Thursday, June 23, 2011

Defending the Family in a Troubled World

I came across an article in the Ensign this week that has been buzzing around in my brain. (The Ensign is a monthly magazine my church publishes that has messages from the Prophet, other church leaders, and inspirational stories) Titled: Defending the Family in a Troubled World, it is a topic that I think about a lot now that I am a mother and charged with raising children.

I nonchalantly told Brian it was about how the Family is under attack today and within seconds I was being lectured about how he doesn't feel like his family is under attack, that if we would just have proper sex education in schools it would help prevent more teen pregnancies and that he doesn't know why Christians are so up in arms about the morning after pill because it does the same thing as birth control. LOL

Maybe I may have pushed him on the subject one too many times.

Anyways. I thought it was an interesting, long, article that had some good points but was maybe over the top for the Ensign. After an hour of quoting parts of it to Brian and having him go off on other rants about how things aren't any worse now than they were years ago, I came to my own conclusions. I often use Brian as a sounding board for some of the topics in life I haven't made up my mind about. He is good at pointing out logic flaws in their and my arguments, and I value his opinion.

I do think the family needs to be defended in this world. I feel like many of the prevailing attitudes towards living your life for yourself and so seeking supposedly more fulfilling professional endeavors, negatively affect the youth of today and their future families. They are taught to value individual professional success over any sort of family centric life. Children are "viewed as a burden, a distraction from the pursuit of happiness and personal fulfillment."

I recognize that unless you have experienced the true personal fulfillment of raising children, which it is a hard thing to explain or compare to. And even harder to convince others of the value it brings even though it is not monetary based. But even Olympians have been quoted as saying their most valued accomplishment was not their gold medals, but their family.

But, I don't think these attitudes are solely the reason that families today are under distress. It is hard to blame any problem entirely on the forces of outside elements. Families more often have problems from the inside out. Sadly, this is not a new problem, and comes from generations of abuse in various forms, and the lack of loving father figures. (Ya, I know there are tons of other factors, but this is what Brian and I spent most of the time talking about.)

In the scriptures it talks about the sins of generations being placed on the father's, or parent's, heads, meaning the mother and father take responsibility for the consequential sins of their children. I think this was wise of our Father in Heaven. There are so many circumstances where you can hardly blame an individual for their sins or mistakes when the family they grew up in was loveless, unstable and fatherless. But families with even less severe situations still produce children that lack the emotional stability to form healthy, positive relationships with others largely because their parents never taught them how. As a result I feel we have a world of people who lead sad, lonely lives.

There are exceptions to all situations of course, but social patterns are hard to break. An abusive husband twenty years ago has likely produced abusive sons, and daughters who seek abusive men. When does this pattern stop? Several generations down the road when it is socially acceptable to go to therapy? No wonder those children today seek solidarity in professional careers and tout the joy of individual success. I'm glad they have overcome hard childhoods, but I am saddened they are unlikely and have no desire to then raise stable, happy families themselves.

I didn't think I was an exception when I was young. I thought all families ate dinner together, I thought they all liked each other; I thought that all families regularly said, "I love you." It saddens me beyond words when a friend doesn't want to go home for the holidays because they don't like being around their family. Or when a sibling sadly helps yet another brother or sister through a divorce. Or even if a family that can't make it to dinner together a few times a week!

Now, as a mother to my own family, I cherish the examples my husband and I had growing up. I am so thankful that I had a father that was a an example of a good and righteous husband and father, so as I grew I would value those attributes in men, and knew they type of person I wanted for a husband. I am thankful for a mother, who every day of my childhood, taught me how to be a mother. I have such happiness in my family; I wish everyone could feel the same way.

I don't have any great solutions. Just raise your own family in righteousness and love, and pray for the Lord's help in raising children that will love and value their family for eternity.

Thanks for the rant. My head feel clearer.


Ashley Fulkerson said...

Steph, I love your rant. You and Brian crack me up with your discussions on 'issues.' I agree with both of you. It does start within the walls of your own home and that is where children need to be taught what is right and wrong, so that when they are faced with hard situations outside the home they are prepared .

Heidi Ence said...

I think "attacked" is maybe a turn off word that makes people feel targeted or perhaps that it is an excuse to fit into a certain category.

I guess when you read in the articles and hear in church that "this generation and the families are being attacked", I tend to agree on some levels. Brian is right, things were the "same" back when and were hard then too. But I think the difference is the LACK of parenting going on. The lack of family unity and teaching of morals and values. Sex is everywhere and on some level it always has been. But now it is highlighted by both adults (parents) and kids who aren't being taught any better.

Look at all the examples around of how sex is becoming "acceptable" and casual in every sense. In TV shows, girls getting pregnant in high school and it not being taboo anymore, friends, media, everywhere. I think the difference is just in the lack of parenting and the parent's responsibility of teaching right from wrong. So maybe instead of using the word "attacked" we should use the word lazy or irresponsible/ lack of parenting.

I don't know. If I had time, I could formulate my thoughts out better. But this is just what came off the top of my head.