracles and elsewhere. Elizabeth was one of many who passed down bad habits.

I come by this weakness doubly cursed. My father’s family kept very few records and most of the little I know about my ancestry on that side comes from government records and the occasional story from a long lost cousin (who could share about my ancestors because his ancestors mentioned them in journals). My grandfather saw so little point in family history, he threw away boxes of it (a thought that still makes me want to throw up).

This lack of family record keeping makes me sad, especially as I try to get to know my ancestor better. I want my own children to know more than I do about who they are and where they came from and I want to know the angels who surround me better. I’m also a writer and I feel like if anyone is going to do a decent job of keeping a written record, it “should” be me, the writer.

More than any of that, though, I want to remember my own life better and keep better records of my children as they grow. I want my children and grandchildren to know who I was and how I became who I am.

I recently purchased a “one line a day” journal in an attempt to help me along. I’m finding that it’s helpful to have, although it definitely doesn’t automatically make a habit. Rather than doing it daily, I’m finding time every week or two and while I remember “big” things, I’m left with a lot of holes.

In fact, that’s bee the most disturbing thing to me: there are many days I don’t remember a single thing that happened and that those days I’m forgetting are just a week or two prior. There are literally huge blocks of my life which I have completely forgotten.

It’s a horrifying thought to me.

It also leaves me sad as a mom because that means that there are blocks of my child’s life I’m forgetting. There are things I want to remember, but can’t because there’s not space in my brain and I’m not writing them down.

I even have a journal for Little Miss because I wanted to keep track of “things” and I wanted her to know who she was as tiny human person. I write in it rarely and while I’d rather spend time with Little Miss than write in her journal, I know when I have time, I’m choosing to make other choices. I’m trying to let go of the mommy guilt on that one, but I’ll admit I sometimes feel like a bad mom because of it.

As I’ve been evaluating my own record keeping, I’m learning that I want to keep better records as much for me as for anyone else.

I’m trying to keep track of my life better. Photos, videos and journal writing – even one sentence journals – are some of the ways I’m trying to do that.

Maybe one day my great-grandkids won’t curse me the way I curse my great (great, great, great, great)-grandparents and perhaps I’ll be able to hold onto the fleeting moments a little better.

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An Open Letter to the LDS Church on Breastfeeding

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This letter was written on behalf of an acquaintance who was facing challenges from church leadership to her decision breastfeed “in public” at church (meaning that she did not excuse herself to the Mother’s Room). I spoke at length with her about the situation before I wrote my letter. Out of respect for her request that this situation not become public, I have held this letter for many months. Now, I feel comfortable sharing it.

Given that today is the first day of World Breastfeeding Week and a breastfeeding in church situation just came up again, I feel like now is an especially appropriate time to share this.

While it is addressed to the members and leaders of my faith, the same principles apply to members and leaders of all religious congregations and to members and leaders of the community at large.

Our Little Miss is now 22 months old and still breastfeeding. I still nurse her in public if she needs to. My hope is to encourage people everywhere to support women who breastfeed so that they and their babies can have the benefits of  breastfeeding until the physiologically normal age of weaning.

Dear members and leaders of the church,

I am an LDS mother. I have a beautiful almost-5-month old girl. From long before she was born, my husband and I have been making decisions with her best interests at heart. We have had long, intense conversations about the choices we are making.

It is important to us to give Monkey everything she needs to grow up healthy and strong and smart, with a conversion to the gospel and reliance on Heavenly Father.

One of those keys for us is breastfeeding her.

My husband and I have had long conversations about breastfeeding “in public”, which means anywhere from an intimate dinner with friends to during a trip to the mall. Somewhere between these two is attending church.

After those conversations, we have decided that not only is it appropriate for me to breastfeed M in church – in the chapel, during Sunday School or Relief Society (or during Young Women’s if I got called to serve our young sisters) – it is valuable to more than just M and me.

When Little Miss was born, breastfeeding was not easy for me. Like many modern women, I had not been exposed to it the way my grandmothers were. I had to learn how and I nearly gave up. I wish I had known someone in my ward who could help as my family is all far away. I wish I had grown up more exposed to breastfeeding (and since I am the oldest of four and my mother breastfed all of us, I was exposed to it some and it was still not enough). I wish that it had not been so foreign to me.

Ultimately though, when I breastfeed Monkey in public, my goal is not to offend. It is not to make a statement. It is not to educate others. It is simply to feed or comfort my baby.

