Missing Mother Education

In one of many recent conversations we’ve had about raising children, my mother recalled attending mother education classes once a month as part of the old weekday Relief Society curriculum (which existed before the block schedule was implemented in 1980). She said there were always two choices: a mother education class and an alternative, for those who weren’t currently raising children–and, I suppose, for anyone who simply didn’t want to be educated in motherhood that week, for whatever reason. Of course a mother education curriculum can be beyond awkward in many contexts. One of my first church callings was as the mother education instructor in my singles’ ward. Broad adaptation was required.

Lately I’ve been longing, ambivalently, for a mother or parent education class.* I live in a ward simply swarming with young children, and various playgroups have kindly taken me in, even though I’m more than a decade older than any of the other first-time mothers. There’s much consolation, encouragement, and practical knowledge to be found in sharing experiences and ideas with others in the trenches. But excellent as playgroups are, both for mothers and for children, they necessarily lack the perspective of experienced mothers whose children are teenagers or adults, and of course their informal nature precludes any sort of focussed discussion. Useful as they are, there are kinds of reflection and exchanges of ideas to which playgroups just aren’t amenable. How nice it would be, I keep thinking, to attend a church class on parenting–a good church class, of course, taught by experienced and thoughtful parents.

At the same time, I see a lot of drawbacks to mother or parent education. The biggest is that the church is already so focussed on families that those without spouses or children are constantly sidelined as it is. Marriage and children can create vast social gulfs, too rarely traversed, and while too many talks and lessons implicitly assume that everyone present is married and has children, separating mothers from non-mothers would only deepen those gulfs. Given the immense and increasing variety of circumstances in which Mormon women and men live, there’s much to be said for focussing on general, basic gospel principles that apply to all of us.

Another problem would be what curriculum to use. There are few issues more contentious among Mormon mothers than parenting philosophies, and it would definitely take a skilled teacher to navigate those potentially treacherous waters. My mother recalls with amusement that one month the lesson manual advocated one approach, while that month’s Ensign advocated precisely the opposite approach. It wouldn’t be easy to come up with a curriculum that was broad enough and principle-based enough to speak to a range of parenting styles without being so general and vague as to be meaningless.

So while an excellent parent- or mother-education class would meet my particular needs, I realize there are very good reasons for not implementing such a thing. Since my recent late-in-life transformation into an SAHM, I’ve been stunned at how much better the church now meets my social needs, supports my undertakings, and speaks to my particular situation. When I was the childless full-time grad-student spouse of an inactive atheist, I was always on the fringes, an exception to nearly every talk and lesson. Nothing was oriented to me; no one knew quite how to place me, what to do with me, even how to talk to me. Now that I fit the norm a little better, the church fits me better. There’s a very good argument to be made that instead of expanding parent education for those who are already comfortably ensconced at the center, the church needs to figure out how to reach those on the edges. We’re losing single women and men in droves, for example, and the divorced and single parents are also frequently sidelined. There’s also an excellent argument to be made that I should seek parent education in the community; clearly the church can’t and shouldn’t meet all of my needs, and we Mormons are often rightly accused of being insular and caring only for our own. Getting involved in community parenting classes and children’s activities would arguably be a better choice in terms of reaching beyond the Mormon world and engaging other social networks.

So what do you all think? Mother (or parent) education–yay or nay?

Are there other church classes you’d like to see implemented–or canceled?

*I realize there is the Marriage and Family Relations Sunday school class, and although the manual’s pretty bad, the underlying principle of instruction in and discussion about marriage and chilrearing is sound, and with the right instructor the class can be excellent. But the childrearing section of the class lasts only twelve weeks. Personally I’d like something a little more ongoing that would encourage me to think about my parenting throughout the years and decades of my childrearing.

24 thoughts on “Missing Mother Education

  1. 1

    Eve, for a small taste of the old Relief Society Mother Education curriculum, the lesson titles and objectives for the 1976-77 year are part of my Keepa post here.

