BLOG: JAN 17-23, MOSES 6 “Teach these things freely unto your children”
As a parent, I find myself being amazed by the perfectness of the Plan of Salvation over and over again. Heavenly Father’s work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and Eternal Life. He wants us to be like Him. He’s a perfect individual, a perfect parent. Oh the things we learn from being parents, from teaching children in general! I used to think that I had gotten over the anger issues that I so easily succumbed to when I was a kid, but since having my five daughters, I’ve since learned that I still need to work on it (🤦♀️🙄). Oh the naivety of youth! How innocent and beautiful our children are (when they aren’t destroying our houses and making huge messes); they definitely Ether 12:27 (can I use that as a verb?) me everyday, showing me my weakness and what not. But, there isn’t a better environment for learning to be like Him than in the family. I’m not saying that’s the only place to learn to be like Him, but it’s surely the best. Being a parent specifically (or in a leadership position with children if you’re not yet a parent) is the best way to become more Christlike. A short list of some of the ways we become like Christ through parenting and/or discipling children:
Learn what love is and how to love on a deeper level
Learn to be more self-sacrificing
Learn to be more patient!
Learn to be more empathic
Learn to be more giving
Learn to lead by example
Learn more peaceful conflict-resolution skills
Learn to be a better communicator
Now that’s a pretty short list, but it’s a good start. I encourage you to add to it and to share it with your children. Let them know how they’re helping you to be more like Christ.
We feel this innate responsibility as parents to teach our children. It’s natural, and a part of the Plan of Salvation. Our Heavenly Father also has this same desire - to help His children learn and grow. We can learn lots about Him by how He interacts with us and how He interacted with those in the scriptures.
When Jesus was on the earth, He led and continues to lead by example. We need to do likewise with those in our stewardship - whether it’s a biological stewardship or otherwise. We need to disciple our children, not just discipline them.
Sometimes I want to force my children to bend to my will. “Go get dressed now.” “You have to practice the violin before you can go out to play.” etc. That’s man’s way (Satan’s to be exact) not God’s way. I know this in my head, but it must not have fully sunk into my heart because I keep doing it. And to top it all off, I have good reasons for doing it too!
I know better
I want what’s best for them
I’m the mother, and mother knows best (queue the Disney song!)
One question we can ask ourselves is why we want them to behave or act a certain way. Is it to bring ease and glory to myself? “Oh you’re such a good mother!” or is it to benefit them?
In Moses 6:15, it says that Satan has “dominion” and “raged in their hearts.” Sometimes it feels like he has dominion over my heart and the hearts of my children when they fight - I only get to choose how I react though. Part of my choice is the invitation I send out with my words, actions, and body language. What invitations am I sending out through my actions? Am I inviting the other person to react defensively because my words are accusatory or abrasive? Am I inviting the other person to react calmly because of how I’m choosing to approach the situation? The Gospel of Christ is a gospel of invitations. Jesus is always inviting us to “come unto [Him], all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and [He] will give [us] rest” (Matt 11:28). I definitely feel that labor and heavy laden part when my children are once again fighting for the umpteeth time that day and when the 7 year old downright refuses to be obedient.
Continuing on with verse 15 it says, “A man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power” Isn’t it always about seeking power? The natural man wants to have power over others. I would submit that this is the foundation of all negative interactions with others. Are my actions seeking to have power over my children or am I seeking to invite them to come unto Christ? Some of the ways that I’ve noticed I seek to have power over my girls include, all while having good reasons for doing it of course
Make them clean up
Make them go to bed
Make them apologize
Make them do chores I’ve assigned
Notice the “make them” in that list. The Lord’s way is different, and He never seeks to “make us” do anything. Some of His ways are listed conveniently for us in D&C 121: persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, and kindness. Which way is my go-to? Which one do I find myself reverting back to in times of perceived crisis (like when my house is a disaster and I want my girls to help me clean it up before company comes over, or when I’m stressed for whatever reason and decide that the toy room, the backyard, or whatever needs to be organized and cleaned right then). There are plenty of times when my actions are more of the forceful kind - I haven’t reached perfection yet. I’m grateful to my Savior for paying the price and giving me space for me to learn, grow, and try again. Just like I try to give my children the space to learn, grow, and try again when their actions and behavior are less than they ought to be.
Moses 6:23 says, “they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men [their own children and the other children of God they interacted with], everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men.” It’s natural for us humans to want to impart our wisdom and knowledge when we see others struggling. We’re social creatures and want to help a fellow human out! When Alma was going to teach the Zoramites (who were making bad choices even though they knew better!), he teaches us that “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just - yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword [force!], or anything else [...] it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” We need to be a little more like Joseph Smith and “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” We can’t make their choices for them, but we can talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach and prophesy of Christ, so that our children may know to what source we look to and they may look to for a remission of our sins (2 Nephi 25:26). I’ve noticed that when my focus is on Christ it’s easier for me to choose His way rather than my own natural man’s way. My love for my children is greater in the trying moments and I’m much more likely to react in patience because I have the peace of Christ in my heart rather than a heart at war with them.
Elder Holland teaches us that “our children take their flight into the future with our thrust and ith our aim. And even as we anxiously watch that arrow in flight and know all the evils that can deflect its course after it has left our hand, nevertheless we take courage in remembering that the most important mortal factor in determining that arrow’s destination will be the stability, strength, and unwavering certainty of the holder of the bow.” That seems rather daunting that so much rides on our shoulders. But we’re not alone. Adam and Eve received further instructions and so can we. Heavenly Father loves our children more than we do; He’s extended more effort on their behalf than we have. So even though we aren’t perfect, we can know perfect things: He loves us, He loves our children, He knows us and our struggles, He’s available to help us and does help us, we just have to get out of our own way and let Him.