Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How My Sister-In-Law Keri and I Helped Each Other Come Closer to Living the Truth: UPDATED!

Updated:  November 2017 

I must update again! Beware of the dangers that this kind of system create! Nothing good has come from the system as I have been observing it and one particular family. The children in this family are trying to escape, trying to run away, but no one can help them because the law doesn’t permit.

Hello, everyone! I have updated this post because our family has dropped this idea. Please read at the bottom. I will leave the original here for those of you who want to continue this method.

I will give you a history about me and my discovery to find peace and happiness in becoming a mother and how I searched and found the way to inspire with inner rewards. Below you will see that I did not always know how to be a mother, nor how to love and nurture my children. I contrast my story with Keri's because it is synonymous to mine, however opposite. We begin at the extremes and meet in the middle.

Several years ago when I had five children ranging from 0-11, my sister-in-law Keri and brother Brian moved near us which turned out to be the greatest blessing for me, as you will see later. She had two tiny little children and had just graduated from USU in childhood development. Looking back I always laugh at the both of us because we were such opposites—destined to become moderated from our extremes. 

She played on the floor all day with her children forgetting her responsibility to cook meals and clean house. I, on the other hand, focused much too much on a perfectly ordered house and (could only desire, but not obtain) perfectly ordered children. A more experienced mother would see through my folly and guess why I was wracked with much grief. Hating to admit it, I neglected the most important duties to nurturing the delicate souls of my precious children. It was during this time that I, along with all good public school mothers, were thrilled each day to send my children off to the local schools, where they would learn to read, write and do arithmetic. Summers and Christmas vacations were difficult because I was not prepared to handle them and all their energy and their disobedience. I seemed to turn into a little Hitler. I knew I was utilizing false and wrong principles, but I had no personal example to watch and learn differently, except for Keri and even then, I did not want to reduce myself to the other extreme where she was. 

From the beautiful walnut pulpit, President Gordon B. Hinckley would stand and boldly ask me and other mothers to talk a little softer, be a little kinder and become a little better each and every day. Every time I heard these words, I knew he was speaking to my heart, but I did not know how to change the way I was. Where would I start? I remember day after day and week after week praying to have the ability to make the change. I knew I was in the wrong and desired above anything to become the kind of mother that President Hinckley was preaching and that which Heavenly Father wanted me to be.  

Similarly, Keri, was on her journey to find how to balance the duties of mother and wife. But with her blinders on could only see the children and the toys and the fun of playing all day. We were both in a pickle. She called often to ask questions and we discussed parenting, mothering, and the art of becoming a Fascinating Woman (book by Helen Andelin). Looking back, I wish I would have asked more questions and learned more from her as she was learning from me. Maybe I was too full of pride to learn from someone twelve years my junior. However, slowly and gradually I began to change for the better while Keri changed more rapidly because of her openness to truth; she becoming more responsible and I more nurturing. During that time, A friend introduced her to A Thomas Jefferson Education and she shared it with me. The ideas were radical, but very enticing because we felt they were true principles. We began attending Face to Face with Greatness seminars. She and I began to read books—the classics, of which contained the great ideas. Without question, the principles in literature became my mentor on how to become that softer, kinder, better mother that the Prophet had asked me to be. For Keri, the literature taught her order, structure and how to fit both into her love of childhood development. 

Skip a few years: I am now homeschooling my children, which in and of itself is a fun journey to be told at a different time. But the point now to write about is the constant struggle and pull that I felt during this time while making the change to home education. Unlike other mothers who had never had to go through the struggle of pulling older children out of our particularly externally-rewarding public school system to a radically different home education experience, I felt quite out of order. At first, I did not know what things bothered me the most and what things I would need to be rid of. Nor did I think I had to rid myself of things...until I began reading the Little House on the Prairie series. When I was not working on my children's education, I devoured the ideas I was learning. Inspiration seemed to come from every chapter and even from every page. Keri noticed them more than I did and would call often to discuss and ask questions. I appreciate her much more now than I did back then because I had not developed that inquiring mind that she was born with and that was now flourishing. 

