Family Feature | Dave & Monica Bauman
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! Our Family Feature series here at the Small Seed is just that. It 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.
My husband and I loved having a conversation with Dave and Monica Bauman as they shared some of the things they are trying to do to keep faith the core of their parenting and family as they raise four daughters. Thank you for sharing with us Dave and Monica!
Q: What is one of your most memorable or favorite parenting moments?
Dave: I think my proudest moment was at my oldest daughter’s baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was baptized just last year when she turned eight. For so long we’ve joked how we don’t want the girls to grow up because they are just so cute when they are little and they need you and love you and they forgive you so quickly. I was sitting in the meeting with her right before she was baptized and it hit me as I watched her listening intently to the talks and singing along with the music and paying close attention: this is God’s plan. We want our children to grow up, attain a relationship with Christ, and develop faith on their own. We shouldn’t want to hold them back. We should want them to have the same joy that we feel.
Q: That is such a good reminder to enjoy each phase of life and realize that there is beauty and hardship in each phase of childhood and parenthood!
So how do you feel you helped get her to the pointwhen, at the age of eight, she was receptive to the messages and wanting totake that step of faith and get baptized? Is there any advice for us parents of younger kids that might help us as we try and teach our kids to want those things?
Monica: I think a lot of things have led up to it. Talking about baptism, reading books about baptism, attending other baptisms, slowly bringing less “entertainment” for her at church and expecting her to listen so that she knows what it’s like to be in a spiritual environment and how to pay attention. These have all caused a gradual change for us.
Dave: We often talk about choosing truth over wrong, and light over darkness…even though it’s not always black and white! We will often say in our prayers to please help them want to choose light and to recognize truth and light. And then, when those moments come where they have tried to make a right choice, you can recognize their effort and help them see what they have done. Even though it may be a simple thing, it’s significant in the sense that they made a choice to do the right thing, especially when it’s a hard thing for them. For example, one of our daughters is very stubborn and choosing the right thing can be really hard for her so with her it has been especially important for us to recognize her doing something nice or choosing the right. When she makes that right choice you can really tell she is trying hard to go against what isn’t necessarily natural for her. We try and go out of our way to make sure she knows how proud of her we are and hopefully over time she and our other girls will realize and see how those choices feel versus others.
Q: Yes, I agree. Recognizing the differences in each child can help them learn so much easier. It’s tough to discern their intent and heart, but I have felt like the earlier we can figure it out, the better equipped we will be to give them the tools they will need later in life.
Dave: That’s why parenting is so important and why so much emphasis needs to be placed on the family, because no one cares as much about your children’s future as you do. Only parents will be more invested than baby sitters or even grandparents.
Q: It’s all about long term, isn’t it? What do I need to teach them now so they can progress in their path for the future? I love the way you put that. So in that same vein of thought then, are there specific things you want your children to do or be that influences the things you do now?
Monica: Music is already a big part of our home, and we want to continue that and give each of them a musical interest early on. We put the time and energy in because we want them to have that in their life. As far as sports or hobbies, we are at the point where we want them to try many different things. We want them to be good at something but at the same time want them to be well-balanced.
Dave: Monica comes from a mom who is really good at thinking and caring about others. She is now passing it on to our girls. On a very regular basis they will make sweet rolls, cookies or cards and will go deliver them to neighbors or teachers. It is really fun for me to watch because I can take no credit for it and as time goes by I can see how they genuinely care about so many people around us. Our girls have developed relationships with some of the elderly people on our street and they are the ones making suggestions, like we need to make cookies or make a card for someone on their mind.
Monica: It is important to me that they learn service because thinking of others and trying to be more Christ-like was how my Parents taught my siblings and me and it has had a big impact on who I am today.
Q: And those are the type of lessons that aren’t really taught anywhere else unless they see it done by a parent or someone close to them. Maybe we learn them and hear about being kind and compassionate but seeing it in such a practical way is where it is really learned.
When we talk about how important parenting is, what do you think about faith and parenting? Do you feel like your faith has had an impact on your motives or decisions as parents?
