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Having dinner out with friends.
A friend to friend visit.
A visit to the Museum.
Out on A Date
Enjoying each others company while driving.
I pray dear Lord that you will answer my text.
By Alan on Apr 16 in Blog tagged adolescents, boys, BYU, child, communicate, dad, daughters, emotion, example, Family, Father, fathering, feelings, friends, girl, hazerdous, hero, independent, mom, needs, One Heart, relationship, rewarding, sit down, Son, talk, teenagers, Today, trust, works, youth | Comments Off
Many fathers mention time as an important aspect of fathering adolescents, not just time spent with their teenagers but time made available for them by their children. One father notes that one of the most meaningful areas in his relationship with his daughter is his availability to sit down and communicate with her about whatever she wants to talk about.
Snarey (1993, p. 161) suggests that nurturant father-daughter relationships facilitate healthy social and emotional development of the daughter. These stories illustrate how Chris and his daughter Elizabeth have become emotionally close during these times, demonstrating the need for relationship work during adolescence.
“There have been times when she has had some problems. It would take her a long while to get around to talking to me, but sometimes she did sit down and we would talk–not that I came to any conclusions. I think she came to more of the conclusions on her own regarding the problems that she had. But I was there just to talk with her and listen. Again, those seem to be the special times that she and I have had.
“Now when she wants to know something, it’s mainly about boys. My two older daughters want to know why boys are the way they are. I ask, “What do you mean?” And so they bring up a particular instance, and so I have to sit down with both of them and say, “Well, they come from a different background than I do. The way they’re feeling about things might be entirely different.
“But, here are some of the things that I went through at that age.” I let them come up with their own conclusions at that point because I don’t know what he’s thinking! Every once in a while she still has problems and will come and talk, and we talk them through. Those are special times. They are also very personal times. I would say that those are the times I really feel close to my daughters.”
Snarey (1993, p. 277) suggests that men who had active fathers are more likely to be active with their own children. One father told about his experience of having a dad that was always there for him.
“He’s always been there. I’ll just always remember him as being there, no matter what. We were in a state championship game in football and it came down to a last-second field goal. I was the field goal kicker and I missed it. I went home and was going to go with some friends somewhere. Dad was out cutting wood and feeding the horses, and I went and talked to him. He just said, “Well, sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.” I could always talk to Dad and tell him anything, no matter what I did, whether it was wrong or right. I could always tell Dad, and he always stood behind me.
Trust is very important in a relationship, especially a parent-child relationship. The following is a story about a man who was not trusted by his father and what that meant to him:
“We were cleaning up in the back yard, a Saturday activity for everyone (or else), and I walked toward the garbage can. The garbage can was on the corner of the garage and at the garbage can I saw a dime. I got it and was happy to see it, and the next thing I knew [my father] was there questioning me where I got it. I said, “I found it out on the garbage can.” I don’t remeber exactly what he said, but it was basically, “You’re a liar. Tell me the truth–where did you come up with this?” I guess that hurt quite a bit….Painful things stand out. I think it’s disbelief. Why doesn’t a parent believe what a child is saying? I hear it in myself.
Biller (1993, p.76) suggests that if the father has a warm relationship with his children, they will be more likely to respond positively to many dimensions of his behavior, such as his moral tenets and patterns of relating to others. Adolescents who are searching for an identity will pattern their lives after those whom they trust. Teenagers watch their parents closely in looking for values and standards. Jeff, a father in New Zealand, recalls his father’s example to him and his brothers. This story illustrates mentoring work, as the father passes to his children morals he holds to be important.
“He always taught us to be honest. One time I remember that there was someone that he was working for that wanted a bunch of extra things done, so my dad did the work. Later, when Dad charged him for it, the guy said that he wouldn’t pay–and then his wife got in on it. She said no, that my dad had quoted a different price, but she didn’t take into account all of this other work, so they didn’t pay. That guy was a mechanic. My dad had some of his cars being worked on in his shop.