My struggles included not knowing how to inspire my children to learn; how to balance Legos and scrapbooking with academic learning; or where house work fit into the whole scheme of education and basically how to replace the external rewards so prevalent and which my children were fully accustomed to in the public school system with the internal rewards that I could only read and dream about in the DeMille's books and documents. I was overwhelmed and I was still "Hitler" much of the time, even though I was much much better than before. Looking back, these struggles actually existed well before I began to homeschool. I remember locking the toy cabinet during certain phases because of the frustration of toys strewn all around the house. I remember reducing the huge amounts of clothing in the children's drawers and closets to make cleaning their rooms easier. I was always trying to change our environment and simplify our life without really understanding the principle, thus, I was more frustrated in my mothering than I ought to have been. Little by little and not surprisingly, Keri was helpful (and Heaven sent) as she helped me analyze the real principles that create order in the home. Even now, she would be better at writing these thoughts than I am.

Returning to the lessons learned in Little House on the Prairie: I wanted that simple life, but I recognized that it would not be completely possible in this current world. Fathers now work outside the home for the most part instead of at home as Farmer and Homesteader. Technology is necessary and useful for promoting God's work and our life's missions including education. Outside distractions are a hundred times more common than that by-gone era. The problem of incorporating a "Little House" atmosphere would seem to be impossible because these and many other modern changes are truly a part of our lives. We need to live in this world around and among those changes. However, as I went deeper in thought and discussion with Keri, the principles would be possible and correct to implement in our current situations. What were some of the principles? 

1. Manners
2. Simplicity
3. Obedience
4. Order
5. Structure

These are not in order of importance. I have not written any of this down yet except short excerpts in my journal and so later I may revise them in order to their importance and influence on my life. But here are some explanations in order that they appear from my thought process.

I realized that our meal time conversations were dominated by children, a very different scenario than what I saw in the Ingall's family. I wondered what it would be like if, when my husband arrived home from work and we sat down to dinner that, Dave and I would start to converse about his day and what was happening in the world. We could discuss principles learned or things we had observed, then discuss again the moral principles and lessons. Somewhere in the course of our discussion Dave or I could turn to the children and invite them to share what they were thinking or some of their observations, or what good and bad things happened to them that day and what they had learned. In this way, the manners would help to create the kind of order that teaches children to learn by example. I imagined that from the good manners, the children would learn deference (something that very few teenagers learn, but if they do learn it they are truly called youth and not teenagers). I imagined that they would learn to listen instead of dominate. I imagined that they would learn patience and long-suffering and all those desirable attributes that I, in my old-age was just now beginning to learn. In the few years that we have been practicing manners at the table, I have realized that the things I only imagined beforehand had already begun to materialize. Only sometimes do the children revert to dominating the conversation, but when they remember otherwise, we all feel the peace that reins when we have manners at the table.

Several years ago, shortly after learning the principles in Little House, I made some huge changes in our "stuff." And it was a huge amount of "stuff." After discussing with the children and inspiring them to think differently about our "stuff," I decided to give all our scrapbooking stuff away; our Legos (Andrew would spend about 11-14 hours with them daily, if I allowed it); our other toys that made noise and that maybe were too creative for their minds (meaning the toys would suck out the creativity of the children because the toys themselves were already too creative).  We kept a few things like dollies with some blankets and clothing and a little high chair, a rope or two, a bucket, some play/dress-up clothing, two old canes of my grandfather's and some other miscellaneous items necessary for creative play, plus the extremely useful things found outdoors like rocks, sticks and plants. I think it was hardest for the oldest children who are now away from home. But for the smaller children, they miraculously came to me daily at first and told me how fun it was to play and to clean up. They couldn't put a finger on it, but they were playing much more creatively than before. They were seldom bored, if at all, which was much different now than before when they had too many toys (and the wrong kind) and felt bored often. The older children soon turned to reading books and truly learned how to educate themselves. I was amazed. More miracles came when the older children who had memories of our "prior life of extra stuff" commented on how much more they enjoyed their life and how much more time they had to write in their journals and organize their rooms and have more free time. Over the years and on their own, I repeat, ON THEIR OWN, they go through their things and donate to the local DI. I never have to do it for them, they are motivated by the true inner reward of order and cleanliness they learned through the exercise of simplicity. Another miracle is the creative play that goes on constantly, including real life experiences. Just this last Spring when the sun began to warm up our hearts and our yard, our 11yo and 8yo daughters asked to dress up in their pioneer clothes and play outside. To my surprise they soon came in to ask permission to use the wheelbarrow to clean up the yard. I wanted to laugh, but fearing it would make them feel uncomfortable, I put on my serious face and gave my permission. Secretly, I watched from the window to see what they would do. They began to pull up the old perennial and annual flowers that had turned brown the previous Fall and filled the wheelbarrow with the refuse. Thinking of our huge landscaped yard, I wondered if they would get tired soon before they finished their pursuit. Two hours later and many trips to the trash receptacles or compost bins, they finished the entire yard. These precious little people dressed up as Laura and Mary Ingalls or some other literary character that they were portraying and turned their imaginary play into hard physical work of which they truly enjoyed. The inner rewards of cleaning our yard through creative play was great enough to push them to finish beautifully. I wish I had the time to tell dozens more stories about the creativity that has been born of simplicity, but that will have to wait until another time. To sum up, simplicity generates creativity.

