Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Sunday School Lesson Recap: Practical Ways to Strengthen Marriage and Family

We focused today on practical things that we can do to strengthen marriage and family in our own lives. Most of the kids in my class have two parents at home, and today all of the ones in attendance have traditional families, so I structured the lesson around a series of reflective questions and input from the students. Also, the Sunday School President attended the class, as did my wife. (She was called today to teach the younger class and wasn't prepared with a lesson, so we combined the two classes.)

I asked each question, gave them about a minute to think about it, and got their answers - talking about each one, if further discussion seemed appropriate. The following are the questions and the answers that were given:

1) What do your parents do to strengthen their marriage?

They help each other with the small tasks around the house.
They communicate with each other / talk about everything before making big decisions.
They work things out without arguing with each other.
They look for things to do together.
They still do silly, romantic things - like dancing in the kitchen while the food is cooking.
They go on regular dates.
They talk nicely to each other.
My dad made it clear he loves us but loves my mom more - that she is his top priority and he won't let us disrespect her.

2) What do your parents do to strengthen your family?

They make sure we read the scriptures as a family at least a couple of times each week and have family prayers most nights. (I loved the focus on regularly when "daily" just didn't work, especially since these parents are ward leaders and would be classified as traditional members by pretty much everyone who knows them.)
They try their best to put up with the kids.
They make sure we eat dinner together, even though my dad works 12 hour days.
They do fun family activities, including my favorite: rides after church on Sunday.
They had fun Family Home Evenings, including things like basketball in the backyard, tag, hikes, etc.
My mom helps everyone. She takes us to all of our activities and volunteers to help others, also - even though that leaves her little time for herself.
They spend as much time together as possible and work hard to have good relationships with us.
They show appreciation for us and compliment us more than they criticize us.

3) What sacrifices have your parents made to help their marriages and their families?

My dad took care of me when I was little and my mom was bedridden with her degenerative disease.
My mom got a job to help support our family, even though she wanted to stay home with us.
My dad started a new job during the day while trying to keep his business open. He would spend hours with us each evening, then, when we would go to bed, he would spend hours each night trying to save his business. We didn't know what he was doing until after his business closed, since he didn't want us to feel bad about the time he spent with us.
My mom gets stressed out easily. She tried to take medication for it, but it made her feel like a zombie, and she couldn't help us while she was on it. She gave up the medication and is trying to find other ways to cope with her stress, even though it's really hard on her. She told us she would rather struggle to be part of our lives than not struggle and not be part of our lives.

I used the responses to that question to reiterate again how we tend to talk about an ideal when we talk about marriage, but I pointed out (by asking the questions directly) that all of them know single, adult members of the ward - and divorced or widowed members of the ward - or members who are married to non-members and attend church without a spouse - etc. I told them that what we were talking about is important no matter what their individual adult lives end up being like - that it's much like in October when we will talk about "Becoming More Christlike".

I finished with one last question, and I told them I would NOT ask for their answers. I told them that it was something to consider now but also over time - and that it might be one thing or twenty-seven things or any number of things. I first reiterated the core definition of "repent" (which they all know by now is simply "change") and told them that this is a great example of a way to approach proactive repentance (making changes NOT because of mistakes / sins of the past but in order to grow moving forward).

4) What do you need to change about yourself in order to be a better husband / wife or mother / father when you are ready to get married and have a family of your own?

Finally, I told them not to try to find "the perfect spouse". I told them, for example, that the apostles and their wives weren't apostles and apostles' wives when they met, fell in love and got married. I told them if they are with someone who makes them feel worse about themselves when they are together to run away from that person and find someone who makes them feel better about themselves when they are together. I told them to find someone who will make them the top priority - who will be willing to sacrifice in some way to support them and to keep a strong marriage.

1 comment:

Jenifer Pullman said...

I want to come to your sunday school class! Thank you so much for your blog and for being so willing to share in an honest and loving way the subjects that you have obviously thought so much about. You have been prolific and consistent, haven't you? I currently teach a Relief Society class in my home ward and a Temple Prep class for young adults in the ward where my husband serves in the bishopric. Your blog will be a new source of information for me and I'm so excited to have found it.