Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Parenting with Meekness and Humility

This morning I awoke to one child yelling at another...again... It is often the same child yelling at the same child day after day. This child is a very tender spirit. This child has a heart big enough to fill a room. He/She has determination like no child I have known. He/She also has a temper like few I have ever known.

I have long thought that I inherited the worst aspects of my parents tempers... And I say that with a heart full of love for both my parents.  I have a great respect for both of them, and the way they controlled their tempers so often...especially with me as a child.  My dad, if I remember correctly, would get angry really quick, you'd get in trouble and then it would be over.  My mom was more the type to be upset about something, let it stew inside for a LONG while and then get really mad and stay that way for a while.  I have a tendency to be a bit of both.  I get angry really fast and little things and then stay angry over them for a while...far too long.  I don't let it stew and then get mad like mom, but I also don't let it go like dad.  I tested my parents tempers often.  I fought with my brothers often... EXTREMELY OFTEN.  I was not an easy child in any way shape or form.

So I know very well where this child gets their temper from.  And I also know how difficult it is to learn to manage. He/She has a long road of learning ahead.  I am still trying to learn how to control it...unfortunately, my children are learning their temper controls from me... And I realize how bad that is and how much it needs to change.

Anyway, back to bickering children.  This child of mine has very strong feelings towards this sibling.  I will say completely honestly that there are times when I fear this child hates his/her sibling.  That worries me and this morning, I realized that I needed help helping this child to love their sibling. To treat their sibling with respect and kindness.  It isn't an easy task to teach, and I have clearly not been doing it will on my own.  So this morning, I sent Justin a message that said: "Can you ponder on things we can do to change teh relationship (child a) has with (child b). (Child a) is so mean to (child b)."  Then I got down on my knees and asked in prayer for help in teaching child A the things that i clearly have not done.  I prayed for help in teaching child a to control tempers, show love. But I also prayed for help in bettering myself as a parent so I can be a better example for child a.

This morning after my prayer was a much different morning than I usually have.  While the kids were their usual selves, I wasn't.  I kept a calm tone with them, I walked into Child A's room and just asked if I could give him/her a hug. And give a big long hug that was needed.  I didn't yell at the kids all morning.  I calmly (or at least more calmly) reminded them to get shoes and socks on. I kept my cool and stayed much calmer (most of the time).  While I didn't have a perfect morning, it was better.

Then I got in the car because I had an errand to run.  I decided that I wanted to listen to some music from my phone.  So I plugged it in and as I was about to touch the music app, I thought how nice it would be to listen to one of the conference talks from our church general conference last month. So I opened up the LDS Gospel App, opened up the conference talks and opened up a talk, one I didn't remember hearing during conference (which was common since I was in a house with 8 kids). I started the talk and was so deeply humbled by the obvious answers to my prayers, in such a quick succession.  The talk I listed to was entitled: Be Meek and Lowly of Heart by Elder Ulisses Soares.  This talk had a lot of gems in it that really stood out to me.  Here are just a few:

1. "Being meek does not mean weakness, but it does mean behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control."
 2. "We are blessed to be born with the seed of meekness in our hearts. We need to understand that it is not possible to grow and develop that seed in the twinkling of an eye but rather through the process of time. Christ asks us to “take up [our] cross daily,” meaning that it must be a constant focus and desire.
President Lorenzo Snow, the fifth prophet of our dispensation, taught, “It is our duty to try to be perfect, to improve each day, and look upon our course last week and do things better this week; do things better today than we did them yesterday.” So the first step to becoming meek is to improve day by day. Each day we need to try to be better than the previous as we move forward through this process.

President Snow added:
“We have our little follies and our weaknesses; we should try to overcome them as fast as possible, and should [instill] this feeling in the hearts of our children that they may learn to [behave] properly before Him under all circumstances.

If the husband can live with his wife one day without quarrelling or without treating anyone unkindly or without grieving the Spirit of God … ; he is so far perfect. Then let him try to be the same the next day. But supposing he should fail in this his next day’s attempt, that is no reason why he should not succeed in doing so the third day.”
 3.  "At these moments and in other difficult situations, we must learn to control our temper and convey our feelings with patience and gentle persuasion. This is most important within our homes and within our relationships with our eternal companions. During the 31 years I’ve been married to my sweetheart, she has often given me gentle reminders of this as we have faced life’s unsettling challenges."
4. "By controlling our reactions, being calm and temperate, and avoiding contention, we will begin to qualify for the gift of meekness."

And this one may be my favorite:
5."Christ faced extreme physical and spiritual suffering, giving us the opportunity to change our spiritual character and become meek like Him.
"I bear my witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I testify to you that, thanks to His love, it is possible to change. It is possible to leave our weaknesses behind. It is possible to reject the evil influences in our lives, control our anger, become meek, and develop the attributes of our Savior. He showed us the way. He gave us the perfect example and commanded each one of us to become as He is. His invitation to us is to follow Him, follow His example, and become like Him"
There are a lot of obstacles that we face as parents.  Only one of them is the obstacle of learning how to do the job the best way we can.  But as Elder Soares stated, it is possible to change.  One of my MANY, MANY weaknesses is controlling my temper and it is something that I have been working hard to leave behind.  Meekness and Humility are the gifts I want to qualify to be blessed with.  I have often questioned what meekness is.   And this talk seems to do a good job at teaching me.  I only hope that now I can take all of the things I learned today to heart.

We often learn from others...and I would like to learn from you.  What are your best tips and tricks for controlling your tempers and staying calm in the face of angers and frustrations? Especially when those angers and frustrations come from your children who you want to teach the same thing too.

**incidentally, there are reasons I am not identifying which child I am talking about.  I am sure you can relate, but I have had incidents where my children were told of discussions that I had had with other adults and they were very hurt by the fact that I had discussed it with others.  I see no reason why anyone needs to know which child is which, but the scenario itself is evident of what happened for me this morning and I feel like it conveys my hopes much better than without it. I love my children, all of them, which all of my heart and am so proud of them each and every day. And I hope that this does not in anyway make you feel like that is not the case. They are amazing human beings that I cannot wait to see how the world is blessed by them in the future.

John 5:30: "I can of mine own self do nothing"

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