When I do not “excuse myself” to another room, I do it not to throw my beliefs in someone else’s face. I do not wish to make others uncomfortable. I simply want to be a part of whatever else is happening or be blessed through participation in church and still do what is best for my baby.

We live in a world that is increasingly sexualized and our exposure to human bodies increases while our comfort level with our own bodies decreases. This is especially new of women and new mothers.

Like me, few women instinctively know how to breastfeed and there are many, many barriers to doing it. Unfortunately, one of these for LDS women is a culture that discourages us from any sort of familiarity with our own bodies. In an effort to stay “morally pure” we are not given the skills we need to be good mothers. This is tragic.

It has long-reaching consequences for the young men in the church as well. They are taught (as girls are as well), that “sex is bad, until you get married”. At the same time, they see semi-nude images almost everywhere they go.

For many, the taboo nature of a woman’s body in the LDS faith coupled with the sexualization of her in modern culture leads our young men to be curious. Some of them turn to parents or church leaders for answers while others, sadly, turn to friends and peers and the internet. This natural curiosity leads some of them down dark paths of addiction to pornography that takes excruciating work to overcome.

When leaders of the church ask women to cover up while breastfeeding their babies at church (or worse, go to another room), they reinforce these world-created narratives of a woman’s body and add barriers to something that is already not easy. They create secrecy or shame where there is none and they alienate women who often need the church interaction the very most.

Church leaders and other members would do woman an incredible service to every member of the church if they actively supported breastfeeding moms who care for their children (sometimes despite personal discomfort or inconvenience and public, cultural and familial disapproval) in the way their children most need. Sometimes this means uncovered at an unclothed breast.

A woman’s body is sacred and should be honored and respected, especially when it is being used to do exactly what our Heavenly Father purposed it to do: provide bodies for His spirit children and nourish and rear them.

Thank you so much for your support of us as breastfeeding mothers.

Lacey

P.S. This little package – a nursing cover – was delivered to an acquaintance of mine this week. It came from the Young Women of her ward. I am beyond horrified that this lesson is being taught to the Young Women by their leaders. Breasts, like nearly every part of the body, have both a utilitarian and a sexual purpose. This attitude creates shame, fear and unfamiliarity with breastfeeding. It should never, ever happen. Let’s work together to normalize breastfeeding, end the modesty debate and support mothers and babies everywhere!

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On Modesty, Chastity and Responsibility

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Oh boy… This is a huge and potentially very controversial topic. It’s also one that’s getting a lot of buzz in the last week or so in my online community (mostly among Salt Lake Mormons).

For reference, you should start with reading Elder Tad Callister’s article in the March 2014 Ensign.

Before we go any further, I want to emphasize that disagreement with the end result of a message does not mean I do not sustain the brethren, that I don’t believe in continuing revelation/inspiration or that I reject the basic teachings of chastity, morality and modesty. My mom always says that “Good information leads to good inspiration” and so it’s important to communicate with our church leaders if there’s a problem. I believe that the best way for us to understand if our teaching method is useful is by openly discussing the content and end result of those teachings and analyzing their effects and value.

I have previously written a little bit on modesty mostly in relation to breastfeeding (see The Modesty Question, Why The Mothers Room Makes Me Sad, and A Few Points of Clarification). In fact, most of my evolving thoughts on modesty in my LDS faith has come as I’ve become immersed in my mothercare education (pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding, etc).

I have become increasingly unsettled with the messages we are sending our young men and women and young single adults in the LDS church in regards to modesty, chastity and responsibility. This concern has caused me to really critically study the materials put out by the church on modesty and chastity, particularly that which is directed towards the teenagers in the church. The more I read the less appropriate I think the direction we have taken is.

There is an inconsistency in how we teach modesty and morality to our young men and young women. Take this statement by Elder Callister:

Immodest Dress
Our dress affects not only our thoughts and actions but also the thoughts and actions of others. Accordingly, Paul the Apostle counseled “women [to] adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9).
The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure.
Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self-respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

Unfortunately, there is no mention here about the impact of how a man dresses on a woman. There’s no mention of how a man’s behavior towards a woman might influence her dress. There’s no discussion at this point on how important it is to control one’s behavior – not merely thoughts – even in the presence of an improperly dressed woman.