“After the guy had worked on them, this lady from the shop called and said that they hadn’t charged us enough and it would be an extra forty or so dollars. My brother and I were really brassed off [upset] because we thought that, well, he wasn’t paying his bill–why should we pay them? My dad said no, that it was up to us to be the honest ones and pay. I think we went down there and paid the money. That guy never did pay us back for the extra work. And yet, my dad said that it was not for us to judge that guy and that, if we pay, the Lord would help us.”
Snarey (1993, p.157) suggests that fathers continue to be models for their adolescent children even though these children are trying to become independent of their parents. When both the father and the mother are actively involved parents, their child is much more likely to develop into a socially and morally mature adult (Biller, 1993, p.76). Being active in the lives of children is an important element ofrelationship work, as these next three stories show. Shawn, a father of two, shares an experience when his father helped him see the importance of telling the truth.
“I remember coming home after being out with some friends; I’d had a little bit to drink. . . . Mother always waited up for me and Dad slept. If Mom ever mentioned anything bad, he’d wake right up. If Mom said, “Have you been doing this–?” then I’d hear, “What?” coming from Dad’s side of the bed. Although I can’t remember the details of that night very well, I do remember that I felt more tension than I ever had felt between Dad and me. Dad left for work at about 6:00 the next morning, as usual.
“As I was about to leave for school, Mom said, “Make sure you come home right after school because your Dad wants to talk to you.” The worst thing about it was that at first, when they’d asked me the night before if I’d been drinking, I had said, “no.” Then I’d started thinking about ways that I was going to get out of telling the truth, but I’d realized I couldn’t, so I’d just decided to tell them what really happened. I remember the disappointment.”
“When I got home from school that afternoon, he hadn’t come home yet. It was the longest half-hour I’ve ever waited in my life. He came home, went in and gave Mom a kiss and talked to Mom, then said, “Mark, come in the room.” He didn’t ask me why I had been drinking; instead he simply said, “Why did you lie to me?” Those were his first words. “Why did you lie to me?” I wasn’t ready for that question.
“That’s all he wanted to know, and I felt like the biggest heel right then. It wasn’t so much the drinking; it was that I had lied to him. That’s probably the farthest away that I’ve ever felt from him, doing that–lying to him. I hope he taught me a lesson there–to always tell the truth, no matter what the circumstance may be. Hopefully, when my kids come to me and tell me the truth, I won’t act in a way so that they won’t want to tell their dad the truth.”
The following is a story of a father who learned how he wished to discipline his children by an experience he had with his own father:
“He slapped me once. I can’t even remember what I said, but we were in the car and I mouthed something back at him. He slapped me in the face. What I remember is how awful that was. It was more devastating than any ten spankings he’d ever given me in my life. It was very personal, being in my face, and he had never done that before. I guess I must have just pushed him right over the edge, but I learned something from that which you didn’t have to draw out of me….It is not worth what it does.
“I’m not faulting him for doing it either. There have been times that I’ve wanted to slap my kids. I don’t think that he was really being a bad father, but I understood something about what it felt like to be on the receiving end of that which made me not want to do it to mine.”
Fathers can be an emotional support to their teenagers by being there in those times when they are needed most. Some fathers recall times when they needed their fathers’ support and it wasn’t there.
“I remember a time when I felt emotionally distant from my father. . . I’m not sure if he was aware that I knew of the situation. It was a case, because of the things that I was involved in, that somebody had the audacity to go to my father and tell him that I was gay. My father did nothing. He didn’t say anything. He never said anything to me, but he didn’t say anything to the guy, and that made me feel like he didn’t really care one way or the other what people said about me, and didn’t really know me at all. In those times if you were into drama, dancing and those things you had to be gay.
“Something had to be wrong with you. So something was definitely wrong and you had to get a little hassled. The thing was that the man had the nerve to say it to my father, not to someone else on the side but directly to him, and then sit there and laugh about it. And my father did nothing. I remember that particular thing because it hurt me and it made me feel like maybe I was adopted, or maybe he just didn’t care for me. And the other thing is maybe he believed it.”
