Saturday, September 27, 2014

How to Be a Good Parent -aka- Yelling Doesn't Work

"Kids!  Come set the table for dinner!"  My voice rang out across the house.  Two of the four came quickly and got to work while I turned to switch the clothes in the nearby laundry room.

A moment later a loud "CRASH!" grabbed my attention back to the kitchen.  Primus had one Corelle plate in her hand and one shattered at her feet and spread all around the room.  Corelle is supposed to be durable, but not when it's dropped on its edge onto tile. 

My focus instantly moved from Primus' statue-still pose to Secundus' scared face and to her shifting feet.  "STOP!"  I yelled.  She continued to inch away from the mess and towards the door, unknowingly right by several small shards.


Not matter how many times I yelled or how loud, I could not overpower her natural fight-or-flight reaction. The yelling probably even made it worse.  I thank God that she did eventually stop and that she managed to miss all the dangerous glass fragments all around her.

Sadly, I yell too much.  I sometimes feel like if I could just yell louder, what I want to happen will happen.  I imagine my words exiting my mouth like spreading hands, grabbing the child, and making her obey.

Surely doing this with my voice is better than doing it with my physical hands, right?  Nope.

Coercion is still coercion, whether by force or other means.  Taking away someone's agency is not in God's plan.  Making someone obey is not the way to inspire independence and a love of righteousness.

In Doctrine and Covenants section 121 Heavenly Father gives us a great, concise manual of sorts for how to be a good parent:

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

Gentleness and meekness?  Gotta work on those ones for sure! 
Verse 43-44 describe the best way to discipline:
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

I've definitely got the "with sharpness" part down.  It's that pesky little "increase of love afterwards" part that needs some work.

I don't want to yell at my kids anymore.  I want to be more kind.  I want to be more loving.  I want to be more patient.  I want to teach my children how to do things, make good choices, and be safe instead of forcing them.

Maybe I'll have this parenting-thing perfected by the time I have grandkids!

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