From Laura, I learned that she did not always want to be obedient. As a reader, I could see into her heart. As the author, she portrayed the nature of man. However disobedient, she confided to the reader her wrong attitude and her needed change. Through her struggles she reached out to teach me something about the nature of man and the rightness of learning to be obedient even in the little things. This has been one of the hardest things to teach my children because it is the hardest thing to understand. We live in a permissive world and most of our modern books, movies and models teach us that things and relationships are more important than obedience to parents, God and principles. How do we teach obedience in this modern world? Of course, Keri and I discussed this principle with our friend Lara G., and she taught us some things she was doing with her children. 

Our friend, Lara, has an amazing ability to know what responsibilities go with certain ages or phases of growth in children. She has been a magnificent inspiration to me and to Keri both. We began to call her ideas the Phases of Responsibility. The following will oversimplify the theory, but it basically goes like this. Our phases of growth go from baby, to littles, to middles, to bigs, to young adults and to adults. These are the names we call the phases and they may remain such or we may come up with something better. It is sufficient that we give them names so that we and our children can differentiate between the phases. Most times parents do not recognize the different responsibilities and attitudes that accompany the different phases of growth. We think that we need to be too comprehensive in our teaching each child everything pertaining to everything. This is where the Phases come in. They only deal with a small portion of the learning in two areas: in attitude and in responsibility.

1. A baby is not capable of conforming to any attitude or responsibility. They can peacefully grow up in a loving, nurturing environment where gentle consequences will teach them to slowly and gradually conform to the true principles that govern order and create ultimate happiness and peace. As they near or pass the toddler stage, they may begin to "practice" using the bathroom independently without supervision from mother and learn to eat quietly with good manners at the table. Once they have mastered that and the mother senses it is time they can move up to: 

2. "littles" where they now can stay up a little later than babies and mommy will sing to them at night when they go to bed. Their responsibility is to continue with good bathroom and meal behavior, but now they can practice doing their personal jobs, which is getting up, getting dressed, making bed, cleaning room (bed, floors, closet, drawers). Once they master that and master an attitude of obedience (obeying any direct command from mother or father with an obedient manner) then they can move up to:

3. Middles, where they can stay up a little later than "littles" and can have a story read to them or told to them at bedtime. They also now can enjoy the privilege of taking lessons from mother (reading, writing, crocheting, knitting, carving or any useful skill). They continue having an obedient attitude and doing their personal jobs, but now they can practice doing Family Chores such as dishes, morning jobs that are not personal (vaccuming, scrubbing bathrooms, organizing coat closets, dusting, etc.) and any other family work available like laundry, baking, etc. Family jobs are not required at this point, but are just added opportunities to practice and grow into another phase with more privileges. In "middles" another attitude is added at this point besides obedience and that is Honesty. Once they master these family chores and an honest attitude, they can have the privilege of moving up to:

