Monday, January 24, 2011

Rededicating Our Home

First Counselor in the First Presidency
April 2010

"The best counsel for us to give young people is that they can arrive back to Heavenly Father only as they are guided and corrected by the Spirit of God. So if we are wise, we will encourage, praise, and exemplify everything which invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When they share with us what they are doing and feeling, we must ourselves have qualified for the Spirit. Then they will feel in our praise and our smiles the approval of God. And should we feel the need to give corrective counsel, they will feel our love and the love of God in it, not rebuke and rejection, which can permit Satan to lead them further away."
"The example they most need from us is to do what they must do. We need to pray for the gifts of the Spirit. We need to ponder in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. We need to make plans which are not only wishes but covenants. And then we need to keep our promises to the Lord. And we need to lift others by sharing with them the blessings of the Atonement which have come in our lives."

Thomas S. Monson
October 2000

"As parents, we should remember that our lives may be the book from the family library which the children most treasure. Are our examples worthy of emulation? Do we live in such a way that a son or a daughter may say, “I want to follow my dad,” or “I want to be like my mother”? Unlike the book on the library shelf, the covers of which shield its contents, our lives cannot be closed. Parents, we truly are an open book in the library of learning of our homes."

When my child emulates me, do I like what I see? Am I annoyed and embarrassed at what I see? My daughter Kaylee is the most determined of my children to become like me, and is the most defiant when it comes to obeying verbal commands. She insists that she be allowed to follow my example, not my words. Of course there are times when this causes problems, such as when she tries disciplining her brothers, using sharp knives, or using the stove. A 6-yr-old is simply not equipped to do these things. Yet she feels entitled to learn from my example. Do I use the knife carefully? Do I use the stove responsibly? Do I discipline with love?

There are many tragic times I wish I could take back my actions and words as soon as I see them repeated. So much we do is hurtful and harsh. Harshness is never ever necessary, but it is always hurtful. Let me repeat that, because it is something I've learned later in life, and it goes against what many believe, but is crucial to understand when searching for a more "peaceful way" to parent. It is NEVER ever necessary to be harsh or hurtful to anyone, least of all, children.
The strictest discipline can be done with a spirit of love and compassion, with patience and good will. We can see the children as our equals, and teach them as one equal teaching another. It is not necessary to break them. It is not helpful to waste their early childhood puffing ourselves up to be infallible, angry gods who constantly disapprove of them.

Children have tender feelings. You can't scorn a child, any child, and it not be felt deeply. They may keep a straight face, shrug it off, even smile; but your facial expression and your words will sink far down into their psyche, and they will not be able to forget your opinion of them. It will become a part of their self-talk, and it will take years of struggling for them to overcome your hurt. It only takes once. Remember? How many times have you done this to a child? How many times a day?

What can you do if, like me, you find yourself guilty of the above and want to change? We, all of us can pray fervently for help, forgiveness, and for the children we have hurt. We can struggle and cry, and ask God for the ability to feel their pain, so that we can be in no doubt of every bit of the consequences of our actions. We can beg and plead with our Heavenly Father to open our eyes, and open our hearts, and through Christ, cleanse us of the desire to hurt. We can beg that Christ will intervene, so the child will not suffer long for our sin, and we can ask for their forgiveness, and the forgiveness of our God.

We can breathe, count to ten, say a prayer, cry, or do jumping jacks to keep from losing our temper. We can strive to be example-worthy in all our actions. We can maintain hope and confidence that our children will be able to grow into their best selves, even when they make mistakes. We can look at them as the best they can become, and see in them all the goodness of God. We can correct instead of criticizing. We can feed our Spirit, and qualify and pray for the gift of Charity.

Imagine if you will, a world of Christian love. If all people in the world had Charity for one another, there would be no suffering, no war, no unfed hunger, no untreated disease. There would be no hurtful crimes of any kind, no affairs, no unwanted children, no uncared for elderly, handicapped, or mentally ill. No one would be alone. No one would yell or hit another person in anger. This is a world worth striving for. This is MY dream, and it begins with me. It begins with you. It begins with little children.

