Ahh how sweet it is!!

Ahh how sweet it is!! That is how I tend to sum up my life in a few words. Plain and simple, life is wonderful! This site will give you just a sneak peak at my thoughts throughout my life. Love, Mel

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Location: Bountiful, Utah, United States

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Quarreling Children & Parent's Responsibility

Reflections – Mosiah 4:14-15
Quarreling Children & Parents’ Responsibility
An E-mail – 5/22/06

Dad here. As to Mark and Myla: Why didn't Mom and I intervene, get angry, threaten punishment, offer rewards or mete out corporeal punishment? First, because Mom was a natural--it wasn't her style. Also, she had already had a semester course wherein she had studied Dreikurs' "Children The Challenge." I was already into PET and was more sensitized to underlying feelings leading to anger, like sadness and disappointment; plus, in processing the issue, it was clear that there were no tangible effects on me from the fighting of two children. Nor was there any plea for help from either person. It was clearly a battle of the wills. (A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still). I guess we hoped that individual and family prayer, scripture study and family discussions (In the no-problem area) would help, and, ultimately, they did.

What I'm implying is that if families turn out right, it will be because they are lead by the spirit. This is not to say that technique (Thomas Gordon) and philosophy (Rudolph Dreikurs) are not important. I do not believe the Lord wishes us to sit home and pray, meditate and read the scriptures in order to be skilled as parents. We are to learn everywhere and build our knowledge and skills; but the spirit will let us know if we are on course. I've always warned parents that PET skills are not a substitute for love and should not be "turned on" only as a way of getting our kids to do as we want.

I have been thinking about the counsel in Mosiah 4:14-15 and wondered if the Lord expects us to be more "hard-nosed" in dealing with children who quarrel. Like Elder Gene Cook's views on "the Lord giving us weaknesses," I have had sort of an epiphany of sorts subsequent to my reading the following from Douglas Brinley and Daniel Judd, "Eternal Families.":

"Love does not manipulate or guarantee an outcome but invites children into a relationship of mutual love and respect, into a context of caring, compassionate "doing" for each other. With love in our hearts, we are then in a position to teach, invite, persuade, discipline, set limits, forgive, ask to be forgiven, understand each other, and communicate effectively and properly (see Rom. 5:5; Eph. 3:17; 1 Ne. 11:22). The Book of Mormon teaches this, referring to Lehi: "And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off; yea, my father did preach unto them" (1 Ne. 8:37). So, when (and only when) our hearts are loving toward others, doing what is right will naturally follow. The right thing to do in behalf of our children is what we humbly will be seeking for moment by moment, when our hearts are "knit together in love" with them (Col. 2:2; Mosiah 18:21). If our hearts are "right in love," we will be free of contentious, controlling feelings and will know what to do in response to our children's needs (see Mosiah 18:21; 3 Ne. 11:29-32). If we remain faithful, our hearts will be vulnerable and open to specific guidance from the Spirit of the Lord, and we can be given "in the very moment" what to say or do with our children (D&C 100:6). Changing circumstances provide endless possibilities for interaction with our children and may often present new and unique struggles. Each challenge will require a sensitive and flexible parental response so we can appropriately meet each distinctive need as it appears. In crucial moments like these, God is a faithful parent to us (see 1 Cor. 10:13), and if we will hearken to his Spirit, he will not leave us without comfort and knowledge of what to do in that moment (see John 14:12-18). Unique and changing situations are further reasons why inflexible communication recipes, parenting formulas, or step-by-step techniques may ultimately prove destructive. Patented skills or rehearsed communication techniques may predispose us to being insensitive to the Spirit of the Lord and to our children's particular and immediate needs. [This is not threatening to me; remember, we are striving towards unconscious competence; else why have family relations classes in church?]Our focus in these moments is typically on our own agendas and "strategies of understanding" and not upon the needs of our child. If we are not willing to be spiritually influenced when responding to our children's needs, particularly in moments of crisis, we may miss the mark. This is why we need to be meekly vulnerable to the sweet influence of the Spirit of our Father in Heaven to guide us as parents.King Benjamin taught the following to the parents of his day:Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith. . . .. . . I say unto you that if ye do this [now, here is the point--the cause and effect relationship]ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.And[if you do the above, this will follow] ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin. . . .But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. (Mosiah 4:10-15.) Notice that this great prophet-king does not give a recipe or formula to follow but rather says that if we will repent, humble ourselves with sincerity of heart, and call upon the Lord daily, we will grow in the knowledge of what is just and true. The result of living daily in the world this way, King Benjamin says, is that we will "not have a mind to injure one another" a nd we will not let our children serve the devil by being quarrelsome. Rather, we will teach them in truth and soberness to love and serve one another. This is the context or atmosphere that is created in a home where "kind and dear" parents are humbly repenting, loving, and serving one another and their children [...listening when children "own" problems, sending well-formed I-Messages, resolving disputes using win/win methods and modeling cherished values]. ...