4. Bigs, where they can stay up a little later than "middles" for journal writing time. In "bigs" they can now leave the home for outside lessons such as piano, violin, etc; babysit at home for mother; bike rides/walks away from the home without mother, but at set times and places (not just whenever or wherever). The added attitudes for this Phase are three: Keep all of the family rules; quietly notify mother if the family rules are broken, use polite manners at all times (no more engaging in contention). A side note to this is that now, as the child has mastered obedience and honesty, keeping family rules, and being polite at all times, a mother can fully trust this child because he is obedient, honest, and virtuous in all he does--this merits the great privilege to be able to leave home for short periods of time and make big decisions for self. Before that he is not capable to make correct decisions away from mother. This in and of itself has inspired my children to really desire to move up in the Phases of Responsibility. And this movement has come because of the inner joy that is felt from real progress and personal growth. At this stage, they can progress further by practicing the responsibilities of a young adult which include being thorough in completing chores (minimal oversights when jobs are checked); learn all different types of family work (including all parts of all jobs); keep track of time instead of simply working to the timer; supervise young children at given times (when mother is away from the table, on an errand, or working in another room);  Once they have mastered this they move up to:

5. Young Adults, which brings the privilege of staying up a little later, babysitting away from home and other approved community service, attend supervised social activities away from home, etc. I envision that a twelve year old girl becomes a young adult at this age, if she had been brought up from birth using these principles. But since I have only been using these principles for a few months, I have older youth that are still in earlier phases, but they are desirous to move up. Their biggest hang-ups are learning the obedient attitude. I will speak more on this later. The added attitude for Young Adult is to responsibly supervise children at all times in all rooms that they are in (not just at certain times when given permission) and being willing to instruct and discipline younger children when parents are gone. They may now begin to practice the following to move up to adult stage: practice controlling own schedule and under supervision as needed, working with the family's schedule. Once they master this and the attitude of supervising others wisely, they can be trusted as an adult is trusted in all things. They are still young adults as we know because of their youthfulness and age, but they act as would an adult in any situation. 

I have over simplified these principles, but I have found that as it stands, this is how it works in our house...this simply. One ingredient that makes it work is understanding how to first remove the kinds of distractions in the home that do not help. This may be different for each family. I found that a lot of crafts and disposable activities removed any desire to become obedient or desire progress. 

I now wish to tell you about the amazing experience we had with Andrew just before his mission. Several months ago as I explained the newly learned principles in the Phases of Responsibility to my children, they were enticed and aspired to try it out. Andrew was the most enthusiastic and laughed that he wanted to become an adult before his mission in a few months. Our oldest was already out of the house, married and expecting a baby. The children knew they would begin in the "baby" phase and move up as they desired their own progression. There was a spirit of excitement as with any new idea. Soon, however, Andrew sensed that obedience was not his forte. He began to listen to the negative voices within that told him he would never move up. We had many discussions to understand him and to help, but something we had not planned on and that was most difficult was that he would become dark and bitter. I questioned myself and wondered what I was doing with these principles, but each time my divine answer was to continue, only I was not to remind or push him to move on...pushing was his responsibility, to push himself to progress. Agency is the huge motivator in life and as experience and Karl Marx continue to teach me, I am bound to learn it sooner or later. His dark attitude continued for two weeks and one night while studying in the same room with him and after quietly and fervently praying, a voice told me that now was the time to ask, and the words were given to me, "Andrew, what would be the best thing that Dad and I could do for you to help you progress?" He turned towards me and for the first time in several weeks, he let down the barriers, I could physically see the burden lift from his body. He cried and he laughed and he said that he knew he had been in the wrong all along, but that he wanted to "show us" that the Phases of Responsibility would not work! His plan was backfiring and he knew that he would be leaving in a month to serve the Lord on a mission. He began to feel the burden and wanted with all his heart to leave the darkness and find the light, so when my words came, he was prepared to open up and make the change. His tears and laughter were a sight to behold. He jumped up to hug me and called his father into the room. He said that he knew all along he had been wrong and that he wanted to try the Phases again and really work on progressing, which would mean that he would have to practice and learn to become obedient and honest and desirous to keep all the family rules and so forth, but that he was ready this time. He hugged us again and again and we shared tears of joy. This was February 25th of this year. As you know, his farewell was the 25th of March. To finish the story, he worked hard and developed the gumption to move on to "littles" then "middles" then to "bigs" where he stayed because in only a few days hence he would be leaving to go on a mission. We didn't care that he had not made it to adult, what we did care about most was that he had tasted the joy that comes from being obedient and honest and had begun to lay a foundation that would sustain more principles learned in his mission and then life after the mission. Internal rewards are the very best way to move us forward, in fact they may be the only way to truly and sincerely move us forward. 

