Yesterday I studied about having more patience with my kids; the day went fairly well. I had one time where I got a bit angry with the kids, primarily due to the fact that I wasn’t sure how to handle all three of them at a busy place. I quickly apologized and tried to make things right.
Last night was a really fun one: we went and got firewood near the reservoir and then came back and built a fire in the back yard for roasting marshmellows. The kids had a really fun time and the weather was relaxing.
Today I want to study the talk by Cheryl A Esplin of the Primary General Presidency. The talk is titled “Teaching Our Children to Understand”.
The opening statement says,
Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It’s helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts.
Getting the doctrine into our hearts should be the goal for all of us. It reminds me of the talk about going to church vs. living the gospel (which I will study more, maybe tomorrow). Just knowing the right answers to gospel questions isn’t necessarily enough if I don’t LIVE the gospel in my everyday life.
Our “children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). He knows and loves each one with perfect love (see Moroni 8:17). What a sacred responsibility Heavenly Father places upon us as parents to partner with Him in helping His choice spirits become what He knows they can become.
This divine privilege of raising our children is a much greater responsibility than we can do alone, without the Lord’s help. He knows exactly what our children need to know, what they need to do, and what they need to be to come back into His presence. He gives mothers and fathers specific instruction and guidance through the scriptures, His prophets, and the Holy Ghost.
I guess the question I need to ask myself is this,
“Have I ever asked God through prayer and scripture study what each of my children needs to be their best self in this life?”
I can find answers in the scriptures, through the Spirit, and via the words of the prophets.
25 And again, inasmuch as aparents have children in Zion, or in any of her bstakes which are organized, that cteach them not to understand the ddoctrine 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 eeight years old, the fsin be upon the heads of the parents.
This quote is repeated:
Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It’s helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts in a way that it becomes part of their very being and is reflected in their attitudes and behavior throughout their lives. (bold added)
How can the gospel become part of my very being and be reflected in my attitude and behavior throughout my life?
What is my attitude like now?
How can I improve my behavior?
How can I improve my attitude?
How can I help my children improve their attitudes and behaviors to reflect the gospel teachings?
These are questions to immediately come to mind. It reminds me of the talk I heard on my mission from Elder Archibald, who talked about the conversion process: first you work on your personal conversion, then on the conversion of your companion, then on the conversion of others.
If I intend to follow this council and teach my children to understand the gospel principles, I have to be living them and working them in my life as well. Then I can help Beck and my kids see a change in their lives (mostly through my own example of striving to do what’s right – in this case being more patient and less “quick to anger”).
Our role as parents is to do all we can to create an atmosphere where our children can feel the influence of the Spirit and then help them recognize what they are feeling.
Can our family feel the Spirit in our home if there is often contention and yelling? NO, No they can’t!
Sometimes the most powerful way to teach our children to understand a doctrine is to teach in the context of what they are experiencing right at that moment. These moments are spontaneous and unplanned and happen in the normal flow of family life. They come and go quickly, so we need to be alert and recognize a teaching moment when our children come to us with a question or worry, when they have problems getting along with siblings or friends, when they need to control their anger, when they make a mistake, or when they need to make a decision.
AMEN! I’ve felt those times and even seen a few times where this has happened. I must be more alert to teach in the right time and during the right circumstances. Helping my kids recognize the Spirit is vital – it’s something I didn’t really understand until my mission, and it’s something I take for granted now.
If we are ready and will let the Spirit guide in these situations, our children will be taught with greater effect and understanding…
In every teaching situation all learning and all understanding are best nurtured in an atmosphere of warmth and love where the Spirit is present.
How to Prepare My 8 Year Old for Baptism
This is a question I’ve thought about a lot. Here’s a great idea:
About two months before his children turned eight years old, one father would set aside time each week to prepare them for baptism. His daughter said that when it was her turn, he gave her a journal and they sat together, just the two of them, and discussed and shared feelings about gospel principles. He had her draw a visual aid as they went along. It showed the premortal existence, this earth life, and each step she needed to take to return to live with Heavenly Father. He bore his testimony about each step of the plan of salvation as he taught it to her.
When his daughter recalled this experience after she was grown, she said: “I will never forget the love I felt from my dad as he spent that time with me. … I believe that this experience was a major reason I had a testimony of the gospel when I was baptized.” (See Teaching, No Greater Call, 129.)
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
“We all understand that the success of the gospel message depends upon its being taught and then understood and then lived in such a way that its promise of happiness and salvation can be realized” (“Teaching and Learning in the Church” [worldwide leadership training meeting, Feb. 10, 2007], Liahona, June 2007, 57; Ensign, June 2007, 89).
How Do I Know if What I’m Teaching is Working
We can know our children are beginning to understand the doctrine when we see it revealed in their attitudes and actions without external threats or rewards. As our children learn to understand gospel doctrines, they become more self-reliant and more responsible. They become part of the solution to our family challenges and make a positive contribution to the environment of our home and the success of our family.
I’m grateful for this talk and the message I’ve learned from it.
I’m grateful for each of my children: Caleb, Madi, Chloe and the little boy on the way.
I’m grateful to have married a wonderful mother and friend.
I’m grateful that I have desires to improve, to be a better dad, to be a better husband, and to LIVE the Gospel all the time.
I’m grateful for the opportunities Heavenly Father gives me to repent and to come closer to him.
I know that this life is a process.
I pray that I will always be trying to move in the right direction and help my kids understand the Gospel and therefore live the Gospel when I’m not around.
It starts with me.