    Your long paragraph about how the church fits you better now, and related thoughts, is so welcome to me. Thank you! While I certainly would resent having to endure a mother education curriculum myself, I wouldn’t mind a division between mothers and others if a class gave mothers what they needed. Of course, that willingness for a division may be a factor of age, now that my peers are all becoming grandparents — if there had been a division while I was in my 20s or 30s, so that I was the only woman within 20 years of my age stuck in a class with old women whose families were raised, I’m not sure I could have taken it. (I find myself in that boat now, but that’s due to the weird demographics of my ward, not a result of separating the sheep and the g–, er, the mothers and the genealogical dead ends.)

  2. 2

    I remember how helpless I felt when I brought my son home from the hospital. I remember putting the infant car seat with him in it on the bed in our bedroom and realizing I had no idea what to do next. As a hyper-educated parent, I felt a lot of anxiety for not having a clear method or sense of direction to successfully care for my child.

    Although I read a few books looking for someone else to tell me what to do or at least reassure me that I wasn’t doing it “wrong”, I kind of figured it out myself in the end. I think the best approach is being exposed to all kinds of parenting philosophies, maybe trying them out for yourself, and then deciding what’s best for you and your child. But I think ultimately, you know what’s best for your child – and usually the most successful method is one you come up with yourself. That said, a few books I’ve enjoyed are “The Optimistic Child”, the “Happiest Toddler on the Block”, and the “Scientist in the Crib”.

    I’m very wary of people pushing one parenting philosophy to the exclusion of others. For example, I don’t think the church would discuss the benefits of day care or full/part time work in a mothering class. I know, the ZD’s should start an on-line mothering class/discussion group! 🙂

  3. 3

    For what it’s worth, as a single member in a family ward, I’d have no objection to such a thing–if it could be helpful to the mothers in a ward, it seems like it would be a great idea. The ideal, it seems to me (from my admittedly outsider perspective!) would be a place where people could talk honestly about the challenges they’re encountering and get thoughts and perspective from other parents–especially experienced parents, as you say–without getting smacked down by particular orthodoxies. (Of course, that might be useful thing to have for areas besides child-raising as well, and I know it’s not that easy to create such an environment.)

    Like Ardis, I’ve been fascinated your observations about how the church works a lot better for you now that you fit the norm–I have to admit that it’s somewhat validating. We recently had a RS lesson on how to better integrate singles into the ward, and thinking about it made me realize that to some extent I see the situation as hopeless. Which is, I’m sure, partly due to my own neurotic temperament. But I live in a ward that I really like, in which people are friendly and welcoming and there’s space for a lot of different views. And yet going to church (when I make it!) is often the hardest thing I do all week. It’s not even about my doctrinal concerns, or that at least in my current ward I feel like I’m seen as lesser because of my single status. But often it just feels brutal to be there, with all the implicit reminders that I don’t quite belong, that I’ve failed in some very basic way. And I honestly don’t know what the answer is. Sorry–that’s a bit of a threadjack; it’s just something that’s been on my mind.

    But kind of back to what I think is maybe a broader question–would it be worth having segregated classes that were aimed at particular needs? We already do that a little in Sunday School, with both a gospel doctrine and a gospel essentials class, as well as classes focused on things like Family Relations, Temple Prep, and Family History. Of course, those are time-limited classes. Sometimes I’ve thought that gospel doctrine could be usefully split into different styles of approaching the gospel (perhaps “Answers to Gospel Questions” vs. “Questions to Gospel Answers.”) On the other hand, I can see good reasons for not segregating too much.

    Another random thought–right now church is basically about learning about general gospel principles for three hours straight. What if one of those hours involved more focused, practical discussion of day-to-day life issues–though still in a gospel context, of course–and maybe in smaller classes? If nothing else, I suspect it would make church more interesting. There’s often discussion of how often people feel pressure to fake it in church and pretend everything’s great, and I wonder to what extent it’s due not just to Mormon culture, but to a set-up that doesn’t actually encourage that kind of conversation. I know home and visiting teaching are ideally set up to meet that need, but I think there could be advantages to having more of that kind of thing at church itself. (Or maybe not–I’m really just free associating here.)

