Monday, November 10, 2014

If I could rewrite the song, "The Family is of God".

I am about to go out on a limb here. Make some enemies. Make people mad. But I have to write my feelings out. I just have so many of them!

The yearly Primary Program for church goes on at this time of year. The kids at church sing their little hearts out and all the primary leaders are stressed out of their minds. I have taught primary for 2 1/2 awesome years. I have loved it. I have gotten to know my kids so well. I know all the little things that make them tick. What they were for Halloween, when they lost their first tooth and who got a new bunk bed. I have gotten to know their siblings and parents and seen first hand that these kids are all loved.

This year in Primary, the theme has been families. The Family is of God. Which is something I have a testimony of. At the beginning of the year, the kids were taught a song called, "The Family is of God". And from the moment I heard it, it gave me a horrible pit in my stomach. Here are two verses from it. 

2. A father’s place is to preside, provide,
To love and teach the gospel to his children.
A father leads in fam’ly prayer to share
Their love for Father in Heaven.

3. A mother’s purpose is to care, prepare,
To nurture and to strengthen all her children.
She teaches children to obey, to pray,
To love and serve in the fam’ly.

Guys, I have such a hard time with these lines. And it's because I am very aware of some of the kids I have had over the years in my classes. A lot of these kids don't have the dad that does the proper Mormon "preside, provide". Some don't have dads that are members of the church. Some don't have dads at all. The ones that have dad's that aren't members, I know these men are really good men. They don't teach the gospel to their kids, but they are hardworkers, kind and loving. So when I see the kids in Primary told to belt out this song that I know don't have the dad that "leads in family prayer", I get so bummed. They are forced to think about their dads and get to figure out they are not what the church wants for them. That sucks.
The 3rd verse is hard for me too because in this house, the dad does the exact same thing as the mom. Ethan has just as much responsibility as I do to nurture, teach and serve. Where's the verse that talks about the girl in my class where her mom does both roles? Who burns the parent candle at both ends? Why can't this song talk about roles instead of purpose and place? Inside the church, the family has changed. Both parents provide, lots of parents are divorced, some are inactive. This is a reality for a lot of families. Many people have told me that it's good the kids are singing this song. It teaches them what they should strive for in their families someday. Guys, these kids are tiny. Let them strive for this when they are teenagers. 

In my perfect world, the song says, "A parent's place is to preside, provide" and "A parent's purpose is to care, prepare." I would say in most homes, it's a pretty equal share of presiding, teaching and preparing. I have heard so many people rave about how much they love this song. And every one of those people has the exact family situation they are referring to in this song. None of them have an inactive spouse or are divorced. Trust me, I have been paying attention.

Please don't crucify me over this. Don't rip into me. This is just how I have felt for about 7 months. Every Sunday. As a primary teacher to 12 strong, smart and eager-to-learn kids.

1 comment:

  1. I could not agree with you more. In fact, I find the song offensive. I don't know why we as Mormons are so obsessed with forcing these rigid, narrow gender roles on people from such a young age and then making anyone who doesn't fit perfectly in them feel like crap. They don't work in my house, and in fact, I don't want them to. I want my kids to know that if Mom is the one providing, then great. I want them to think a Dad who nurtures them is the ideal, not a fancy "presiding" Dad. They need a Dad in their lives, not a visiting high councilor. And ultimately I want them to know that whatever we decide is best for our family is great, and that we're a team. Because that--a family that's a team--is what is truly "of God".