Floundering Parents: Gender Identity

In April General Conference of 1981, as a 5-year-old child sitting on the floor playing with my sisters I didn’t notice when Boyd K Packer declared:

One cannot degrade marriage without tarnishing other words as well, such words as boy, girl, manhood, womanhood, husband, wife, father, mother, baby, children, family, home.”

Fourteen years later as I began my sophomore year of college, I ignored my Bishop as he read these words from the first presidency and counsel of the 12 apostles:

ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

Three years later as a young married woman and new mother to a three week old daughter, I didn’t give much thought as Boyd K Packer declared:

In the home and in the Church sisters should be esteemed for their very nature. Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences nature has established. A man, a father, can do much of what is usually assumed to be a woman’s work. In turn, a wife and a mother can do much—and in time of need, most things—usually considered the responsibility of the man, without jeopardizing their distinct roles. Even so, leaders, and especially parents, should recognize that there is a distinct masculine nature and a distinct feminine nature essential to the foundation of the home and the family. Whatever disturbs or weakens or tends to erase that difference erodes the family and reduces the probability of happiness for all concerned.”

Not until 2009, when my husband started encouraging me to read news article after news article about the erosion of the family did I wake up and take notice to what the Prophets' have been declaring for many, many years.

tarnishing other words… such words as boy, girl, manhood, womanhood…

Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences.

The world did not listen in 1981. Marriage slowly continued to erode. Men and women decided that the “until death do you part” or “For time and all eternity” was not an important part of the marriage contract. No fault divorce spread like a disease and brought with it much more infidelity and carelessness. Marriage eroded. Men and women decided they did not need that piece of paper to live as a married couple. Words such as “boy” “girl” “manhood” “womanhood” began to tarnish.

The world took little notice when in 1995 the First presidency and quorum of the twelve apostles declared that “Gender is an essential characteristic…” And marriage continued to erode as men and men and women and women decided they needed that piece of paper.

Mothers and fathers did not listen when in 1998 President Packer warned, “Be careful lest you unknowingly foster influences and activities which tend to erase the masculine and feminine differences.”

And now in 2013 many people do not realize that a prophecy is being fulfilled before their very eyes.

Scripture Stories Help Those With Family Trials Live After the Manner of Happiness

I love the Proclamation to the World on the Family. I have earnestly studied and pondered and sought to defend the doctrine of the family for years. I am grateful that we have living prophets and other authorized leaders who help us keep grounded in a world of shifting values, standards and definitions. We need these ideals taught regularly and often.

At the same time, I also have earnestly studied how the scriptures and the doctrine of Christ can help those whose family life currently does not fully match the ideals as taught by prophets and the plan of salvation. Sometimes such less-than-ideal situations can cause great heartache and grief, and can make happiness seem like an elusive thing.

One does not have to read very far in sacred writ to have opportunity to consider the theme of familial struggles.

- "In the beginning" we know that one third of Heavenly Father's children rebelled and rejected His plan and the Savior, Jesus Christ.

- Adam and Eve must have suffered greatly when Cain killed Abel. Imagine the added devastation when Cain did not repent for his action, but instead justified it and eventually succumbed completely to the devil's influence.

- Lehi and Sariah suffered almost unto death because of the choices of their sons, Laman and Lemuel.

- Abraham had to leave his family of origin in order to not be killed, and in order to seek the blessings of the priesthood. (Abraham 1 is a significant read in terms of the blessings of the priesthood ("blessings of the fathers") that came to him in spite of the sins of his own father.)

Consider how many other stories in the scriptures talk about serious family trials. 

How to Watch October 2013 General Relief Society Broadcast

For information about how to watch the General Relief Society Broadcast, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Saturday, September, 27, 2013, follow links listed in this post. I will also provide information following the broadcast as to how you can watch the Relief Society broadcast, on the Internet - as well, let you know where to find the text when it becomes available. In other words, book

mark this post and check back often to see what I've updated in regard to the Mormon Relief Society broadcast.

