Family

How You Can Help a Victim of Domestic Violence

Posted on March 1, 2010. Filed under: education, Family, Relationships, women | Tags: , , , |

by mraynes

Every month or so I’ll get a call from a friend or acquaintance asking me for information to help a loved one involved in a violent relationship. We all know or will know a victim of domestic violence; the current statistics are one in three women will be abused in some manner during her lifetime. I have two younger sisters and it blows my mind that statistically, one of us will be in an abusive relationship.

Knowing this, it is vital that information on how best to support victims of violence be readily available. I have found, however, that there is a general uneasiness and confusion on how best to do this. In my previous work with victims I gained some very specific knowledge that I thought might be useful to share here. To make things easier, I will use female pronouns since women are more likely to be victims but this information applies equally to men as they can also be victims of domestic violence, too.

So, what to do if you know & love a victim of domestic violence:

First, be a listening and non-judgmental ear. You cannot help your loved one if they don’t trust you.

When or if a victim confides in you about an unhealthy relationship you must first determine the lethality of the situation to determine the best course of action.

If it is not a lethal relationship, meaning there is no current threat of severe bodily harm or death, I think it best to start with domestic violence education. I particularly like the Power & Control Wheel because it covers all the different ways abuse might be present in a relationship. (If you are dealing with a teenage abusive relationship, this version is better suited for their unique needs.) After going through the wheel with the victim I then like to show them the Equality Wheel so they have an idea of what a healthy relationship looks like. (Teen version here.)

At this point there are several choices to be made, all belonging to the victim. Remember, your job is to be a support, any pressure from you will make things worse. Your loved one may choose to stay and work on the relationship. If this is their choice, I would suggest having her attend an outpatient domestic violence support group. There she will receive more domestic violence education and connect with other women in similar situations. Many social service agencies have these kinds of support groups but you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline and they can refer you to the appropriate places if you need further help.

If your loved one chooses to leave the abusive relationship, provisions must be made for her physical and emotional support. Despite having worked at a domestic violence shelter, I think it always preferable for victims to be surrounded by family at this difficult time. If your loved one will be living with family, make sure she is enrolled in a support group. If it is not possible for her to live with family then dv shelters are a safe, supportive place to go and they offer wonderful services. Domestic violence shelters will provide food and shelter, support groups and domestic violence education as well as targeted case management to help the victim get back on her feet.  You can get referrals to local domestic violence shelters through the national dv hotline linked to above.

Know that the average woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good. Although this will be frustrating to you, try to be as non-judgmental as possible; the dynamics of abuse are very complicated and it is difficult to extricate one’s self from the figurative strangle-hold the abuser has over his victim. Be patient and remember that your loved one needs your support during these time more than ever. Also, please be aware that the most dangerous time for an abuse victim is after they leave the relationship. I strongly recommend having your loved one do a safety plan with a domestic violence advocate and get an Order of Protection if appropriate.

If, when you first speak to a victim, it appears that her situation is very dangerous, the first priority is to get her and any children safe. I would recommend a domestic violence shelter at this point because they are at un-disclosed locations and it will be more difficult for an abuser to find her.

Next, get the victim an Order of Protection. Many shelters will help out with this, they may even have a legal advocate on staff. If not, most superior courts do have legal advocates on staff and they can help victims navigate the complicated legal system for free. I can’t recommend using a lawyer or legal advocate enough; they understand the intricacies of the system and will be able to provide the victim with the most comprehensive Order of Protection possible. As a side note, if you feel like your safety is at risk for helping the victim, you may get an Injunction Against Harassment. While not as powerful as an order of protection, it might give you some peace of mind.

It is the goal of all domestic violence advocates to keep the victim safe and help them start a new, healthy life. Regardless of whether your loved one goes into shelter, I would utilize the services of dv advocates because they can provide your loved one with the most resources to overcome this traumatic experience and come through a survivor.

This post is getting too long but if you’re interested, I would be happy to do a follow-up post on what to do if your loved one gets caught up in the justice system or what you can do to help victims of domestic violence more generally. If you have question, please comment and I’ll do my best to answer. Also, I would love for those of you with experience in this matter to share tips that have worked or not worked so that others can learn from them. Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in our society, it affects all of us in one way or another. Only through education and commitment can we come close to ending this evil.

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Does Religion Need Evolution?