The most sustainable truth that has come from the Phases is that the children move themselves up when they are ready. It is completely organic and they feel that their agency is completely theirs for the using. Of course, they know there are consequences and external rewards, but the external rewards that we provide are so minimal and without any sensationalism so as not to compete with the subtle inner rewards. There is less contention in the home, more love, more desire to do good and the children feel it strongly. They have learned to enjoy the inner reward that comes to their heart when practicing the principles I have written.

Order and Structure:
I do not need to explain any more about order or structure. It is sufficient to know that I naturally have inclined myself to order and structure, even to the extremes, but as I read literature, I learned to moderate these principles from Laura Ingalls Wilder and later from Jane Austen, Gene Stratton Porter and many others. 

It seems that we are caught up believing that we cannot have have order or structure unless we entice our children with external rewards. I do not agree. Built in our souls is a yearning for the true, for order, for structure and if we can administer correctly, we can help our children tap into that yearning and with it will come the internal rewards that are far more powerful and lasting.  Recently, Cheryl A. Esplin spoke to us about this: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/teaching-our-children-to-understand?lang=eng. She said, "We can know our children are beginning to understand the doctrine when we see it revealed in their attitudes and actions without external threats or rewards. As our children learn to understand gospel doctrines [and all principles of truth], they become more self-reliant and more responsible. They become part of the solution to our family challenges and make a positive contribution to the environment of our home and the success of our family."

My take on external rewards is that they indeed work, but they are not the best way to get the principle deep down into the fleshy tables of the heart. They work with the fear and pleasure mechanisms in our hearts and only will last for a short time, whereas the internal rewards are steadfast and strong, they are the things that move us along the iron rod, past all the mists and darkness, the deep abyss and the filthy rivers. They are the things that make us oblivious to the loud laughter and boastings of the great and spacious building and help keep our focus on the Tree of Life that we may arrive and taste of the fruit of the pure love of Christ and be lead to Everlasting Happiness.

Our Schedule in a nutshell:
A day in our home looks much like this: We wake up at 4:45 and get ready, have green smoothies that my 8 year old makes and read scriptures at 5:30, work in the yard and garden for 30 minutes at 6:00, my husband goes to work at 6:45 and the children eat breakfast that the 11 year old makes prior to reading scriptures. Our 18 year old cleans up the breakfast and the kitchen. We then finish our personal jobs if we did not do it before 5:30 and begin our morning jobs (getting the house picked up and clean), then we all pull a monthly "deep clean" card from the box and complete it. (Did I mention that everyone is to return and report after completing each or a group of jobs?) then we begin our family work (baking and cooking, or cleaning the fridge and freezer, or mending, or laundry--depending on the day). We are usually done by about 9:30 except on laundry day or baking day. After which we have free-time which looks like education for those who are at that age or playtime who are at that age. I fix the lunch, we eat together and my two youngest clean up, while our scholars go off to study more. After lunch we have free time again where the scholars study and the younger ones play or read. In the winter months they read most decidedly, but when the sun comes out in its due season, their reading time turns into play time and visa versa when it gets cold again. I begin dinner, we eat all together with father and my 16 year old cleans up the kitchen. Free time again and bed time according to the different Phases. Right now I am reading Freckles, Gene Stratton Porter, to the youngest in the evenings--They are both in "middles".

Like many of you who may read this, we do not have TV, but we have computers, Internet, DVD player, iPods, iPads and some Facebook and Gmail accounts. We believe in online schooling with Williamsburg Academy. So, in essence, I believe that media is essential to our learning, but I see these things only as a tool, not a place where young ones who have not demonstrated the ability to use them correctly can play with them whenever or wherever. These things should never become the distraction that they tend to become when left to our natures. This whole idea is more fully explained in Headgates, a paper in which Keri explains this thoroughly (headgates.org/resources). Tools, like media, are only appropriate for those who have built up the trust through the Phases of Responsibility. Again, that is oversimplification, but you can read more about that in her paper. 