Update: On LDS.org you can watch the 2013 General Relief Society Meeting on the Internet.

2013 Relief Society Meeting Synopsis According to WBMW:

Keep Covenants. Go to Temple. Pray. Read Scriptures. Serve Others. God loves us whether we deserve it or not!

LDS Church News: 2013 General Relief Society Meeting Scheduled (click on link for entire info provided)

Motherhood: In Losing Ourselves We Grow

I got married young, at nineteen, after just a year of college. I hadn’t expected to find my husband so soon in my life, but I was thrilled to meet him and felt great joy in our marriage and our plans for our family. Others were not always encouraging. 

Soon after my engagement, I received an email from a friend who is not of our faith. She was convinced that I was throwing away my potential. She warned me I'd lose myself when I got married. "And then will come children," she wrote, "And that's a whole other level of losing yourself." She was sure I was making the biggest mistake of my life. She was right in one point: being a wife and a mother does involve losing yourself. It involves sacrifice. I have put aside many of the things I would like to be doing in order to give myself more fully to my family and the children who have been born to us – nine of them in thirteen years.

I have lost myself, but it is hardly the calamity she worried about. She didn't know -- how could she? -- that it is in losing ourselves that we grow.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

Sometimes people gasp when they realize how many children I have, "You're one busy lady!" "What a lot of work," "You've got your hands full." "How do you do it?" or my favorite, "but isn't that . . . hard?"

It IS hard. But here's the secret: Everything worth doing involves sacrifice. Everything worth doing is going to be hard. Some things as a mother and wife get easier as I learn and grow, and as my capacity to serve grows as well. But there are always new trials, new levels of exhaustion, new parenting challenges to face and overcome.

Predictive Texting and a Proclamation

When I got my first cell phone, I was in University and it was a time when they were pretty basic. I could send and receive calls, but there was no texting at all. It helped me communicate with friends and family and I loved having its convenience. 

Fast forward the years and smartphones with texting are now the norm. They’re fast, efficient, flashy and smarter than most of us (aka me).One of the love/hate relationships I have with my smartphone is the predictive text feature. When I first got the phone, I was pretty annoyed with it. When I tried to text, it would pop up with suggestions of words as I typed. It’s what they call “predictive text”. While it drove me nuts and caused me to send some really strange texts to people (everyone can relate, I’m sure!), I got used to it and found that this feature saves a lot of time. 

The more I texted certain words, the more my phone started to predict what I was going to text—and I don’t even text very much at all. For instance, if I had used a word like “restaurant” or even an unusual word like “Fallentine” a few times, my phone would pick up on the first few letters and fill in the word for me. The more consistently I used certain words or phrases, the more consistently my phone could predict my texting behavior.

Just as with predictive texting on our smart phones, the words we say or the things we most consistently do in our homes and families (whether good or not-so-good) can often predict the future behavior of our children. What’s done most often in our homes is what our children most often will duplicate in their own lives.

Video Helps Celebrate Proclamation - What Mormons Believe: Families

My brother sent me a rough cut of a soon-to-be-published latest YouTube video.  I watched it, and immediately sent him a list of tips for talking to the media.

It was obvious -- his video was going to go viral.

A few days later, "A Gay Mormon Coming Out," was released on YouTube, where my brother announced that he has same-gender attraction, but plans to continue living as a faithful member of the LDS Church, even if it means being celibate for the rest of his life. 

His unique and courageous video instantly landed him national interviews with well-known TV programs, radio stations, and publications, and suddenly my brother was in the public spotlight.  It didn't hurt that he had filmed friends' and family members' reactions as he told them he was gay.  My mom's jaw literally dropped, which is hilarious, regardless with what you believe about the Church.

God is Not Sexist: Gender Matters

My parents both grew up in single-parent homes led by their mothers. My father’s dad was involved in his life but my mother’s father only wandered into her life on occasion. They strongly felt the lack of male parents in their homes, someone available every day and not just during visitations. Although they both had wonderful mothers, they missed out on the balance that comes from having a man and woman partner in the parenting process.