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Acceptance, Belief, Doubt, faith, Family, Mormon Life |

by Stella

In reading a book by Osho the other day, I came across a passage I wanted to share. Osho is a revolutionary in the science of inner transformation; he’s also a man who has been called “the most dangerous man since Jesus Christ.” He’s big in Europe. Very big. In a country where religion isn’t embraced at all, it’s interesting what people seek out in terms of spirituality.

Since distancing myself the church, I’ve taken to reading more and varied philosophy books, modern and ancient. I like reading the ones that people in my community recommend. I feel it helps me understand my new home and the people around me. However, I do so skeptically. One thing that leaving church has taught me is that I will never fully put all my faith in any one person, even if he is called a Prophet or an Apostle. I probably won’t put into practice hymns about praising a man or following a prophet. Not that I can’t admire then greatly and learn from them, because I do. But knowing that I get to make the choices (and have double earrings without feeling guilty) has been liberating to me. It’s allowed me to find my own inner voice. Not the still small voice of the Spirit…of a member of the Godhead…but MY voice. And in finding that, I’ve learned how to trust myself and make my own decisions.

The following quote on parenting seems like it could spark an interesting discussion here:

“The first expression of love you should show to a child is to leave the first seven years of life absolutely innocent and unconditioned. The child should not be converted to Hinduism, to Mohammedanism, to Christianity. Anybody who is trying to convert a child to some religion is not compassionate, but rather cruel. They are contaminating the very soul of a new, fresh, arrival. Before the child has even asked questions he has been answered with ready-made-philosophies, dogmas, ideologies. This is a very strange situation. The child has not asked about God, and you go on teaching the child about God. Why so much impatience?

“When the child starts asking about God, put before the child all the ideas of God that have been presented to different people by different ages by different religions, cultures, civilizations. Put before the child all the ideas about God, and let the child choose what they like, or express what they don’t like.

“There should be no inner necessity that the son should agree with the father. In fact, it seems far better that children should not agree with the parents. That’s how evolution happens. If every child agrees with the father then there will be no evolution, because each new father will agree with his own father, and everybody will be where God left Adam and Eve—naked, outside the gate of the Garden of Eden. Everybody will be stuck there.

Because sons and daughters have disagreed with their fathers and mothers, with their whole tradition, human beings have evolved. This whole evolution is a tremendous disagreement with the past. And the more intelligent you are, the more you are going to disagree. But parents appreciate the child who agrees and they condemn the child who disagrees.”

What do you think: Does religion need this kind of evolution—the evolution of disagreeing with those who raised (or taught, or influenced) you? It seems like all great heroes have followed this path somehow, that they have needed to make a giant leap of going a different/new direction.

In fact, isn’t this what Joseph Smith did? Without evolution in religion, Mormonism wouldn’t exist. That’s begs the question…is there something better than Mormonism as we know…just waiting to evolve?

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Love is…Finding the “Fun” in Dysfunctional

Posted on February 17, 2010. Filed under: Acceptance, Family, mental health |

By Heather

Growing up I used to think that most of my friends’ families were so normal and healthy, and that mine was the only one with quirks and cracks.  Now I know the truth: every family is nuts. And if you think you know a perfectly healthy family, you don’t know them well enough.

Granted, some people’s brand of crazy is more socially acceptable than others.  For example, in my home we appeared on the outside to be well behaved high achievers, which was a mask for a control freak mom and an emotionally remote, success obsessed dad. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I realize that on the crazy scale my family was dented but functional. Not bad at all. (btw I am the needy thumsucker pictured above)

I have a family of my own now and see many of our idiosyncrasies. And at least today we have a better vocabulary for labeling our neurosis. Terms like OCD, ADD, MPD, BPD, SAD, etc. etc. allow us to name what ails us, and naming things is delightful because it gives us control, or at least the illusion of it.

A few years ago I came across an acronym for a condition that I knew intimately but had never quite put my finger on: ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  These are the people that cannot resist challenging authority and playing the devil’s advocate. Oh how I love to tease my contrarian friend about how she suffers acutely from this. And her response just confirms the diagnosis: “No I don’t!” I love these people. Just when everything is getting so boring in Relief Society, everyone sitting there nodding their heads “yes, we ALL agree” and along comes someone with ODD and makes a comment that turns everything upside down.  