"Happiness in family lifeis most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities." ~ The Family: A Proclamation to the World ~

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Little Children

In the Spirit

Living in the Spirit, and living without the Spirit are like living in constant day or night. It is so easy for us parents to let time pass on autopilot. Perhaps we are deeply afraid of failure? So we immerse ourselves, or maybe our kids, in constant distractions and we don't have to focus on the things that we're anxious about. TV, computer, video games,even worthy things like school work, good books, church responsibilities and activities, hobbies and social events can be distractions. These things are fine to do occasionally, some even regularly. Just be aware that if you're not paying attention, you may become distracted from the things that matter most. You may find yourself unknowingly spiraling downward spiritually, emotionally, and eventually, physically and mentally, if you do not stop and give attention to the present things that are of most importance. Your spiritual strength, your children's spiritual strength, your relationship with your spouse and children, relationships with all friends and family. But when you're living, breathing, and walking in the Spirit, you will your family's worthy activities will change from a distraction to an enrichment, and your success will be magnified, while the unworthy distractions will lose their strength of attraction.

Yesterday I spent all day going from one distraction to the next, when I decided to stop and feed my spirit. It was just about an hour before bedtime. My kids hadn't listened all day, I was discouraged, and I didn't feel like doing the laundry or other things I knew I should do. I guess I just had an off-day. But then, as my spirit was being nourished, I started to feel it. It was gradual; a slow warming, an opening of the eyes; a drink of cool water; a coming-home feeling. This occurred as I listened to a talk about finding happiness, and felt the spirit in the talk. I didn't hear all of it, but the spirit still entered the home.

I know because not only could I feel it, but my son came in and asked what I was listening to. He is only four, but he decided to listen too. He asked some questions, and suddenly, my efforts to communicate were not frustrating as they had been all day, it was easy! The words just rolled off my tongue effortlessly, because I wasn't thinking about what I was saying, I was letting the Spirit speak. My son could hear and understand, unlike earlier in the day, when he just tuned me out. Then my daughter came in. Same story. Several things I'd been trying to get through to her suddenly broke through without effort. The walls between us fell, and we were able to bask in the love and understanding we felt. My littlest one came in and it was the same experience for a third time. I'm sure many of you out there have had moments like this, when the Spirit bridges the gaps and you're amazed at how easy that was!

The truth is, it doesn't have to be a moment here or there that we have help from the Spirit. Living in the Spirit can be the norm. We can live so the off-moments are the rare ones, not the other way around. I have lived this way before, and I know I can live it again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Today Kaylee locked herself in the bathroom, and then called me to come wipe her. She refuses to learn to wipe yet. It's gross, and she won't do it, she says. In the past, I've been willing to find a nail, unlock the door, and do her dirty work, telling her each time that it's about time she learn to do this herself. This time, I didn't want to. I told her she would have to do it herself, and I refused to go in. She sat in the bathroom for about 30 minutes, begging, crying, waiting, and wailing.
Mommy! Please! Won't you please come take care of me? You have to take care of me, you're my Mommy!  Will nobody take care of me? Daddy? Daddy!! Can't you come wipe me?  Daddy!!”
Mommy! If you don't come wipe me, I will be stuck here forever! Whaaa...”
Mommy, if I am stuck here forever, I will die! Do you want me to die? Whaaa”
Through tears: “I think that nobody cares about me!”
Help me somebody! Please!”
Then pleading, “JESUS!! HELP ME!”

That's when I finally caved. Wouldn't you? I guess she'll learn eventually, right? How could I let her pleas to heaven go unanswered? Some day she'll learn all about how God helps us in his own time and way, and how sometimes he lets us struggle on our own for our own good, but that's a hard lesson to learn, and it tries the faith of many an adult. I just want her to know that Mom is her personal angel, the hands of Christ in her life. So phewy! The child still hasn't learned to wipe herself!

We never know, do we, if we're doing things right?  We don't really know if we're being too soft, or too harsh, too unyielding, or too flexible?  So much depends on our success, and so much depends on their success.  All I can hope is that He will come help her when she's trying to overcome the mistakes I make daily.  I guess we all have that right to call on Him for that.  Aren't we blessed to have that safety net?