This post was originally written a while ago, but I recently re-read it. I was saddened to read about my insights that I’d largely forgotten about. I realized the Lord was still trying to teach me about using ‘silences’ appropriately in my parenting. This new year, of 2014, I want to show the Lord I care about what He’s trying to teach me, by re-reading the insights and helps he’s bumped me into. Perhaps then I will actually learn the information He is trying to teach me. Here is the recent quote on effectively using silences, that He has helped me to notice.
“… We may come to know him through the words he spoke, through the deeds he did, and also through his silences. We may know him also by the impression which he made first upon his friends and secondly upon his foes, and thirdly upon the general body of his contemporaries…” Elder L. Tom Perry Finding Lasting Peace, October General Conference 2014.
This of course leads us to the question, when did Jesus use silences, and how? This is the question I go forward with to study out for myself.
And here is the 2009 post:
(…This picture is upside down! Stand onyour head to look at it.)
Does it HAVE to be me????
YES!!!! I told the Engineer things were just not working with parenting and that I couldn’t bear doing homeschool and being with the children this much anymore. What if instead of building them I was damaging relationships? I felt like I was in Chinese torture, and I would be patient time after time, and then after so many patient, holding back episodes I would get snappy, and occasionally say something I regretted, like using labeling words such as ‘brat’, or ‘ungrateful’. It seemed an exasperated raised voice was occurring nearly everyday which didn’t feel good to feel uncontrolled and to feel like a bad mother. Fortunately saying some label was occurring very occasionally, but the work involved was giving me majorly tight shoulders every single day which gave the Engineer sore fingers in rubbing my back!
I didn’t want to let go of my idea to homeschool my children till third grade. One of the children was coming home extremely stressed and demanding after social situations and I felt they needed extra coaching and guidance to help them be successful. I had prayed about it many times and felt very right about this decision for the children, and felt right that this child in particular, needed to enjoy the safety and coaching of a mother’s arms to prepare them for the worldly challenges ahead. I felt it best to strengthen them till they were ready to stand on her own two feet. But then I felt this snapping point and thought, this has to be about me, and I don’t want to be with the children this much.
I realized something had to change. I knew that I was already using a lot of help from the Lord so I didn’t see how it could be me. That night I woke up at 2:30 and I had an impression. I needed to do the twelve step program, you know AA, or Over Eater’s Anonymous. So I started on step one : I am helpless in this problem and COMPLETELY need the Lord, from LDS Family Services, Addiction Recovery Program. Luckily, I studied it and then went back to sleep.
That morning on my run, I plead on my run to forgive and thus erase all resentment in my mind I held for unmet, unreasonable expectations. .
As I studied the scriptures, the Lord told me “and lo, I will be with them even to the END.”
“And he who is FAITHFUL shall overcome all things…” I knew that if I kept turning to the Lord in this weakness of always keeping calm, the Lord would help me overcome.
During the day the Lord gave me an impression that was so beautiful and helpful. He told me that he is so easily able to love us in our most repetitive weaknesses, because, beyond feeling our magnificent worth, also, he saw us much past the weakness, he saw us as getting past and over the problems, he saw us eternally. I realized I could see my children as grateful and happy, really and truly, that they would be someday, and that difficulties were only a temporary working through an aberration to their true, future characters. That thought was a powerful thing for me, and I know that it would help me not think things, that could come out in unkind labels of their ownly temporary behavior, if I never even viewed them as as such things as unhappy, ungrateful, etc.
Yesterday I did some more writing in Step 1. Weakness is a tender mercy of the Lord? Yes, I realized the Lord gives us weakness in addition to having weakness from lack of experience and that it is our strength and our gift, so we would not let ourselves be alone and isolated, that by feeling weak and needing help, we would use the help of other people inspired by the Lord, and more especially receive help from our God. This weakness is a beautiful gift given so that we can be connected. Connecting with the power of the atonement and Christ’s grace, gives us giant ability that given our amount of experience and skills, we could never achieve with out him. If we weren’t weak, we wouldn’t feel the need to connect, and be able to become so much bigger than we feasibly could be alone. Our children need us, we need inspired mentors, friends and parents, and most especially, our God whom we are connected to through our Savior who mediates between our lack of perfection, so that we can unite with our Heavenly Father. Essentially, we all need each other. Together, united in God and teaching our strengths to others, we are strong.
Facing this conflict head on with admitting I need utter help from God is the only way. Public or private schooling would not provide just time away, it would also add other pressures. The problems I had, would not go away, but perhaps be just amplified and even compacted, during other times of the day. Though well intentioned teachers might be perfectly patient all day long with my children, they wouldn’t have the moments of pure love that build over all, far more than generally neutral feelings a teacher would imbue to the child. Instead, I needed to face my biggest demons, head on, to be able to successfully follow the answers God has given us for right now in our journey.
Listening to a parenting book on tape called Smart Love, I realized that those weakened moments of fatigue and etc. shouldn’t be sweated over, because they are the exception, not the rule. Like a beautiful tapestry with a few hanging strings doesn’t ruin the art piece. I believe this to be true, most graciously, also, because I believe in the power of the atonement to heal, but in doing our part, I feel we can hold our children in our arms more, spend more time with them, praise, approve and cherish them more as part of either healing, or building, and I know the Lord will continue to guide me.
In The Chosen, Danny Saunders does not speak to his son. When I read this, I thought how sad and abusive this treatment was, but on looking a little deeper, I believe that small focused silences can be used effectively in parenting. No, never to ignore the child, let me explain. I can be temporarily silent in those moments when I am feeling any type of emotion with my children’s behavior, instead of using words when I am feeling highly emotional, I can first make sure that the children are safe from any danger their conflict might pose, while I choose the best words to respond with in accordance with their behavior. I can give myself some time to think of the most appropriate response. I can tell them, I will talk about this more a little bit later so they don’t feel ignored. When I have enough time to think of gentle correction, guidance, etc, I won’t have used words when my brain looses its keen deducing powers due to the emotions of the situation. We all know that when we speak immediately, we may squabble out labels, ranting, or disparaging words that the children could attach to their own self worth. Picture if a child is having a fit. A parent could say something sarcastic, frustrated, less effective, or even unkind. Making sure the child is safe, but waiting to speak a parent can give the child some space for both parent and child to work out their feelings. This message about using silence was reaffirmed to me on Sunday during the lesson, when we studied Robert D. Hale’s talk on showing Christian courage in times of opposition. We decided as a group that sometimes saying nothing was the best thing possible.
I am committing to study and thereby learn from the parents, friends and mentors God puts in my path to help me. I am learning in ‘Smart Love,’ what is developmentally appropriate for each age, as well as why children may have a hard time experiencing joy, and thus why they might complain in those moments you are doing your best to serve them. This can be created partly from our own discipline which they read as perfect love, and so they feel that to feel loved is to feel punished. Ouch. I can do better. I can love more, and I can discipline better! I can learn!
We are going to hold hands into the eternities with our children. They will help me, and I will help them, and together we will learn. I will change through more humility and more openness to learning, and humility will help me tap into the grace of our Lord who is so ready to help the penitent and teachable. More learning will help me not only preserve these infinitely important relationship, but I will be privileged to help my children blossom as most intriguing and contributing citizens, who give love, friendship, strength to others who bring out the worth and beauty of others. I will take each day step by step, and will try to listen closely as the Lord guides me to what will be best for my children. I will seek to hold the Lord’s hand tightly.