She in turn diagnosed one of my less than desirable traits. I suffer from SVS, shock value syndrome. As the youngest member of a hyper proper family, it was my duty to make my mother blush at the dinner table. And even now at 42, whenever I get around people that seem a bit too uptight, I get the irresistible urge to say/do something borderline inappropriate. So I skinny dip at Girls Camp and give sacrament talks on the virtues of Harry Potter. Recently when my 12 year old son told me that he hated it when I called him “friend,” I replied, “Well then how about ‘douche bag,’ because that’s what you’re acting like.” Show me an envelope, and I’ll push it.

Here are a few other conditions the American Psychiatric Association might want to add to their books:

CBR-Chronic Buyer’s Remorse: Perpetually malcontent, these poor souls are convinced that whatever choice they make is the wrong one. Filled with self doubt and a touch of bitterness (related syndrome: GIGD–Grass is Greener Disorder).

RSS-Refusal to be Served Syndrome: You know who you are. You are forever volunteering to bring meals, babysit, work at the Bishop’s Storehouse as if every act of service added another brick to your mansion on high; but hell would have to freeze over before you would let someone bring you a casserole. In their heart of pious hearts, these folks believe that the strong give and the weak receive.

CV-Compulsive Volunteerism: A sister syndrome to RSS (with more guilt, less pride), CV manifest itself in an inability to pass a sign-up sheet without committing to doing whatever is requested. One friend had such a severe case of this that I created an organization just for her—Volunteers Anonymous. I became her sponsor and she was not allowed to agree to do anything without first consulting me. A typical conversation went like this, “Heather, I’ve been asked to be PTA President. Tell me again why I should say no?” “Because you just gave birth to twins, your husband is YM President and travels, and you Visit Teach a black hole of needs.” “Oh. Okay. So should I say maybe?”

Tanorexia: When sufferers of this disorder look in the mirror all they see is pasty whiteness, even if their true color is closer to a Slim Jim.

Appsberger’s: The compulsion to download apps for completely useless things. And then talk endlessly about them with other sufferers. “Look, I can use my phone as a harmonica!!!”  “Well mine can show me the time…in Braille!” “Mine makes a cowbell noise. Get it? ‘More cowbell?’!”

Topperism-No matter what you’ve been through, these one-uppers can top your experience and raise it a notch.  So while you’re delighted that you are training for a 5k, the Topper is quick to inform you that she ran the Boston Marathon. And won. While pregnant. With triplets.

So my question is not “are you crazy” but “what kind of crazy are you?”  And can you find a way to live with it and laugh about it?  If you can’t, your crazies will make you nuts.

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My Interfaith Marriage: Reflections, Five Years In

Posted on January 24, 2010. Filed under: Family, marriage, Mormon Life, transition | Tags: , , |

By Deborah

This week, I got an e-mail from an Exponent reader who wanted to hear more about my interfaith marriage, as she is currently dating someone of a different faith.   Last weekend, I went out for coffee (okay, hot chocolate) with a member who is 32, single, and wondering if she should open up the dating pool. “What’s it like being married to a non-member?” she asked.  A couple of weeks prior, I heard from an old friend who — as an interfaith newlywed — is feeling some anguish over finding her identity in the church. And that’s just this month.

I understand this desire to reach out. When I started dating my (now) husband, I fled to the Exponent II retreat begging for stories, for insights, for people to talk to.  I knew there were interfaith marriages out there, but I hadn’t seen any up-close-and-personal, and it felt like I was leaving the well-lit path and lighting out into an unknown wilderness.  However, I recently celebrated my five-year anniversary, and I’m happy to report that I’m happy.

(more…)

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Baptism, or the Anniversary of my Arranged Marriage

Posted on January 14, 2010. Filed under: Belief, faith, Family, Mormon Life, religion, spirituality, testimony | Tags: , , , |

by Alisa

Twenty-two years ago this month, I sat in my bishop’s office with my parents for my baptism interview. My bishop asked me, “Do you feel you’re ready to be forgiven of your sins and be baptised?” I sat confused at the question, and then, a little lightheartedly, told him, “Well, I’m still seven, so I don’t think I have any sins to be forgiven of.”

I giggled a little as I gave him my answer, and my parents responded in shock at my apparent mockery of the interview. I guess I don’t blame them. They were the ones who held weekly FHE and family council, who gathered us for gospel instruction and scripture reading every single day. They thought they’d prepared me well to answer the bishop’s questions. They’d even taught me to pray for forgiveness of my sins since I was three years old (for practice, my dad said). But honestly, I was confused, and my giggles were my attempt to cover up the immense awkwardness I felt at being interviewed so seriously for something I didn’t understand and wouldn’t have thought to ask for if left on my own.