If women can “prompt” the thoughts and actions of men into impure paths, surely men can do the same for the women in their lives. Yet Elder Callister neglects to mention that men might also have a responsibility to help women live modestly (and not just because it helps the men keep control of their thoughts).

In fact, while preparing this post I spoke to a number of now adult men (primarily my peers) about what they were taught growing up about their responsibility towards young women. In almost every case the only answer was “to encourage them to dress modestly”. Most could not tell me what that meant or why they were counseled to do so.

Elder Callister does emphasize in following paragraphs that we (general) must control our thoughts but there is never any reciprocal direction that men influence women.

There is, however, the potentially ominous statement (taken in whole) that “…most women get the type of man they dress for.” Without flying off the handle, is it possible that the adversary might use that statement to attack a young woman who has been raped or abused to justify a young man’s immoral or abusive behavior? This gets uncomfortably close to victim blaming to me.

And again, do men also get the type of woman they dress for?

Take also the entry on modesty from the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet. Young women are counseled thus:

Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back.

Meanwhile, the church’s direction to young men is non-specific:

Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance.

I am left to wonder a little if there was nothing else to say to the boys? Should they not be counseled that tank tops are immodest? What about pants that are so baggy as to show their underwear? Jewelry that is over the top? What about going shirtless while they play basketball or work in the yard? Could no specific direction be given to the young men? Or do young men not need the direction because modesty is only an issue that young women need details spelled out on.

In actuality, I somewhat like the guidance to Young Men. Direct but without being so specific as to micromanage or leave room for the “but the pamphlet doesn’t say this…” type rationalizations. In fact, why couldn’t the guidance simply be:

Young men and young women should maintain modesty in their appearance. As you strive to dress modestly, allow the Spirit to guide you and talk to parents and church leaders if you have questions.

We see this same sort of language in other parts of the FTSOY pamphlet and elsewhere in church teachings to youth. It is not unreasonable to think it could extend to modesty.

If this message seems to simply be because of the difference between men and women, you should compare also the upcoming August 2014 curriculum for youth on Eternal Marriage. Under the sub topic What Are The Lord’s Standards for Dating?, there are three talks from past conferences, one for young men and two for young women. The article for young men focuses on being prepared for marriage in a well-rounded way: financially, emotionally and spiritually. The two articles for young women – one from the priesthood sesson of conference – focus heavily on being sexually pure, almost to the exclusion of everything else.

Over and over I’m afraid the message we are sending is one that objectifies and continues to sexualize young women instead of rejecting the world’s message that women’s bodies are primarily sexual.

There is no doubt that this world is increasingly oversexualized. I am so thankful for a church that is holding a line, even though it is not popular or easy, in an attempt to stem the tidal wave of immorality in the world around us.

There is also no doubt that men and women are different and from time to time need different lessons. However, we do a major disservice in our lopsided teaching of responsibility to each other and to self when it comes to modesty. Our young women deserve more and our young men are capable of far more than “we” give them credit for.

It’s time to teach modesty in an unsexualized way, one that recognizes that culture plays a huge factor in how we view how men are “wired” and what the purpose of a woman’s body is.

Lacey and Mack-Professional Pics 192

(I’ve been asked to add a photo. On my wedding day, not only was my dress modesty in the traditional sense, but also modest in the sense that it was affordable and simple and it fit me well. It made me feel good about myself. It was not however, warm and most of my temple pictures are of me bundled up. I suppose my point is that “modest” doesn’t guarantee something is appropriate under every circumstance. It’s important that when we’re talking about modesty we’re not just talking about a list of rules for young women to follow to keep young men out of trouble.)

You Are Enough

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Mamas, perhaps I am possessed of an over abundance of confidence as one who has no idea what the heck she’s doing and doesn’t even know enough to realize it. I do, after all, have only one child and she is, after all, only 16 months.

Much of my knowledge is book learning and I lack practical application.

I have not experienced a difficulty labor or an unwanted c-section or of a birth experience that was stolen from me.

I do not know the heartache of a rebellious and self-destructive teen or being witness to my adult child in an abusive relationship, helpless to help.

I do not know the devastation of losing a child – be that a miscarriage, a stillbirth or a baby who has come earthside and stayed for any amount of time. I do not know the incredible tragedy of potential stolen away from a child with regressive autism, vaccine injury or in some sort of accident.

I do not know the fear of having a premature baby or the struggle of being a mother to one with special needs.

