Being a parent is a great responsibility and many times we get discouraged. We feel disheartened because our children will not respond to us or listen to our advice. Because of all the outside influences such as radio, television, unsavory movies, and peers, we have to make sure we are sending our children out with a mighty shield of protection. We must teach values, have rules and standards along with prayer. If we start in our own homes to make the world a better place, then it will spread to the community and schools, each generation becoming better than the last.
Barbara Bush, wife of President George Bush, said to a group of graduates at Wellesley College, “Whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.” (Washington Post, 2 June 1990, p. 2.)
It is in the home that children learn integrity, respect, love, honesty, decency, uprightness, and chastity. We should teach respect for other religions, cultures, patriotism, and for the law. Example is the best teacher. If we expect our children to be honest, then we must be honest. If we want our children to respect others, then we must respect our children. Cynicism destroys hope and only creates rebelliousness. Remember that our children learn by example. We must first stop and examine ourselves and if a change must take place, then do it.
Goethe said that if you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as he could be, then he will become what he ought to be.
We must teach our children how to work, take responsibility, and learn independence. Our children will value material things much more if they earn them. There is an irony in the fact that parents want their children to be self-sufficient and independent, but at the same time they give too much.
Neal A. Maxwell said, “Those who do too much for their children will soon find they can do nothing with their children. So many children have been so much done for, they are almost done in.” (Neal A. Maxwell, “The Man of Christ”, Ensign, May 1975, 101)
Neal Maxwell’s insight really made me laugh. But it’s so true. Our children need love. Material objects will never replace affection or our absence. Perhaps we are so anxious to give our children what we didn’t have in the way of material objects, that we’re forgetting the most important part…doing things together?
Enjoying Easter With My Dad
Eugene Hansen said, “I learned money and material possessions are not the keys to happiness and success. Even with the constant financial challenge, we still had a good life. There was love in the home.” (W. Eugene Hansen, “Children and the Family”, Ensign, May 1998, 58)
Money, wealth, and great careers shouldn’t come before family. Money won’t buy your family’s love and happiness. How many times have we sacrificed something, such as not attending an important meeting so we could see our son or daughter in a baseball game or orchestra concert? Sacrifice is part of being a family.
How many times have we sacrificed for a family member? Have we given up something important to attend our children’s functions? We can’t afford to let our children go astray because we don’t take time for them. This is what family is all about.
Raising a family isn’t easy. We’re human and make mistakes. As we get older, we learn little secrets and usually have good advice for young parents, hoping to help in anyway possible. There are certain guidelines that can help us avoid future problems with our children. The secret is TLC. Most of you may think I’m referring to “Tender Loving Care.” No, no! I have a different meaning: Talk, Love, Compromise, and Compliment. You notice the last two begin with “C.” So we can just call it TLC or TLCC. It’s up to you!
In the July 1996 Ensign Magazine, parents were asked what they would do differently if they could go back and raise their children again. I would like to use a few of their experiences to emphasize my point.
First: we must talk to our children. Have personal interviews with them and find out how their week has gone and if there is anything we can do to help them. This shows that we care about them. You can talk to them while doing dishes or setting the table, in the car as you’re traveling, or tucking them in bed at night. This kind of communication helps your children know you care about them.
Most importantly, we must try speaking to our children in a calm voice, if we intend to get anywhere. A mother wrote, “Yelling goes way back in my family tree.” She said it was hard undoing what has been engrained in us from childhood. When we use this method of communicating with our children, then we give into emotions and anger. This creates more frustration and the communication has ceased to exist and the spirit of contention enters the home, causing negative feelings. After much heartache, she learned to not raise her voice to her children.
Second: it is imperative to show love toward our children, especially after discipline so they will know we still love them. We must show affection to our children. Too many times we think that our children know of our love but we forget to show it, especially after grounding them for something wrong. Showing affection can be difficult for some people but we must overcome it so our children will know of our love.
As I read the response of one mother, it tugged at my heart as she expressed her feelings. One of her sons had been imprisoned and was paying for his mistake. She wrote, “As I looked at his sorrowful countenance behind that glass wall, my heart nearly broken, I only wish I had held and rocked that baby boy.”
This mother said she was devastated as she realized that she had very seldom taken her son in her arms and kissed him and held him next to her heart. It dawned on her that she had done all the duties of a good and faithful mother and taken care of his physical needs such as food and clothes and shelter, but had forgotten his emotional needs by telling him of her love, by spreading sweet kisses all over his little face. She had not taken the time to show her innermost feelings for her young son and now she was looking at him through the glass barrier, her heart wrenching with pain and wishing that she could undo the past and start again.
How many times have we wished to begin again? We should not berate ourselves but start anew, beginning today and kiss those little tears away. Remember, a child is like a blossom. He or she will be in your garden for a season but gone the next. We should never waste a moment to express feelings of love.
Third: we must compromise with our children and try to understand their point of view. A mother from Warsaw, Poland said that she believed her choices were the only right ones when it came to decisions of the family, and now she regretted her actions. She wrote, “I considered any deviation by my children from my instructions to them as an affront to my authority.” This belief causes tension in the home because the children are not able to share their feelings and concerns. A child’s point of view is important to him and we must listen and learn from our children. This is where compromise comes in.
Fourth: we must compliment our children and uplift them, praise them for their efforts and accomplishments. This gives them confidence in themselves. I believe that complimenting your children helps to build their self-esteem and to feel good about themselves. Whenever my mother would tell me something good about myself, I felt encouraged and that I wasn’t such an awkward teenager after all. Children need to be recognized for their efforts and hard work.
We all have regrets at some time or another, but perhaps we can learn from our mistakes. We must forgive ourselves and then continue on with life. If we show unconditional love toward our children, that’s all that matters!
Easter With My Mom
When my children were little, I knew that I had to treasure every moment, for that moment would not pass this way again. I remember how I held my child and cuddled her in my arms, wishing time would stand still and hoping I would never forget that moment for the rest of my life.
Those were moments of happiness in which I took the time to sing to my baby and spread tender kisses all over her face and neck, making her giggle and smile. It was a time in which I said a special prayer – a prayer of thanksgiving, of joy, and of love. I enjoyed watching my baby as I cuddled her close to me and I would smile at her and say softly, “I love you.”
Then she would stop nursing for a moment to give me a big smile, and then resume her nursing. What precious moments those were to me. Time passes swiftly, though the memories are still there. My children are grown now and I realize that my daughters will feel what I once felt, holding their babies close and humming softly. A child is like a beautiful sunset…here for a few minutes and gone the next. Like the sunset, enjoy her as much as you can before she’s gone.
A Child Is Like A Flower
A child is like a flower, here today, gone tomorrow,
Reach out and touch her before she is gone.
Today nursing quietly in your arms,
Tomorrow running away in the park.
Today missing you for an hour,
Tomorrow off to school for the day.
Today holding your hand,
Tomorrow holding her own child.
A child is like a flower, here today, gone tomorrow,
Reach out and touch her before she is gone.
Written by Linda Weaver Clarke, author of sweet romances, mystery/adventure novels, and cozy mysteries. Make Believe: www.lindaweaverclarke.com
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