Summary: Parenting is for parents. As parents our primary concern should be to give our children a parent whose heart is right with the Lord, and with everyone. This means striving to live the gospel of Jesus Christ with all our hearts, following the President of the Church, repenting of our sins, and forgiving others of their sins. This means loving our spouses and children with all our hearts, with the pure love of Christ (see D&C 42:22; Moro. 7:47). In doing these things we would actively, consistently, and diligently teach our children, speaking the truth in love (see Deut. 6:5-7; Eph. 4:15; D&C 88:77-78, 118-19). We would teach not only the scriptures and prophetsnot leaving our children's religious education predominately up to othersbut would also be involved in helping them with schoolwork, teaching them of social and moral issues, helping them develop talents, and having fun and playing with them (see D&C 93:50, 53; 109:7). Teaching the doctrines of the restored gospel as found in the Book of Mormon would be a central feature of family learning and involvement.President Marion G. Romney spoke of the responsibility and blessings of studying the Book of Mormon with our children when he said:I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity the pure love of Christwill abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness. (In Conference Report, April 1980, pp. 90-91.)Wise teaching would include gradually giving children expanded responsibilities as they mature and are able to learn and do more. When our hearts are loving towards our spouses and children, we can sense what duties are appropriate. At first we will offer assistance, guidance, and practice. We will then patiently let children experience success and failures. When discipline (which comes from a Greek word meaning "a follower") is called for, we will be neither punitive nor permissive but will calmly soothe a crisis moment if need be, and create appropriate settings to quietly receive our children's account of the problem. Especially with our little ones, we will "crawl into their world" and let their lives, their eyes, their struggles, speak to and soften our hearts. With their recommendations and concerns as a foundation, and prayerfully asking guidance from the Lord, it is then our parental opportunity to accept responsibility and ask forgiveness for our contributions to their problems (if any); to teach sound principles; to guide, invite, pray, and fast with them; and to express love and encouragement to them. Throughout the process of correction we will faithfully remain by their side to support, guide, love, and express our confidence in them. Furthermore, we will let them work through solutions and make the necessary amends without suspiciously or accusingly looking over their shoulder and controlling every move, nor indulgently giving up on them and letting them flounder alone and undirected.Children typically struggle through and experience failure as they grow in learning to be responsible. They may whine, resist, and seem unreliable or even unwilling. This is when your child needs you to be the most loving and sensitive to their needs, but ironically it often is the time when parents falter in their faithfulness and may resort to the coercive alternatives of punishing or indulging their children. President Joseph F. Smith, as quoted in the beginning of this chapter, pleaded for parents not to be harsh, angry, violent, or punitive. In the following quote he calls parents to involve themselves in the lives of their children as non indulgent exemplars of righteousness. He taught:I have a fervent prayer in my soul, an earnest desire, that when I shall be called to give my last account, to the Judge of the quick and the dead, I may not be chargeable for the misdeeds of my children. . . .I have had the joy and satisfaction of knowing, as far as it is possible for me to know, that the Lord has put into the hearts of my children the love of God and the love of truth. . . . I would to the Lord that every man, who is a father in Israel, could say as much for his children; and why can't they say so much? . . . I want to tell you one reason why a few of them, at least, can not do it. . . . It is because they love their children with a shallow and unreasonable love. They indulge them to the utmost limit. . . . If a child of theirs should ask them for a razor or a deadly instrument, figuratively speaking, rather than disappoint the child or deny its request, they would put into its hand an instrument of destruction. . . . That is what they are doing when they weakly yield to their foolish whims. . . . God forbid that there should be many of us so unwisely indulgent, so thoughtless and so shallow in our affection for our children that we dare not check them in a wayward course, in wrong-doing and in their foolish love for the things of the world more than for the things of righteousness, for fear of offending them. . . .. . . The time has come for [parents] to look after their children. Every device possible to the understanding and ingenuity of cunning men, is being used for the purpose of diverting our children from the faith of the gospel and from the love of the truth. (In Conference Report, October 1909, pp. 3, 4, 5.)Finally, as parents our divine stewardship is to do all we can short of anxious manipulation or control to teach, invite, guide, and persuade our children to be close to our hearts, love the truth, believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and live happy, moral, responsible lives. To offer our children a parental heart that is loving, right, and pure is to be a parent kind and dear. It is to be a parent who honors the Spirit of Christ, agency, and the divine lineage of his or her children. Our children are not ours; we do not own them, nor is it our job to force them to turn out right. With hearts faithful and loving toward our spouses and children, we can create an atmosphere in our homes that will bless our posterity for generations in this life and in the next. Elder Boyd K. Packer observed:It is a great challenge to raise a family in the darkening mists of our moral environment.We emphasize that the greatest work you will do will be within the walls of your home (see Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, April 1973, p. 130), and that "no success can compensate for failure in the home" (see David O. McKay, in Conference Report, April 1935, p. 116; quoting J. E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization [Washington D.C.: The Southern Co-operative League, 1924], p. 42).The measure of our success as parents, however, will not rest solely on how our children turn out. . . ."The Prophet Joseph Smith declared and he never taught a more comforting doctrine that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return." (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, April 1929, p. 110.) (In Conference Report, April 1992, p. 94.)So after all is said and done, when our children return to us it will be because our hearts were right with them, not because we forced them to turn out right. May we all be so "kind and dear" to our children."

--End of Quotation --


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