One father, Shawn, tells of an experience when his father was there to support him and how he felt about it. This story illustrates the power of recreation work, as Shawn’s father took time to support him outside of his father’s daily routine.
“The one (experience) that sticks out was when I was wrestling in high school. I was going for the state championship. He and all my brothers were there– there are six boys in the family, so there were five boys there with dad. You wrestle with all these other guys all year round, but he was there when I won. I didn’t care about everybody else– dad was there.”
One of the most challenging things about fathering a teenager is dealing with their growing desire for independence. Fathers often provide support for a child’s developing autonomy (Parke, 1996, p.144). A father shares his experience when his 16-year-old daughter decided it was time for her to leave home. This story illustrates development work, as the father adapts to the changing needs of his daughter.
“Parenting adolescents has been a challenge for me, but that hardly makes me unique. A couple of years ago my daughter Kathy, our oldest child, began chafing against parental monitoring and guidance. Nothing too unusual here. She was 15. Over time we gave her more and more “slack, ” eventually getting down to a couple of basic rules: let us know where you are and who you are with, let us know when we can expect you back, call if you’re going to be late, and “be good.”
“We thought these were very minimal and reasonable rules, but it wasn’t enough for her; she needed to be on her own, completely unfettered by parental ties. We asked her if she thought other parents were more lenient than hers. She said all that she knew were stricter, but she still needed to have her freedom. She just had to be on her own.
“The summer after her sophomore year in high school, she moved out and into a home with an adult friend and her husband (they have no children). We didn’t approve, but we could see that saying no would really sour our relationship with her. It was hard to say good-bye, even though she still lives close; we had thought we would have more time with her. It’s been especially hard on her mother, who grew up in much more challenging circumstances and didn’t get much parenting or have many of the advantages Kathy enjoyed.
“I’ve learned first-hand about the process of adolescent autonomy, parental separation, and an emptying nest. I’ve learned that the timing of this process isn’t necessarily predictable and can be sooner than you think, leaving you unprepared. I think we made a good decision, and Kathy seems to be doing well, although it’s harder to know all that’s going on in her life now.
“I guess I’ve learned that children grow up on different timetables and with different needs and desires. Parents need to respect them. Although we wish we had more time with her, we now realize that parents shouldn’t assume a fixed amount of time (18 years) to rear their children before launching. We hope letting her go will preserve a good relationship so that she will still come to us, physically and emotionally, in the future. That seems to be happening somewhat already.”
Sometimes a little humor can be the best way to work with teenagers.
“One day my Dad was working on the car I usually drove. He came inside wearing his work overalls, and I asked him how it was going. He said it was going fine, but he had to go to the store and get something to finish up. I said, “You’re not going to the store looking like that…how embarrassing! You look like a geek. Don’t tell anyone you’re my Dad.” I was kind of joking but I did think it would be embarrassing if he ran into someone I knew. A few minutes later he came out of his room with home-made signs taped to his front and back that said “I’m a geek” and “I’m Kimberlie’s Dad.”
“He got in the car and was leaving and I was laughing. I was a little embarrassed but it also made me realize how dumb it was to worry about my friends knowing he was my Dad, even when he looked like a geek. I’m glad I could have a good, fun relationship with my Dad.”
Many times fathers do things they regret later. The following is a story of a father who learned from what he felt was a mistake:
“I know that self esteem is our most fragile commodity. So much of what we do as parents destroys self esteem “–clean up your room, it’s such a mess.” “–why did you only get a C in your math?” – etc. I will never forget when we were going to Philmont Scout Ranch to participate in the LDS scouter training. We had six of our children in the car with us. Mike (15) had bought a cowboy hat. He was pleased with himself in the hat. I thought he looked dumb–perhaps I was embarrassed. Well, I put him down over it, multiple times. I very much regret this….Now I deal so differently with the gang in similar situations. I try to be sensitive as to how I act over clothes or things that are important to them.”
