LDS Families – Making Home an MTC

For years now our family has had one focus;to be the kind of family who lives each day with spiritual purpose.  We deliberately do all kinds of things like have daily devotionals and family council meetings, weekly PPIs.  A family mission statement isn’t  just a good idea to us, it is something we use to keep our family focused on progressing as a group toward the missions God has prepared for each of us.  We talk about everything and every feeling.  If we feel the Spirit leave our home every member of the family has been taught to bring it to the family’s attention and to pray and sing a song to invite it back into the home. 

If we are driving to the store and children start to argue, we stop, discuss, pray and sing until we feel the Spirit so that we can go out into the world carrying a feeling that will be different, warm, and inviting.  This is the way we live to keep the Spirit and to stay focused on our responsibility to spread goodness and light to the world. 

Each member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been asked to be a missionary.  Our family realized that this could only be possible if we learned how to recognize the Holy Spirit and use it each day.  Our Spiritual commitment to our family feeling is intense.  It is the most important thing we teach and worry about in our home.  However, we never knew that just focusing on keeping the Spirit in the home could impact the world the way it has. 

Our Mission

If you remember, in November 2009, a BBC show called “The World’s Strictest Parents” aired an episode about the way our family lives and how we helped two troubled British teens to feel the Spirit of family and to make much needed changes in their lives.  The teens and some members of the camera crew didn’t want to leave our home because they didn’t want to leave the feeling in our home.

The Response

The show was a huge success!  The BBC told us that it was the most watched episode of the program so far.  After each airing of the program my husband and I are contacted by many people from all around the world.  They ask us many things and want to know how we live.  They are interested in our religion and the principles our family lives by.  They want to know how to live better lives and strengthen their families.  It is inspiring to meet people like this!  They are so brave to contact perfect strangers and ask for advice.  Our family has made some life long friends from this experience.  We can’t ever have too many friends.

We really can’t wait to get to Europe some day to meet all these new friends.  We have had opportunities to have great discussions about the  things the Peck family believes and why we live the way we live.  The experience has corrected information that people had previously believed about the “Mormon” church.  People in England who have seen the program now know that we are not polygamist, we have equality in marriage relationships and family responsibilities, we use electricity (no really people are told we don’t), we read the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon, we are Christian, we have strong families, and we love all kinds of people no matter their differences. 

The world’s eyes have been opened a bit more from the program we did.  Our family couldn’t be happier.  We get responses and questions all the time like these below:

“This episode shouldn’t be called ‘The World’s Strictest Parents,’ it should be called The World’s Best Parents!”

“After I saw your episode I realized no one has ever taught me what is right and wrong before.  Will you help me learn the difference between the two so my life doesn’t turn out like the teens that came to live with you?”

“How do I find more out about your church and how you live?”

“I didn’t want to leave your home.  It felt so nice there.”

“Thank you for showing us what you REALLY believe.”

“Thank you for giving me hope for my family…now I know the thing we are missing.”

As you can imagine, my husband and I were very humbled and excited to receive messages like these in our inbox and mailbox.  We had hoped some good would come from doing the program that our better judgement told us we shouldn’t do, but we had no idea it would spread so much goodness and inspire so many people to make wonderful changes in their lives the way it has.  We instantly love each person and want them to find the happiness they are searching for. 

Obviously we can’t help all the people who contact us learn everything they want to know about our religion, so we have been in contact with the missionaries to help with teaching people who want to learn more. 

When all the response started coming in about the show I realized that for each one person who contacted me there were many many more who didn’t contact me but just found other people or missionaries to learn what they wanted to know about how we live in our religious culture.  It’s just like on a blog.  hundreds of people will read it and use it but only one or two will actually leave a comment. 

What We Learned

1. A loving, Spirit filled home is the best MTC there could ever be.

2. A person, or family, has to prepare every day by having the Spirit in order to be ready to be used by the Lord for His purposes.

3. No family is boring.

4. The world is craving strong families.

5. Now is a really good time to just open up and tell people what we believe and show them how we live.  Invite people into your home.

6. We can all change the world by living our regular lives.  In fact, in our reality TV world, that is probably the best way to change the world. 