If we are living such a simple life, what about material goods? Do we have them? Do we use them? Do we need them? We are a material people, we depend upon the material things to sustain us in life and in our education and in our enjoyment of life, but I think that we have fallen to depths of excess as d'Tocqueville and Marx and many other authors have foretold would happen. Marx loves the idea of material goods because he says it will keep the people with their eyes and minds focused on the material things, eventually living paycheck to paycheck purchasing and purchasing—the material goods becoming a distraction so that they may lose sight of the awful Bourgeois family life. Marx wanted to tear up the family because it had the powerful effect of teaching children in a way that he did not accept. So, in light of that, I say emphatically that material things are good and necessary and beautiful and we must have them to create the good and the beautiful in our lives, but we must be wary of excessive material things that make us lose sight of what is really important and beautiful and true.

Keri and I have moved from our extremes and are now more in the middle as in the Aristotelian sense. We are still finding the perfect "Golden Mean" the great philosopher wrote about anciently in his Nicomachean Ethics, but we are far closer than when we started. Both of us were raised with many outside distractions that were super fun and exciting. She played sports and I played lead parts in our school plays and musicals. All our extra time was spent in performing and becoming greater and more expert in our activities at the expense of learning how to become wives and mothers. She has the softer spirit and I the harsher, but as we have helped each other find who we truly were created to be, we rejoice in the principles that have been placed upon the earth in the form of Prophets, scripture, literature and personal revelation. I join with you in sharing principles that help us arrive and partake of the purest and whitest of all fruit growing on the tree of life.

Update: Since the time of this writing, I have done away with the "middles" in the Phases of Responsibility for the sake of simplifying. Keri and I thought it redundant and complicated. (Written January 27th, 2013)

Keri did a presentation on Phases for Abigail Adams Academy on January 8th. This is almost three hours long and goes into detail on how to teach your children all the great attributes of obedience, honesty, hard work, self-evaluation and everything that will help them grow up to be principled leaders in their own homes and communities in the future.  Abigail Adams Academy http://www.abigailadamsacademy.com/ is a wonderful source for mothers to get a Liberal Arts Education from their very own homes.

  Phases of Responsibility Document by  Keri Tibbets that goes with the presentation above.

Updated September 12, 2016: Our family decided to abandon this method of raising children shortly after we started. I started to notice some things that were not quite as they should be. I found myself becoming nit-picky and coercive. I also observed a family who was practicing it and without them realizing it, fell into very communistic ways. 

First let me explain communism. It includes the following and more, but I will focus on these four main ideas. Expanded use of governmental force and coercion that implements an ideology, mainly an economic ideology; the government permeates in many, if not all levels of existence with very little opposition, if any, to deal with; it is an external power which controls production—there is little room, if any, to pursue private enterprises.

What aspects of communism did this family incorporate? First, they used somewhat gentle force and coercion to implement the ideology. Some observations demonstrated they had used abusive measures to enforce it. Second, their control permeated all levels of existence: play, spiritual, educational, emotional, mental, etc. The children were not allowed to show emotion or they would be disciplined, they could not leave the house to go to activities outside the family events, could not play without permission or parental guidance. Everything was controlled. The older children had never gone to scout camps, girls camps, youth conferences, etc. Third, because of strict control, there was very little opposition. The children were completely obedient on the outside, in fact, you'd be amazed to see how orderly the house was run. On the inside of the individual children, however, I sensed an opposition, but because of fear of the consequences, they kept it hidden. Fourth, there were few, if any, private enterprises within the individual life. Each had minimal clothing, collections, etc. and no-one could have an individual pursuit unless it was part of what the family wanted and needed.