Dave: Without faith, which is a hope for things to come or a hope in Christ, the minutia and the daily grind becomes really shallow - maybe even scary or overwhelming. Especially for the mom at home because there is so much small stuff to do every day: changing diapers, making food, picking up the house, laundry and more diapers. Without faith, that can seem pointless. With faith, you are dropping faith into this big pool of faith that will someday pay a dividend of miracles. Without faith, it would be difficult to keep the importance of these things in perspective.
Monica: Having faith in an eternal family is what keeps me going each day as a parent. Without that knowledge, we wouldn’t want to keep having kids! It would seem too hard.
Dave: And with a faith perspective, kids are really the most joyful part of life. The hardest, but the best. This shouldn’t be a surprise because usually the hardest things are the most fulfilling.
Monica: You are dropping faith into this pool in hopes that someday you can see them building their own life of faith and you can look back and say “hey, I guided them through this, I helped them. All of it was worth it, even all those diaper changes and peanut butter sandwiches.”
Q: Scripture study has been that way for us. It seems like no one is listening, one is standing on their head another hanging off the bed, but we really feel that way too, that every little bit matters.
So true! It’s all about the little things! Maybe you could tell us some of the little you are doing as parents to make faith a part of every day?
Monica: We like to take them to our Church’s temple to help them see, hope and visualize. They experience a special feeling.
Dave: I think it helps them understand the difference between sacred and secular things. They should know that there are times to have fun and play around and times that it’s important to be reverent and think about special things. When they are young they may not fully understand the difference but I think they can feel it.
Monica: Planting a garden has become such a fun teaching tool for us on so many different levels. Throw your seeds in the ground and by the end of summer it erupts into this giant thing! We planted tomatoes in our garden this summer and one plant just completely took over our entire back porch and the kids loved it. They would take their little buckets out each day and fill them up and it became a fun discussion for all of us. They knew that we planted those tiny seeds and look what had come of it! Look what we can do with a little work and effort.
Dave: Sometimes teaching faith or other important principles aren’t organized into a lesson or a big revelation. It’s more like building blocks. Bit by bit you are modeling how certain things are important and as they grow the lessons grow in depth and you can start to teach them why and how and the actions that go along with the beliefs. As they get older, they learn things themselves in their interactions away from us. Jesus Christ taught using parables so people could take from his stories what they understood. We all learn and apply things differently and that’s the same with kids as they learn.
Q: And those can be the most effective because they can easily apply and see in their own way. Anything else to add?
Dave: Maybe things that are less noticeable, but equally important, are things like us having dinner together each night. Not necessarily the food, but communication, family structure, checking in on each other, spending time together and learning more about one another.
Monica: Yes, we are big believers in family dinner, such a great way to gather everyone together consistently.
Q: Are there things you notice from your own childhood that helped with aspects of your own faith that you are trying to recreate for your kids now?
Dave: For sure, what we already talked about with Monica’s mom, her passing on service and compassion. That comes to mind.
Monica: Family dinners, we always sat around waiting for my dad to get home and eat with us. We didn’t always like it, but we do the same thing now in our family. It’s important to be together.
Dave: Something I have just recently noticed on which I have unintentionally “copied” my Dad is coming home from work and seeing one of the kids and having them follow me into my room when I change my tie and take off my shoes. We just have a little five minute conversation about their day. I remember that it was meaningful for me as a kid to see that my Dad cared and I guess it was important enough to me that I now find myself doing the same thing with my children!
Monica: Dave is always a “coach” like his dad, we will go out and play tennis or an activity and he is always so encouraging and saying the kindest things to help them feel like they are doing well.
Q: I feel like that is such an important role for the dad. Sometimes at the end of the day I am out of encouraging energy and am so grateful for my husband to step in and help with this part!
Dave: One thing my Dad excels at to this day is spending time thinking about how he can help his kids succeed in whatever they are doing. I feel like he spends more time thinking about this than about himself. That’s really hard to do because you get engrossed in work and or personal interests. So the days which I feel like I’m the best dad is when, rather than listening to the radio or thinking about work, I’m thinking about how can I give them my all or what should we do for Family Home Evening, which is a set aside night each week in our church where we learn about different faith aspects together as a family.
Q: That’s so cool about your dad, the world needs more good dads and highlighting how important it is to be a dad and learning from their example is just what needs to be advertised.