  4. 4

    I favor community based parenting for long-term needs, for all the reasons you suggested.

    But it seems perfectly reasonable to have occasional classes on the topic. I hosted a parenting Enrichment meeting taught by a woman in the ward who is a PhD and child development specialist. We opened it to anyone in the ward who wanted to come, not just sisters, and it was mostly young parents who attended, although I thought to myself at the time, and still do, that some of the parents in the ward with older kids could have benefited. After all, we do not only parent toddlers–we parent adolescents and teenagers and it seems that in some ways that is a more crucial time. After all, everyone gets potty-trained somehow, whether with bribes or running around naked or what have you, but does everyone get through their teen years unscathed? Do we all enter adulthood with self-esteems intact and general competence to navigate the world. Sadly, no.

    But I am not sure how Gospel-based parenting needs to be anyway. I know using that lens through which to discuss topics really grabs some people who might not listen otherwise, but aren’t the general principles of respecting each other taught in the Gospel inculcated in good parenting already? Out of the four major styles of parenting (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and disengaged–brief descriptions here), only one (authoritative) seems to fit a Gospel orientation, and it is the style taught favored in parenting classes already.

    And let’s not leave dads out! If we have parenting classes, they should not be female-oriented.

  5. 5

    But often it just feels brutal to be there, with all the implicit reminders that I don’t quite belong, that I’ve failed in some very basic way. And I honestly don’t know what the answer is.

    Lynnette, I often have the same struggle (single sister in a family ward), and surprisingly, often feel this struggle at the temple…

    Anyway, I like the idea of a parenting class, but in a smaller, more informal way. In fact, I think the meeting-formally-known-as-enrichment is a really good place for that sort of discussion, opened up to parents rather than just mothers. But I know that it always feels like we’re just adding one more meeting to our already busy schedules, as well.

    Sometimes I think we should keep either Sunday School or third hour doctrine based, and have the other class time for more practical applications. Small classes that you can choose to go to on a variety of topics – parenting, education opportunities, job skills, whatever… Learning is a completely Sabbath-appropriate activity in my mind.

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    Like the others I can relate to and feel validated by the comments about the church working better for us at perhaps different times in life. I have been a single woman in a single or family ward for many years into my thirties and was recently married to a non member and still find that I am a bit of an outsider in my own church. It seems that other’s don’t always know what to do with or make of me so your comments are also validating. I have no objections to parenting classes being offered although I am not a parent and may never be one. I would like to think that those who have children would still try to consider finding ways to include others (those without etc) into their lives and social networks even if we can’t/don’t always relate in the same ways. I imagine that kind of class would be very useful if I were a parent or a new parent and I would want something of the sort to attend. The vast social gulf that you mention because of the focus on families is something I feel strongly but that doesn’t mean I don’t want people to be able to improve upon and focus on their own families. I would just like to be seen as a valuable part of the group still, and not strange or unrighteous even because I don’t have children (and while I was single because I didn’t have a husband). I get questions all the time from many young or middle aged sisters in the ward about when are we going to have children and why haven’t I quit my job yet (now that I’m married) and these questions don’t seem out of just sheer curiosity. The older women don’t seem to ask those kinds of questions so much– perhaps they’ve learned better. But the weird looks and incessant queries about my lifestyle are definitely discriminating and show their uncomfortableness with me even though I’m not uncomfortable with them, or their choices, or their kids. I have no problem hanging around others with their kids present– nobody seems to feel comfortable with that kind of an invitation though even when I make a point to suggest it. Whew, sorry so long winded! 🙂

    But thanks for sharing these thoughts and considering the men and women that are leaving or considering it. People leave for all kinds of reasons but certainly this lack of feeling a part of the community can and does participate in causation. I know I have been considering leaving for some time now for this and several other reasons. Its hard being on the ‘edges’, so to speak.

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    JRL, yes Family Services does have such a course. It’s pretty good too. But only some stakes avail themselves of it.

