By Phyllis Rosen
Before writing this last article on parenting, I want to state something for the record:
I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!
But I didn’t always know that. There were times during their upbringing when I wasn’t convinced they were all that wonderful. Each one, in his or her own way, caused some anxiety or fear or anger. At different stages of their lives, they were not very lovable.
But you must love them anyway, and of course, deep down you do. So how do you show that love during these difficult periods? It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Here’s what my husband and I learned over the years:
1. Find just one positive thing to say each day.
When one of our kids was belligerent and prickly and almost impossible to interact with without getting into an argument, I prayed and prayed to know what to do. The answer was: Read the Book of Mormon. As I read the Book of Mormon daily, something happened to my heart. It softened. And as it softened, I realized I needed to find something positive daily about this child. As I mentioned positive things to him (which were not easy to find), I found that the tension in the home decreased.
2. Let go of the things that don’t matter.
One of our boys decided to pierce his ears. Later he grew his hair long. Both actions were not what my husband and I wanted. However, neither action was life-threatening or had eternal consequences. We finally learned that the hair and the earrings were outward evidences of inward feelings. We decided to ignore the outward and concentrate on the inner.
3. Make home a refuge.
When one child made choices that were hard for our family to live with, a neighbor came over and gave great advice. She said, “No matter what, make your home the very best place to be. Make it a safe place. If your child leaves home, you will have less influence and less opportunity to set the example.” My husband and I decided to follow that advice. We did everything we could to make our home a place where our child felt loved, safe, and accepted.
4. Have patience.
We had another child who thought someone else—other than my husband and myself—was more qualified to give guidance and direction. This frustrated me greatly. But a professional counselor told us to be patient and in time our child would figure out who really loved him or her, and would come back to us, the parents. And that was true.
5. Get professional help as needed.
One of our children got into trouble to the point that I could not live with the fear of what the long-term consequences might be. I finally went to a family counselor. The result was that he validated my feelings, especially my fears. More importantly, he helped me to figure out what I could do to alleviate the fear and move in a positive direction. We don’t have to bear every burden by ourselves. Professionals can help us get through tough times by applying their training and perspective.
6. Do all you can, then turn the rest over to Jesus Christ.
Only by turning our burdens to Jesus Christ can we get through the fear and the sorrow and the pain. When we turn our worries over to Christ, we literally feel the burden being lifted from our shoulders. This doesn’t mean that all the pain or sorrow or fear is gone. But it means we know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are aware of our situation and will guide us through it. Turning our burden over to the Savior enables us to find joy along a difficult journey.
7. Remember that time is measured to us differently than it is measured to God.
We do not have the benefit of seeing the end from the beginning. We can’t know whether our child will change tomorrow or in ten years. We need to put our trust in God and know that His timing is perfect.
8. Last of all, when your child seems unlovable, remember that this is your opportunity to develop Christ-like love.
I discovered that after I had gone through trials with less-than-lovable kids, I was much more tolerant and forgiving of others. I am a better person for having gone through the hard times. Looking back, I can see Heavenly Father’s hand, not only in my children’s lives, but in my life as well.
And now I know without a doubt, I HAVE SIX WONDERFUL CHILDREN!