A Single Parent

After Jenny’s death, I found myself in a very difficult and challenging situation. The most important people in my life were right in front of me, and my priority was clear. But, it took a couple of months or more for me to settle down and fully realize “I was on my own.” Early on, the Ward Relief Society sisters helped a great deal easing me into my new life; but ultimately, I had to make some serious changes. I was very much overwhelmed with the sole responsibility of caring for my little family.

Easter Sunday 1984

I learned quickly that I was weak in many areas of home management: laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, childcare, and more. Of the seven (7) children, our oldest was 13 years and the youngest was 6 months. Falling back on my military skills, I decided to approach the challenge as I had many other assignments. I realized “…I was on a mission!” So, I proceeded and we pressed forward.  But first, we needed a mission statement.  I needed to know our family objectives?  So, I wrote our “Family Mission Statement.”

Family Mission Statement
Our mission as a family is to obtain Eternal Life (as individuals and as a family) with God the Eternal Father and His Eternal Son, Jesus Christ (see John 17:3, Romans 6:23, D&C 14:7, and Moses 1:39). We do this by keeping the commandments of God (see D&C 93:1-3, 19-20 and 26-28), becoming clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Helaman 3:35, 3 Nephi 27:20, D&C 20:31. D&C 76:41 and Moses 6:59-60), and by remaining on the “the covenant path” or “…strait and narrow path” as described in 2 Nephi 31:17-21. We work together as a family and support each other in obtaining this goal.

Next, I identified our family rules, operating procedures, and expectations for completion.  I wrote “Family Rules” to set clear boundaries for our personal and family behaviors and activities.  Our “Family Rules” became our baseline.  They were the “big picture.” They identified what our standard personal and family behaviors were, and in some cases why.   Then, I wrote operating procedures and instructions.  I did this by identifying each family and household task. I researched and wrote the procedures and instructions and described how each task was to be done. They specified how to do what we needed to do.  I also included some checklists to ensure the completeness of each task.  Finally, I designed a rotating weekly “Family Chores Chart” that identified each task, who was to do it, and when.

Of course, these procedures seem a little silly now, and I’m sure most “real mothers” would scoff at them, but at the time they were very important to me. After all, I’m a military man. I’m task-oriented and I needed a plan and some structure to guide me through those challenges.  To be sure, much of this “Mister Mom” duty was new to me.  These rules gave me the outline and structure I needed to proceed and succeed.  They helped me to get a basic overview of the “what, why, and how” and to build a foundation to work from. At a very basic level, this effort outlined family activity for me and allowed me (us) to understand, cope, and survive.

In the process, I tried to be thorough, but I also tried to be flexible. I wrote: “these family rules apply to everyone generally and are used as guidelines–not laws. Each situation may be adjusted as necessary; however, unless there is a good reason, we will follow them as closely as possible.” As a family, we all reviewed the rules and procedures together.  I presented them, we discussed them, and we all agreed to them. If anyone wanted to change a rule, they were to bring it up in a regular family council meeting for consideration.

So, if you’re interested, here are the original “Edgar Family Rules” and “Edgar Family Chores Chart.”  Remember, as silly as they may seem now, they were a lifeline for me during a very difficult time.

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