Monday, April 04, 2011

Enrolled in A.P. Parenting 505: To Be and To Do

I am always so grateful to be a member of Christ's church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.    To know that God speaks to us, His children, today.  To know that there is a living prophet, one such as Moses, on the Earth today who speaks the will of God to us.  God does not leave us alone down here to guess as to how to make it back to Him.  He has revealed a plan, a most beautiful plan, and continues to guide us each and every day through exactly that: guides - a prophet and apostles, the scriptures, the Holy Ghost which communicates personal revelation, church doctrine and standards, and so many others, which all testify and lead us to Christ.

I always look forward to our church's General Conference, a biannual event, in which a world-wide audience can be instructed from these choice servants, the men and women called to be leaders of Christ's church.  I am always fed, always uplifted, and always propelled forward with a desire to be better, having been just given more tools to make that possible.

There are so so many talks that I could write about, but one that spoke directly to me and my daily struggles of trying to become a better mother was by Elder Lynn G. Robbins.  The text of his talk is not yet available online, but I can't wait to reread it and apply its principles in our home.  I am guessing the title would be something like "To Be and To Do: Teaching your children Christ-like attributes".

He talks about how most people have "To Do" Lists, but rarely have "To Be" Lists.  Things on a "to do" list can be checked off, but the things on a "To Be" List cannot.  They are things that are a part of your character, nature, who you are and can become.  One of the most important things we can do is to teach our children to be like our Savior.  "Christ-like "to be"s cannot be seen but they are the motivating force behind what we do, which can be seen. ... Because "be" begets "do" and is the motive behind "do", teaching "be" will improve behavior more effectively than focusing on "do" will at improving behavior."

For instance when children are quarreling, we often misdirect our discipline on what was done.  But the quarreling or the "do" is really only a symptom of the unseen motive in their heart.  "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 responsibility for one's actions and not blaming."

Here is the kicker... "How do parents teach these attributes to their children?  We will never have a greater opportunity to teach and show Christ-like attributes to our children than in the way we discipline them."  
This really was an "ah hah" moment for me.  I actually have made a "To Be" list, probably many over the years.  All of them have included becoming more patient, whether it be with myself, for something I had prayed for, for something I had worked hard to achieve, or with my children.  Unfortunately my "do"s in disciplining often do not reflect this great desire.  It often resembles this quote that I have pasted on my refrigerator, "Anger is a self-centered reaction to inconvenience or disappointment."  I remind myself of this as often as I can remember.  I repeat it in my mind as I grumpily clean up the spilt peach juice off of the floor or sew Felicity's doll's leg back on after it was made to do the splits by a well-intended, "trying to entertain not mame" brother.  In thinking about the "be"s, the motivation behind the way I discipline, I see that there is a lot to change.  I pray that in viewing my own shortcomings, it will help me to be more merciful and loving in the way I "do" discipline my children.

This brings me to my very favorite part of his talk.  {If you can watch it, it is from minute 6:00 to 6:48.}
"A sweet and obedient child will only enroll a father or mother in Parenting 101.  If you are blessed with a child who tests your patience to the nth degree, you will be enrolled in Parenting 505.  Rather than wonder what you might have done wrong in the premortal life to be so deserving, you might consider the more challenging child a blessing, and an opportunity to become more God-like yourself.  With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christ-like virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined?  Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?"

I told my sister that I must be enrolled in A.P. Parenting 505, to which Mike added that we must be in graduate courses:-)  Truthfully we have wonderful children with good hearts, but we struggle as parents to know how to channel their strong-willed souls toward causes worthy of unyielding stand-offs.  I have wondered many times this exact thing this good man has instructed, that I need the refinement and stretching that being a mother to my particular children will bring.

There is such great wisdom and many more "ah hah" moments in this talk.  If you have a 10 minutes, watch it.  I know I will continue to refer back to it, til I can see that my "do"s reflect the "be"s I want my children to emulate.


  1. That talk was my hands-down favorite, as well! Garry and I joke that we're enrolled in four concurrent sessions of 505, with a fifth to start in August. I can't wait for the talk in print. I need to memorize it.

  2. Wait? That talk wasn't just for me? I totally thought it was! Just what I prayed for. Glad it helped you guys too! ;)

  3. oh my goodness. this talk really touched me also. I have already had such a tender moment with one of girls using this concept. I almost felt like my eyes were opened somewhat. I loved how he focused on who our children could be rather than what they do good or bad. What a blessing that we have so much help along the way. parenting is HARD:)



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