Monday, March 30, 2009

Parenting

For the past few weeks I have been preoccupied with thoughts about our huge responsibility to teach our children. I have been wanting to blog about some of these thoughts in hope of further discussion and to pass on some of the ideas that have come to my mind. I also want to organize my thoughts and goals in writing so I just as well share them on my blog.

We often discuss the topic of parenting with our dear friends the Lows. A few weeks ago Dave brought up something that I have really been thinking about. I think it would be worthwhile for us all to think about. Many of the following thoughts and ideas are his, but I think they are worth sharing and pondering.

As Latter Day Saints many of us have goals for our children, for example, we want our sons to serve missions and we want our children to be married in the temple. These might seem like fantastic goals, but when you really take a look at them they are the bare minimum. I don’t just want my boys to serve missions. I want them to be powerful missionaries, and to always be honorable priesthood holders and leaders. I don’t just want my children to be married in the temple (plenty of people get married in the temple, but go on to get divorced or to have unhappy marriages.) I want my children to have Celestial Marriages. I don’t just want my daughters to be mothers. I want them to find joy in motherhood and consider it their greatest blessings and responsibility. So what is my role as their parent to see that these goals become a reality?

President David O. McKay taught:
“The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (Family Home Evening Manual 1968–69, p. iii.)

In an awesome talk titled “Parental Leadership in the Family” Elder Oaks taught the following:

“There is no human relationship more suited to such teachings than a family where parents truly love and give their lives in service to their children. Parents should teach the principles of the restored gospel, including particularly the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Parents should also teach the smaller-scale sacrifices they are making for their own families. If done in the right spirit by example as well as by precept—this teaching should help children be more loving and honoring of their parents. It should also help prepare children to be parents themselves.
“Parents teach and families learn by doing things together.
“Families should pray together, kneeling night and morning to offer thanks for blessings and prayers for common concerns.
“Families should worship together, participating in church services and family devotionals.
“Families should study and learn together. This should include group reading and discussion of the scriptures, and group consideration of other valuable subjects, such as the practical knowledge necessary to function in a modern world.
“Families should work together, as suggested earlier. Families should also play together, so that happy recreational experiences are associated with the activities of the family.
“Families should counsel together, treating all matters of concern to the family and its members.
“Families should eat together. Mealtime is a natural time for the family to assemble and communicate: It is a shame for such an opportunity to be lost in family bickering or to be fragmented by family members seizing food and scattering to the four corners as if the family kitchen were a fast food outlet.
“Families should join in recording family traditions and sacred experiences. They should also come together to share such records to strengthen the family and its individual members. As President Kimball reminded us, “Stories of inspiration from our own lives and those of our forebears … are powerful teaching tools,” a source of inspiration for us and our posterity. (Ensign, Jan. 1982, p. 4.)
“It is a striking fact that the family home evening is the ideal time to accomplish almost every type of family togetherness. It is the ideal place for the family to pray together, learn together, counsel together, play together, and even work together. Most of us recognize this, but I wonder how many of us are really using the family home evening to its full potential.”

I will spare you more quotes, but the prophets and apostles have gone on and on about our responsibilities as parents. Our responsibility is not to be taken lightly. I really like this talk because Elder Oaks so plainly outlines what we should be doing to teach our children. I believe if I can dedicate myself as a mother to make sure that those things that he outlines are taking place in my home that my sons will be powerful missionaries, that my children will have celestial marriages, and that my daughters will be joyful mothers. It is going to take more than me living my temple covenants for my children to be exulted. I must be actively engaged in teaching them and directing them.

Another thing I have been thinking about concerning parenting is that of our priorities. What do I want most for my children? Is the way I am spending my time reflect what I want most? I have been taking a look at how I spend my time. For example, Caleb practices the piano at least 20 minutes every day. I sit by his side the entire time. We also work on reading most days. I have to ask myself, “am I as dedicated to teaching him the gospel as I am to teaching him piano.” (Sure the piano will teach him many skills and will be a service to others as he grows.) I guess my point is that if I am dedicated enough to practice the piano every day I should be dedicated enough to be sure that gospel learning is happening too.

Our 5th Sunday combined lesson yesterday was on the topic of parenting. The focus was on checking up on our teenagers, building strong relationships with them, having one-on-one time, being their parent not just their friend, and creating a balance between too strict and too easy. As an ER doctor and a Police Detective from the ward spoke my thought was, “isn’t prevention the best place to start.” Even with all of the prevention in the world I anticipate following up with my kids as teens, knowing their friends, checking their Face Book and text messages, and controlling the hours that they use their cell phones, etc. Even thought I will do that the time to start teaching The Book of Mormon, The Strength of Youth Handbook and Preach My Gospel is RIGHT NOW at ages 5, 3 and six months.

The church has awesome resources on building a strong family. There are all kinds of FHE ideas and ideas on teaching your children. I would start at http://www.lds.org/hf/display/0,16783,4209-1,00.html.

I know that this is a really long and wordy blog entry, but it is fun for me to think about and to talk about. I hope that I can also apply the principles that I believe so strongly. I think it would be fun to have a discussion on the things that are working as we teach our children the gospel.

2 comments:

Jordan and Jodi said...

I would definitely like to hear what more experienced parents than I would say to this. I was thinking the same thing yesterday and Jordan and I talked about a few of those same things. It seems weird with a 17 month old but she understands the word temple and Jesus so why not others? I'm totally with you! I was telling Jordan that I was told in my blessing to build a 'spiritual fortress' for my family--how does one do that? Thanks for all your words. I like your 5th sunday discussions better than ours...we had our 2nd time talking about the exact same thing... community emergency preparedness! Fun times!

Karlenn said...

I read somewhere that, statistically, well-balanced, happy kids are kids whose families eat dinner together, at the table, sans TV. FHE has come to be such a precious time with my family. And scripture reading, too. It was really hard for me to make it into a habit, but now it's stuck hard and fast, and it's awesome. If I forget to open the scriptures at night, the kids remind me. It seems they enjoy it, even though they really don't pay much attention while we read (it's the illustrated Book of Mormon, and they still can't pay attention). And when I tell them that it's FHE night, they squeal in excitement. I have never thought about if I would check my kids' facebook messages and control their cell phone usage. I need to ponder these things, because I'll be confronting them before I know it. I'm thinking no cell phones at all, personally. :) We survived without them!