It’s all fun and games until someone gets an ice-ball to the face. After an innocent snowball fight went awry, my kids came in blaming and shouting and locking each other out. I remembered learning that as a parent, or as a person for that matter, you don’t make your best decisions on the fly when you’re upset. So to buy myself some time I sent each of them to their rooms- then one to mine because they share.
Out of ideas and with my elbows on the kitchen counter I prayed, “What do I do?” I want them to stop fighting. I want them to know how to handle problems and emotions, not just settle down, pipe down, and go to their rooms.
I didn’t want to force the gospel on them but knew that if they felt the spirit, they could improve. Somehow they needed perspective.
A few years ago I was at the library and I saw someone that I thought I recognized from High school. I wasn’t sure until I saw the way she was chewing gum. That gave it away. Her unique mannerism had not changed and I knew it was her.
I thought of the man on a ski lift with Burton who, as an adult, had a condescending and bullyish way (Christmas to New Years🎄2016). Was this an acquired behavior or had he been that way since childhood and just never changed? Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Still feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing but with hopes that my kids could see the bigger picture I started putting together an an idea. I got out three pieces of paper, one for each child involved. I talked to each of them individually and gave them their assignment. I asked each child do write down the question, “What kind of person do I want to be?”
I said I wanted them to answer that question for how old they are now. Then down the left margin I skipped a few lines and wrote: in 5 years, in 10 years, in 15 years, all the way to 50 years from now. What kind of person do you want to be at all these different ages? I asked them to write the age they will be and told them that their answers couldn’t be the same one after the other, they needed to think about each one.
On the back of the paper I had written one question for them to answer. “What example in the Book of Mormon or Bible could I follow to help me reach my goal?” I instructed them to research and reference specific examples and to write about them.
They were in their rooms a while. The first two finishers were asked to go back and write more about characteristics and less about circumstances and to site specific scriptures.
One by one, they finished. The anger and hurt had evaporated from thier faces and they had a new demeanor. I was given unsolicited hugs and apologies throughout the day and something had changed.
I didn’t know how this would turn out. I so often feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, but God knows my heart and he blessed my effort. He knows these strong little men and who they can become through small steady adjustments. Today, through the spirit, they caught a glimpse too.
*If this is useful to you (which I hope it is), please like, share and follow. It’s hard, but good things are happening.
“We should not worry that we are not professionally trained gospel teachers. No training class or manual is as helpful as personally studying our scriptures, praying, pondering, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will lead you along. I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children.” – Elder Hales