Thursday, September 13, 2007

Part 2: The Base

When we think about it, Heavenly Father never argues with anyone. He does not debate. He sets a certain standard and expects us to follow that standard. When we choose to disobey there is an established consequence already in place that follows. The same is true for obedience, there are set rewards for obedience and we receive those rewards according to our obedience to Heavenly Father. This is a great example for us to follow as we parent our children.

Heavenly Father allows us the opportunity to grow and learn, to repent and change. We can take advantage of this gift each time we make a mistake and try to better ourselves immediately. Heavenly Father recognizes the person who is trying to repent. He forgives our mistakes and helps us to listen better to the Spirit, which will help us to choose more wisely our thoughts, actions and words.

Teaching children to understand the process of agency is important. Many times members of the church refer to this as “free agency”. It is true we are “free” to choose, however agency comes with rewards and consequences. We can choose the act, but not the reward or consequence.

Our thoughts lead our words and actions. Helping children to understand they think about their choices before they act is vital to their becoming aware of their agency and their own responsibility. Reminding them that they are constantly choosing for themselves will help them accept the rewards and consequences for their chosen behaviors. Re-enforcing good behavior is always preferred, however children must also have boundaries and understand with clarity when they have crossed over those boundaries.

Little children learn very early on what “yes” and “no” mean. If they can say “no” they understand its’ meaning well enough to begin practicing obedience.

As children grown in understanding they can be taught that only Heavenly Father can refuse to forgive; we are commanded to forgive all. However, when things become very serious, Heavenly Father will remove someone from the group – kind of like “time out”, to keep the group safe from harm. In society, when adults behave badly, in a very serious way, they too are removed from the group and set apart so that they do not harm anyone in the group. This kind of “time out” is called “jail” or “prison”. Their agency is taken away and someone with the proper authority chooses for them. In both of these examples there are times when the person who has behaved badly will repent and be brought back into the group, forgiven and allowed to live, choosing for themselves again. In other cases, when they have behaved so badly they do not repent, they will sit in a "time out" and not be allowed to make their own decisions. They lose their agency because they have not made enough correct decisions. They do not live with their families, friends, or get to leave “time out”.

In our homes children need to understand clearly the boundaries Heavenly Father has set and the ones that we as a family have set. Children need consistency so they can choose correctly each time and know what to expect.

Children need to understand the difference between discipline and punishment. A disciplined child will be educated, love learning, be obedient and eventually live the standards necessary for acceptance into adult society, clubs, etc. and if a member of the church -a temple recommend. Discipline is a gift, most times without tangible rewards. Children will need help recognizing these rewards as they come along. Constant reminders of “hidden” rewards for a disciplined life will help them appreciate rules and boundaries that help them towards goals.

Hidden rewards can be earning good grades, being the good friend, finishing projects, helping others, etc.

Hopefully as we train ourselves to be better parents, our children will become self-disciplinarians and the parent role can evolve (around year 18!) from caregiver and teacher to adviser and friend. “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” – Joseph Smith

add to sk*rt


Maren said...

This is wonderful! I have already learned much from you about parenting. I am feeling like I am growing into the role of mother more all the time. I look forward to reading more. Thanks for passing your wisdom on.

s'mee said...

Maren, wow. You totally humble me. I'm not anywhere near being the mom I should have been. I guess that us why I am writing this *now* lol. I glad you like it, that means a lot to me.

The Pea said...

Smee, Thank you for this! You always do tend to inspire me to be a better person. I love you so much for that!

s'mee said...'re too nice. Thanks. : >

up next...FHE!

Lisa M. said...

I love this- it should be published somewhere.

*very big smile*

s'mee said...

You are vert sweet to me Lisa.