In some of these cases, the closest I get is the lostness of trying to figure out how to comfort and/or support a friend through this. In others, I do not even have a frame of reference.

So, perhaps in my limited experience I am naively and gluttonously overconfident.

However, in this world of “perfect” mommies, having it all and never showing a crack, where we trust pediatricians and school nurses over our instincts and value teacher opinions and “professional” parenting advice authors over our own children’s feedback, I think, perhaps, I am right in saying: You are enough. Quit worrying. Quit fearing. Be human. Be imperfect. Trust yourself and trust your kids. Because you, and they, are enough.

Mamas, be honest. Be fearless.

Don’t let a doctor make you feel inferior because you don’t cry it out or because you cosleep.

Don’t let a principal or teacher tell you your five year old is broken because he doesn’t fit into their rigid school model.

Don’t let the neighbors’ fear and the news’s scare stories prevent you from letting your kids play outdoors because something might happen.

Don’t ignore that pull of concern when your teenager leaves the house with friends you don’t know because you’re the only overprotective parent.

You are enough and more. You are powerful. Being a mother is powerful.

We as women have an unbroken bloodline to a Heavenly Mother, the Goddess of the Universe who stands as Queen with our Heavenly Father the King. We are daughters of the Most High and we have been granted an incredible calling.

We carry on the mission of Eve to be the Mothers of All Living. That role is more than bearing and rearing children but it is so powerful when we fulfill our calling through our children.

For hundreds and thousands of years there were no experts to tell us how to raise kids. There was just grandmother knowledge handed down and instinct. Even today this pattern continues all over the world. The Western Way of doing it is both modern and unproven. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it and don’t be ashamed of it.

The only experts on your children is you and your spouse. Do not substitute anyone else’s judgment if it means subjugating yours or relegating it to a corner.

As for help, learn and grow but don’t be afraid to completely dismiss it if it’s not right for you.

Maybe this post has turned into a rant or a lecture. That’s not my intent. Maybe it’s become one of those posts that starts out positive and ends up preachy. Maybe I shouldn’t write at midnight anymore.

My point is, this world is full of messages that try to make us feel inferior, like we are doing things wrong, like we can’t trust ourselves to figure things out. It is a lie of the most evil kind. It is not an accident. Reject it. Reject anything that makes you feel like you don’t measure up. Reject this post if it makes you feel less.

But do not reject this: You are a mother. You are powerful. You are enough. You are enough.

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In which I practice witch-doctory and make cough syrup (pictorial)

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We’ve had a little bit of illness in our house recently. Husband has had terrible allergies and Monkey had the sniffles (that I thought were teething related) which have now turned into a cough.

Unfortunately, when our little little ones are sick, there’s not much modern medicine can do for them. Cough medicine is not safe to give babies and frankly I would prefer to avoid it anyway.

If you know my extended family in real life, you know that we trend towards a bit alternative. This is especially true of my mom who I have lovingly called The Witch Doctor for years.

Well, on Sunday, I found myself following in her witch doctor footsteps, trying to concoct something to ease my little one year old’s cough (and help DH in the process).

So I got online and looked for recipes. To my disappointment, most of the recipes were pretty limited or pretty disgusting.

It’s great if you can fix a sore throat with honey and lemon or if as an adult you can gulp down an onion-and-garlic tonic, but that was not going to work for a toddler. I also wanted something that was going to really pack a punch. So using my limited but growing knowledge of alternative medicines and my extensive Google skills, I made something up.

The first ingredients I used were powered Mullein and Ginger. Mullein is an expectorant and ginger is an antitussive.

Ingredients 1

I added 1 tablespoon of ginger and 2 tablespoons of mullein to 1 1/2 cups of water. Next time, I’ll add less mullein as the mixture was quite thick and didn’t dissolve as well as I had hoped. I don’t know if mullein powder is water soluble anyway, but I’m convinced that I added too much powder. Next time I’ll probably do 1 tablespoon of mullein.

I headed the mixture on the stove and brought it to a low boil and simmered about 5 minutes to create an infusion.

In Process 1

Next, I strained the mixture. Again, I learned some things. The next time I do this, I’ll use cheesecloth instead of coffee filter, which didn’t handle the thickness of the mixture very well.

In Process 2

It was at this point Husband wandered into the kitchen and asked if he should call me the Witch Doctor or the Apothecary…

Once I squeezed as much liquid out as I could, I measured it and put it pack in the pan. I lost about half my liquid.

