So, because I’m seriously scheduling deficient, today is L (and J will be Thursday). I volunteered to be a part of the LDS Writer Blogfest, thinking it would fit perfectly because L is on Thursday . . . but yeah, it was set for today, Tuesday. (Oh well.)
Every year, on the first weekend in April and October, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a General Conference. Speakers from the leadership (general authorities, including a living prophet, apostles and seventies) give talks which are televised, translated and transmitted throughout the world. Today, a number of writers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are blogging about their personal favorites among these addresses.
With ten hours of material to choose from, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but one talk in particular touched my heart during the conference. Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the First Quorum of the Seventy gave a talk called “What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?” I loved this talk because it helped me to see very specifically how I can be a better parent and a better person.
We often focus on all that we have to do, to the detriment of what we need to be. I find myself focusing on what I have to do, to the detriment of being a good mom sometimes. I need to focus on being, changing myself by focusing on my heart, instead of focusing on just its outward manifestations, my actions.
Of course, the most important thing for us to be is to be like Christ. To become like Christ, Elder Robbins recommends that we pray as individuals and families: “Because Christlike attributes are gifts from God and cannot be developed without His help, in family and personal prayers, pray for those gifts.”
We also need to teach our children to be like Him, and not just at Family Home Evening (Monday night church lessons + activity + treat), but all the time:
When children misbehave, let’s say when they quarrel with each other, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, or the quarreling we observed. But the do—their behavior—is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts. We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the future? Being patient and forgiving when annoyed? Loving and being a peacemaker? Taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and not blaming?”
How do parents teach these attributes to their children? We will never have a greater opportunity to teach and show Christlike attributes to our children than in the way we discipline them. Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and implies patience and teaching on our part. It should not be done in anger.
Not only do we have to teach our children to be like Christ, we have to be like Him ourselves. I often have a short temper—but patience is something I’m working on being. To that effect, earlier this year I read Soft-Spoken Parenting: 50 Ways to Not Lose Your Temper With Your Kids (and I’m thinking it might be time to work on that again).
When Elder Robbins spoke of the motives in our children’s hearts, I thought of a scripture from the Book of Mormon, describing the peace that reigned in the land for 200 years after Christ visited the Americas: “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (4 Ne. 1:15). My mother had my sisters and I memorize that scripture when we were younger, trying to help us get along better. That didn’t mean that we instantly stopped arguing, but I do believe that teaching our children to love righteousness and be like Christ—and becoming like Him ourselves—is the most important task we have as parents. And Elder Robbins’s talk helped me better understand how to do that.
What do you think? How has focusing on motivations instead of actions helped you as a person or a parent? Did you watch conference?
Read more LDS writers’ responses to General Conference today!