7. Live each day with purpose.  Deliberately do things which prepare you to speak up with the Spirit.

When I was young I had grand dreams of serving a mission.  The plan was mission then marriage, but it didn’t work out that way.  I got married before I had the opportunity to serve a full time mission.  However, now I see that marriage and strong family IS my mission.  And, this mission is making a big difference.  Apparently, my life schedule was supposed to be marriage then mission.  

There is no greater mission than to be a parent or spouse; to make an eternal family.  Family is the main message our full time missionaries give to people learning about our faith.  So, it only makes sense that those of us who are raising a family or peparing to raise a family look at our missions with spiritual eyes.  We are living the missions we were meant to and if we magnify our efforts and focus on the Spirit then our homes can be the training grounds for other great missions as well. 

May God Bless You and Your Families! ~Nicholeen

To read more about how the Peck family lives and the parenting principles they follow visit http://teachingselfgovernment.com

11 thoughts on “LDS Families – Making Home an MTC

  1. Wonderful Nicoleen. I would like to add as a mom to a RM ( I choke as i read this, AM I REALLY THAT OLD??), and another boy who will probably leave in a year and a half; a good Scouting program is essential for future missionary work. Scouting teaches setting goals, tenacity, hard work and leadership skills. if you belong to a Scouting program that cheats, get your child out of it. A bad scouting program is worse than none at all. Also your child needs to learn to overcome difficulties. Missionary work is hard physically and mentally. Success can be sporadic and your child needs to learn they do not have success all of the time.

    Seminary is also important, because it strengthens testimony, but learning to work hard and accepting defeat, then continuing to strive forward is essential.

  2. Great comment! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!!! It sure is a different phase of life to have a missionary, isn’t it? I don’t have many years left with my oldest before that time. It always makes me thinks of all I haven’t done with him yet when I think about how his mission is just around the corner. Thanks again!!

  3. I tell you it is a shock to the system to drop them off at college and/or a mission and say, “Bye, have a nice life. Call me, ok?” Then you have to let them sink or swim. So far, Tex is swimming just fine. I expect Piano Man to do the same.

  4. Nicholeen, you may not even be aware of some of the positive influences you have had on people. I have had a very strange experience ever since seeing your show: every time I get mad at my kids (which doesn’t happen that often, happily), I find myself saying, “how would Nicholeen handle this?” What I mean by that is that Nicholeen would probably be calm and measured rather than excitable like I tend to get occasionally. I’m not saying you’re perfect, rather that you have been a good example for many people like myself.

  5. Mary Ellen Edmunds gave a great talk at the 2007 BYU Women’s Conf called “The MTC as a review not a revelation” it was so great. I would suggest taking FHE lessons from Preach my Gospel, it teaches the basics and is so great.

    As for scouts when done properly it can be a good resource, but sadly is not in most wards and branches. I also wish the Church had some other alternative for boys who do not wish to do scouts because it’s not for everyone.

  6. Joyce- The church does have another program, and it is called ‘Duty to God’. DTG has elements of scouting, FHE and seminary. If a boy attends seminary, takes on a leadership role in an occasional FHE, and is an Eagle Scout the award comes pretty easily. Scouting has about 115 merit badges. These badges cover a wide diversity of subjects which include: music, theatre, computers, history, cultures, art, aviation, bird study, engineering, gardening, golf, nuclear science, rifle shooting, snow sports, water sports, etc… The required MBs include citizenship, first aid, fitness, emergency preparedness etc.. all good things. The required 21 MBs teach well-roundedness. Getting mb in a subject you do not like is what teaches fortitude and tenacity. As adults, we have to do lots of stuff we do not like. This is preparation for adulthood.

    As for church scouts, I totally agree with you. After struggling in our church troop for 11 years, while Mike home-scouted the older boys and sent them off with other troops to earn badges, I have decided when Flash turns 11 next Fall, l will be joining another troop. I have had men from this other troop tell me it would be an honor to help my son. I believe letting Flash see the laziness of Priesthood holders executing their duty, will only give him bad examples to follow, instead I am sending him to a well organized, committed and enthusiastic troop.