One other thing that defined the belief of the emotional state of this family; the parents subscribed to Ayn Rand’s philosophy that emotion is not a tool of cognitive thought; emotion is an automatic result of an individual’s value judgment integrated by his subconscious. CS Lewis, on the contrary, clearly objected to this idea and said that emotion was the foundation of cognitive thought. Reason could only begin to flourish if it sat upon the foundation of emotion (or imagination, as he liked to refer to it). There must first be imagination (emotion) and only then can the best reasoning begin. Look at how the LDS youth curriculum and the Seminaries & Institutes integrate emotion and imagination into the learning methods. Questions such as, how do you feel about the Savior’s sacrifice? When have you felt that way before? How does it feel to attend the temple regularly? These questions and many others like them are very much a part of each class. Why? Because they are the foundation of cognitive thought. Feelings beget understanding and understanding begets action and application.

What have been the results of practicing communism in their family? I observed that outside control prevented a child from learning inner control. For example, one of the children asked a cousin to lie for them in order to avoid going back into "babies" and possibly being abused. With rigid rules and hawk-eyed control on all external actions, there exists a terrifying desire for freedom on the inside at the expense of internal virtue. Additionally, it appeared the children could not wait to turn eighteen and move out. They wanted to experience life, emotions, and choice. There is no real desire to stay at home and continue the rigorous life.

Yesterday, our family attended a Regional Conference which helped me to understand a little more about communism in the family. I had been vigorously praying for an answer. Well, the miracle happened when Bishop Waddell spoke. He told of a personal experience from his individual scripture study in Jacob 5 and how the scripture taught him a principle of opposition. He noted the verses that talk about grafting the wild branches into the mother tree and how if the tree does not have opposition, it will die. We must all have opposition in our lives that we may become stronger. Here are the verses:

52 Wherefore, let us take of the branches of these which I have planted in the nethermost parts of my vineyard, and let us graft them into the tree from whence they came; and let us pluck from the tree those branches whose fruit is most bitter, and graft in the natural branches of the tree in the stead thereof.
53 And this will I do that the tree may not perish, that, perhaps, I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof for mine own purpose.
54 And, behold, the roots of the natural branches of the tree which I planted whithersoever I would are yet alive; wherefore, that I may preserve them also for mine own purpose, I will take of the branches of this tree, and I will graft them in unto them. Yea, I will graft in unto them the branches of their mother tree, that I may preserve the roots also unto mine own self, that when they shall be sufficiently strong perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me, and I may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard.
55 And it came to pass that they took from the natural tree which had become wild, and grafted in unto the natural trees, which also had become wild.
56 And they also took of the natural trees which had become wild, and grafted into their mother tree.
57 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Pluck not the wild branches from the trees, save it be those which are most bitter; and in them ye shall graft according to that which I have said.
58 And we will nourish again the trees of the vineyard, and we will trim up the branches thereof; and we will pluck from the trees those branches which are ripened, that must perish, and cast them into the fire.
59 And this I do that, perhaps, the roots thereof may take strength because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil.
60 And because that I have preserved the natural branches and the roots thereof, and that I have grafted in the natural branches again into their mother tree, and have preserved the roots of their mother tree, that, perhaps, the trees of my vineyard may bring forth again good fruit; and that I may have joy again in the fruit of my vineyard, and, perhaps, that I may rejoice exceedingly that I have preserved the roots and the branches of the first fruit—

When the branches were changed out, the tree experienced opposition and it became stronger. As I more deeply studied these words and I compared them with my thoughts on this family’s choice in parenting, I began to understand scripturally, why I do not agree with communism in the family. It creates the environment where the children do not think for themselves since they are carefully controlled. I thought of how Seminary, Young Women’s, Scouts, camps, outings with Grandparents, visits with friends and family, (even) public school, conferences, etc. all contribute to the idea of having opposition in our lives. How? Each of them bring individuals together from all walks of life and from different world views. Most provide a fairly safe environment too. As we raise our children, we might maintain strict family rules and culture, but we must allow our children to go out into the world for little chunks of time to help them see and feel the opposition. After being away, the children can analyze for themselves the differences they observed, causing an internal strengthening of character.

Similar to this family, I felt that my implementing the phases of responsibility in my home caused me to put my children back into "babies" far too often and I removed their chances of their "being out in the world," experiencing opposition. I think there is value in this method, but my weak tendencies within the method do not lend real growth for my children. 

I would be interested to hear how each of you have implemented the ideas and what your take is on them.
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