Family Feature | Steve & Heidi Weed
Have you ever met an amazing family and had the thought, “If only I could be a fly on the wall and find out how they do it!”? Well you’re in luck! We are starting a new series here at the Small Seed that will give you a glimpse into the lives and practices of faith-filled families! We’re starting with some families that we really look up to, but if you have a family you would like us to interview let us know, we would love to see if we can make it work! These family features are a way for us to dig deeper into how families of all ages teach faith in the home. Through these interviews we hope to share ideas from real stories of real people. We know that no family is alike, and likewise, there is not one right way to teach faith in families, but we are certain that we can be inspired and uplifted by each other as we work together to raise families in faith.
For our first Family Feature we are interviewing Steve and Heidi Weed. They are the parents of four children, who are now all married and starting families of their own. They are now enjoying their time as grandparents. It was a pleasure for my husband, Zach, and I to sit down with them and hear how they chose to raise their family with their faith at the center of all they did.
Q: What was the motivation for you to put your faith in the center of your home and family?
Heidi: Early on in our marriage we moved to Salt Lake City. Steve had just graduated from college, but it was 1980 during the biggest recession since the depression. We didn’t have a job but did have a brand new baby. I remember we moved to this tiny apartment to be apartment managers. Money was so tight that when I got a $5 parking ticket it literally blew up our budget! Steve soon found holiday work at JC Penney which helped us get by as he sent out resumes all over the country and waited. It was a pretty discouraging time for us.
We attended our first meeting in our new congregation, and a woman stood up and talked about the blessings she and her family had received by paying fast offerings as directed by our Prophet. (As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we believe that our leaders are prophets and apostles like those in the Bible. So we follow them because we believe that they speak for God. “Fast offerings” are a voluntary donation we are asked to give once a month to support those in need.) We were really touched by what she said and we both left that meeting knowing that we needed to double our fast offering. We just decided to put it to the test and prove a prophet’s words and trust. So we went home and wrote the check and brought it right back. I laugh now because it was such a small amount of money, but at the time it was very significant for us. That next week things just opened up! Steve got a couple of opportunities for interviews and by the end of the week had a few different options for jobs.
Steve: It launched a career that provided for a family and all of these blessings we account to that one decision.
Heidi : Yes, and for us in that decision we proved the words of a prophet in our lives, and we pivoted. We decided we would do our very best to do what a prophet of God asked us to do and our lives have been centered around proving and reproving the words of prophets. I think that’s been the key to raising our kids, is once we knew that, and we established that foundation in our marriage and in our lives, a lot of other decisions weren’t conscious decisions because we are going to do what the prophet asks us to do the best we can. We certainly haven’t been perfect at it, but that’s been our goal, our ambition. That takes a lot of the guesswork out of raising kids because they guide you along the way after that.
Q: I love that. So as your family grew from that one baby into four kids can you tell us some of the things you did early on to establish faith in your relationship and in your family?
Steve: My career quickly took us all over the country, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio all while our kids were young. We lived far away from family and from what we grew up with, but we knew that our safety was in the words of Prophets and each other. So we adopted faith traditions like weekly family gospel study, church attendance and daily family scripture study and prayer which brought us comfort and peace no matter where we were.
Heidi: When we finally moved to what would become our long term home, our oldest son was in fifth grade and had been in a different school each year. When I told that to the Principal, he was put into a remedial class because the school assumed with all that moving and change he would need the extra help. It was quickly evident to them that he did not need that. That caused me to wonder to myself why he wasn’t that way, and I realized that everything that really mattered to him in all our moving and changes in his life had come with us. In each move we took our faith, our testimony, our family prayer and scripture study. Our kids didn’t care where we were because the important traditions within the home you can carry with you wherever you go. We didn’t really do anything dramatic or grandiose around the holidays, but for us it has been the daily and weekly traditions that seemed to really make the biggest impact for us in the end.
Q: As your kids got older how did you hold on to traditions that you knew to be important when kids might have felt differently?
Steve: I think starting these traditions early is so important because it becomes a part of them. Like a golf swing, when you start young it becomes a natural thing to hit that golf ball. And that’s how it is in the home, when you start them in these processes early then it really stays with them and they love them. When they leave the home they miss those.
We tried to establish a relationship of trust and love early on. If you really love your children you express that in the way you are with them each day in play and work. We tried to make our home a fun place, where we could laugh, play, joke and work out issues together. We had this tradition in our weekly family night we called “what’s your beef?” It was a way for them to work out any issues and talk about things that were bothering them. There were tears and intense discussions, but it laid this foundation that we were there for them and they knew it.
Heidi: After family prayer every night we would always do a family cheer, which probably sounds a little weird, but they loved it! The best part was after the cheer everybody hugged everybody. We started that when they were really little and when they were little they thought it was the greatest thing. But because that happened every day of their lives as they go older they never complained! So when they were 17 and had to hug each other all the arguments just disappeared. The kids would often have friends over during family prayer when they were teenagers and the friends even joined in.
Q: Are there specific times you can think of when your faith been a part of your parenting motives and decisions? Or when it determined how you handled a situation?
Heidi: Earlier we talked about that “pivot” we made about choosing to follow a prophet really paid off at every stage of life. Each stage as a parent there were new things to navigate but there was always a resource for us as we chose to follow our prophet.