FatherWork can be especially challenging when it involves teenage children who are stretching their wings towards greater independence. During these years, generative fathers can be the wind beneath the wings of their adolescent children as they fly farther and farther from the nest exploring a world full of opportunities and dangers. As teenagers search for a stable identity and choose a personal value system, fathers may feel unnoticed and distant from their teenagers. But as fathers work to build a strong and trusting relationship through the early years and continue to tell their maturing youth they love them, their teenagers will sense that quiet wind lifting their youthful wings and appreciate its strength and guidance. Although fathers walk a step behind their teenages during these years, their children can still recognize their dads as one of the true heroes in their lives.
By Alan on Mar 07 in Blog tagged abusive, attraction, beliefs, casual, dating, differences, end of relationship, Family, friend, happy, interests, kindness, looking, love, marriage, men, navigating, partner, physical abuse, Proclamation To The World, romantic, serious, shy, single, smiling, spouse, talk, uncomfortable, unhealthy dating, violence, women | Comments Off
Enjoy Being Single
Sometimes singles become too focused on their goal of marriage, and they don’t enjoy their years on their own. While marriage is a righteous goal to be sought after, we should take time to enjoy our journey to reach the goal. Our years as a single can be meaningful and happy ones. You may be familiar with the counsel to become the kind of person you want to marry. In this way, you will attract that sort of person to you. Your time as a single can be a time of personal development and enrichment. Some of the most important areas in which to develop include our emotional and mental health, our self esteem, and our ability to control our impulses (Holman, Larson, & Stahmann, 2000). Remember that we do not need to be perfect in order to have a happy life and a strong marriage. If we are aware of these areas and striving to be our best, that is enough. We should remember that we are worthy of love, and that other people are usually accepting and approachable (Holmes & Johnson, 2009). Taking this perspective will help us build healthy friendships and relationships with others in our lives, a valuable skill that is crucial to life beyond just the dating world.
What to Look For
While the idea of a soul mate is a romantic one, there is not one perfect person out there waiting for you to find him or her. Each of us probably has numerous people in the world with whom we would be very happy. None of them will be our perfect match. Some compromise is inherent in all dating. It is important that we remember this; if we focus too much on finding our perfect soul mate, we may be quicker to write off a dating relationship when conflict arises, instead of trying to work things out (Hall, 2006).
Instead of looking for a soul mate, we should look for someone similar to us in background, values, attitudes, and beliefs about marriage. Research has shown that couples who are similar in these areas tend to have higher marital quality and stability (Holman & Larson, 1994). These areas are key to a person’s identity, which means that when a couple differs in these ways, compromise becomes difficult. When you and your partner are similar in these ways, you will be able to understand one another better because you are coming from the same perspective.
With that said, realize that differences are not necessarily a bad thing. No one is exactly like you, so you shouldn’t be looking for your exact clone. There will definitely be some differences between you and your partner. Remember that compatibility is not just about sameness, but also about complementarity. The Proclamation reminds us that some differences between men and women are built into the divine design of marriage and family stewardships.
While you are searching for your mate, remember that no one is perfect. Be careful not to keep a laundry list of required traits that your mate must have. While there are some things you should not compromise on, such as shared values or kindness, you can be more flexible with other things, like whether someone has your exact taste in movies, whether they are a certain build or have a certain hair color, or whether someone is a master chef.
Sometimes the most difficult part of dating is finding someone who you are attracted to and who is attracted to you as well. Attending social events such as dances, parties or singles religious activities can be a way of meeting other singles. How do you catch someone’s attention? Start by being friendly. Eye contact, a big smile and a confident posture (no slouching!) can make you look more approachable (Cunningham & Barbee, 2010).
Don’t be afraid to approach someone you are attracted to. You don’t need a first class opening line to talk to someone. A simple “Hello” is often more effective than a cheesy pick-up line (Cunningham & Barbee, 2010).
