30 March 2014

Parenting Article

At church on Sundays Michael and I have started taking a "Marriage & Family Relations" class with a handful of other couples that will last for several weeks.  So far we have enjoyed the lessons and discussions. I thought that the reading material to prepare for this week's lesson was very thought provoking. 

Lesson 4: Responding to Challenges in Marriage, Marriage & Family Relations class manual, https://www.lds.org/manual/marriage-and-family-relations-participants-study-guide/part-a-strengthening-marriages/lesson-4-responding-to-challenges-in-marriage?lang=eng

The majority of this lesson is from "Agency and Anger," an article by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Quorum of the Seventy. 

In the article he said, "Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose!"

And he quoted the following scripture: “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Nephi 11:29–30).

The lesson manual makes the following suggestion: "Make a commitment to respond to challenges patiently and lovingly rather than angrily. Decide on something you can do that will frequently remind you of this commitment. For example, you could put a coin or other small item in your shoe or keep a note to yourself in your pocket."

I don't know about putting a pebble in my shoe, but this left me thinking about what I could do to help myself remember and act upon a commitment to respond with kindness instead of impatience or anger. 

In our marriage, although we do sometimes have disagreements or arguments (and I know I could try harder to put Michael's feelings ahead of my own pride, even when I feel I'm right, to try to help with this). But overall I feel like our relationship is very good. 

But what I kept thinking about when I read this lesson is my interactions with my children. If I could choose any one thing to improve in my life, it would be that we as parents could respond to our children with more patience and kindness, rather than getting frustrated, losing patience, yelling, or acting angry (no matter how frustrating our child's behavior might be).  

With 5 little boys our house is full, active, fun, loud, and sometime crazy. Our boys play really well together, and like any group of children they sometimes fight together too. And on days when this feels like it's happening too much, I sometimes find myself being less and less patient with them, and yelling too much, as if I think they will listen to me better if my voice is louder. I know it isn't right to get angry with them (and that it doesn't make sense to get angry at them because they have gotten angry at each other). But some days I get to the point that it just seems like it doesn't take much for me to lose my patience with them. 

At different times over the years Michael or I (or both of us) have made extra effort to respond with patience, or to have unemotional reactions to our kids' negative behavior.  And when we do well with this, it makes a big difference in the general happiness in our home. It doesn't necessarily change how well our boys behave, but if we as parents can react well to their behavior we all feel better.  

And last night I was at a church meeting where we sang a song that I've heard hundreds of times during my life, and the last line in the song says, "Teach me all that I must do to live with him [God] someday."
"I Am A Child Of God" Hymn 301, https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/i-am-a-child-of-god?lang=eng
And it just really stood out to me at that point, after reading this lesson earlier that day about responding to situations with kindness instead of anger, that this is one way that God is teaching us what we must do to live with Him and to live together again with our family after this life. 

And that this is something that CAN be done. Maybe it can't be done perfectly, every single time, but just getting to the point where I am reacting to my children with kindness most of the time would make a big difference in our home. I am going to work on this and try to come up with some more ideas (like the pebble in the shoe suggestion) to remind myself. I know that the lesson in our class today is going to be focused more on marriage relationships than relationships between parents and their children, but I'm still hoping that maybe in our class today some of the other couples will help with suggestions on good ways to do this too. 

1 comment:

Hang Turner said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I really really like that quote "Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose!"