At the adult session of our most recent Stake Conference, Sister Folkman gave a beautiful talk about Family Councils. Her talk generated a great deal of wonderful discussion throughout the stake, and so we wanted to share her talk on the blog for all of us to ponder and consider. Thank you, Sister Folkman, for sharing.
Councils As A Single Mother
I am content- meaning, I guess we are the same as every family. I am 1 mom VS 4 boys, and that presented real challenges. I learned to control the environment.
Tina Taylor gave great advice years ago to read scriptures while boys are eating. When eating, they are an engaged audience. Use family dinner time as a critical time to have discussions. We learn from the Family Dinner Project:
Do family dinners have any scientific benefits?
Over the past 15 years researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family dinners with many behaviors that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem. Studies also indicate that dinner conversation is a more potent vocabulary-booster than reading, and the stories told around the kitchen table help our children build resilience. The icing on the cake is that regular family meals also lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents. What else can families do that takes only about an hour a day and packs such a punch?
The rest of the world might say discussion, but we in the Church might say “council.” The lord’s church is always ahead of the world’s advice.
Boys and teenagers might have a limited grunting vocab, but this is a natural time to open up. All electronics are off. That is rude to me at any meal. I grew up in Virginia and Maryland, my mother is from Georgia, Southern’s talk at dinner. We usually start with the high point of the day and the low point of the day. And how we could react or deal in stressful, bad or challenging situations and just talk.
Get them beyond “HUH” and “WHAT!”
We talk about things. For example, “What do you do when” …all the stuff of high school. People offer you alcohol or marijuana or sexual pictures. What do you do when you are in a scary car ride or at an inappropriate place? We practice and plan. It has helped them to thank in advance
We also like to tell stories of my childhood and theirs to rehash.
Another captured audience time or more controlled environment is while driving (while I am driving, not with a learning driver). While driving, I am NOT on the phone.
We drive to Breckenridge monthly to my sisters 2nd house- this is time to just talk and discuss needed topics. This stops me from telling them ” you need to do…” which is a quick shut down.
Rotate who sits in front, no head phones, we ask questions and wait.
While we are driving a beautiful drive they relax and talk about issues- sometimes.
As single moms, or, well, anyone- we all need councils with other involved priesthood.
We need advice / council from Bishops, Home teachers, brothers, brother-in-laws, fathers, and older children.
I have been very blessed with priesthood help who have prayed with me, for me, who have seen that I needed help. The precious advice of these excellent men is a great treasure in my family memory.
Bishop Parry in Las Vegas helped me when I was going through the divorce. What a hero to help me plan a happier future.
Bishop Wray spent time advising me and helping to save a son in serious turmoil. He was a righteous Bishop and adviser who helped me with planning and with very tough decisions. He helped me see I have to let go of hurts and situations that can emotionally take me down.
Bishop Cutler saw another son who needed a loving father, and took C. on as a son. C. and G. and S. love you and Bishop Fotheringham because you love them and care about them.
With these bishops I have discussed the needs of my boys and made plans to help them be good fathers and men without an engaged father. Bishops and bishopric’s are amazing priesthood leaders. Thank you Bishops and stake leaders for your love and care from all those you have served.
The wives and families who support them are unsung heroes, thank you.
We have had home teachers who could see I needed help or advice and we worked out a plan. In council, home teachers organized the ward members to help paint the exterior of my house, taking out an old playground and putting in new sod, fixing mowers and frozen pipes, blowing out sprinklers, giving blessings for my boys, letters of support to my boys, discussing my needs- giving me moral support.
One home teacher David Clark came over Mother’s Day morning with a beautiful corsage. He talked to my boys about getting Moms flowers and helping to show their love and appreciation for mothers and women. Brother Clark passed away the following Mother’s Day morning. Michael Clark, David’s son, was at my door with a corsage. He followed his father and what a powerful lesson to my boys. Michael reminded my boys to take care of their mother. They have followed that beautiful example for Mother’s Day.
The Lords church is organized through the priesthood. Please don’t consider Home Teaching as just a check mark DONE to be counted off. Wives please encourage and support the priesthood serving in their callings. As a single sister and mother I have needed the organization of home teaching to help me. I have needed priesthood council and will continue to need that help.
Council of family as adult children
A silver lining of going through my divorce was the tight bond created with my brothers and sisters and parents. They are committed to helping and loving me and my children, their advice and care has often been our salvation.
As a family we have had fasts and many conference council calls to determine needs and what help can be given for my family. The strong commitment we have to each other, to discuss and plan, have served us well. I am glad to have fasted, prayed and helped nieces, nephews brothers and sisters and not been the only needy person. Those conference calls are tight glue bonding us together; we have 3 to 4 per year for family needs- with other calls dedicated to planning family trips, and now, as our children get older, weddings. We hold these on the Sunday night of General Conference.
Thankfully we have a long precedent of discussing, planning, and giving assignments to carry out a goal. We needed that structure of councils for a catastrophic event. My beautiful mother got Alzheimer’s and because of her disease and confusion she had a very serious, ultimately deadly, accident.
We cared for our mother for 24 hours a day for 6½ months at Littleton Hospital after this tragic accident. At Littleton hospital they thought MOM was some celebrity because her husband and children never left her alone for 6 ½ months. 24 hours a day, until she passed away. There were many scary days and nights. We have love and respect for each other- all of the 7 brothers and sisters who all gave up vacation time, sleep- pretty much all personal time- to serve each other and our Father as we served Dorothy Coates. We had to have schedules and rosters to help her. One of the intensive care nurses at Littleton Hospital I know from work. She and I were with my mother the first 2 nights, in intensive care- what an angel blessing. She marveled with me later over the months of our commitment. This nurse said the nurses knew you were Mormons or Catholics- they come and take care of their families.
We had daily, weekly calls to organize all our efforts to prepare and support each other. Our plans worked and we met our goal to care for our mother.
A final family council that has been a big part of our family are missionary councils. My son C. is in Belem Brazil- quick shout out to all the missionary Moms. You are awesome!!! Your child is becoming through the Lords plan the adult they were meant to be. WELL DONE!
I have 3 other nephews serving right now and another nephew working on his papers. 11 grandchildren from my parents have served. We are a missionary focused family.
We have conference calls as they prepare to go. We discuss what the Elder will need and how to support them. My brother was in the RI Stake presidency and while the Boston Mission 1st counselor he created a list of things to do spiritually and mentally to prepare to go. We discuss these items and how to prepare the next missionary.
BEFORE they leave we have all the missionaries who have served in the family give advice to the missionary going out. Grandpa who has been a mission president writes a letter. This advice is written down so the elder or sister can remember and review. Other close friends write council-loving words of advice to keep because we can’t call and have council for that missionary as they serve.
After they return, the returning elder gives council to us on how to be better missionaries at home and serious advice for the next missionary going out. This is such a joyous time to see their growth and to feel their testimony. But the events must be planned and scheduled to happen. A part of family dynamic.
The Lords church is organized and so should we be. Sometimes we are mired in just functioning. BUT planning and preparing for better is so important to have them happen. The Lord is in our lives, I know Jesus Christ is our savior, Our gospel of good news and a hopeful future is Joyous. Counciling to prepare, plan, and execute makes our joyous future and time here happen. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.