How do you tell if someone is interested in you? Some signs you might notice include someone leaning towards you, smiling, making and keeping eye contact, staying near to you, orienting his or her body towards you, and frequent gesturing (Afifi & Lucas, 2010). Often people have a pessimistic outlook when trying to judge another’s interest. That is, Mike may be too scared of rejection to ask Sally for a date, even though he is interested in her. Meanwhile, Sally assumes Mike must not be interested since he is not asking her, never stopping to think that maybe he is afraid. What is the solution for this? Choose not to let your fear hold you back. You may face rejection, but you may also find that your potential date has been anxiously awaiting you to ask her or him out. You won’t know until you try. Ladies, remember, we live in a time where we are allowed to do the asking too.
If you are shy, the process of attracting someone, approaching him or her, and figuring out whether or not there is mutual interest, may sound like a difficult process to go through. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help. Set-ups and blind dates are a great way to skip the stress of finding someone and go straight to a date|just be sure you trust the person setting you up. At social events like parties or dances, consider going with a more social friend, who can act as a bridge for you to meet others, by being the one to start conversations with those you meet.
The dating climate of today may be different from the climate our parents and grandparents faced. Some modern researchers have argued that hanging out has replaced dating, making dating obsolete (Colllins & van Dulmen, 2006). However, dating is a valuable way for teens and adults to come to know someone on a more personal level. Dating can also help you develop a better idea of the traits you want in a future spouse (although those with limited opportunity to date can still make a wise mate selection).
Consider dating to build friendships and have fun, instead of focusing just on finding someone to marry. Casual dating allows dates to be laidback and fun, without commitment attached from the get go. Seeking friendship first results in lower pressure in your dating experience. When you are more relaxed, it is easier to be yourself, have fun, and get to know the other person better. Friendship dating may also lower your chance of facing heartbreak and disappointment, since you are not quickly becoming emotionally involved (McLaughlin, 2007). A romantic relationship may evolve from friendship dating, and its base of friendship may be stronger than a relationship built only on mutual attraction (Barelds and Barelds-Dijkstra, 2007).
Although you decide to date casually, you may still encounter pressure from parents, friends, or even your dates to define your relationships early on, instead of keeping things casual. You cannot control the reactions of people around you, but that does not mean you should avoid casual dating. As with other areas in your life, in dating just do the best you can, even if at times it goes against the norms of modern society.
The Decision to Become Serious
So you have been dating for a little while, and you are wondering whether or not to get serious. How can you know when you are really in love? Noller describes the difference between immature love and mature love (as cited in Holman et al, 2000).
Immature love is possessive, easily provoked to jealousy, and anxious that the relationship might end. A person experiencing immature love may be obsessed with his or her partner. Immature love includes a belief that love is something beyond your control; an external force like Cupid’s arrow causes love. Immature love is selfish and focused on satisfying one’s own needs.
In contrast, mature love involves a lasting passion, a strong desire for companionship, and contentment with the relationship. A person experiencing mature love knows it is something you must decide. Mature love means commitment, trust, sharing, and sacrifice. It allows space for a partner to grow and change.
While we should not have unrealistic expectations for our future spouses, we should also be careful not to settle for an unhealthy relationship. Below are signs of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse in a relationship. If your relationship has some of these characteristics, you should seriously consider ending the relationship. You deserve to be with someone who values you and treats you with respect.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Saltzman, Fanslow, McMahon, and Shelley (2002) give the following list of behaviors which constitute emotional and psychological abuse:
[H]umiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources (p. 61).
This list is not comprehensive. Your partner may do or say other things that hurt you psychologically or emotionally. The important thing is to notice how the way you are treated makes you feel.
Domestic violence involves “the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm” (Saltzman et al., 2002, p. 35). Any physical force can qualify as domestic violence, but some examples of violent behaviors include:
[S]cratching, pushing, shoving, throwing, grabbing, biting, choking, shaking, poking, hair-pulling,
slapping, punching, hitting, burning, use of a weapon (gun, knife, or other object), and use of
restraints or one’s body, size, or strength against another person (p. 35).