Are there any experiences you have had in your family where your faith has impacted how you have handled a certain situation?
Dave: Two big things for us are prayer and Priesthood Blessings. Both things that showed us early on in our individual lives that we can have Heaven’s help. And now, raising our family together we want our kids to feel the same and make that a part of their faith like it has been for ours.
One example we had early on in our parenting experience was when our oldest daughter was two. She was playing next to a mirror and the mirror fell and crashed on her face. We heard a loud crash and ran downstairs to find her covered in blood on her neck and face. Although we didn’t know where the blood was coming from, we knew she needed to go to the hospital. We cleaned her up as best we could, wrapped her in a towel, gave her a brief blessing and prayed like crazy all the way to the hospital.
It was an easy decision for us to turn first to prayer and Priesthood because that is what we have always done. And so many times we have seen the power of God’s help and witnessed that things turn out much better when we rely on a greater power. Our daughter healed, and despite a little scar on her cheek, there’s no permanent damage and we know it could have been a lot worse without faith and prayers.
Q: You hear a lot of stories like that about the power of prayer and that is proof that when we see it as kids we know that it really works.
Now you guys have four daughters, we just had our first daughter a couple of years ago and are expecting another one. Do you have any advice for a Dad like me who is terrified of raising teenage girls? How do you prepare them for the world?
Monica: Great question, when you get the answer let me know!
I came out of childhood wanting to create a home and be a mother and it probably just comes from having a positive experience at home and loving that and wanting the same thing for my children that worked for me. With our own girls, we’ve decided we want them to know that they are daughters of God, be faith-filled, kind and service oriented. And we don’t want divas!
Dave: I would say teach them to be kind, compassionate, and loving. Thinking of those things first are important to us. I guess the trick is to have those things always in your mind while also remembering how different each child is.
One of our daughters has been a little more challenging. Even before she could speak you could just tell there was anger inside. I remember one time she was so angry about something. We had been praying to help her recognize truth and light and really want to do the right thing. She was in full tantrum mode over a purse or pair of shoes (something super important of course). I remember in an unusual moment of patience on my part, I just hugged her firmly and I don’t remember all the words that came out, but I let her know it was going to be okay and that she could remember to choose the right. Then I remember the feeling that overwhelmed me that just reminded me how far advanced her spirit was and she was here on earth trying to learn the principle of patience and we were a team to try and get her to learn that. It was remarkable for me to feel her individuality. In that moment I felt like our spirits connected and I knew that I was going to help her and she was going to help me! We have to mention what parenting does for the parents! This is clearly what life is all about because our children help us become who God wants us to be while we are trying to help them do the same.
Now that was one of those small, simple, unusual moments and I don’t always feel that. But it was one that stuck with me and reminds me of our daughters’ individuality and to remind me again how aware God is of our prayers and our personal needs.
Q: I love hearing that. It really grows faith to see God care so much for someone that you care so much for and how individually he knows each of us.
Are there any favorite traditions? And why you feel traditions are important.
Monica: We talk a lot about how traditions build faith because they help kids anticipate and look forward to something. They know just what to expect. I think it’s important to have traditions, whether it’s a family trip or a pumpkin soup bowl on Halloween. Our kids love some of our simplest traditions just for that reason. They know what to expect, they wait for it and traditions help them remember whatever good, sweet memory you are making. I think that’s a faith building experience, little things building their faith and reminding them of some of those important moments in their lives.
Q: Like you mentioned before, faith being something to hope for in the future, that is a great example. And those little traditions make them feel like they are a part of a family, even if the traditions are weird or silly, it gives them identity and helps them feel a part of something much bigger.
To close could we hear any family goals or mission statements you have?
Monica: We have a sign up in our front entry that says ‘We Can Do Hard Things’. That has become something we say a lot in our home. Dave took a picture of me in front of that sign before I went into the hospital with our youngest daughter, and that was a hard labor so I totally needed it! We say that to our girls when they are tackling a particularly difficult piano song, or I texted a picture of our sign to Dave when I knew he had a big meeting at work that day.
Overall, we want our kids to know and feel the importance being an eternal family and finding joy in each day.
Thank you to the Bauman family for sharing with us a glimpse into your home!