I couldn’t understand why I was getting my sins washed away when I’d also been told that I hadn’t begun to become accountable for my sins. To my almost eight-year-old mind, this seemed a strange paradox. I was eventually baptised three weeks after I turned eight in a stake primary baptism, but I wonder what I could have done in those three weeks to put my soul in need of such infinite redemption requiring immediate absolution. What I did understand was the social aspect of the ordinance: My best friend was also baptised that day, and honestly, that’s what I was most excited about. That and the fact that I got a new dress and got to eat out with my family, which definitely signified a special occasion.

I don’t think baptism of children of record is something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Usually it’s a happy family occasion, and it’s not my intention to downplay that rewarding family experience by bringing up my questions and concerns with the practice. But it’s something that as an adult I still have a lot of confusion about. We often speak of baptism necessarily following faith and repentance, which I can completely understand for a person who is making the choice with more life experience and knowledge. But what about primary-aged children? What about those who just are beginning to be accountable? Why are they baptised, what sins are keeping them out of the Kingdom, and what should be the rhetoric surrounding their baptisms?

In attending my niece’s primary baptism last week, I listened closely to the reasons given for baptism and heard they were 1) to follow Jesus’ example, and 2) to become clean. The second reason implies that little children are in fact not clean, which is a concept I still have a hard time reconciling with many scriptures including the 2nd Article of Faith.

In junior primary, we have children sing this song in preparation for their baptisms:

I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away,
and I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

I know a child can do wrong (and know s/he is doing wrong) before age eight. But my understanding was that the atonement gave them an automatic pass. So when we speak of barely eight year olds getting their sins washed away, I’m wondering, where do those sins come from?

We sometimes emphasize or even pride ourselves on rejecting the concept of original sin, or the need to redeemed merely by entering into mortality. But to me, saying each eight year old – who has been declared sinnless and/or non-accountable until that age – is in immediate need of similar redemption isn’t too far off. We’ve just transferred the date of the onset of original sin from automatic-at-birth to automatic-at-eight.

Perhaps I take baptism way too literally. But to me it is an important decision that I wish were left to those who were more able to understand the life-long implications. I feel baptism is like a marriage, choosing to become a member of the Church – the bride of Christ – and take His name upon ourselves and enter into a covenant that He’ll share what he has with us as we strive to be as deserving as we can. It’s just that we often talk about how disgraceful it is for other churches to have their children enter into this metaphorical marriage as babies or toddlers. Yet I feel that for eight year olds, it’s still very much an arranged marriage, proposed and implimented by the adults surrounding the child. The child may understand s/he is getting baptised, but might not have gone seeking that relationship, at that age, without the conditioning and expectations of their parents and teachers that they begin to experience from the time they are three-year-old Sunbeams.

What do you think of baptizing children at eight years old? Do you think our official lessons and materials – whether adapted for children or adults – adequately address the reasons for the baptisms of children of record? Should there be a difference between the preparation of a child versus that of an adult for baptism, or a difference in how we reflect on that experience in accordance with first principles and ordinances?

For those of you who were raised as children in the Church and baptised at eight, what are your thoughts about when you made the covenant of baptism? How do you look at it now?

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Crying

Posted on December 11, 2009. Filed under: confidence, Family, Friendship, marriage |

By Starfoxy

My oldest son has been giving me grief about using the toilet. A few months ago it all came to head and I was emotionally exhausted and worn raw. One Sunday when the home teachers were over I asked if they along with my husband could give me a blessing. During the whole blessing I was crying fairly heavily.

Afterwards I thanked the home teachers then apologized to my husband for crying. One of the home teachers, thinking I was apologizing to them, told me not to be embarrassed about it.

“Oh no, I’m not worried about that.” I corrected  him. “It’s J, whenever I cry it makes him cry too.” They looked a little shocked, then noticed J’s tear streaked face for the first time. J gave an embarrassed shrug then met my eyes and smiled.

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Space Traveler

Posted on December 10, 2009. Filed under: Changes, Family, Mormon Life, motherhood, Poetry | Tags: , |

  by Alisa

This is a poem I wrote in my first trimester, and in preparing for the birth of my son, I enjoyed returning to these expressions of my magnificat. After many years of marriage, including many where I seriously questioned whether or not I wanted or would have children, I found myself waking early each morning in excitement of the new life growing inside of me. I know that birth is incredibly common, yet to me it seems incredibly miraculous at the same time.

