Saturday, June 16, 2018

Strengthening Our Families

Hi, everyone! This morning, I was getting ready to compose an Instagram post on my private account. As I was downloading photos and screenshots to create a visually interesting post, I realized that I needed this post to be public, and that Instagram couldn't really hold all of the wonderfulness that I've found.

Plus, I'm super wordy and I struggle with editing my Instagram posts to be the length allowed on that platform. #wordyAdrie! 😄 Sometimes, I've spent way too much time figuring out what words/sentences to omit on Instagram, when I really should have just written a blog post to begin with! Thus, today I'm breaking my time-consuming Instagram-posting habit and writing a time-consuming-but-much-more-fulfilling blog post instead! Ha ha. Yay me!

If you didn't know, I'm right smack dab in the middle of raising teenagers! What's amazing to me about this season of life is that when you're pregnant, or just had a baby, no doctor or nurse or parenting book fully prepares you for teenagers and all that comes with them! 😅 Even though I took a complete Love and Logic parenting class in Colorado when my firstborn was (I think) seven years old, it still didn't prepare me for these wild teenage years!

Yes, we parents were all teenagers once, but being a teen and raising teens are two very different things! I certainly remember being a teenager and all that entails, but I could go on for days about how surprising it's been to parent my teenagers! It's nearly unbelievable how quickly teen emotions change—my view of my family can go from being "Everything is easy-peasy, super awesome!" to "I'm so tired! How am I going to make it through one more day of teenagedom without crying my eyes out?!" in nearly an instant!

The good news is, all things considered, my sweet little family is doing well!

My oldest son just graduated from high school and I'm sooo happy for him! It was a definite struggle at some points of his high school journey, but we all hung in there and he was successful in his efforts! 🎓👏😁 That said, I will not miss those seemingly never-ending high school nights when he refused to go to bed at a decent hour. If I didn't know what I know about teenagers and their sleep cycles, I would have been a complete wreck!

Thankfully, I know it's not just my teenagers who don't want to go to sleep at night, but a scientifically proven problem for teens the world over. The National Sleep Foundation points out that, "Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence—meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm." Amen to that statement! And yet I wonder why on earth it is that high school is still held at such an early hour! We seriously need to make every high school's start time later in the morning!

Sleep aside, my teenagers are doing really well for being teenagers. 😊 I am so grateful for the incredible human beings I've been given and entrusted to raise. My heart is completely filled with love for my growing babies! 💖 That said, I am constantly looking for ways to help my children feel happier, do better, and be the best version of themselves—without me becoming an annoying dictator in the process! Ha ha.

I know that being a good parent starts with me and my positive attitude. That said, even though I'm technically and legally responsible for my darling children and their well-being until the age of 18, in the end, they each need to live their own lives and be in charge of themselves. They need to make their choices and own them—I so hope they make good ones! In the end, I'm only able to regulate/manage/change myself! And that's how it is for every person on this planet!

So, as much as I dearly want to help my children every minute of every day of their precious lives, I can only help them to the point that they want me to help. Yes, parenting teenagers is a delicate tightrope-walk that takes loads of careful practice, purposeful dedication, laser-sharp focus, and enthusiastic perseverance! Not to mention, an endless supply of unconditional love, great self confidence, and lots of "strength training"!

But seriously, parents of teenagers need to have good support systems and excellent self-care measures in place to feel successful in their callings. I would not do as well as I do in parenting my teenagers without my coping strategies—for example: having a wonderful marriage; exercising five to six days per week; getting enough sleep; eating healthily; having good friends/family members to talk with; and especially my spiritual connection to Heaven.

Speaking of prayer, it's my go-to best parenting technique for raising teenagers! I literally can't tell you how many times I've prayed for my teens because I'm always praying for them! 💗 I know our Heavenly Father knows my children much better than I do, and I know He actually sees what their future holds—unlike me who just thinks I know what's best for my children. Thus, my prayers are always first and foremost in my parenting strategies. I have experienced miracles through prayer and fasting for my children! I will continue praying for my children every day for the rest of my life and into eternity!

As I said before, I'm always seeking out ways to be a better mother. I've shared many helpful motherhood/parenting articles, talks, and videos on my Pinterest account, and I'll continue sharing what I find there, but I've definitely not had the time to pin everything yet. I seriously wish Heavenly Father would give us three additional hours every day! A 27-hour day sounds pretty great to me! So, for today, I'll share here the things I've recently found to be helpful in my efforts of parenting my cherished teenagers:

"To Women: 'Doing Better Doesn’t Mean Doing More'"
By Sharon Eubank and Reyna Aburto—blog post on LDS.org.