Some potential warning signs that violence can occur later on include extreme jealousy, controlling behavior, or verbal threats (Choose Respect). If you notice these in your relationship, you might be wise to end it now before things escalate into a worse situation.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you should know that many resources exist to help you:
When a Relationship Ends
If you are the one ending the relationship, remember to be gentle and kind when you do so. Holman et al. (2000) recommend bringing up the subject with kindness, meekness, and love. They also recommend being clear that the relationship is ending, so your partner is not confused or left with false hopes.
If your partner initiates the breakup, take care not to try to force him or her to keep dating you (Holman et al., 2000). Be respectful and allow the relationship to end. Breakups hurt, but don’t lash out and take out your hurt on your ex (Holman et al., 2000).
After the breakup, give yourself time to heal. You may find it helpful to vent your feelings to a friend or family member. Journal writing can also be helpful. Young adults often rely on media (like music, movies, and television shows) to help them process and reflect on their breakups (Hebert & Popadiuk, 2008).
While this isn’t necessarily bad, be careful what media you consume|it may prolong your sadness if you fill your days with depressive media.
Immediately after a breakup, you may find it painful to contemplate dating someone else in the future. Or perhaps you feel that you will not meet another potential mate. Give yourself time to heal from the breakup. How much time you need will vary from person to person. But realize that someday, you will meet someone new. This was not your one and only chance for love. An optimistic attitude that you can find someone else will help you move on (Spielmann, MacDonald, & Wilson, 2009).
Dating can seem a daunting task at times, but never give up! Enjoy your time as a single. Enjoy dating, and consider friendship dating to take off some of the pressure. Do what you can to seek dating success, and don’t worry about the rest. Dating can be a fun experience rather than a stressful one, if you choose to make it so.
Written by Shelece McAllister, Research Assistant, and edited by Jason S. Carroll and Stephen F. Duncan, professors in the School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too,
10 On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.
~Take a moment today to thank GOD for your pets. Enjoy and take good care of them. Life would be a much duller, less joyful experience without God’s critters.
Instructions for properly hugging a baby (from a dog’s point of view):
1. First, uh, find a baby.
2. Second, be sure that the object you found was indeed a baby, by employing classic sniffing techniques.
3. Next, you will need to flatten the baby before actually beginning the hugging process.
4. The ‘paw slide’ = Simply slide paws around baby and prepare for possible close-up.
5. Finally, if a camera is present, you will need to execute the difficult and patented ‘hug, smile, and lean’ so as to achieve the best photo quality.
For The Family
By Alan on Feb 12 in Blog tagged a, attention, blessed, child, childhood, children, church, commandments, communication, conflict, depart, difficult, endure, everyday, faith, give, go, goodness, job, Joseph Smith, kids, learning, long-suffering, Lord, love, More, neglect, neglected, organized, physical, playing, pleasurable, precious, psychological, recreation, talk, taught, teach, the way, time, Tom Perry, train, up, values, working | Comments Off
My mind was drawn to this admonition recently while reading an article in one of our current news publications on “Our Neglected Kids.” The article pointed out that “most of them are properly clothed and fed, but something is missing in the lives of countless children.” For many of them, “it is a matter of needing more attention from their parents,” who are caught up in everyday pressures.
The article says:
“In a nation that professes to take pride in its young, … social change is inflicting harm—physical and psychological—on millions of children. For them, growing up in America is becoming an ordeal instead of a joy.
“As their parents struggle to cope with divorce, single parenthood, dual careers, and a troublesome economy, many of the nation’s more than 47.6 million children under the age of 14 pay the price in ways that range from simple neglect to outright abuse.
“Parents are caught in a crunch of conflicting values,” the article points out, quoting Edward Weaver. “They value children, but they value other things as well, such as time for themselves, material goods, status and their careers. Given these conflicts, in a number of instances they neglect children or don’t give them a fair shake.” (U.S. News & World Report, 9 Aug. 1982, p. 54.)