Studies have consistently shown that the best possible outcome for children is when they are raised by their natural mothers and fathers who are married to each other and who have a healthy and loving relationship. This is only possible in a traditional marriage. Parents can raise good children in less than ideal circumstances, but the risks are much greater. There are certain benefits that come only from a two-parent home and some that are possible only when there is one parent of each gender.

Gender matters. We like to pretend it doesn’t, but it does and it always has. When God created people, he created two genders and designed them so they were each necessary in order to have children. When He first placed people on Earth, he placed one of each gender and married them to each other. It is clear he wanted his beloved children to have parents of each gender involved in their upbringings. He assigned these original parents different responsibilities.

God is not sexist. His purpose in arranging the first family as he did was to create the best possible environment for the children. He organized the first family to serve as a model for future families.

Two Genders Balance the Home

Mormons believe we lived with God before we came to earth and this allowed Him to know us each individually. His love for us is based on personal knowledge of who we are and who we can become. By creating two genders with differing natural styles, gifts, and personalities, he could provide a balance in the world and in the home. Studies have backed the idea that mothers and fathers parent differently and that these differences enhance a child’s well-being. Sociologist Dr. David Popenoe says, "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.” (See The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children, Author(s): Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Children's Bureau Rosenberg, Jeffrey Wilcox, W. Bradford, Year Published: 2006.) The article quoted above shows what happens to children when their fathers are not part of their lives.

The same is true of mothers. One study showed that among the differences in the parenting styles of mothers and fathers is that mothers tend to be very protective of their children while fathers are inclined to challenge them. When the mother and father successfully work together to create a parenting style, they end up with a balance of protection and challenge. The mother helps the father learn not to push too hard and the father helps the mother ease up her protective instincts.

Gender is an Essential Characteristic

Mormons believe gender existed before birth and is essential to fulfilling our roles in life. When we try to create a family in which either men or women are expendable, we really attack the very fiber of our being. For us to say a woman is unnecessary to her children is cruel to both the mother and the child. It is equally cruel to say children don’t really need their fathers. Centuries of experience and decades of research have shown us otherwise. Children suffer serious consequences when either parent is missing, which is why the traditional family must be protected and honored.

We sometimes act as though the only way for women to be important is for them to give up all that makes them women. Many women act as though they are ashamed of their gender. Women—not just men—relegate everything women are best at to the role of trivia. In fact, the woman’s role is one of the most important ever created. Parenthood, for either gender, is not trivial.

It is time we stand up for ourselves. A perfect home requires the very best each gender has to offer. We need to put what makes each gender special to work in building the world our children will inhabit. When mothers and fathers work together in harmony, using the best part of their gender in partnership with the best of their spouse’s gender, we can overcome many of today’s challenges. The lonely, aching children portrayed in studies will largely disappear when the home becomes what God meant it to be.

By Terrie Lynn Bittner

Update: Terrie passed away this last spring and leaves behind her a legacy of standing firm in support of the family. She is deeply missed.

Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and thinks homeschooling is as much about strengthening families as it is about education. She also writes about Mormonism for More Good Foundation and on her own blog LatterdaySaintWoman.

Terrie is somewhat of a mentor to me - she probably doesn't even know that though. I've been connected with her for a few years now, because of her writing skills, and her kind support of what I do here on WBMW.  I've learned a lot about writing by observing how Terrie writes. I've read much of what she's written about the LDS Church. Terrie is highly credible in how she approaches Mormonism, and as most of you know, that is very important to me, too. And did I mention her mad writing skills? In fact, this post that she has so kindly agreed to write to commemorate the family proclamation reads more like an article we'd find in the Ensign - and I told her so. And did I mention that when she reads my blog it intimidates me. Well, it does. Thank you, dear friend, for your example of standing and teaching boldly the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Kathryn Skaggs

Image: LDS.org

Seek After the Ideal: Eternal Marriage

Marriage—one man, one woman, defined by God and taught through prophets and apostles. But not just marriage, Eternal Marriage, the Ideal.