I love the entire blog post, but this paragraph really stood out to me:
"As we seek the Lord’s will and strive to do it, we are assured that every small effort is accepted. All the Lord asks of us is a heart full of love and willingness to share that love. We’ve all made covenants to “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9), but that doesn’t mean to run ourselves ragged. Doing better doesn’t always mean doing more. And if you do just one inspired thing each day, you are nevertheless the Lord’s agent."
Amen, sista, and bravo! 👏😁

"Love One Another, As I Have Loved You"
By Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt—talk presented at BYU Women's Conference, 2018.

I'm so excited Jennifer's talk is available to read and watch! I've listened to her video at least three times already, and I'll be listening to/watching/reading it again very soon! Here are three sections of her talk that I absolutely love!
"...if we really understand the distinction between doctrine, principles and application, then we will work to focus more on the doctrine—the WHY of our behaviors. Focusing on application or HOW we live is divisive, because I shouldn’t judge you for what the Holy Ghost is telling you to do. I may not understand your approach, but if we are one in doctrine, in the WHY, then it doesn’t matter how we pursue it."
"Continually pointing ourselves to the doctrine helps us to be one in Christ as He is one with the Father. Think of the love we extend to each other when instead of judging HOW another person is living, we assume the very best, that they are pursuing doctrine. Look for and trust the WHY of other’s behaviors. Teach and testify of WHY we do what we do. This gives us entrance into the sacred spaces of one another’s hearts where there is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see. We also learn to pursue our questions differently and find peace with the ambiguity associated with mortality."
"Now, do you recognize this statement from President Boyd K. Packer? 
'True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behaviors. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel.'"
So awesome, right?! 😀

"How great leaders inspire action"
By Simon Sinek—TEDxPuget Sound

It might seem strange to relate this TED Talk to parenting, but it really clicked with me! I've simply applied what he said to parenting and children! 😊 Here's a great quote from Mr. Sinek's wise words:
"Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, ... But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by 'why' I don't mean 'to make a profit.' That's a result. It's always a result. By 'why,' I mean: What's your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it's obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations—regardless of their size, regardless of their industry—all think, act and communicate from the inside out."
I also really like Simon's second TED Talk: "Why good leaders make you feel safe," and applied what he teaches to parenting, as well! Here's one of my favorite quotes from his talk:
"Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the senior[-]most levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities, and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them. And I know many people who are at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders, and this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them, and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is."

"The Idea of 'Mothers in Zion' Made Me Mad—Until I Learned What It Meant"
By Sharon Eubank—blog post on LDS.org.

Oh, how I love her quote! 💛
"Charity, or the pure love of Christ, is motherhood in a very practical and real way—sacrificing so that others might thrive and seeing beyond present circumstances to the way things really are. This motherhood is part of my covenantal identity. My mother-work will come directly through the whispers of the Holy Spirit."

"Strengthening the Family: Resource Guide for Parents"
Published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—also available for purchase at LDS.org's online store.

This is the gem of all parenting jewels! I'm so happy I found Strengthening the Family! I'll be reading and referring to it again and again! I only wish it had been available when I was pregnant with my first baby! It was published in 2006, two years after my last baby was born, but I never knew about it until recently. Thus, I'm sharing it with the world now in hopes that it helps some new parent somewhere in this glorious world of ours! While I feel silly that I had access to it all this time with the amazing Gospel Library app on my smartphone and didn't previously find it, I'm not going to worry because at least I'll be using it now!

Here are two great quotes from its pages:
"Words and behavior have the power to hurt or to help, to inflict pain and suffering or to soothe painful feelings, to provoke doubt and fear or to instill faith and courage." 
"President James E. Faust of the First Presidency taught the importance of love and of recognizing differences in children when disciplining them: 'Child rearing is so individualistic. Every child is different and unique. What works with one may not work with another. I do not know who is wise enough to say what discipline is too harsh or what is too lenient except the parents of the children themselves, who love them most. It is a matter of prayerful discernment for the parents. Certainly the overarching and undergirding principle is that the discipline of children must be motivated more by love than by punishment.'"
President Faust's quote can apply to every parenting issue under the sun because we parents know and love our children the most! We have the individual responsibility and joy of parenting our children in the best ways possible for each of them because they are "ours"! 💞

I'm so grateful for this gift of motherhood I've been given because it's everything to me! 🎁 When I say everything, I mean that I always wanted to be a mother{!}—from my earliest memories—and I'm so grateful my wish/desire has been so richly fulfilled! And I must give huge props to my darling Gregor for helping me achieve my dreams of motherhood!

While I know my time is short in terms of having my children live with me (and Greg 😍) before they move on into the wide wide world, I will always be a mother; I am eternally a mother, inside and out! Regardless of the outcome of my children's lives—whatever path they choose in this world—I will love and care for these amazing souls that our Heavenly Father has blessed me with forever! 😇

You've come to the end of my parenting thoughts/helps for now, but I'll share more as I discover them! I'd love it if something I've shared today is of value to you or someone you know! I sincerely hope we'll all work on strengthening our families because relationships with our loved ones are the most important! 💛

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