Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why Aren't Young Adults Growing Up?

Nothing like preparing to put your house on the market to tie up every drop of free time you might have used to do some good thinking!  Well, I’m not done yet, but I’m tired of it for now and need to take a break.  Plus I read the most interesting article recently that I thought I would share.

First, some background.  I’ve been in many conversations over the past few years about the state of young adults today, particularly of the male persuasion.  Now most of the “evidence” I’ve been talking about involves Mormons but I’ve come across several media pieces that seem to indicate that this is a society-wide problem.  The problem can best be described as ambivalence, toward school, toward finding good employment, toward settling down and growing up in general.

I have several friends from mission and college days who are still single.  They bemoan the state of single LDS males, especially of their age group.  This was echoed by my parents who were in the leadership of a young singles ward in Fredericksburg for many years.  They all say that the men are floundering, living with their parents still, not going to school, working at Best Buy, and not dating any of the wonderfully accomplished women.  When pressed about why they aren’t dating they say something about being intimidated by the women, who are well into or finished with their education, are financially independent, and by all standards, more grown-up.  They instead date non-members and convert them (or not) or date teenagers and marry them when they are still quite young, or they just don’t date at all.

Using Fredericksburg as an example is very interesting because generally speaking the parents of these young adults are all very educated and accomplished.  They’ve had good examples and high expectations from their family and community, and still these problems are prevalent.  Such a mystery.

Now to the latest article I’ve come across in the NY Times.  Just a warning, it’s pretty long, but supremely interesting.  It talks about this phenomenon among the 20-something crowd and discusses a new movement to describe this as a distinct developmental period, like adolescence, called “emerging adulthood”.

Read it and share your thoughts.  How does it compare to your own observations of this age group?  How do you think this is manifest in the LDS community?  What are the positives and negatives of delayed adulthood?  How has your view of this situation been changed by the article?  I’ll share some of my thoughts in the comments after I have a little more time to think things through.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Starting a Discussion Group

I just had dinner with an old mission companion who was in DC visiting her brother.  It was wonderful to see her after all this time and find out what she's been up to.  Surprisingly she's been doing a lot of things that I've been so interested in this past year.  She wrote for a blog called Mormon Women Thinking.  No one has posted on it in awhile because the contributors (she was an magazine editor and had a lot of journalist friends) have moved on, but it still has some interesting things to read.  More than anything I just found it so ironic after I had just started a similar blog myself.  Then I told her of my idea to start a discussion group kinda like a book club but topic based, and wouldn't you know it -- she was an active participant of just such a group in Salt Lake called Think Again!  I knew we were friends for a reason!  Check the website out, very cool stuff.

Anyway, what do you ladies think about starting a group like that?  I already have a name (because that's the most important thing)  "Woot" group or club or something like that.  See, Women of Thought but also that geeky jargon wo0t, wo0t!, and the delightful internet bargain site  Okay... we can talk about the name, but other than that what do you think?  Should we give it a try?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parenting Philosophies

Please read this article about Chinese parenting methods and share with the group your thoughts.  I have many, but I'm not sure if I have the time right now to get them all out.  I'll add things to the comments.  I hadn't really intended for this blog to be about parenting issues because that's what my life is about 24/7 and I wanted to ponder something else, but this is honestly one of the most thought-provoking things I've come across in a long time.  I came across it by reading this article first, which is kind of a rebuttal to the above link.

Part of the reason I think I'm so captivated by this topic is because my parents-in-law have been living in China for the past several years, and I've taken a general interest in the country because of that. I'm also into the nature vs nurture discussions about children, especially since having twins.  Before reading this, I definitely assumed that Asian kids were genetically more academically inclined, and this is the first time that I have thought about the nurture side of the equation.

The idea of true confidence coming from perfecting something that a child would normally give up on seems a sound principle to me.  When I think back over my life, the things that were really, really hard to accomplish are the things that still mean the most to me, and have probably become the things that have defined me more than just the interests that I've participated in.  I think of my mission, my college degree, my musical accomplishments as things I'm truly proud of and the things like drama (which I was really good at and enjoyed, but which was not "hard" for me) as more of the "fun" of high school.