    When our children were small my husband and I took the older version of it and it was extremely helpful. Years later, in another stake, when our children were in their early teens and I felt the need to network parenting skills we simply invited other parents in our ward to join us once a month at our house as we read and discussed a book about parenting teens . We just did a chapter or two at a time. It not only served as a forum for learning but also created a group of parents who had an informal network of support in their parenting of teenagers. That was helpful too.

    So, if your stake doesn’t offer the family services course, you might try creating something informal and sporadic on your own as needed. It worked for us.

    And, though it’s not always possible, I second the idea that if you have moms AND dads in the process together it’s more helpful.

  9. 9

    Good questions, Eve.
    Another random thought–right now church is basically about learning about general gospel principles for three hours straight.

    Tangentially, I kind of wonder how it’s going to be next year when we use the new Gospel Principles manual in Relief Society and Priesthood, while the same manual is being used in the Gospel Essentials class. Will it make things more boring and repetitive, or will it be a welcome change from the prophet manuals? I wonder if the decision was made because so many in the Church are relatively recent converts.

    Anyway, back on the topic of the post, mb, I really like your suggestion of just taking the manual and getting people together informally to do it outside of church. I really really like the idea of the parents’ support network.

  10. 10

    One stake I was in did a round of the parenting course, but when I (a single, nonparent at the time) asked if they were providing child care/nursery for parents wishing to attend the class, they looked at me like I had three heads.

    One of the very “helpful and knowledgeable” Elders Quorum reps said that the classes were being held on Friday nights because that was date night and parents already had established babysitters for those evenings.

    And here I was thinking that parents who needed help with parenting might not have established date nights or child care and maybe that was part of the reason they really could benefit from the class but would be unable to because there was no place for the kids they were trying to parent…..

    I suspect there are plenty of parents in my new ward (different stake) who’d appreciate a parenting class. Chances are they’d make the same no-nursery mistake again (since even the RS can’t get its act together to organize childcare for the-meetings-formerly-known-as-enrichment). This despite the fact that there are a good number of (essentially) single parents because spouses are medical residents/interns.

  11. 11

    My first thought was that I think this is the kind of stuff the RS weekday meetings could help with. The feeling as I listened to Sister Beck talk about them was that this was precisely the kind of thing RS should help us address. So rather than a Church-wide curriculum per se, I think one approach is to talk to local leaders if you feel a need and if that need matches your demographic.

    I personally wouldn’t want this on Sundays…I feel that spiritual focus is so important to helping me in all facets of my life and particularly as a mom (motherhood takes a great deal of faith — it’s hard!)

    Maybe taking and talking that LDS Family Services parenting class up more would be a good starting place for all of us, though, huh? I should look into that.

    I am curious now to check out Keepa on what the classes used to be like….

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    This reminds me a bit of the “dating panel” firesides my stake used to have growing up. We were supposed to come up with questions and a panel of “experts” would answer them. (I admit, I’m not sure what the qualifications were to be an “expert,” since I never actually attended any of the firesides.)

    It seems like a similar setup could work for a mini-class in Sunday School:

    Ask some parents of older kids if they would be willing to share their experiences with various aspects of childrearing. (Don’t just solicit answers from parents in “perfect” families. Single parents, parents in blended families, parents of “special needs” kids, etc. would all have a valuable perspective to share.)

    Ask parents of younger kids (or anyone interested) to think of questions they would want to ask the parents of older kids. (If these questions were asked far enough in advance, they could probably be grouped together so that each lesson could have a theme.)

    I understand the viewpoint of those who say they’d rather not have this sort of mini-class conflict with Sunday School, but having it as part of the 3-hour block would impose the least inconvenience on the very people it’s meant to help, in terms of built-in childcare and not having to make time for another meeting. Also, it would be nice to find a way to get subs for parents who work in Primary (or have another 2nd block calling) so that they could attend.

  13. 13

    I’m the mother of a small child. I wouldn’t want mothering or parenting classes in church, for all the reasons Eve said that such a class would be challenging to implement.

    My favorite church-related meeting is my book group. It doesn’t quite count because it’s not an RS meeting, it’s just a group of women from my ward who’ve been reading books together for 25 years, but I love that it’s multi-generational, so I get perspectives from women who are not exactly like me.