  7. I’m not really a fan of Duty to God either, it’s really not a challenge IMO. Truth be told, I find that the FFA and 4-H programs offer more for boys and girls in the way of leadership skills and good charachter development. And that’s the other point…girls can participate equally. I have never felt that girls get anything equal or as much money to do stuff. I know there are activity days and the YW program, but those never, ever get put on the same level as the scouts…scouts = sacrosanct, girls = an afterthought.

    And while you can technically “opt out” of scouts, once the boy gets in the the decons quorem, there is nothing else. Mid week activites are scouts, Saturday activites are scouts, and even though Sunday is supposed to foucus on other things ends up being scouts. Not to mention if he is not in scouts he really is ostracised from the quorem. My other issue with scouts is that sometimes the men involved get so involved the ignore their other repsonsibilites like family and their own kids. In my own family my dad was off helping every other kid with his scout stuff he never had any time for my brothers. Then there are the people who are so obsessed with it they call at all hours of the day and night and even on holidays to do scout things….very, very annoying.

    If we really want to prepare boys of missionary service, just teach them Preach My Gospel from the outset and make sure they know the gospel, not how to tie knots and do zip lines.

  8. You know Nicholeen, I have to admit, when I started reading your blog entry I was like. . . “No way! this family cannot be for real!” If I stopped, discussed, and prayed in the car every time my kids argued, we’d be parked on the side of the road permanently.

    The interesting thing is that my attitude and perspective changed as I continued to read and then realized that “the ‘whole’ world is watching” your family.

    Thanks for your inspiring family and example. I will be adding your book “Family United” to my list of books to read.

  9. I realize that this is totally unintended, but I would hope that you would look over what you’ve written and see where you might tone down the positive adjectives and description if you’re planning on talking about this same experience in other venues, because the tone of this can seem very smug and self-satisfied and detract from the message.

    Also, the fact that you never mention a single thing that hasn’t gone perfectly in your family only adds to the common myth among Mormons that there really ARE families out there that are perfect, and I’m doing something wrong if my family isn’t likewise.

    This is a positive story, but I’m afraid it could have unintended negative consequences along the lines I’m describing without some rethinking of how it’s communicated.

  10. Geoff,

    You are such an inspriation! Thanks for sharing how you are more consciously thinking about your parenting interactions. Once I started really thinking about the tone I had and the words I was going to say, our parenting interactions became much more enjoyable and the feeling in the home transformed.

    Ward,

    Thank you for your kind words. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Our family is in no way “perfect” we are just really focused. We have our moments where we have to sing three or four times on the way home from Salt Lake in one car ride. :) Luckily, those days are not the normal.

    The world is watching our family. But, the world is watching all of our families, so we all need to do our best. What we don’t realize is that most of us are changing the world around us every day just by living our regular lives. Just by having standards and thinking families first. This is probably what I wanted to convey most in the blog post.

    Just a Note:

    You are right. We are not a perfect family. There is no such thing. There are only people who are putting forth a perfect effort each day. God makes up the rest. We have our bad days too.

    Right after our BBC experience people started asking me to tell this side of the story, but I didn’t want to because it was very personal. But, as I pondered further I realized that people need to see that a regular LDS family, who attempts to become more ideal each day, has great power in the world. We are not the little guys, we can be the tidal waves for goodness.

    Okay, you caught me. I am an idealist. Some people hate people like me. I am always shooting for the ideal and never settling for mediocrity. I know mediocre happens sometimes, but I look right past it and shoot for something better.

    My father taught me, “Nicholeen, it’s better to shoot for the stars and hit a pile of manure, than to shoot for the manure and hit it straight on.”

    I have lived my life by this principle. The thought of hitting a manure pile straight on as a child made me sick. I guess it was a pretty effective analogy for me.

    For examples of problems my children have had and how I have handled them you could browse through my site http://teachingselfgovernment.com I give a lot of personal examples there. I also share lots in my book. In fact, as we read my book as a family my children listen intently as a game to try to figure out which stories are about them. I love hearing them say things like, “Oh, I remember that attitude problem.”

    Thanks for your comments. I thought this story would be appropriate for International week. :)

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