As I travel outside the boundaries of this country, I seem to find these same problems growing elsewhere. These are danger signals for our children. We find more mothers with jobs, more single-parent homes, an enormous increase in children born out of wedlock. These growing social changes are causing increased difficulty for the children in our society today.
Articles such as the one I have quoted deeply trouble me, for I had such a pleasant, happy childhood. The pleasure of being a parent has always been special to me. It is impossible to express the love I have for my children and grandchildren.
I marvel at the miracle of the birth of a child. Just recently we experienced it again in our family. You receive a phone call, and there is the anxious voice of your son-in-law on the other end, stating, “I am just on my way to the hospital with Linda Gay.” Then you sit anxiously all day waiting for further news. Finally it comes: It’s a boy! Then you drop everything and rush to the hospital to offer your congratulations. There you see this blessed miracle—your own child, now with a baby cradled in her arms with warmth and tender love. You see a son-in-law so excited, and he starts pointing out that the baby’s nose looks like his mother’s. Maybe the chin and mouth resemble his. Then he looks at the hands and says, “Surely, these must be from the Perry side of the family. Look how large they are!”
A deep love wells up within you as you witness this blessed event and realize the joy and happiness these new parents will now have as the process is repeated again in their lives.
I am surely not an authority on child rearing. I have had my challenges, just as many parents have experienced. However, since reading this article, I have been directed to the words of the prophets, past and present, stressing the importance of the responsibility of a parent to train up a child.
In the Old Testament, there is an account of the Lord giving instructions to Moses just before He delivered the Ten Commandments to him. It states:
“The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
“Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:6–7.)
In the New Testament, Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counseled them:
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4.)
The Book of Mormon begins with a son giving credit to the training of goodly parents:
“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.” (1 Ne. 1:1.)
Instructions through the Prophet Joseph Smith to members of the Church in this day are explicit regarding the responsibilities of parents to children:
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrines of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (D&C 68:25.)
At the time I was a new parent, President David O. McKay presided over the Church. His counsel was clear and direct regarding our responsibilities to our children. He taught us the most precious gift a man and woman can receive is a child of God, and that the raising of a child is basically, fundamentally, and most exclusively a spiritual process.
He directed us to basic principles we need to teach our children. The first and most important inner quality you can instill in a child is faith in God.The first and most important action a child can learn is obedience. And the most powerful tool you have with which to teach a child is love. (SeeInstructor, Vol. 84, Dec. 1949, p. 620.)
Let us examine together these three basic principles. President Brigham Young instructed parents by saying:
“If each and every one of us who are parents will reflect upon the responsibilities devolving upon us, we shall come to the conclusion that we should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.” (Journal of Discourses, 14:192.)
If we are to instill faith in our children, they must see us demonstrate our faith in their young lives. They must see us on our knees daily, asking the Lord for His blessings and expressing our gratitude unto Him. They need to see us using our priesthood to administer to those in need, and to bless our children. They need to see us reverently worshiping in our sacrament meetings. They need to see us cheerfully and willingly giving of our time and talents to the building of the Lord’s kingdom here on earth. They need to see us proving our faith by the payment of our tithes and offerings to Him. They need to see us diligently studying and discussing the scriptures to increase our faith and understanding.
I read recently an article in a magazine designed especially for Latter-day Saints about a study that was made of the benefits of reading to children. It stated that when a mother or a father consistently reads to a child, the child enters school at a much higher level and excels in reading during these early grades. If there is a direct correlation between the early training a child receives from parents and the rapidity with which a child learns, how important would it be, then, for us to spend time reading the gospel of Jesus Christ to our children, to imbue and instill in them, in their tender and early years, faith in the gospel of our Lord and Savior?
The second principle President McKay outlined for us is obedience.President Joseph Fielding Smith has said: “Of course there should be prayer and faith and love and obedience to God in the home. It is the duty of parents to teach their children these saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that they will know why they are to be baptized and that they may be impressed in their hearts with a desire to continue to keep the commandments of God after they are baptized, that they may come back into his presence. Do you, my good brethren and sisters, want your families, your children; do you want to be sealed to your fathers and your mothers before you? … If so, then you must begin by teaching at the cradle-side. You are to teach by example as well as precept.” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1948, p. 153.)
