If you’re struggling to communicate authentically and assertively with loved ones about changes in your faith or religious participation you might enjoy this new Debrief Society podcast interview. Becca and I discuss my new book The Assertiveness Guide for Women and how how questioning your faith or leaving the religious tradition of your family of origin can indicate movement toward a higher level differentiation of self (the ability to be an individual while staying connected to loved ones). We also cover cultural barriers to assertive communication (for LDS women in particular), how to deal with the silent treatment once you’ve talked to family members about your faith
For those of you who follow me on social media, you know how much I love to post articles that invite online discussions. I am usually fairly accurate about predicting which posts will generate a lot of interest and discussion. However, sometimes I am taken by surprise at the intensity of responses to particular posts and articles. That happened a week ago when I posted this link to this Salt Lake Tribune article by Peggy Fletcher Stack on Facebook about a survey and results asking for input about Mormon women’s names and titles. Within in minutes people started reacting and commenting and this flurry went on for several days, and was incredibly passionate. Read for yourself!
A recent LDSLiving.com, “What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed at Church,” ended with a simple survey. It asked one question: Have you ever experienced spiritual fatigue or burnout? Over 1,900 people took the online survey, and a whopping 95 percent said that they had experienced burnout.
Ninety-five percent! Houston, we have a problem.
I am scared that we are using transgender bathroom policies as a way to avoid discussing the real concerns – sexual assault and all forms of victimization. I am afraid that by framing concerns about transgender bathroom policies, we are further victimizing an already victimized populations. I am afraid that we are using this discussion to avoid engaging in more complex discussions about stopping the glorification of violence and our cultural obsession with sex.
Pride is often referred to as the universal sin. From the perspective of LDS theology, this seems pretty accurate; pride caused Satan to rebel against heaven, pride led to the downfall of ancient civilizations, pride is the driving factor that has caused evil individuals throughout history to come to power, and anyone who has studied the Book of Mormon has probably heard of the pride cycle. However, for this discussion, I’d like to move away from the archetypal, “big picture” idea of pride to focus on the perspective of it as an individual characteristic, that is, of personal pride.
Several months ago, my 8 year-old-daughter noticed the difference between her body and my 46-year-old-mother-of-four body and was asking questions. Throughout her life, my husband and I have used anatomically correct terms when talking about the human body, invited questions about birth and breastfeeding, talked about how babies are born, and have even gotten into a few specifics. We had been having discussions long enough that we had almost exhausted her questions.
Except for one.
One of our core values as Latter-day Saints is honesty (the 13th article of faith begins, “We believe in being honest,” right?). We know that it’s dishonest to lie, steal, and cheat, but have you ever considered that it might also be dishonest to say “yes” when you really mean “no”? For example, if someone asks you if you’d be willing to do something and you say yes when truthfully you are not willing to do so, you are being dishonest. It’s so tricky—we want to please, and we want to help; we want to do our share, and we want to do what’s right.
I know that there have been times when I really wish I felt free to say “no” (and feel at peace about it), but I found myself saying “yes” yet again. Unsurprisingly, this pattern of repeatedly saying “yes” can cause problems in one’s emotional wellness, communication, and even in relationships. I do not intend to suggest that we stop going out of our way to serve others, or to always say “no,” but I think it’s important to examine why always saying “yes” can be harmful, and to look at why it’s okay, even honorable, to sometimes say “no.”
In online discussions about my article “30 Questions Nobody Has Asked My Husband” I noticed a theme in many of the comments: the phrase “you’re choosing to be offended” (or some variation of it) emerged over and over again in response to the article. I found this fascinating because I am not personally offended by the questions; I am, however, very curious about underlying gender assumptions, concerned about the impact of our unexamined perceptions, and I believe that we, as a culture, could greatly benefit from more self-reflection and thoughtful dialogue.
I grew up in contradictory worlds.
I was born and raised in Studio City, California in the heart of the entertainment business. Our neighbor was a makeup artist for movies like “Top Gun.” My extended family had a TV show, and my father, a professional musician, was the musical director on several national television shows when I was a young child. Witnessing this kind of creative expression and visible success, I believed that anything was possible for my life.
“All I’ve ever wanted in life is to be a mother,” she sobbed as she slumped over burying her hands in her face. Through her tears she muttered, “My whole life I’ve been taught that being a mother was the most important role. Now, I’m getting so old that I will never be able to have a child. What meaning is there to my life without the role of mother?”
I’ve heard sentiments like this over and over again in my twenty years of clinical psychotherapy work with LDS (Mormon) women. In our efforts to acknowledge and validate the crucial contribution of mothers are we unintentionally sending a message that women who aren’t able to bear or rear children in this life are somehow less valuable to the Church and to God? A deeper understanding of our doctrine reveals that this is not true; we know that “all are alike unto God” (2nd Nephi 26:33) and that an individual’s worth is not dependent on his/her accomplishments (is there not something strange about considering children an accomplishment?).