Sunday, March 7, 2010

Our Perfect Parent

I've been thinking a lot lately about the example of parenting from our Heavenly Father and the Savior. They are perfect, after all, so there isn't anyone better than them to look to. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, and hopefully I can relate them in a coherent manner.

I've been reading the book "Parenting with Love and Logic" by Foster W. Cline and Jim Fay, and I really like it. The reason I like it so much is because the things they teach go hand in hand with how we are parented. The book is all about allowing our children to choose and lovingly allowing them to experience the consequences, whether good or bad. That is exactly what our Heavenly Father does with us. He gave us the gift of agency, which gives us the opportunity to learn and grow from the choices we make. Otherwise, there would be no point to this life. Likewise, if we make all our children's choices for them, they will never gain the knowledge they need to not only survive in this world but also to receive eternal life in the next.

The more I ponder the example of parenting and love set by our Heavenly Father and the Savior, the more I am filled with gratitude. In Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk last GC, he said, "Think how it must have grieved our Heavenly Father to send His Son to endure incomprehensible suffering for our sins. That is the greatest evidence of His love for each of us!" And we all know the scripture in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

To say being a parent is hard is an understatement. And I don't know about you, but allowing my son to make poor choices is super hard! It hurts my heart and sometimes makes me angry, but I know I have to let him go through the experiences because they will make him better. I just don't know how the Lord does it. Well, I do- because he's perfect. But being perfect doesn't make Him free from the pain and hurt that comes from seeing a child suffer because of their poor choices. Yet, He knows that it is the only way we can return to Him. It all goes back to love.

Tonight I was reading this month's Ensign and thinking again about Heavenly Father's example of parenting, and I was filled with immense love. I felt strengthened and guided by it, and it allowed me to put what I've been learning into action. You see, there was a little boy upstairs who was very sad. He had thrown a nasty tantrum, so he got sent straight to bed. As I listened to his cries, I wondered what the Lord would do. What does he do with me when I make mistakes? Does he leave me utterly alone? Yes, for a while, but he comes back when I am repentant and want Him back. Does he lecture me? No, but he chastens me, and "whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth." There's a difference in lecturing and chastening, and that difference is love.

So, guided by the Spirit, I decided to go upstairs. I knew Noah felt sorry for what he'd done, so it was time to relieve him of his sorrow and show him some love. I gave him a big hug, and soothed his tears by singing his favorite song, "I Am A Child of God". I told him that sometimes I make mistakes too, so I know how it feels. I also told him that he was a good boy, and that tomorrow he could try again at making better choices. I also felt prompted to ask him what Jesus wants us to do when we make mistakes and are sorry for them: try again. Everything will be okay because we can try again.

After that, his tears were all gone, and he rolled over and went to sleep. As I went back downstairs, my heart was filled with love. I really felt like I had handled things the way the Lord would have. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to react in such a loving way, especially for me. I can be's say boisterous sometimes. And when I'm like that, I'm not exactly feeling a whole lot of love.

You know what the key is to feeling that love? How about some Seminary Answers? You said it- pray and read your scriptures! It's so easy and yet so hard, but I am constantly amazed at the spiritual strength I feel when I fill my spiritual reservoir. If I didn't have the gospel, I think motherhood would literally have me in an insane asylum. Not kidding. I just could not do it alone. So why is that I still try to? I suppose that's one of life's never ending lessons.

To end my smattering of thoughts, I just want to say that as hard as mothering can be, if we follow the example of our Perfect Parent, we will be okay.

P.S.- Isn't it funny how when you have been pondering something a lot, you find and hear things about it all of a sudden? This month's Ensign has an article "What Mother's Can Learn from the Savior." It's a good one. Here's a reassuring quote from it by Elder Faust:

"If you have done your best, which you usually do, your humble offering, whatever it may be, will be acceptable and pleasing to the Lord."
Here's another good one from President Packer:
"If your are helpless, he is not. If you are lost, he is not. If you don't know what to do next, he knows. It would take a miracle, you say? Well, if it takes a miracle, why not?"
P.S. 2- If you haven't read "Christlike Parenting" by Glenn I. Latham, you need to. It's a good one. The Book of Mormon isn't bad, either.


Nan said...

Great post. I agree that the Love and Logic principles are very similar to how our Heavenly Father parents us. As much as I endorse that book though, those principles are very hard for me to be completely consistent on. Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to parent with love and logic and to just keep doing my best. You are a great mother and a great example.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

This is a cool post!

I'm right there with ya, sister!

Come see me...I am at:

I think you'd love the resurrection rolls we made for FHE last week!