The Daddy Test

Not long ago I was pulling weeds in my garden and overheard my six-year-old son use a very crude word he had learned on the school playground. In the past I have threatened, scolded, and lectured when I have heard such words slip from my children, but that day I had a new idea.

I called my son over to talk with me. I asked him if he had ever heard Daddy say words like that. He shook his head no. I told my son that many people use inappropriate language, but Daddy sets an example for our family by never using those words. Even at his work, where such language is common, most people have learned that Daddy doesn’t like foul language, and they only use polite words around him. Together my young son and I came up with a new family strategy. We call it the “Daddy Test.” If there’s any question about the propriety of a word, we just think about whether Daddy would use the word, and then we act accordingly.

Since that day in the garden, the Daddy Test has been employed frequently in our house. It is now a rare occasion to hear an inappropriate word slip out. How grateful I am for a husband who sets the standard for the Daddy Test.Carolee H. Smith, Blackfoot, Idaho

Can I Help?

Do you know friends or family members who are under extreme stress, such as coping with the death or serious illness of a loved one? Following are some suggestions of how you can give them support as they cope with their challenges.

  1. 1.

    Listen. Encourage them to express their feelings. Reassure them that it is all right to cry and that it is normal to feel upset, confused, and frightened.

  2. 2.

    Get family members involved. Encourage them to pray with their family and work with them to solve the problem.

  3. 3.

    Do not judge. Phrases like “if only you had …” or “I told you this would happen if …” only make them feel guilty. Help them see that they are not to blame for events outside their control and that they are not being punished. If they are responsible for their problem, encourage them to put the past behind them by repenting. Repentance will allow them to forgive themselves.

  4. 4.

    Encourage them to continue their daily tasks or give them a meaningful assignment to complete. They may feel bewildered and helpless. If they can do something useful, they will feel more capable of controlling the problem.

  5. 5.

    Spend time together. Show your friends or family members that you care by being available. Pray with them and for them.

  6. 6.

    Help them gain a spiritual perspective. Help them see the purpose of trials and suffering in life. Try to give them a sense of hope.

  7. 7.

    Use Church resources. The Church provides spiritual and emotional support from priesthood and Relief Society leaders, temporal assistance through the ward welfare services committee, and support from home teachers and visiting teachers who have a good relationship with the individual or the family.

Be careful not to neglect those whose problems continue after the initial flurry of support. A new widow or widower may need as much attention six months after his or her spouse’s funeral as was needed immediately following the death.—Church Welfare Services Department

SOS for Busy Mothers

Several years ago our family had six children under the age of eleven, and the small rooms of our house bulged with bodies. For me, it was the “burn the candle at both ends” stage of life. Along with trying to meet my children’s needs and keep an orderly house, I tried to support my husband in his calling as bishop. I often felt I was swimming for my life against tides of frustration and confusion. Without the strength that came through daily scripture study and prayer, I felt I would drown spiritually and emotionally.

I often thought of the advice given to my mother when she was in similar circumstances. She, too, had a large family, and her husband was a mission president. On a visit to the mission, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had told her, “Sister Hatch, the Lord is not frantic, and he does not want you to be.”

This was good advice, but I had a hard time living it. When could I, the mother of a large young family and the wife of a busy man, ever fill my own spiritual and emotional needs? I needed help. I asked for it daily, sought it fervently, and eventually received it. My answer came as an SOS plan that to me stood for solitude, organization, and simplification.

Strength through Solitude

I learned the importance of taking some time each day for myself. I used this time apart to ponder and pray, study the scriptures, and be taught by the Spirit. It was a time to evaluate, repent, forgive, and receive insight and inspiration in whatever combination I needed on a particular day.

The Lord Jesus Christ needed solitary time. Matthew records: “He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone” (Matt. 14:23). The Lord knew the source of his strength. I discovered that I, too, could gain strength through solitude.

Order through Organization

I wanted to pattern my life after the Savior’s and to mold our home according to his plan. He said, “Behold, mine house is a house of order” (D&C 132:8) and “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119).

I found that the first step toward my accomplishing these goals was to organize my own life. During my time of solitude, I recommitted to my values, reviewed my long-term goals, and wrote daily to-do lists.

Serenity through Simplification

There are more good things to be done each day than I have time or energy to do. As a busy mother I learned to rank these good things in order of importance. Prioritizing was my way of simplifying.

The scripture “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33) helped me remember to put first things first. When I wasn’t able to do everything I planned to do, I felt good if I did the things that mattered most.

I made time for solitude early in the mornings, in the evenings when the children were in bed, or anytime I could snatch a few minutes for myself. I learned that my days went better when I took time to pray and ask for the Lord’s help during the rest of my busy day. My SOS plan became my lifeline for spiritual strength.Michelle H. Sandberg, Loveland, Colorado

Preparation for Primary

As I watched the row of three-year-olds—the youngest members of the Primary—I was reminded of jumping beans. The children sat still for only a few moments before the wiggles set in. Although children who attend the nursery or eighteen-month to three-year-old class do learn some Primary songs and become familiar with the pattern of attending a class, for many youngsters the adjustment of moving from the nursery to the Primary can be difficult. Among other things, they have to sit still longer, interact with more people, and become accustomed to new faces. Here are some ideas parents can use to help a child prepare for the transition into Primary.

Be positive about Primary. This will help a child look forward to the change in his or her life. A few months before January, begin talking about what your child can expect. If you have older children, they can help by telling their younger sibling about their Primary experiences. It may help to talk to the Primary president or to the teacher of the three-year-olds to find out what the class will be doing. As you talk about Primary with a positive attitude, your child will be less apprehensive about the move.

Sing Primary songs together. Ask the Primary music leader for a list of the songs the children sing often and are currently learning in Primary. If you sing these songs at home with your children, they will recognize the songs when they get to Primary and will feel a greater sense of belonging. You do not need to sing well or even know anything about music to make this an effective activity.

Read to your child. One of the hardest things for little children to do in class is to sit still. We found that reading together is one of the best ways to help them learn to sit still and pay attention. At first we sit a child on our lap and just turn the pages of a picture book. After a while we begin to ask questions: Do you see the kitten? What color is the clown’s hair? Why is the girl smiling? Then we read the story to the child. We have found that reading together for half an hour before nap time and again before bedtime works very well.

With some advance preparation, your child’s move from the nursery to the Primary can be pleasant and exciting. By using these ideas and incorporating some of your own, you can help ensure that your child’s transition to Primary will be a positive experience.Kristina M. Fowler, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

[illustrations] Illustrated by Tom Child

[photo] Photo by John Luke