Where does this new consciousness come from? If we believe literally in Kolob, how fast would a spirit have to travel to arrive on time? How interesting the process of growth, of cell division, of expansion. How amazing it is to be the observer of new life, up close. To feel like a part of the Creator in the process.

The Traveler

Nearing the end of my third decade
a new legacy, new magnum opus found me
So I decided on space travel

I’m building a capsule
complete with lifeline
Organic material, grounded and earthy
ignites this odyssey

It was at first a microscopic endeavor
a saline primordial sea — the same soup
that broke in life upon this planet

My mission is not to discover life but to invite it
Nothing less than a miracle, a lightning strike
an other, an infinite number of experiences and thoughts
an eternity of potential that I cannot own, nor will I try

And safely, under my skin, beneath this marked veil
my comfort capsule expands in space
from minuscule detection,
grows so large it will not be ignored

And faster than the speed of light,
as swift as thought, arriving from how far off
the space-traveler comes to this vessel full and dark,
with a flowing supply of oxygen
My song-sound is heard within its soft, stretching walls

The messenger, not so much of divinity elsewhere but inside,
fostering the ontology of all I am
without confinement or constraint:
I am Infinite. I am the Universe.

Inside cells divide, each knowing its work
Within the membrane organelles dance with DNA and RNA
the ribosomal protein play
extending in atoms, electrons, quarks
Photons dance like stars in the spinning sea of space

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Babies

Posted on October 13, 2009. Filed under: Family, fatherhood, Gender roles, Mormon Life, motherhood |

by JessawhyBaby

When I was young, the word “babies” gave me the creeps. Not just a little chill up my spine, but  I want to crawl behind the couch, creeps.  I have no idea what it was about that word, but I really disliked it.  Perhaps I always knew I wasn’t drawn to the nurturing, mothering role, which makes sense because I never liked playing house either.

Babies mean much more to me now, as a mother. I have three beautiful children, of the sweet and sour variety.  Sometimes I think they’re bipolar. One minute they are throwing toys, tantrums and toast, while the next minute they are kissing, cuddling, and cute.  Regardless, most of my time is spent with my three boys, ages 7, 3, and 1.

My smallest baby has a blue, snot-stained, fuzzy blanket/bear, called “Bear” for short, that he carries EVERYWHERE. It’s his lovey, and when operated alongside the thumb in mouth, spell contentment for our little guy.  No matter where we are, Bear will calm or thrill baby Finn in an instant.

So, imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when Finn, who at nearly two is now beginning to talk, starts to call his bear, “Baby.”  It melted my heart. He is so attached to his baby. It is the first thing he sees in the morning and the last thing he sees at night. He kisses and hugs it, and sings to it and snuggles it all day long.  And he named it “Baby” without even a suggestion from us.

Watching my baby love this little piece of fabric has given me new insight into the love I have for my own children, and the love God has for me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that this most recent revelation of cuteness is a direct message from God to me because of the last few difficult months of parenting.

Here’s what I think God is saying, or at least what I’m hearing from this message about babies.

1. It’s not about who is there; mother or father, it’s about the amount of love and time we give our children.

2. Babies are hard, of course they’re hard and from my experience, they just get harder, so take the good moments and cherish them (write them down!).

3. Everybody is born with some nurturing abilities (even my child who throw trains at his brother’s heads) and we should encourage them in boys and girls. This also means we should admire and recognize good fathers as often was we can.

4. God loves us because he puts people here to help comfort us, make us laugh, hug us, and just help us know that we are not alone in the world.

Yep, I learned this all from a little blankie bear and his baby.

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Years Later

Posted on October 9, 2009. Filed under: Acceptance, faith, Family | Tags: , , , , |

fall

A Guest Post by Melanie

More than any other season, the coming of fall moves me to remembrance. The crisp air and turning leaves herald anxious first days of school, cross country races, divorce, the beginning and end of my own relationships, death, and the assumption and throwing off of religious beliefs. If anything is going to happen in my life, it happens in the fall. When nature goes into transition, so do I.

As time has passed, I’ve traded the dread of autumn–oh no, my life is going to fall apart, again–for preparation. Anticipating upheaval, why, It’s October and I’ve already lost and gained back the stress weight, feverishly baked pies, brownies, and cookies to impose order on my world, vacillated between sunny and sad music (mostly sad), lived for every solace bringing family phone call, and heck, I’ve even thrown myself into my work with all the intensity of a first year PhD student so that I don’t have to think about things. I still feel the losses, the abject loneliness that comes with things you can’t change, but with time I have the benefit of experience and hindsight to buoy me through it.