One of those was when our oldest boys, who were 11 and 12 at the time, qualified for a championship game which was on Sunday. We had already explained we wouldn’t play on Sunday, but when it came down to it the coach and some others were pretty upset about and our kids were getting a lot of pressure from their peers about it. Our kids came to us and asked why they couldn’t play and why it was such a big deal. They weren’t asking in a challenging way, but they were genuinely curious. It turned into such an interesting experience for our family because we just all figured it out together. We discussed, cried, prayed and worked our way through it. And together came to the decision that if we were really going to not play in the game on Sunday and inconvenience all these nice people that we loved we were going to truly honor the Sabbath. This was another great moment for our family, as it was a decision we worked through together.
Q: That’s interesting because that seems like a non-traditional way to parent, having them be a part of it probably made the decision resonate more with them.
Heidi: This was one of the first times that the kids were old enough to really contribute and be a part of the conversation and understand and help us as a family realize there was more than one option to live, not just do what Mom and Dad said. And you’re right, I think that did help them live our decision more easily because we really all decided together. They really had a chance to feel that this is who God wants us to be and we are going to be it.
Steve: Creating this culture in our family of following a prophet and working together to do so came up later when our son was 17 and started dating a girl at school. Their relationship was becoming pretty serious and serious dating relationships in high school were not in line with our family standards.
Heidi: He ended up breaking up with her when he heard the Prophet reemphasize no dating in a church conference. After he talked with his girlfriend about not being able to be together anymore he walked out and told me, “This is the first time God has asked me to do something I didn’t already want to do. I hope it’s worth it.” Then he just walked back into his room and shut the door. So of course then we just prayed our hearts out that he would see it was worth it. And it wasn’t for the first two weeks! It was rough for him as he tried to navigate his way back in with friends and his social life. And it only took him about three weeks until he said he was grateful for his decision.
Steve: You form this culture of studying the words of the prophets and talking about it as a family and understanding that. And he had that culture built in him that when he heard something from a prophet it was something he should take seriously.
Heidi: And when our kids did fight against the rules or didn’t understand then we would pull out “For the Strength of the Youth” Pamplet, a book we have in our church that outlines standards for youth (you can find a copy here). with them and we worked together to try and follow a prophet. It’s not parents against kids, it’s us working together to follow the prophet the best we can. This puts you on the same side of the argument, not opposing each other.
Q: That is really powerful to be reminded how important it is for us to not always be the one in charge, but really work together with our kids. Are there any other strategies like this one that you feel helped you as a parent?
Heidi: We looked to parents that were one step ahead of us for examples. We moved around so much so I was able to watch and see so many different people and I watched and took notes on some of the families that I knew were successful at what they were doing.
Q: Speaking of watching others, were there times that you felt pressured as parents? Either from other parents or from your kids?
Heidi: I think we felt that often. But because we had established so many rules and traditions early on by the time our kids were 14 or 15 they were really comfortable being different because that’s how it had always been. You establish a culture of who you are as a family and that makes them proud.
Q: So that helps you feel okay because your kids are happy at what you are doing as a family?
Heidi: And we were happy! Steve would come home and share a story of how he was the only one not drinking while at the business meeting and they connect and see that Dad’s doing the same thing. And that he had to stand strong and so do they.
If you have a blanket policy in your family you save yourself so much grief because if you put yourself in a situation where you are picking and choosing which sleepover your kids can go to or not or how late they can stay out each night then it becomes a picking and choosing and judging. With a blanket policy like we did and sticking to it, then you’re not judging other parents or kids you are just sticking to your family policies.
Q: How do you help your kids not want to rebel against those policies and the things you set in place?
Heidi: I think this goes back to Steve’s earlier comment about making things fun. You have to make things fun! And keep it full of love. You can’t just demand it. We would wake Saturday morning and blast the music across the house and everyone would be dancing as we did our chores. Of course it wasn’t always perfect, I don’t think you can do that every day, some days you do have to say “this is what we are going to do and it’s going to be hard and ugly but we will get it done!”
You show them through example. We were genuinely happy doing the things we asked them to do and they saw that. We lived the kind of life we were trying to teach and I’m sure if we weren’t happy doing the things we were asking or if we complained they would have seen that disconnect. But we are really happy doing it and we are just inviting the kids along to live it with us.
Kids will start to look around at what they experience and what they world has to offer and if you have enough love, fun, excitement, admiration, respect and all those things that God tells us to have in our homes and families what the world has to offer doesn’t really compare and they know it, even at a young age they know it.
Q: How have you kept these standards and traditions going in your new stage of life as grandparents?
Steve: It’s interesting to see how our kids have taken some of the things we’ve done and gone further. For example, when our kids were younger if we ran into a challenge we would stop and say a prayer. Now one of ours sons and his family pray 20 times a day with their kids! Whatever is going on they stop and have a little prayer. We feel like we helped them set a foundation and thankfully each of our children have married people that have the same commitments and determination to live the gospel and follow a prophet like we have chosen to do. And it’s really a great blessing.
At this point we feel free to let our kids be the parents and we get to be the grandparents that they love to be around. We love to spoil them with quality time and experiences and we don’t feel like it’s our role to be the parent.
Thank you to the Weed Family for sharing a glimpse into your family life and giving us all inspiration to be more intentional and faithful in our families!