My dear readers,
This is a cross-post from my family's personal blog, but I feel it is worth sharing here. As the world becomes more chaotic and confusing, I firmly believe that we need to be specific and clear with our children about our family's goals and expectations.
It is my hope and prayer that you and your families can continue to stand for truth and righteousness wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances.
For years, I have been convinced that our family needed a "Family Standard." But it wasn't until this past weekend that we finally finished ours!
Why do I think our family needs one?
Well, because there are problems and issues that keep cropping up and causing unrest and contention in our home-- rules and standards that my husband and I thought were understood, but obviously haven't been, due to the negative aspects going on.
So after reminders from our awesome stake president in a recent adult fireside, we decided to finally take action.
(Our stake president assured us that he and his wife have had plenty of "Family Home Grievings" in their home, where they look around and observe the weeping and wailing that comes from renewing and resolving missing standards. That gave me hope!!!)
Joan of ArcIn one of my FAVORITE parenting books, written by my good friend, Nicholeen Peck, she talks about having a Family Standard that is designed specifically for each family. In her book, she mentions how Joan of Arc would go into battle holding her standard, or flag, high so that all the men fighting would continue to have hope and courage to keep going.
Here's what one source said about that:
Joan never actually fought in battle or killed an opponent. Instead, she would accompany her men as a sort of inspirational mascot, brandishing her banner in place of a weapon. She was also responsible for outlining military strategies, directing troops and proposing diplomatic solutions to the English (all of which they rejected). Despite her distance from the front lines, Joan was wounded at least twice, taking an arrow to the shoulder during her famed Orléans campaign and a crossbow bolt to the thigh during her failed bid to liberate Paris.
And from another source:
The purpose of the standard was to indicate a clear location to which her army could rally when dispersed in the confusion of battle. On several occasions when her troops were losing ground, Saint Joan of Arc is reported to have ridden into the midst of battle, using her standard to mark her position on the field, and rally her men on to victory.
"I loved my banner forty times better than my sword. And when I went against my enemy, I carried my banner myself, lest I kill any. I have never killed a man." In Her Own Words, p. 26
Sometimes, I think our children just need to know FOR SURE where we stand on things, so that they can have courage to keep fighting, keep trying.
I can't begin to tell you how difficult it was for us to write our standards out on paper. I have been distracted from the task for YEARS, remember! This last weekend we closed ourselves in our bedroom for a day and a half and did not come out until it was FINISHED.
During our standard's creation, my husband and I felt opposition from the adversary in a way that we rarely have before! It was like we were trying to slog through mud in a rainstorm, or trying to drive at 15 miles per hour in a blizzard with very little visibility.
But there was this spark that kept urging us on, and when one of us would get overwhelmed and ready to despair, the other would take up the task and sit down and write. The adversary was using every trick in the book, but at the same time, the Holy Spirit kept whispering words of comfort and encouragement.
We used the Church's booklet, "For the Strength of Youth" a LOT, quoting from it now and then, but also using its outline and format to organize our thoughts. I feel that, if the Lord has a outline and standard for the youth of the Church, then we should have one specific for our children, too!
Every family has a standard.
Whether it's stated or not, every family has a culture and law in how they do things. The standard may be that they don't have any rules! But they still have one by the way they live. If we want to guide the outcomes of the people our children (and ourselves!) become, we need to be sure to have the boundaries that we need set in place.
As I said above, my husband and I had made too many assumptions that our kids knew our expectations and reasons for why we do things the way we do, but as our kids get older, we have seen boundaries that we thought were strong, being bent and pushed. It is human nature to test boundaries, and our kids have been testing ours with a lot of persistence the last few years! We realized we needed to reinforce the boundaries, and build up the walls (Like Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon) to protect our family better from the slings and arrows of the adversary.
Our Family Standard
Our Family Standard turned out to be quite long (10 pages)-- and that's because we were very specific! It's easy to see the areas that have become of real concern to us. (Time wasting, management of electronic devices, pairing off in couples, etc.)
It's interesting that we have had some of the problems above, because we have never allowed any of our kids to have their own electronic devices. We have always talked openly to them about dating standards, and had very frank discussions about not getting romantically involved with others until they are of marriageable age. And yet, we've had issues come up.
Our kids may be homeschooled, but they don't live in a bubble! They know that all the kids at church have their own phones and i-Pods. They know that lots of teens they know walk around with headphones in their ears all day. It is difficult to be different!
I know that we are very, VERY strict parents. BUT, we have worked hard to nurture the relationships we have with our children. That has been one of the REAL benefits in our homeschooling efforts, is that we KNOW our kids! We work on our relationships with them every single day, all day long. And because of that, they trust us. They have been meek and willing to take a look at what they've been doing, and have been willing to change.
Luckily, our family meeting went well. My husband and I are the first to admit that we have some real, BIG shortcomings that we need to overcome. We acknowledge that we are some of the worst perpetrators (especially of the time-wasting!) in our home. So we asked their forgiveness for setting bad examples. We asked for their help in overcoming our weaknesses.
And so, we avoided a "Family Home Grieving" episode, and instead, our home has been filled with peace and love.
But overflowing love and feelings of security and hope?
I am so glad that my husband and I pushed through the opposition and finally finished creating our standard. It is helping us all-- me included!-- feel like we have a direction and goals to become the very best disciples of Christ that we can be.
If you are interested in our Family Standard, you can read it here.
I pray ALL parents will have the strength to stand and hold up a righteous standard for their children to follow, however short, long, general, or specific they make it. The hope ours has given our family is real and powerful.