To the mullein-ginger infusion I added lemon and clove essential oils (10 drops of lemon, accidentally 11 of clove), which are both known for their antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal qualities.

Ingredients 2

I also added 1/4 cup coconut oil (which may be beneficial for treating asthma, bronchitis, colds, cough, earache, fever and flu), and 1/8 cup lemon juice (mostly for flavor, since the mullein/ginger mix was quite awful, and to make up for the lost liquid). I brought this up to a low boil over medium heat and simmered 5 minutes. Then I took the pan off the heat and let it cool to just warm enough to dissolve the honey and added 1/4 cup raw honey.

Ingredients 3

And then I bottled the mixture up.

Final

As you can see, there’s already some separation happening, so the mixture has to be shaken before using. I’ll keep the bottles in the fridge for future use.

Also, next time I think I’ll skip the coconut oil as it solidifies in cool temperatures, which is kind of a pain to deal with right out of the fridge and I don’t think it really adds that much to the overall mixture.

It’s been interesting to taste it as it’s sat. When it was finished, it was very lemony-sickly-sweet. But by last night the flavors had developed a little more and the clove/mullein/ginger was more pronounced. It definitely tasted better in the evening.

It seemed to help the cough immediately, but I’m really anxious to see how it works long-term. Monkey was coughing again when she woke up this morning, so it wasn’t an instant cure. Stay tuned for an update!

— Please note that it is not safe to ingest essential oils “neat” or only mildly diluted. In this case, essential oils were a small part of the recipe. You should use EO carefully as they are powerful and can have long-term effects. —

The most important thing I can teach my children

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Over the next few years, Monkey’s education will be very organic. Eventually, we will likely be doing some sort of more formal education as I don’t believe in complete unschooling. There will be some structure in our home schooling.

We will teach phonics and then how to read, letters and then how to write and then the rules of English and then when and how to break those rules. We will teach numbers and then counting and then basic arithmetic and then more complex mathematics. And on and on. Some of it will be more organic and some of it will be more structured.

However, these lessons, as important as they are, are not the most important things I want to teach Monkey and her siblings that will come along.

I’ve been accused of being dramatic. I tend to have strong opinions and think everything I have an opinion on is important. EVERYTHING is important. And there is some truth in that. God gives us a thousand different things to do and says “They’re all important”. The trick is to work with Him to figure out which ones to do now and which ones to do later.

For example, do I pay off debt faster to meet the priority of getting out of debt or do I put that money towards storage to get my two years of food and emergency supplies together or do I put that money towards a savings account or do I do a little bit of all three all at once? Do I do none of those and instead use that money to avoid the “evils of the dole” and not take federal financial aid for my husband’s education? I could go on.

I believe God gives us multiple priorities to allow us to learn a more important lesson, and it is one of the two most important things I can teach my children.

By giving us multiple priorities, Heavenly Father appears to set us up to fail. However, what he is really doing is giving us an opportunity to develop a relationship with Him. He does not say “Do everything right now.”

Rather he says:

“And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27).

This is an invitation to come unto Him, to trust Him and rely on Him. This is an invitation to learn who He is, to test Him and prove that He is who He says he is. It is also an invitation to learn about who we are and to especially understand who we are in relation to Him.

This is the very most important thing I can teach my children. Although I am not perfect, I have an opportunity to help them understand what it means to have a parent who is loving, accessible, kind, patient, powerful, protective, trusting, faithful and responsive.

Our understanding of our Heavenly Parents is made easier or harder depending on the kind of parents that we have growing up. That doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect parents, since this is both impossible and the Atonement will not only cover our sins when we repent, but the effects our errors have on our children.

A child who understands who they are in relationship to God and who has been taught of the unfailingness of Heavenly Father and their utter dependence on Jesus Christ will be grow into the kind adult who will heal the world. They will not stray far from the loving embrace of Heavenly Parents because they will be grounded in God’s love and will recognize the power that having the Holy Ghost in their lives gives them. If they know who they are in relationship to God they will not be free from trials but they will always walk with Him, despite the trials.

I know that none of my children will understand this perfectly, just as I do not. However, the better they understand this, the closer they will be to the people Heavenly Father knows they can be. The more closely their lives will align with their potential and the happier they will be.

If I can only accomplish this one goal, I will consider myself a successful parent. If only it was as easy as it sounds.