I’ll introduce our newest guest blogger by letting her introduce herself.
Iâ€™ve enjoyed the opportunities Iâ€™ve had to read some of the posts to Times and Seasons and now Iâ€™m flattered to be asked to be a guest blogger. I consider myself fortunate to know Julie Smith. I love being able to have discussions with her and she was the most awesome Gospel Doctrine teacher. I adore her family and especially her son Nathan who was in my Primary Sunbeam class for a year.
While Iâ€™m currently a Texan, I was born and raised in Idaho and take great pride in those roots. I am the fifth child and third daughter in a family of eight children (four boys and four girls). I graduated from Ricks College, BYU and Utah State University. My undergraduate degree was in Sociology and my first job out of college was as a juvenile probation officer in Idaho. That job was an awesome learning experience but exacted a huge toll on my emotional reserves. I then served a mission for the church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I received my call within weeks of the revelation giving the priesthood to all worthy male members of the church. Upon arriving at the MTC I learned that my companion there was one of the first black sisters to be called to serve a mission. Serving in Brazil where the revelation had particular impact was a significant event in my life.
After my mission I worked for a small Head Start program in rural Idaho for three years and then went to graduate school. I completed a Masters degree in Family and Human Development. I was hired by Idaho State University to run their child development laboratory. I was in Pocatello just one year and then was hired by The University of Texas at Austin to direct their laboratory program and teach in Human Development and Family Sciences. Iâ€™ve been here 18 years.
Although I have a passion for babies and small children I myself am childless. I am also single. That has been a challenge. Sherri Dew has said if fasting, prayer and temple attendance could guarantee someone getting married she would have married years ago. I agree with this proclamation. It can be hard to understand â€œwhyâ€? when life doesnâ€™t turn out the way we wanted or imagined. That is true for me. It has also given me what is perhaps an unique perspective on polygamy.
I do think being a parent provides invaluable experiences that cannot be learned or understood through study and research alone. For several years I taught parenting classes to Head Start parents. But finally I had heard â€œbut you canâ€™t understandâ€? enough times that I did understand that to provide valid coaching on parenting skills, most parents need to hear it from someone who is a parent. I havenâ€™t taught parenting classes in over two decades. This is my disclaimer. Iâ€™m not an expert on parenting.
I like to challenge my students to think about such questions as: How has childhood changed since you were a child? How safe/unsafe is the world today for children? What should children be learning? What are the most valuable learning experiences for young children? If you created a list of ten things that children today should learn, what would that list include? A famous theorist said, â€œThe man is a reflection of the child.â€?
Julieâ€™s recent post on Primary talked about the expectations in the church (it also happens elsewhere) for young children to sit still and quiet (we call it reverence) for long periods of time. Parents have told me of golfing camps with a hundred four- and five-year-olds feeding a parentsâ€™ dream of another Tiger Woods. Weâ€™ve enrolled two-year-olds in our program that have been expelled from other programs for â€œbad behaviorâ€?. What should we expect from children?
I also recently wrote a newsletter article to the families in our laboratory program challenging them to keep childrenâ€™s birthday parties simple and child-oriented. It seems parties for children can often be done to impress adults and that children really donâ€™t enjoy them all that much, if at all. Iâ€™m also aware of perceptions of children terrorizing restaurants, stores and other public places while parents smile and explain, â€œChildren will be childrenâ€?. What is the responsibility of parents?
I understand my tenure as a guest blogger is for two weeks. I look forward to conversing with you.