Something else I thought of was that Chinese mothers had a lot more ability to implement these strict routines because they have so few children.  I just don't think that it's feasible with as many kids as I have.

My last thought was in considering who I model my parenting philosophies after.  Certainly my own parents are foremost in my mind, and I'm surrounded by LDS and Western culture, but shouldn't we look to Heavenly Father as a model?  What type of parent is he?  If the scriptures are taken in their totality, I'd say he's been a little bit of both styles at times.  Does this mean that he "changed" styles because his earthy children had different needs at different times in history?  Was is in response to the cultures his groups of children had already established?  With such different parenting styles and cultures around the world today, does Heavenly Father send spirits to the culture that they "need" as part of their eternal progression?

Share your thoughts ladies!

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Education

Alright ladies, I need some help. As part of my personal education and trying to learn how to be a mentor for my children, I have read the Declaration of Independence and now I need someone or several someones to share my thoughts with. The concept is that I read it several times and then jotted down ten ideas that were interesting to me. I would love feedback on any or all of my points and it would probably be best to review the Declaration before reading my thoughts. Please be honest and forgive me if the writing seems elementary, it felt odd doing this, like a school assignment, but I know that I need to learn how to read something and glean from it important topics, while also being capable of discussing those topics intelligently.

*Paragraph 1* Although there are people in our world today who would disagree, back in 1776, it was an unquestioned concept that God was the creator of our world. By those standards, every person on the earth have the same rights pertaining to how they should be treated as well as a limit as to what they must be called on to silently endure. I think we have come a great distance in understanding individual rights, but in the process we have moved away from acknowledging the source of those rights.

*Paragraph 2* The men involved in the Continental Congress were well aware of the extremity of what they were doing and acknowledged that a revolution should not be entered into lightly or for silly reasons. These men had truly spend years trying to work with their government before the realized that it wasn't getting them what they needed. I think they included this so that their successors would understand that this country was not meant to be one of constant change and revolution.

*Paragraph 2* As anyone in any respectable field must know you will never win an argument with intelligent or powerful people without a firm foundation for your arguments. A large portion of the Declaration is a list of the colonists grievances with Britain. The colonist knew that they would need help in order to break free from England and they were well aware that without a strong case of legitimate complaints, they would not be treated with any seriousness.

*Paragraph 10* I have only recently learned the importance (thru reading a children's history book) of the judiciary system. Without the enforcement of the law most societies will crumble. The denial of a functioning judicial system is a dangerous action to take and certainly indicates a lack of concern for the society affected by such a denial.

*Paragraph 14* A military with a greater power than the local authorities will breed contempt and crime. Causing the creation of that kind of environment diminishes the feeling of a safe and secure society. I wonder if the King of England understood the kind of effects his decisions were having on the colonists. Partly I would say yes he did, that's why he made those calls, but on the other hand, what if he was just blinded by distance and lack of information?

*Paragraph 25* When unable to bring the colonists under swift control, Britain's responded with open declarations of war. On the one hand that seems harsh and unkind. On the other hand, Britain had to do something in an effort to stand up for themselves in order to prevent domestic unrest and resentment. If they had just given in to the demands of the colonists they would have appeared weak and that could have sparked wars on their home front.

*Paragraph 31* The biggest reason these colonies were founded was for freedom. People wanted to live in a place with opportunity and a chance to make their own way without so much persecution.

*Paragraph 31* Each country must make their own definitions of other countries, friend or foe. We had a right in declaring ourselves an independent country to say we will be friends and enemies with whom we choose.

*Paragraph 32* The writer and signers of the Declaration knew that by signing this document, they were committing a crime against the country they considered as their own. They felt enough guilt over their actions to as for forgiveness from God. I can only imagine the internal torture that some of these men no doubt put themselves through wondering if this was the right thing to do and then even knowing it was right, worrying about what could happen if they lost.