I remember being impressed one time with the need to teach obedience. I was on a new job working long hours, and I guess I was somewhat neglectful of my family. My son seemed to crave more time and attention. He was finding all sorts of ways to attract my attention. One day when I came home, his mother had him prepared to take me downstairs to see what mischief he had recently created. As we descended the stairs, he sheepishly opened the door to our food storage room. There I found he had been using his dart set to practice his marksmanship on our food storage. He caught my attention all right, and made me realize he was looking for the metes and bounds we expected of him in our family government. When they were outlined, and when I gave him the proper attention, then he was very obedient. How important it is that we teach obedience early in the lives of our children, especially to the commandments of the Lord!
Finally, President McKay taught us the necessity of love. I’ve always been impressed with the fact that when the Lord was teaching His disciples in those final hours of His earthly ministry as they met in the Last Supper, after teaching service by the washing of their feet, His next instructions concerned love. He taught,
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34.)
I recently enjoyed an article in the Reader’s Digest written about enduring values. It stated “that the climate of our times tends to support the idea that love is a seasonal monsoon: it comes, it blows fiercely; it goes by. That is too bad, because a child needs the kind of love that is as trustworthy as the rising of the sun. If a child is to grow up to truly join the human race, he needs to know how to keep love alive.
“A child should learn not merely to love, but to be a loving person—to make love his stance in the world. ‘Love’ may come and go, but a loving person, like the sun itself, never loses his or her sustaining warmth.” (Reader’s Digest, June 1981, p. 164.)
Sometime ago I remember reading about an experiment with chickens. I do not remember the source. Young pullets, as they grew in their life cycle, were given all of the food they needed to eat, without being required to make an effort to obtain it. Then as the pullets matured, they were turned out into the chicken coop, where they had to scratch for their food. A chicken who had never been taught how to scratch as a pullet would mature without learning this ability and would literally starve to death, even though just below the surface of the ground was all the food it needed to sustain life.
Then the article went on to compare this example with a child who was not taught the ability to love early in its life. In all probability, according to the article, the child would not be able to develop that choice characteristic as it matured to adulthood. How tragic it would be if a child were deprived of the ability to love!
Today, I would like you to pause, ponder, and think of the value of an immortal soul, especially the ones entrusted to you as parents. Where are your priorities? Have you committed yourself to give the sufficient time necessary to train your children?
Dr. Nick Stinnett of the University of Nebraska gave a most interesting talk at an annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations. It was titled “Characteristics of Strong Families.” His six points were:
We who have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ ought to have the devotion and the determination necessary to build strong family units. May God bless us that we may “organize [ourselves]; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house” (D&C 109:8) for those we love that is worthy of an eternal family unit is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
L. TOM PERRY
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Parents and teachers, learn to listen, then listen to learn from children. A wise father once said, “I do a greater amount of good when I listen to my children than when I talk to them.”
The time to listen is when someone needs to be heard. Children are naturally eager to share their experiences, which range from triumphs of delight to trials of distress. Are we as eager to listen? If they try to express their anguish, is it possible for us to listen openly to a shocking experience without going into a state of shock ourselves? Can we listen without interrupting and without making snap judgments that slam shut the door of dialogue? It can remain open with the soothing reassurance that we believe in them and understand their feelings. Adults should not pretend an experience did not happen just because they might wish otherwise.
Even silence can be misinterpreted. A story was written of “a little boy [who] looked up at his mother and said, ‘Why are you mad at me?’ She answered, ‘I’m not angry at you. What makes you say that?’ ‘Well, your hands are on your hips, and you are not saying anything.’” 4
Parents with teenage youth may find that time for listening is often less convenient but more important when young people feel lonely or troubled. And when they seem to deserve favor least, they may need it most.
Wise parents and teachers, listen to learn from children.