Craig and I were asked to give talks in church today! Yikes! It is always a wonderful blessing and opportunity to give a talk, but it is also a bit scary. We spent the past weekend getting as prepared as we could!
Since I wrote my whole talk out, I thought I might post it here for anyone interested. I feel I found some pretty great things to share.
Being an example to our children
Good morning my dear brothers and sisters, I am grateful for this opportunity to speak to you today. For those of you who might not know us, I'll give just a very brief introduction. As an almost lifetime Alhambra resident, I basically grew up in this ward from the time I was a child, eventually leaving to go to school, serve a mission, and get married. I've now been back in the ward with my own family for the past 6 years. Craig and I live in my childhood home with my father where we all take care of each other. We are about to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary this Valentines day. We have been blessed with 3 daughters, Isabella, almost 9, Olivia, almost 7, and Cecilia going on 4. I am a stay at home mom and I home school our two older girls. Craig is a high school Spanish teacher at Centennial High School in Compton. Sooo that means. . . that if anybody knows of a Spanish teaching opening at another school, please see us after the meeting! :)
Last week, we were taught about our perfect example, Jesus Christ.
Today, Craig and I have been asked to talk about "being an example to our children." I find this to be an extremely important topic as it is something I literally am every day, every moment: An example to my children.
Every day, every moment, no matter what, we are examples to our children. Everything single thing we do is seen by our children, good or bad. If we speak kindly, they see it. If we speak harshly, they see it. If we are patient, they see it, if we are angry, they see it. If we are loving and forgiving, they see it. They learn these attributes from us, from our example.
Children imitate us no matter what. Have you ever heard your kids use words that you use and then feel a little shocked at how it sounds? For example, we might say "Oh, I hate doing laundry!" to a friend, and then later, when we hear our kids use the word "hate," it can sound pretty harsh. Especially coming from a three year old! That is a perfect illustration of how children learn from and imitate what they see and hear from us. So we need to be on our best behavior! Because whether we like it or not, we are ALWAYS setting an example.
Thinking about this, I was reminded of a beautiful poem written by Amanda Cater that illustrates this well, called "If a Child"
IF A CHILD....
If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 93, verse 40 the Lord says “I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”
Also in the Doctrine and Covenants, in section 68, verse 28, we read "and they shall also teach their children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord."
In "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" we read: "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."
From these scriptures and the proclamation we can see that, it is truly our sacred duty to set the right example for our children.
Recently, I was singing the words to "I am a Child of God" and rather than thinking of myself being the child of God, which I guess I've always done, I was thinking of a child singing it to her parents, and how the song is literally a child pleading with her parents to teach her and lead her. Listen to the words, and imagine your own child asking you to lead and guide them and help them find the way.
I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
If we are blessed to be parents, we certainly must lead, guide, help and teach our children all that they must do so that we all can return to live with our Heavenly Father someday.
I really liked an Ensign article by Ruth B. Wright, a former counselor in the general primary presidency, called "Teaching Children to walk uprightly before the Lord"
"What does it mean to walk uprightly before the Lord? The word upright is defined as honest, honorable, straightforward. Thus, to walk uprightly, our children need to choose to live in an honest, honorable, straightforward manner. Children who understand and live the gospel today can walk with assurance and joy and someday will enter the presence of the Lord, walking uprightly.
Sometimes it isn’t easy as parents to teach our children. Sometimes we make mistakes. Our children may react with opposition to what we are teaching them. As parents, we should keep our desire to do our best, constantly show our love, and not blame ourselves if our children choose another way."
She goes on to say: "In our efforts to help our children desire to walk uprightly before the Lord, we can ask ourselves three questions:
One: What do we teach our children? It is essential that we teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The scriptures are the main source to help us teach our children to walk uprightly.
Question two: Where do we teach our children? The best place to teach our children the gospel is in our homes. We can provide a safe, comfortable environment for them so they can feel free to learn and to develop their own personal testimonies.”
We teach our children everywhere we are with them. We have opportunities many times a day to teach them as we walk together, drive in the car, work side by side, kneel in prayer, talk at the dinner table and even while changing diapers!
Question three: How do we teach our children? We teach by example. Our children will learn far more by observing us walk uprightly than any other way. We teach children to walk uprightly a step at a time, over and over again.
Our children respond best when taught with respect and love. In the eighth chapter of Moroni, the prophet Mormon has written a letter giving counsel to his son, Moroni, and expresses his devotion to his son: “My beloved son, Moroni, . . . I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through … grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end” (Moro. 8:2–3). When our children first know they are loved, they are more likely to listen and be taught.
Our children will be more able to survive the challenges that will come to them when they know and understand that keeping God’s commandments can bring them peace and joy in their lives and enable them to walk uprightly."