*Paragraph 32* This was not just a political choice for those men. They knew and accepted the fact that they were pledging not only everything they had, but also their very lives if needed. Clearly, this was the most important decision in their lives.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Scientific Musings in a Playroom

Because of my new efforts toward mental exercise, a passing thought I had while trying to tame the disaster zone that is our playroom, has now become the topic for a new post.  What came to mind while surrounded by plastic chaos? Entropy.  I knew it had something to do with the natural tendency to move from order to disorder.  I looked it up as a refresher.  Go ahead, take a minute to get reacquainted with our old friends Entropy and The Second Law of Thermodynamics.  When you eyes glaze over come back and we'll chat.

Since the practical application of scientific principles seems to take a pretty big base of knowledge to pull off, I pondered entropy in spiritual terms.  Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter...

As order is brought to one part of a system, entropy (disorder) must increase somewhere else within the system.  There are a lot of interesting comparisons to be made in thinking of our spiritual selves. 

The essence of godliness is the ability to create, to organize, to bring order.  Heavenly Father is our god because he created us by bringing order to spiritual matter and then bringing order to physical matter.  This is a concept that is fairly easy for me understand.  Here's where it gets tricky....  Where is the increased disorder that must be evident somewhere in this "system" as a result of creation? Could it be that the Fall was necessary not just as a way to introduce free agency and experience, but also because the order brought about by the Creation had to be offset by the disorder of a Fall?  Death was a consequence of the Fall, but could it also be the offset to Adam and Eve's new ability to procreate?  Pregnancy is literally a process of ordering elements into a new being capable of sustaining life, and death is the literal decomposition of an ordered being into something that can no longer sustain life, and eventually back into randomly dispersed elements. So creation=order and is balanced by death which equals disorder.

Taking it one step further, think of the concept that the Fall was both immediate and gradual.  Adam and Eve were immediately mortal and capable of reproduction. They were immediately "as the gods, knowing good from evil".  But they gradually learned and progressed Spiritually, and they gradually grew old and died.  The final consequence of becoming mortal took hundreds of years. The process of giving over to disorder was slower then.  People lived longer, a lot longer. Today this earth, this "system", is in a further state of disorder.  It is more fallen, it is more mortal. We don't live 900 yrs. We're lucky to live a tenth of that.  The generations from Adam down lived an gradually increasing state of disorder.  So the more the children of Adam had created offspring, the faster and faster they died.

I could go further, but this is about as far as I can go tonight and still make any kind of sense.  Beyond this is a bunch of fleeting thoughts that I can't quite wrap my head around yet.  Mental exercise can become dangerous late at night.  Did you guys follow any of that?  Have you ever thought of the Creation and the Fall as parts of an equation of the laws of nature?


I'm a bit hesitant here... I'm not a great writer or a great thinker but I am in need of mental exercise.

Lately I've been thinking about creativity. Specifically in education. I watched this RSA clip on youtube (I really dig their animated talks) this week. If you have 11 minutes watch it. Sir Ken is new to me and I loved what he had to say, plus he was funny. I always like to know the history of why things are the way they are (especially when things are messy and obviously wrong) and I liked his thoughts on our education system being based on enlightenment era thinking and industrial age economics. If you liked the 11min clip, find an hour sometime to listen to the full talk (laundry folding, anyone?).

So how do we better prepare our kids for the future? And I mean the real future, one that doesn't include standardized tests. Homeschool? I'm down with that, and it might partially solve the problem for my 4 kids. But I'm interested in the big picture. And I just don't think homeschool is a solution that works for the whole of society.

One organization that I think is doing great things is Destination ImagiNation. This year is my kids first experience and I love it. They work in teams of 7 kids and learn to think on their feet, use the creative problem solving process and work as a team. They present their solutions and compete in regional, state and even global tournaments. I've heard that the tournaments are awesome and full of amazing ideas and creative solutions to the challenges. One small step in the right direction that I hope will grow to include more and more kids.

My final thought on creativity is the quote from President Uchtdorf:
The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.

He's got me thinking less about creativity in education and more about creativity in my own life. Letting go of preconceived ideas of my abilities, leaving my comfort zone occasionally, looking at an old problem with a fresh perspective.

So, Women of Thought, how do you exercise your creativity?

Nice Video

Uplifting little story here. Molly, my sister, shared it with me. Her son has autism so it hits home. People love to be kind and good!