1. Given attacks from the world on marriage, families, gender, and the role of a father/mother, are there specific challenges for you in maintaining the role of a father/mother?
Our challenge is to continue to be aware of what the world is teaching and find appropriate ways to counter it from a gospel perspective. We need to be sure that children understand the principles taught in The Family: A Proclamation To The World, the scriptures, Conference reports and etc.
2. What are some of the most important contributions you believe you make to your family through your role as a father/mother?
Being a good example by living gospel principles is crucial. We need to reinforce these principles when we have teaching moments with our children. Always show them and tell them how important they are to you and how much you love them.
3. From your perspective, what are some of the most difficult challenges or demands associated with being a father/mother?
Allowing free agency is one important thing to do and avoiding the tendency to take charge of their lives. We need to trust in the concept of teaching correct principles and then allowing them to govern themselves.
As we experience rapid changes in society we need to try to anticipate how to help our children be prepared to interpret the impact these changes may have on their lives.
The world is becoming more wicked and right and wrong is not as clear. Through the media, internet and other technology there is confusion as to what standards really mean. We need as parents to stay focused on teaching our children true righteous principles. In today's world this is a huge challenge because children are besieged by so many outside influences.
4. What specific counsel from leaders of the Church to fathers/mothers do you find especially meaningful?
We need to familiarize ourselves with the family proclamation. We need to search the scriptures for answers to daily life problems. Temple attendance is important for keeping an eternal perspective of parenting. Also, it is the perfect place to go to receive revelation when we need answers to parenting questions. Taking time to be with our family is paramount. Having consistent family prayer, family scripture study and family home evenings is highly important. Personal Priesthood interviews are an effective way of getting closer to our children. Having one on one dates with your children can also reap great blessings.
5. Will you share a couple of things about your role as a father/mother you would want a young father or mother to understand?
Each child is different and will need different ways of handling them. Establish boundaries, be consistent, and be realistic in your rules. Know when to be a friend and when to be a parent. Use your scriptures as your child rearing manual. Teach children to set goals. Teach them to love the scriptures. Most of all teach them how to know and feel the spirit in their lives. Provide learning moments to teach them how the Spirit of the Holy Ghost works. Bare your testimony often of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Share your own personal life experiences when appropriate. Also, teach your children to work, this is highly important. Teach them to budget their money, and pay their own tithes and offerings. Encourage them to prepare for their future. Have a Christ-centered home in which you can open up dialogues on their future choices of a career, Temple Marriage, a full time mission and eventually parenthood. Always be an example to your children.
6. What are some meaningful ways you like to be supported by your spouse in your role as a father/mother?
First of all discuss and agree together on what your parenting practices should be. Act as one together when problems arise. Support one another in your child rearing struggles. Discuss your differences out of their presence. Show your children how to compromise in your relationship. Support each other in child rearing decisions.
7. What is one thing husbands and wives can do to support one another in their roles as fathers and mothers.
Praise the other person for their efforts in their role. Husband and wives should support each other as parents and also in their jobs and church assignments.
Have date nights and take turns doing the kinds of activities that your spouse likes to do. Perhaps wives should learn how to watch sports and husbands should learn how to like ballet. Date nights are crucial in keeping your marriage alive and well.
You will always have little eyes watching how you relate with one another. Be a good example of a husband or wife that you would want your children to emulate.
Husband and wives should share work load and responsibilities. We should always show love, kindness and respect to one another.
8. Relative to the role of a father/mother, what are a few important lessons you have learned?....
Each child is different. It is important to balance your time and make sure you have time for family. This is a critical part of parenting. Learn to listen and sometimes have nothing to say; in other words you need to listen only. Be realistic in setting expectations. Use consequences for rules that are broken and plan ahead for what the discipline will be. Be consistent with your discipline and don’t make it so harsh that you end up not only punishing them but sometimes yourself. Remember don't ground them from driving if they do driving for you.
Do not over involve your children in outside activities. Children need to have time to be children. Do not allow your children to watch TV, use the computer or play computer games all of the time. They need time to play where they can use their imagination and creativity. Limit the use of technology in the home. It has a place but should not replace sibling time, parent time, or family time.
My husband and I recently went to a movie entitled: "Parental Guidance". We laughed so hard throughout the movie because it was about two grandparents who were asked to babysit their 3 grandchildren while the parents went out of town The parents did not want to ask this particular set of grandparents to be the babysitters but they were left with no other choice. The other grandparents had other plans. The parents didn't trust these grandparents to take care of the children because they did not discipline or watch over them as the parents wanted them too.
Without sharing too much of the movie; I will give you one example. The oldest daughter was an extremely good Violin player and she was going to be in a audition for getting into a more advanced program. This meant that she had to practice for long hours. The teacher was very strict and required a great deal of discipline in learning the music. The grandmother took her to the lessons and was very disturbed because the teacher was harsh and demanding. A few days before the audition the grandmother told her granddaughter that she needed to take some time to play and relax. Just a day before the audition the grandparents asked if the children wanted to go out and play "Kick The Can", The older daughter would not go out to play because she felt she had to practice constantly. However, as she heard her siblings having so much fun; she finally decided to join them. The grandparents and the children had so much fun playing this game. It started to rain and they continued laughing and enjoying the rain and being with each other. These children were not use to playing outside and had no idea how to play the game "Kick The Can". As children we played many fun outdoor games and then later taught our children to play these games. In today's world; children don't have time to go out and play due to the use of technology, music and or dance lessons, organized sports and etc. Children do need to play outside more and also inside with toys that challenge their creativity and imaginations. Our greatest advice is to not over schedule your children with activities. Give them time to be children; don't rush them into adulthood. I have worked with children that are stressed out at very young ages. Children need time to relax and breathe.
Always remember that you should enjoy the moments of raising children. It is a choice time of life. Do not rush it. You will be empty nesters before you know it. Don't have regrets that you didn't take the time to enjoy your children. Soon you will be in the process of parenting young adults and adult children which I maintain is the hardest parenting of all.
Finally, be present in the lives of your children. I have noted at a few of our family events that our adult children are using their newest cell phones, laptops or ipads. They are not engaged in the conversations because they are busy surfing the net or texting. Ban technology when you are with your family. There is no place for it at the dinner table, at family celebrations or when you are just together as a family.