Today I want to take the time to look at some of the questions I asked myself writing yesterday’s post:
- Looking at my belief systems, are they serving me well or not?
- What is the roll that rules play in motherhood? A right way and a wrong way? And how could I know?
Belief System that will NOT serve me well: There is an absolute right way to raise my children, and an absolute wrong way. The is a right meal we should be feeding our children, there is a right way to handle a temper tantrum, there is a right bedtime. And if I don’t do it the right way, then I am doing it the wrong way. It’s a check-list mentality. It’s a succeed/fail mentality.
Belief System that will better serve me and serve my family: I am to love God. I am to love others. I am to love myself. And He was give me everything I need to do those things. He wants me to succeed, but possibly more than that, He wants me to try. He wants me to learn by experience, so that I can not only have what He has, but be what He is.
Let’s practice this principle on a real-life challenge from our past, namely, getting our toddlers to sit through church.
Belief System that will NOT serve me well: There is a right way for a toddler to behave at church. Arms folded. Body still. Mouth closed. And if that is not what is happening – if he is not doing it that way, then he is doing is the wrong way.
Okay, there is SO much wrong with that, right? First glaring problem is this: I can control what I teach, my thoughts, my feelings, my actions, but I cannot control his thoughts, his feelings, and I certainly cannot control his actions. Second glaring problem, a young toddler does not have the ability to do all those things, simultaneously, for any length of time. It is not in their God-given natures. Third, if I am hung up on there being a right way and a wrong way, there is no room for learning by experience. I set myself up for failure. I set the child up for failure. I set those around me who may be trying to follow our “perfect” example up for failure.
Belief System that will better serve me and serve my family: I love God, so I bring my child to church to supplement what I have taught him at home about God. I love my boy – he is 100% lovable, just the way he is, and sitting at church is an opportunity to express to him that love in a different way than I may get day-in and day-out at home. I love me, and I am grateful to myself for getting my family to church. I am doing those things that I am commanded to do. And I am learning from the Spirit how to best do these things.
First, Bryant and I gathered data.
DATA: Which part of the meeting is the most difficult for our son to sit through? What are the distractions? What are his needs?
PLAN: We made a plan that made sense to us – we brought stickers to church, let him choose a favorite, then we stuck it to the pew and asked him to keep his bottom on that sticker during the most difficult time in the meeting – the 70 minute Sacrament service. After the meeting, if he had kept his bottom on the sticker, he got to take the sticker with him to his Primary class.
PRAYER: Bryant and I prayed for help to show love, we prayed for our son to feel our love, we prayed for a more peaceful experience at church.
ACT: Stickers, all the way, my friends. The more sparkly, the better.
And we had to READJUST, as we learned from experience. At one point in time, we were practicing sitting still on the sticker, the night before our church services, to increase the chance that it might happen during the services as well.
But frustration turned into curiosity – a challenge, and an opportunity. Our own efforts turned into God-supported efforts. Judgement turned into love.
The point? I have been able to do this in the past. What about today. “What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand?”
This is it: How do we help the same son, now almost two feet taller, make friends and gain confidence.
Gather information. I can get that information from his feelings, right?
“Growth and improvement are such a struggle when we are critically judging all (his) efforts … Does (he) have conflict or angry feelings…? It is just data.”https://livingandtravelingwithkids.com/2020/05/day202-its-just-data/
DATA: What is it that his daily frustration and discouragement and tears are telling us? Maybe he is lonely. Or he doesn’t know how to interact with peers. Maybe he is already viewing himself as a failure.
PLAN: What is my plan? Study. Read. Gather more information. And Bryant and I discuss our son, our thoughts, our feelings, regularly.
“As we wrestle with complex matters… (we) freely expresses thoughts and points of view… We listen prayerfully to one another and talk with each other until we are united. Then when we have reached complete accord, the unifying influence of the Holy Ghost is spine-tingling!”
PRAYER: What is our prayer?
ACT: How do we go forward implementing the first-draft plan?
READJUST: Do I give myself, and him, mercy and room to adjust?
A lot of thoughtwork today. A lot of good. An opportunity to try something, even today, to learn by experience, how to better love God, and love our children.