Because nobody can tell you at the time:

that eight years after your parent’s divorce, your family will be healed and emerging as something bigger, better.

that seven years after she died that you will have found reserves of love to give that you didn’t know you had.

that five years after he died, you’ll be finding tranquility every day on a bike his memory spurred you to buy.

that five years after he broke your heart and you started to think about your potential, you’ll be well traveled, doing fulfilling work on another coast, and someone you never could have been otherwise.

that two years after you left the church, you’ll be living a life of untrammeled authenticity, boundless hope, and uncomprehendable peace.

Like Eve, I will take what the fall gives me.

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Baby Blessing Dreams, Not Nightmares

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: authority, Family, feminism, Gender roles, Mormon Life | Tags: , , , , |

by Alisa

I had my first dream about the baby boy I’m expecting last night. I dreamt that family was gathered in my large hospital room to celebrate the arrival of our baby. They were in their Sunday clothes, and I realized that the men were there to give my son his baby blessing and name. I sat holding our son as my husband and a few other men gathered around to give him his name. But I noticed that my dad and a few others in my immediate family didn’t come up to the circle, as if my husband had forgot to expressly invite them. As the circle closed in, I quickly looked up at my husband and told him that we hadn’t settled on a first name for the baby. He assured me that the Lord would reveal the name to him when he gave our son the blessing.
 
The blessing was over in a flash, and afterwards, I had to ask what my husband what he had said his name was. The first name was some gibberish thing, but I distinctly heard the middle name was “Benjamin,” and not my terminally-ill father’s name as we had agreed on. I became furious that my husband didn’t stick to any of the names on our list and, clutching our son to my chest, began to shout at my husband, insisting that I was going to write on the birth certificate one of the names from the list, hoping this government document would override any crazy revelatory name pronounced in the blessing.
 
I woke up still a little bit taken back by the emotion and intensity of the dream. For one thing, my husband’s actions were completely uncharacteristic of him, leaving me to think about this as a projection of my own insecurities about entering motherhood and the tensions I see between femininity and masculinity within the Church. The hopes I have for raising my son in balance are placed opposite the fears I have that external forces will take over the process of raising our son to hold more egalitarian views.

I admit that the baby blessing is something I’ve not been looking forward to. I’ve always felt it was silly for the men to exclude women from this mutual work of creation and hailing their babies. Even more than the blessing itself, I resent that the recently-labored mothers are left to clean and tidy the house while putting together a luncheon for the Priesthood holders and their families (just our two immediate families – grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses, and their children – living within 60 miles of our home will mean over 35 people crowded into my little living room and kitchen). When I’m thinking about it in cynical terms, this day seems to uphold the father as Patriarch and lord over his posterity and downgrades the mother to maid and caterer. I am sure I’ll have lots of help, most of all from my DH, who does most of the cooking in our home, but I still feel stress of having all these people over and packed in during cold and flu season.

I think in my dream I was trying to find some way to regain equal standing to the powerful men in the room: they clean-shaven in their suits, and me, sweat drenched and in a hospital gown. My hope in the dream was that I had a legal right to be involved in the naming of my child. Whatever it was to offer me some power back, I wanted to take it, but instead I saw my son being immediately swallowed up by an institution that not only excluded me and other women, but also some key male members of my family, following the strict patriarchal line uninterrupted by women.
 
In reality, when the baby comes, I am going to go along with and support the baby blessing. I think there is something beautiful in the elders of a tribe welcoming someone new in and claiming him or her as one of their own. That archetype resonates with me. While I wish it were more gender neutral who is considered an elder of the tribe, I can’t do much about that. So I will appreciate the symbolism from afar in my distant pew. And also, I want to consider the expectations of my family, which is a traditional baby blessing. I’m much more likely to have diverse thoughts (like these) that I don’t put into practice.

But I don’t think it can hurt to try to make this the best event I can for my husband, my child, and me. I am interested to know about your baby blessing experiences. Have you done something to be more involved? Is there something that you would be sure to leave out if you did it again? Any advice for those of us private, introverted types who are less-than-enthusiastic hostesses for parties in general to survive the post-baby blessing luncheon expectation? What beautities have you observed in the process of seeing your child blessed in our LDS tradition?

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