Sister Wright ends her talk by sharing the words to the song "How dear to God are little Children"
How dear to God are little children;
With him their spirit life began.
So priceless their security,
Their innocence and purity;
They are a part of his eternal plan.
To earthly parents God sends children
To guide and teach, protect and love.
Oh, let us keep the sacred trust
That he has placed with each of us
And help to guide them back to God above.
I made a list of things we should be good examples of and hopefully we are all (myself included) striving towards this:
Make sure that as a family you:
Have morning and evening family prayer, have family scripture study, and have Family Home Evening. Strive to have dinner and as many meals as possible together. Bring your children to all meetings regularly. Make sure and attend ward and stake activities. Strive to take your children to visit someone who is sick, or lonely. Strive to help those in need by taking meals to them, or supplying whatever help they need, child care, care with their home, helping people move, etc. Strive to possibly have your children be a part of this help.
Make sure your children see you having your own personal prayer, having personal scripture study, bearing your testimony, fulfilling callings, such as preparing lessons, preparing for an activity making posters or visual aids. Make sure you are attending the Temple regularly and that they know that going there is special and important. Let your children see you pay your tithing faithfully and help them to pay theirs. Make sure to fast monthly and help children that are old enough to fast too. Make sure your children see you going to do your home teaching and visiting teaching. Make sure that your children are given priesthood blessings when needed and let all the family hear it and be a part of it. Also, teach your children the importance of living within our means. Pray for your children and make sure they hear you praying for them. Along with this, teach your children to say "I'm sorry." Teach them that we all need to repent, even us parents.
Perhaps most important and not as easy, is to make sure that you teach your children to speak kindly, to use a soft voice, and not to use harsh words. We need to teach them to be patient and loving with each other and not fight. I think this behavior is especially taught by our example.
We also need to show our children that we are HAPPY to live the gospel and follow the commandments!
I'm personally grateful for the example my own parents set for me and my siblings. My parents were wonderful and lived what they taught us. I can't think of better examples of service than them. When they had a calling, they magnified it. They taught me to pray, read the scriptures, fast, pay tithing, attend meetings diligently, (pretty much everything I've already mentioned!) They weren't perfect, but my parents LIVED what they believed. To this day, at 76, and not even in perfect health, my dad is a high councilman and diligently goes to his meetings and gives the talks he is assigned to do. He is still an example to me of magnifying his calling!
And just this past Christmas, I remembered a wonderful example that my mother, (who has now been gone for almost 5 years,) set for me back when we were young. I remember going to go visit a family of people in need on Christmas Eve and taking them food and other things. I think we might have basically brought them their entire Christmas and I remember that it felt really good to help them. For probably all of the Christmases I've had with my kids, we've always just stayed home on Christmas eve and had a nice dinner together as a family. So, this past Christmas, I remembered my mom's example and decided to start a tradition of taking things to people as the spirit inspired on Christmas eve, rather than just staying at home. We made a few deliveries to various people that we love and it felt very good.
Another thing I thought I should mention about my mom, is that when I broke her heart and went through a period of rebelliousness and inactivity, she NEVER GAVE UP ON ME. She exercised faith, prayed non-stop for me, and put my name on the Temple roll consistently. I know these things helped me to come back into the church and I know I was blessed because of her faith and pleadings. My mom was a great example of faith.
To close, I want to share this quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from his talk called "A Prayer for the Children" He says:
"Live the gospel as conspicuously as you can. Keep the covenants your children know you have made. Give priesthood blessings. And bear your testimony! Don’t just assume your children will somehow get the drift of your beliefs on their own. The prophet Nephi said near the end of his life that they had written their record of Christ and preserved their convictions regarding His gospel in order “to persuade our children … that our children may know … [and believe] the right way.”
Nephi-like, might we ask ourselves what our children know? From us? Personally? Do our children know that we love the scriptures? Do they see us reading them and marking them and clinging to them in daily life? Have our children ever unexpectedly opened a closed door and found us on our knees in prayer? Have they heard us not only pray with them but also pray for them out of nothing more than sheer parental love? Do our children know we believe in fasting as something more than an obligatory first-Sunday-of-the-month hardship? Do they know that we have fasted for them and for their future on days about which they knew nothing? Do they know we love being in the temple, not least because it provides a bond to them that neither death nor the legions of hell can break? Do they know we love and sustain local and general leaders, imperfect as they are, for their willingness to accept callings they did not seek in order to preserve a standard of righteousness they did not create? Do those children know that we love God with all our heart and that we long to see the face—and fall at the feet—of His Only Begotten Son? I pray that they know this."
I pray that we all, myself included, can be the examples to our children that we should be so that we can "teach them all that they must do" to live with our Father in heaven someday.