    If I want parenting advice, I talk to friends & family. If I had a serious parenting question, I’d seek professional help. I agree with Eve when she said the Church can’t fill all our needs.

  14. 14

    Thanks to everyone who’s commented. I really appreciate the various proposals and perspectives on the issue of parenting classes.

    Ardis, Lynnette, and moshka, I’m glad to hear my observations about fitting (and not fitting) into a family-oriented church culture have been validating. My recent experience in suddenly having more of a place at church has made me wonder to what degree my social angst has been a function of my situation rather than of my strange ideas or my even stranger personality. (In all fairness, I must give both their due 😉 –but it does make one wonder.)

    I found Ardis’s link to the old mother-education curriculum fascinating. I’m particularly struck by how practical and hands-on some of the curriculum was–the review of first-aid procedures, for instance. I’ve thought some lately about the issue of practical instruction in homemaking–which, like practical instruction in parenting, I could certainly use. Although I can learn a certain amount from books, I suspect I’m not alone in mastering skills best hands-on, by watching someone do something and then, ideally, by having that someone watch and correct me as I attempt it. Ideally I suppose that’s the sort of instruction the meeting formerly known as enrichment would provide. Although I’ve seen enrichment meetings move away from crafts (hallelujah!) and although they often provide good information on other topics, I’ve seen relatively little instruction in homemaking–cooking, canning, gardening, sewing, and childrearing.

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    ECS, I’ve had that experience too–repeatedly. Even having heard so many other parents talk about that sense of helplessness didn’t prepare me for the depths of my own. I share your skepticism about parenting philosophies (one of these days I’ll finish my post on that subject), and I really like the idea of an online parenting class–although I don’t know that we’re really the blog to host it, since fewer than half of us are parents. (If someone else started it, I’d certainly follow along and chime in!)

    Lynnette, good points about the pros and cons of segregation. I share your ambivalence. On the one hand, I like the idea of breakout groups in which more specific needs and interests and phases of life could be addressed, so that we’re not always stuck at the level vague generalities. (You and Enna and others make a good point about the limitations staying general imposes on our church discussions.) On the other, the description Ardis gives of an RS divided into mothers and non-mothers chills me. I think I would have found such a split unendurable during my childless years–trudging off to the goat class for the genealogical dead-ends, as she puts it, while most of the other women my age went off to learn about how to raise their kids. The social dynamics that would inevitable attend such a scenario give me great pause.

    I like ESO’s points about parenting for adolescents. I often think that I’m at the easy end of my parenting, the phase in which I have the power to console my daughter, solve her problems, and make her happy. When she’s seven, that will be much less the case, and it won’t be the case at all by the time she’s seventeen. I may need far more help as a mother then than I do now.

    The point about including fathers, and other observations about the logistics of a class, get at the practical difficulties. The great advantage of a church-time class is that, as Katya says, with a little arranging both parents could attend without the need for babysitting. Enrichment nights are great as far as they go, but of course they’re for mothers only, which is a significant limitation.

    Thanks JrL, mb, Emily U., Ziff, and others for your suggestions about the Family Services class (which I don’t think exists in my stake, but I’ll investigate), and for the suggestion about establishing your own parenting discussion-group or network. It’s an excellent idea, and as Emily U. observes, that’s basically what many of us do anyway–we ask our family and friends for suggestions and advice. It would be great to set something up, either through the church or outside of it, where we could regularly read and talk about parenting issues and benefit from each other’s experience and wisdom. You’ve inspired me to investigate the possibilities.

    m&m, I can see the case both for more practical hands-on instructions one hour and the case against the segregation such instruction would probably require. I’m not opposed to general gospel instruction so much as I’m opposed to brain-searing boredom (and thus I’m in favor of anything that might alleviate it). I recently attended a really excellent Marriage and Family Relations class–the best church class I’ve gone to in years!–so I may be suffering some sort of recency bias that Ziff and Lynnette and others with a social science background could identify.

