My Children have taught me so very much about raising them. It was 46 years ago today at 4 AM that I got a call from Gretchen telling me that our Firstborn Son had come into the world at 1:19 AM. She was in Provo living with her parents and I was in the Air Force in Denver, Colorado. I was so proud and so excited to meet him, which didn’t happen for two more weeks, when I came home for Christmas for three days. It was February before I saw him again when I was assigned to go to Castle Air Force Base and we moved to Merced, California. I was amazed how much he had grown. He seemed to go from a baby to a little boy in a couple of months. One of the first things he taught me was that a baby sometimes is not happy to be quiet and hold still in church. When he became restless and began to fuss, I took him out in the foyer and was going to spank him and immediately had the impression, “What are you doing to My little Boy?” as if Heavenly Father was asking me. “You need to just Love Him!” That was my first lesson in patience and believe me there were many lessons to follow. Now he is the Bishop of his ward and sometimes he admits he still feels restless having to sit still through church, but he does and He is a great Bishop. He was the first of eight wonderful children and it was good he came first because he taught me so much. It became easier to raise the others because of all the experiences he taught me. He had so much energy and curiosity. He had come to earth to learn everything he could about everything and as his parents, it was our responsibility to give him the opportunity to learn through doing.
I often would look at each of our children as a newborn baby and ask them, “Who are you?” “What do you know about our relationship when we lived with Heavenly Father that I have forgotten?” I wanted to be the best Dad I could be to these spirit brothers and sisters that Heavenly Father had entrusted to my stewardship. As I dealt with different situations in parenting, I will be the first to admit that I did not always do it right, but the thought would come to mind, “Ok. How would Jesus handle this situation?” Sometimes I did it right and sometimes I wish I had done it right? I believe I learned a lot from experience.
Somewhere in my studies I read that Joseph Smith was asked how he had such a peaceful community in Nauvoo. His answer was something to the effect, “I teach them correct principles and allow them to govern themselves.” I recognized that this was the same plan that Christ presented in the Grand Council in Heaven. Christ proposed that he would: 1. Set an example for us how to live with a physical body here on Earth, 2. Teach us correct principles, His Gospel, and 3. Allow us to govern ourselves, Agency.
And if we make mistakes He would atone for each of us. God loved Christ’s plan!! I realized this is the plan to teach our Children. First, We need to set an example for our Children how to live here on Earth. Second, Teach them correct principles. How will they know honesty, integrity and love if we don’t teach them? Third, Allow them to govern themselves. Agency to choose, must be very important to our Heavenly Father, for in the Grand Council he allowed his spirit children to choose which plan they would follow and one-third of his spirit children did not follow the plan He loved.
Even with a good example and correct teachings, our children may make poor choices but they stand a much better chance of making good choices if there is an example and correct teachings. The opportunity to choose is vital for them. How righteous is a person that is forced to be good as opposed to how righteous is a person that chooses to be good? When they get the first opportunity to rebel, they will with vengeance!
Don’t follow Lucifer’s plan and try to force your children to be perfect. “Because I said so!” is not the Lord’s Plan. Help your children understand why we make a particular choice and it may simply be, “Because I love you and have more experience in how to deal with this situation.” My experience has been, if you be what you want your children to be–teaching them properly, they will make the right choices. If they don’t, at some point they will come back. Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22: 6 May you enjoy raising your Children as I have using Christ’s plan.