Margaret Wahlstrom and her husband of 42 years, Norman, are parents to seven children and have 23 grandchildren. Margaret has served the Davis County community and the state of Utah for 35 years.
Margaret has held leadership roles on local and state Utah PTA boards for 35 years. She was a parenting instructor for 10 years and is a regular volunteer and substitute teacher for the Davis County School District. As a member of the Utah PTA Legislative Action Committee, she worked on important legislation to benefit children and families. She has served on advisory boards for the Deseret News, The Days of 47, and several governors’ education boards. She also developed and promoted programs in the arts, suicide prevention, and internet safety.
Currently, Margaret works as Production Manager for the Clytie Adams School of Ballet Nutcracker. She also serves on First Lady Jeanette Herbert’s Uplift Families Board of Directors.
PHILOSOPHY ON PARENTING
The lyrics to the song “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music embodies my philosophy on parenting: “A dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life, for as long as you live.” I believe that best parenting practices involve bonding, setting boundaries, and monitoring. When we focus on bonding with “all the love you can give,” setting boundaries and monitoring happen naturally. Children become willing participants because they feel unconditional love and have developed a relationship with their parents. As a parenting instructor, I gave parents piggy banks instructing them that time spent bonding with their children was like money in the bank, withdrawn with interest when hard times come. It allows you to be that parent they come to because you have developed that bond first and foremost. There are no perfect parents, only parents with perfect desires and motives.
THE IMPACT OF MOTHERHOOD ON MY LIFE
Motherhood has transformed me into a person who can put things into perspective with sensitivity and empathy. This was put to the test when my son was in a terrible accident that resulted in the death of his wife. I had the opportunity to step in and help care for his four young children. These traits of sensitivity and empathy I developed as a young mother had prepared me to be the grandmother they needed at that time. Being a mother has also taught me patience. When my daughter gave birth to twins, I was asked to help care for her two older children, as well as the twin babies. I recognized that as a grandmother I was more patient and loving to those children and that I had learned that patience specifically from raising my own kids. Finally, I believe that nothing teaches you unconditional love and selflessness like motherhood. When I watched my daughter donate her kidney to my son, I realized that I would have willingly gone in their places if I could. I would give my life for any of my children. Any sacrifice I make for them is and always will be worth it.
MY COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
I have been in PTA leadership for 35 years and on the Utah PTA State Board as an Executive Officer for 20 years. This involvement has allowed me to develop a love for all children and to impact their lives in meaningful ways. As the Individual Development Commissioner and Chair for the Reflections program, I was able promote the arts in schools by recognizing many children with arts awards, giving arts scholarships to schools, raising money for arts programs with the Gingerbread House Festival and other resources, and helping to gain state support for the arts. I also oversaw the Golden Apple Awards that honored exceptional teachers. As the Community Involvement Commissioner, I worked with various community groups involved in children’s issues and family life to develop resources and programs, and assure passage of important legislation. I worked to develop reading programs including the Governor’s Reading Program and Read Today with KSL. Suicide prevention became very important after the death of one of our PTA President’s sons, and I was able to participate with crisis teams helping parents and children and help with the program Hope For Tomorrow.
After losing two family members at the World Trade Center on September 11th, I was invited to participate with the youth group, Youth of Promise, to create a memorial honoring the heroes and victims of that day. Within two years of my involvement, the director had to step down and asked me to take over as the group advisor in order for the program to continue. Losing much of our funding in a struggling economy, I supplemented the group with my own funds. These young people aged 14 to 18 became important to me and continue to be to this day. We taught these youth to make presentations to corporate and community groups and twice to the Utah State Legislature to plead their cause. More than building a memorial, we were building a memorial of their lives. We gave them leadership classes, helped them get college scholarships, did service projects, and organized a youth conference in Davis County once a year complete with workshops, service projects, and fun activities. For 13 years, we worked tirelessly to raise the money needed to construct the memorial and were finally able to dedicate the memorial on September 11, 2014 at the Utah State University Botanical Center.
I was asked to be a member of the First Lady Jeanette Herbert’s Board of Directors for her initiative Uplift Families and it has been quite the labor of love. We organize a yearly conference for parents to give them parenting resources and support for their families. We also maintain a website with resources. I am presently writing parenting articles for that website. Part of my duties involve promoting the organization and handling the PR for the First Lady. Parenting support and resources are crucial in today’s world and I have seen the positive results of our efforts.