    At this point, I’d be thrilled to attend a good second- or third-hour class on Gospel-Centered Zoookeeping.

    LRC said,

    Chances are they’d make the same no-nursery mistake again (since even the RS can’t get its act together to organize childcare for the-meetings-formerly-known-as-enrichment). This despite the fact that there are a good number of (essentially) single parents because spouses are medical residents/interns.

    I’ve been on the committee-formerly-known-as-enrichment for over a year now, and in my experience that problem isn’t that the RS simply can’t get its act together. Arranging nurseries for enrichment is often that hardest part of our planning, because who’s going to staff them? Essentially we have to ask someone to spend a night away from her family, or her other pursuits, to watch someone else’s kids. It’s like pulling teeth (and I don’t blame people for not wanting to). The same two or three willing people often end up doing it, but I don’t want to abuse their generosity and put them in perennial isolation from the rest of the ward.

    If you have a large number of medical-student spouses in your stake, that would only make staffing the nursery all the more difficult. And if the existence of a well-staffed nursery for enrichment nights is of particular concern to you, perhaps you could volunteer to staff and coordinate it. I assure you, your enrichment committee would be absolutely delighted!

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    I have had the experience of being the infertile, childless woman for many years and also now am a mother of young children. When I look at this from either perspective, I don’t like the idea of a parenting class. In my earlier, childless years, such a division would have been very painful for me, to be shut out from something the other sisters my age were attending.

    And now that I am a mother, I really like the idea of the Church staying out of parenting other than the basic spiritual principles that we are already taught. There are so many ways to parent, so many philosophies and ideas out there. My parenting style is quite different from a lot of the people around me, both those my age and those beyond me on the path. I’m quite sure I would have a hard time sitting in such a class listening to so many ideas with which I would strongly disagree. I’m extremely picky about where, or to whom, I go for parenting advice and ideas. I think offering a Church class on the topic could seemingly make it appear that what was being taught was the “right” or “best” way to do things. I hear stories of fundmentalist Protestant churches sponsoring parenting classes and the problems it creates for those who disagree, and I’ve always been very grateful for a Church with enough sense to leave it to the personal revelation of each parent to decide how to nurture and teach their own children.

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    I’m not opposed to general gospel instruction so much as I’m opposed to brain-searing boredom

    I guess I’m spoiled; we have great gospel classes where I live…lots of good discussion, etc.

    And I really think that RS meetings are still being under-utilized.

    That said, I think it’s one thing to have RS meetings that help facilitate homemaking and such, but I agree with those who express concern about approaching certain parental philosophies, etc. I think our emphasis on revelation means that it would be essential to focus on basic skills and basic principles, not necessarily on specific approaches and philosophies.

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    I agree with M&M that RS meetings are woefully under utilized, but part of me feels that the things we would/should be learning in those meetings are things men need to be learning too.

    Either way count me as one who would love to have a venue to learn about parenting principles but fears that church run classes would be a train wreck with a thin veneer of doctrinal authority.
    I’m reminded of elderly women chastising a young wife struggling with infertility, she claimed that when the young wife corrected her feelings on corporal punishment (she was against it) then the Lord would open her womb. I don’t think we want to give someone like that a sanctioned venue.
    Hopefully the local leadership would be wise enough to avoid putting *that person* in charge of the class, but you never know, and perhaps in this case the risks outweigh the potential benefit.

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    but part of me feels that the things we would/should be learning in those meetings are things men need to be learning too.

    GOOD point.

    Why not an occasional RS meeting that invites spouses? 🙂

    church run classes would be a train wreck

    Personal choice cannot be given that kind of authority. So in that sense, we’d need a curriculum that was consistent, or very, very clear guidelines if there was something that dealt with parenting tips.

    OR at a local level (if nothing ever happened at the general level beyond the LDS Family Services course), at least provide multiple points of view…say, a panel or something…so that one voice, one choice, one point of view does not dominate. The ‘council system’ in presentations, etc. I think is as wise as in decision-making meetings.