Image courtesy of The New Era magazine.

I believe in a Creator who wants the Ideal for His Creations, in all facets of their lives. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who Designed a Plan of Happiness for us, and it is His Vision of the Ideal. It is filled with guideposts and opportunities to learn and grow, to become more like Him. Of those privileges and classrooms, the most important one is the family, formed through an Eternal Marriage between a man and a woman. In the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” we are instructed that,

 THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.

There’s a whole lot of important info in that paragraph. All the important facets of life are mentioned: marriage, children, family roles and the ubiquitous “pursuit of happiness” goal. To me, it looks and sounds like a pattern, and I know that our Heavenly Father and Savior work solely through patterns in teaching us. But this isn’t just any regular old how-to-knit-your-grandma’s-sweater pattern. This is the Ideal Pattern for how to create and keep a marriage and family that will last through all Eternity.

The Doctrine of the Family: Not just for Marriage

I am honored to be able to write a few words on WBMW. The theme Kathryn gave me was and is at the core of how to raise families: "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."

One thing that my vantage point as an LDS Church member in a young single adult ward has made me see, is people who struggle to form families (unfortunately, a common problem in and out of the church). A key portion of President Monson's ministry has been focused on reaching out to the one who is in need. Thus, we should all focus on loving those many who are single, especially with weaknesses, inclinations or attractions that make it hard to form a family.

One thing I have learned is that the family proclamation applies to single members as well. Elder Russell M. Nelson agrees, as he urged the young adults ( watching most of whom are single) to have a copy of the Family Proclamation at the September 2013 CES Fireside and to prepare their hearts for messages and spiritual guidance on the family at the upcoming general conference.

I think he advised this because each of the principles in the sentence above can not only be controversial but can be applied no matter our family circumstances in place of the anti-marriage teachings of satan. I will share a little bit about how 5 of these 11 concepts can help anybody, especially those who struggle.

Stephanie Dibb Sorensen: Glorious Womanhood

“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”


As a young girl, I don’t think I ever paid much attention to gender or considered what it meant to be a female. I loved and appreciated the different roles that my parents played in my life and I tried to emulate both of them in important ways. While I recognized that boys and girls had different physical bodies, I didn’t consciously give much thought to the implications of gender. In today’s hyper-sexualized world, gender awareness and angst comes early because the media has many messages—both demanding and discouraging—about the ideals of manhood and womanhood. Gender has become a buzzword for exploring sexuality, but sexuality is only one component of gender. Gender encompasses our eternal identity and defines our eternal purpose. We are man or woman because God created us to be such, and He loves His children equally. He has given both His sons and His daughters important responsibilities that share in the majesty of His power and His plan. Speaking to women, President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“God is your father. He loves you. He and your mother in heaven value you beyond any measure. They gave your eternal intelligence spirit form, just as your earthly mother and father have given you a mortal body. You are unique. One of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence which gives you claim upon eternal life. . . . It is true of all of us that, as we progress spiritually, our sense of belonging, identity, and self-worth increase . . . To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age.”

childrenNow that I have grown into my womanhood, I feel deep gratitude for who I am and I continue to learn what I mean to God and what He can do with my life. I have two sons and a husband whom I love dearly, but when my daughter was born, the influence of her female spirit in our home changed us all. She is divinely different from my boys, and those differences have inspired a kindness and nobility in them that is a testament to her power as a female.

Cherishing Our Individual Roles in the Eternal Plan

How blessed I am to have come from a loving mother and a loving father!  I learned to be strong from my mother.  She also taught me loyalty, self-preservation, and to hold my head high.  Dad taught me how to feel the Spirit.  He taught me honesty, integrity, and how to set and reach goals.  There are many other things my parents taught me.  I was extremely blessed to have two parents who loved each other and loved me.  If I had been raised by one or the other of them, it still would have been a good life, and I would still be a good person; but oh how blessed I am to have had them both.  My parents loved each other and were loyal to each other.

