by - October 06, 2013

“You can’t force your boys, nor your girls into heaven.  You may force them to hell, by using harsh means in the efforts to make them good… Our children are like we are; we couldn’t be driven; we can’t be driven now…  We won’t be driven.  Men are not in the habit of being driven; they are not made that way.”
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church
Joseph F. Smith, p.253 

Relationships in general are tricky. The relationship with your parents is downright hard.

I love my mom. I love her to death. But it wasn't always that way. And I'll be honest, my dad and I have a hard time getting along sometimes. But our relationship is good.

I could probably give you a list on how to help your relationship with your parents. But today, my thoughts are more on what their job is.

Let me tell you a secret.

Your mom and dad have only a slight idea of what they are doing the first time. And if they tell you that by the time they get to you, they "have it down," they are lying.

Because no one is perfect. And I know plenty of parents who have had lots of experience. They're still not perfect.  

My best friend is one of the most amazing people I know. Let's call him Peter (he will probably show up quite a bit).   Let's paint a picture of my best friend Peter.

He's one of those kids that has a shining personality. He truly cares about you. The only problem is that it is often on his terms. I'll have to admit—he's waging a battle against selfishness.

But THAT is my point. He is FIGHTING a battle. His parents often make the mistake of pushing him too hard. Yes, this is something that he should learn. But maybe if you believed more in his good qualities and focused more on his ability to GROW, then he would live up to your expectations. And I don't think he knows true love, because he is so rarely shown it. This is an amazing Son of God. He deserves better.

"You really shouldn't think I'm so amazing," he said to me a week ago.   I shook my head, "People live up to the expectation those closest to them hold." My heart broke a bit that his own parents couldn't show that they believe in him. I know they do. But why couldn't they show it?

"So no, Peter," I continued, "I'm going to keep believing you're amazing, and hopefully you will live up to that belief."

Please, begin thinking NOW about how you are going to treat your kids. Make a list. Because these are important things. And I'm 18 now and hardly know what's ahead of me. But I could have a family in the next 10 years. I want to do it right.

Here's mine.
  • Show them I believe in them in my words and actions. 
  • TRUST them. Yeah, sometimes they will let me down. But if you communicate your disappointment and have predetermined, appropriate discipline in place, it will get better. But always let them know you believe in their abilities.   
  • Praise their good qualities. Don't let your praise be a segway into a "what you can do better" speech all the time. Sometimes. But not the majority of the time.   
  • Reward behavior I want to see repeated. In a meaningful way, I might add.   
  • Be their biggest cheerleader.    
  • Never raise your voice. If you are angry, your discipline will be unfair and they WILL lose respect for you. No matter how upset you are, you always have a responsibility to treat others with respect.   
  • Read to them.  
  • Teach them to understand true principles of kindness and love.
  • Don't ever use your anger as an excuse to physically discipline them. Ever. 

“Sometimes discipline, which means ‘to teach,’ is confused with criticism. Children—as well as people of all ages—improve behavior from love and encouragement more than from fault-finding.”
Susan W. Tanner
Young Women General President
2003 General Conference

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