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    I just think it would be a bad idea. Couple years ago I was in a marriage class where the subject was divorce and the instructor was telling us that if we perservere through conflict our marriages will be stronger. He, who went through divorce himself, gave the ideal example of a strong marriage, a woman beaten consistently by her husband, sometimes severly, but she stuck by him faithfully and finally after YEARS of these beatings her husband finally found the light and apologized, and they are still together. I just wanted to yell out “WHAT the HELL? this is your ideal example? You Nincampoop!” (but I didn’t, because that would be bad.)
    Anyways…I thought I knew how to raise children when I just had one, but now with 3 little ones some of my infinite wisdom that worked with #1 has no affect on 2 and 3.
    I guess my point is, I wouldn’t want the class because I’m afraid my marriage class instructor would be called and he would share his ideal examples of parenting.

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    While it might not work as a long-term Sunday class, it could be pretty neat to set up a one or two meeting series of “workshops” on parenting styles, handled in an Enrichment sort of way. (I’m a big proponent of the menfolk being called on their raising of hands to sustain by, oh, Staffing A Nursery so the women can get together more easily…) Using the Sunday School rooms, for instance, with different stations and mini-classes for different situations?

    On the Homemaking Skills thing… I’m constantly amazed at what the women around me don’t know. Not that I’m a paragon or something, but my mom let us participate in the homekeeping stuff, so we all left home with skills. I had a fun, but slightly bewildering chat with a near neighbor a few weeks ago, wherein I got to introduce her to the miracle that is Bulk Cooking. She’s in her late 20s, parenting a small child, and had no idea that she could portion and freeze foods from a regular recipe. That sort of information should be freely shared in RS (and YM/YW!)

    I’m excited to see what changes may be coming to the RS program in the near future, actually.

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    I would love a class like this, myself. I like the idea of covering multiple systems and having free discussion on what works and doesn’t work from each system. Lately I’m studying the methods of Nicholeen Peck. She calls her system “Teaching Self-Government”. I’m learning a great deal from it. But I think I really should research and study the whole field, learning all the different styles and systems, and using what works best from each of them.

    I wish I’d done this a few years ago before I adopted my son, but it took a year before I realized I was not actually a very good mother, and undertook to correct that situation. I thought all you had to do was love them a whole lot, and feed and educate them, make sure they got good medical care, and had decent clothes and shoes to wear.

    I realize now that I need to teach my son self-government (and learn a bit more myself as well), how to build a happy full life for himself, how to make and keep friends, how to deal with adversity, how to love and respect himself and treat himself well, how to be good to himself and others, and all this when he feels he’s already all grown up and doesn’t have anything to learn from me. So the more I can study and learn, the better!

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    Just noticed this in the December Ensign:
    Article by Julie Beck, p.35 about use of first Sunday lessons in R.S. meetings:
    “Young mothers often ask me if we can ever have mother education again in Relief Society. My answer is yes.”

    She gives some general examples of topics for a first Sunday lesson, which aren’t quite what we’ve been envisioning here, but those are just examples. Earlier in the article she outlines ways to develop lessons on any topic without a specific manual or talk on the subject.

    If I were currently serving with an RS calling in my ward I’d jump on this as another way to help increase parenting skills.

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    In my opinion as a young woman, I get enough talks about motherhood and family and homemaking skills as to make me sick. Its all about sowing, and learning to cook sometimes then actually how to teach the gospel in both home and as a friend. I lived for lessons solely centered on Christ. I attend church and strive everyday to have my life centered on Christ. On his atonement. I think that is the most important thing to teach. The Family is important to learn about. It is a cornerstone of our faith. But it is not the foundation. It is the model of Heaven. As we pray to Heavenly Father. But I do certainly feel that no talk about motherhood applies at times. Though I listen and try to make it applicable in my life. All I hear is children this and children that…and I do cringe at times.

    So I would think that no, there needs to be no parenting classes in the church. Though after taking my senior seminar up at School, I completely 100% advocate getting involved in the community more. Go and take the parenting classes in the communities. Build bridges. Build social capital (for those who don’t know what that is, it is based upon our social relations, not how much we earn). Build trust in our communities.

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