So yesterday was a hard day in a mothering sense. By 3 p.m. I wasn’t really fond of any of my children anymore. Something deep down inside of me (the love child of anger and frustration) really, really wanted to:
A) Beat people up,
or B) Book a private jet and escape to a Carribean island. Alone.
Option B would probably make me feel better, but Option A is a lot cheaper. I didn’t do either, but I wanted to. Instead I just lost my temper and barked my disappointment and sent people to their rooms indefinitely.
I hosted a Relief Society Spiritual Literacy meeting at my house last night and we studied some of the recent conference talks. My study partner and I read “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?” I know what you’re thinking: It made me feel all guilty and penitent. It probably should have, but it didn’t (except for that one little part about “Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and implies patience and teaching on our part. It should not be done in anger.”). Honestly, the talk gave me some hope, some advice, some direction. I’ve been really frustrated with my kids lately. I feel like we’re in a cycle of the same mistakes over and over again — both theirs and mine. I’m losing patience with them and with myself. What I loved about this message was a fresh new perspective. It gave me a better way to look at discipline and at praise and at my children themselves. Here are a few of my favorite quotes. Don’t be lazy and skip them; read them:
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?…”
Through discipline the child learns of consequences. In such moments it is helpful to turn negatives into positives. If the child confesses to a wrong, praise the courage it took to confess. Ask the child what he or she learned from the mistake or misdeed, which gives you, and more important, the Spirit an opportunity to touch and teach the child. When we teach children doctrine by the Spirit, that doctrine has the power to change their very nature—be—over time.
A sweet and obedient child will enroll a father or mother only 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 opportunity to become more godlike yourself. With which child will your patience, long-suffering, and other Christlike virtues most likely be tested, developed, and refined? Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?
Anyway, as I read these quotes and the rest of the talk, which is excellent, I felt some of my anger slipping away. I felt the Spirit telling me that these principles are true, and there is a better way to approach our recent trend of disobedience and disrespect. I felt like I could (with the Lord’s help) do it the right way and get the results I’ve been wishing for. And isn’t it the truth that our children have the greatest power to develop God-like attributes in us … if we will let that happen? I’m going to work on this.
I might buy some boxing gloves just in case, though. Unless anyone has a private jet I can borrow. Anyone?