Tuesday, October 14, 2014

4 Surprising Mistakes LDS Parents Make

 

Good parenting, as James E. Faust said, “Is the greatest challenge in the world.”[I] Because we know that families are eternal and central to God’s plan for us, we understand the great importance of doing our best to be good parents. It can be daunting as we try to raise righteous children in a world where evil is all around us.  With all the hustle and bustle in our lives today, it can be very easy to get distracted and lose focus on our most important priority, which is the family.  Here are four parenting mistakes to avoid as you strive to protect and strengthen your family.


1. Not Prioritizing Your Marriage


 

Marriage is not “’til death do us part,” but can be “for time and all eternity” and should be treated with this eternal perspective.  We know from prophets and apostles, as well as years of data and statistics, that a marriage – with two parents whenever possible – is the very best place to raise children.  Parents that prioritize their marriage give an example to their children that has the power to counteract any false messages on marriage and family they will receive from current culture and media. 

“Some LDS young women, who nearly always want to have children, now say they are frightened by the very concept of marriage, having picked up the message from the current environment that marriage can trap them or tie them down.  The connection between a mature marriage and raising spiritually healthy children is not as obvious to our young people as it is to older generations.  These trends have deprived many of the rising generation of a once-instinctive understanding about the influence of family lifestyle and divorce patterns on the character and behavior of children and, hence, society.”[2]

You can make your marriage a top priority by taking time to go on dates and spending time with each other, attending the temple together, looking for ways to serve your spouse, pray for each other, and making an effort to communicate and work through challenges.  Make sure you take time to have gospel discussions regularly and to end your day by kneeling and praying together. 

2. Letting Children Decide What They Want to Believe and Follow Without Giving Full Gospel Instruction

Elder D. Todd Christofferson has warned, “I have heard a few parents state that they don’t want to impose the gospel on their children but want them to make up their own minds about what they will believe and follow. They think that in this way they are allowing children to exercise their agency. What they forget is that the intelligent use of agency requires knowledge of the truth, of things as they really are.  Without that, young people can hardly be expected to understand and evaluate the alternatives that come before them.”[3]

Parents can ensure that children are having constant opportunities to learn gospel principles in the home by having daily family prayer and scripture study, weekly family home evenings, bearing your testimony to your children, and by being mindful of natural learning opportunities that come almost on a daily basis.  Remember that your example is one of the most powerful influences on your children.


3. Not Having Consistent Family Dinners


It is easy for families to become overscheduled as children are involved in extracurricular activities after school.  When time is short, one of the first things that is cut is dinner at home together and it is often replaced with fast food, eating on-the-go, or an ala carte dinner in the kitchen that kids can grab as they come and go from home.  What’s missing is that valuable time for talk, reconnection, and family time around the dinner table each evening. 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks makes reference to some recent studies on family mealtimes.  “The number of those who report that their ‘whole family usually eats dinner together’ has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together ‘eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.’ Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs. There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.”[4]

To avoid this, be aware of how your commitments will impact your family and how much time it will be taking away from being together.  On busy days, plan ahead so that dinners can be fast and easy.  There may be times when you will have to be prepared to say no to certain activities or obligations. 


4.  Keeping Your Kids in a Bubble

We have heard the phrase that we must “be in the world, but not of it.” Unfortunately, this could be misunderstood in a way that we unintentionally leave our children unprepared to face the complex challenges of this world. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained that a true disciple of Jesus Christ is innocent to sin, but not na├»ve about worldly things.[5]
David O. McKay has said, "I feel that the first contribution of the home to the happiness of the child is to impress him with the fact that there are bounds beyond which he cannot go with safety; second, to teach him to be considerate of the rights of others; third, to have him feel that home is a place where confidences and consolations are exchanged; and fourth, to have him cherish the thought that home is a haven of seclusion and rest from the worries and perplexities of life."[6]

As we teach our children, it is important to contrast what the world says versus what the Lord says. A few examples of where the Lord and the world vary greatly include: marriage, sex and sexuality, relationships, gender and gender roles, media, dating, taking care of your body, work, technology, and education.  Just shielding them from the very things we want them to avoid will not be enough.  They are going to have to have a knowledge of Satan's deceits and how best to deal with these issues so that they can better navigate themselves in the world. 

References:

[2] Covenant Hearts; Bruce C. Hafen
[3] MoralDiscipline; D. Todd Christofferson
[4] Good,Better, Best; Dallin H. Oaks
[5] TrueBelievers in Christ; Neal A. Maxwell
[6] A Parent’s Guide, David O. McKay

8 comments:

  1. Great advice! Prioritizing our children correctly is so important and can be so difficult to do!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a therapist who works with couples and families, I totally concur. Great article.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Regarding #2, I liken this to wanting your child to go to college, but never telling them about the benefits of it and letting them decide when the time comes, with no preparation for that experience. Not a perfect analogy, but I think we can see the folly of such thinking. Very good article.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This article has helped me a lot. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love it. I think you can add bring involved in community. I know the family is important but aren't we all the family of God. I know duo many families how are more focused on making sure they and themselves are taken care of but focus only on that. They forget callings, neighbors, friends, etc all to make sure or kids know we support them. Shouldn't our message be, yes soccer (or dance, piano, baseball,etc.) Is important and I want to support you but I can't come because there is a relief society activity and those sisters need support too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. # 5 would be treating your kids mistakes like they are sins. I plead guilty and would advise parents not to do this.

    ReplyDelete