It is difficult for me to see myself being raised in a non-traditional family.  There is so much I would have missed.  I would have struggled to learn the lessons that my parents taught me.  Each parent brought something unique to the table.  My father could not have shown me how to be a strong woman; that takes a strong woman.  My mother could not have taught me about goal setting like my salesman father.  From one of them, I learned to be tough; from the other to be compassionate.  The World War II veteran showed me who God is; the woman who waited for him to return showed me that when life gets tough, the tough get going.  Dad showed me how a man should treat a woman; Mom showed me how a woman should expect to be treated by a man.

These qualities came from a Heavenly Father who created us in His own image.  He created us male and female with unique qualities for a heavenly purpose.  Children need a balance of the qualities inherent in the male and the female.  He created us different, but equal.  It is His divine purpose that we carry these traits with us as a family unit after we leave this earth.  We are beloved spirit children of heavenly parents who want us to return as families.  We are entitled by birthright to a father and a mother for our eternal family.  How happy we will be if we allow His divine plan to work in our lives!

The Prophetic Family Proclamation

Guest post by Michael W. Towns

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage betweeW.n a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

With simplicity and elegance, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, read these words to the General Relief Society on September 23, 1995.

That was, for me personally, a very good year.  I had graduated high school and was taking some college classes while preparing to depart on my mission the following March.  I remember when the Proclamation came out.  I remember people reading it with eagerness.  I also remember people reading the above statement and saying, “So what’s the big deal?  Of course marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Instagram Great Gran Day: Lilly Viola Malm Clark #IGGday

If you missed the memo, today we are launching the 2013 Family Proclamation Celebration by inviting all of you to post photos of your ancestors on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc., and add a small hashtag, which allows others to find your post - and for you to see what others have posted. (Click on the above FPC link for more details and join in on the fun!)

Today, I am honoring my Grandma Clark - Lilly Viola Malm Clark - the kindest person I have ever known, and the person who taught me to love the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mormonism) simply through her personal faith in its restored truths, and her life of service as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

My Grandma Clark is the reason I am an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I will eternally be grateful for having been sealed to her, through her and my grandfather's adoption of my mother!

I have no doubt that she is, beyond the veil, a very active part of my life, and that of each of my children and grandchildren.

Lilly was the second wife to my grandfather, who had four children with his first wife, who passed away as a young mother. My grandmother could not have children of her own, and so my mother was adopted and is her own special baby! She is a saint and  I love her dearly!

Lilly Viola Malm
Born December 2, 1905

Head on over to Chocolate on my Cranium and Mormon Mommy Blogs, my partners in this Family Proclamation Celebration, to see what they're up to today!


Kathryn Skaggs

Family Search Photos

I'm Back! And Ready to Celebrate the Family Proclamation and More!

As you may have noticed, or not (of course, I hope you have), I've taken a little hiatus from blogging this summer, due to a very hectic schedule - and even more exciting, I've spent the last three weeks crossing off about a million things from my 'to-see/do' bucket list, by fulfilling a life-long desire to go to Europe. Oh yes I did!

In fact, the decision to take the trip was made spontaneously (celebrating our 35th Wedding Anniversary), and was planned in less than six weeks! I now have enough research experience to qualify as a personal travel agent for your next vacation, and will find you the best online deals!

It's amazing how much can happen, or change, in such a short time. I've spent the last 24 hours, since returning, checking in here and there, and after having done so, feel as though I've missed a ton. My newest grandson, Leo, only 6-weeks-old when we left, has doubled in size, and abilities - we are slowing getting reacquainted with each other. However, he doesn't seemed very impressed with me, just yet. 

But then it occurred to me, that missing nearly a month out of 12 in a year, is a lot - considering how much happens and changes in each of our lives, every year. Anyway, it shouldn't really surprise me that I feel totally out of it right now - determined to jump right back in and pick up from where I left off. However, I note, that life goes on and it 'mattereth not' that this is so, when one is doing what they are born to do.