Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Supporting Family Members (YW Lesson 10, Manual 1)

One thing I really like about the updated sidebar's questions is that they really are, as they are labeled, discussion questions. They aren't afraid to ask a hard question, and there are no answers provided. The two discussion questions for this lesson are:
Think about members of your family that need support right now. What can you do to show love and support for them?
What can we do to love and support family members who may not be living the gospel?
The first seems a very personal question. I like the specific nature of the question, but perhaps it's not one that's meant for open "discussion"? Might be something to have them ponder throughout the lesson? Or something to ask at the end? Thoughts? The second question is one of those real-life, important questions - how do we show love and support to those making decisions different than us? Not just to an ideal father who has a big day at work. What about a brother who has concerns about the church and doesn't come anymore? What about a cousin who is giving the extended family cause for worry? What about someone's own mother who isn't a member? A father who is inactive but still a good guy? or isn't? These are more like the real situations that most or many of our young women are facing. And remember, more than half of our members are first-generation members now. (Another great reason to update these manual questions...)

The talk that stuck out to me from the sidebar was the one by Pres. Uchtdorf called "Of Things That Matter Most" from 2010. It was a talk about slowing down, focusing on basics (and where he had the great line: At this point some of you may be thinking, “That’s all very fine and good, but what does it have to do with flying an airplane?” Well, let me tell you. I loved that he could tease us and himself right in general conference!)

After discussing what basics are and why they are important, he spends a part of the talk only on relationships. He says,
As we turn to our Heavenly Father and seek His wisdom regarding the things that matter most, we learn over and over again the importance of four key relationships: with our God, with our families, with our fellowman, and with ourselves.
I'll finish up by quoting most of his section on relationships:
We improve our relationship with our Heavenly Father by learning of Him, by communing with Him, by repenting of our sins, and by actively following Jesus Christ, for “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Christ].” 10 To strengthen our relationship with God, we need some meaningful time alone with Him. Quietly focusing on daily personal prayer and scripture study, always aiming to be worthy of a current temple recommend—these will be some wise investments of our time and efforts to draw closer to our Heavenly Father. Let us heed the invitation in Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.” 11
Our second key relationship is with our families. Since “no other success can compensate for failure” 12 here, we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e,time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship.
The third key relationship we have is with our fellowman. We build this relationship one person at a time—by being sensitive to the needs of others, serving them, and giving of our time and talents. I was deeply impressed by one sister who was burdened with the challenges of age and illness but decided that although she couldn’t do much, she could listen. And so each week she watched for people who looked troubled or discouraged, and she spent time with them, listening. What a blessing she was in the lives of so many people.
The fourth key relationship is with ourselves. It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.
If it were me teaching, I'd probably focus on all four relationships. (I know the more obvious plan would be to excerpt the part just on family relationships.) But there's something in me that says all four of these are probably connected. If someone's relationship with any of these four is off, then it's going to affect the others, including the relationship to parents and siblings.

Looking specifically now at the paragraph on families, I think I see some more discussion questions in there: "How do we talk with rather than about each other?" or "What are some of your favorite things you have learned from your siblings?" or "What do you have that is in common with your parents, and what is different? What do you like about things that are the same, but also what is fun about the things that are different?" Those sound like some interesting and very uplifting questions to ask a group of young women. Also, "What kinds of things do you want to do in your home, now or in the future, to establish times of worship together?"

One idea anyway. There are more ideas in the sidebar, including some scriptural passages (that actually talk about families, unlike the one in the manual... :) ) Best to each of you as you prayerfully prepare your lessons!

2 comments:

  1. i think the new sidebar questions are fantastic and i don't think a teacher should shy away from using them for a discussion during the lesson. depending on the relationship the teacher has built with the girls, they will feel comfortable opening up. at least that was my experience as a young women adviser and as president.

    one of my laurels had a mother who was baptized and no longer attended our church. she was extremely active in another christian church. while teaching this lesson - i specifically asked this laurel how she supports her mother - and she explained that sometimes she misses our church because she is attending her mothers church when she is in charge of something special. another laurel's father was not a member and had given her a cross necklace. she said she thought it was pretty and liked to wear it because it was from her father - we had a wonderful discussion about why the cross isn't representative of the lds but how, for her, she was supporting and loving her father the best way she could and he was doing the same for her.

    i believe the diversity of current congregations will lend itself to a fantastic discussion on supporting family members so long as the teacher is open and honest as well!

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  2. I taught this lesson today and thought I'd share my inspiration. After watching the "Father and Sons" video recommended on the sidebar, we sat down together and read through the Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi 12:38-44. First we read verse 38 and talked about what "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" might mean in a family setting. Once I got them rolling, they had PLENTY of ideas and suggestions! Then we read verse 39 and talked about how you would handle the situations we had just discussed in Christ's way. I was a little nervous about how my 12 yo girls would understand and liken the scriptures, but to my pleasure they asked lots of questions and I think they really, really got it. They were overflowing with ideas. We got through verse 42 and then we were essentially out of time! I couldn't believe it! I loved the way we naturally covered many of the topics in the lesson by "likening" the scriptures.

    To finish, I prepared a half-page for each girl with a spot for them to choose a family member, that person's strengths, their challenges, and how the girl might support them. The girls thought and wrote while I read some excerpts from the manual (I especially like the bit about supporting fathers) and mentioned to them a few of their own family situations by name that I had observed where they provided support (new baby, working single mom, lots of big brothers, etc.) They seemed taken aback but pleased my the personal observations. I wish I had thought of one for each girl. Then two girls shared their plans to support a family member, and we were done! I felt very pleased at how the lesson went, and the girls seemed eager and enthusiastic to work on their goals (which also fulfill Divine Nature #3 in Personal Progress.)

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