These are my three gifts from God. As their parent, I am faced with challenges everyday. From frustration because someone still won't stay still during their diaper changing, to please find something positive and uplifting to say, to how in the heck do I motivate you! Over the last year I have really been seeking to find a way to be a better parent. I started with personality profiling thinking that if I could just understand my kids better that things would be easier, and it helped but it still wasn't what I needed to keep me from snapping with things got to stressful. Over the past weeks with my middle son it has seemed to me that things have escalated again. And I kept hearing myself saying things like, "I just can't handle this anymore!". And it was true. I couldn't handle the fights that would leave me feeling icky and like crying, because of course there was never a winner except satan. And I'm for sure not going to let him win and yet... I was. So I started doing more pondering and more scripture reading and more praying because I knew that somehow I had to change. I can't change my kids atleast I can't force them, especially the older ones without dire consequences, but I know I can develop better control of myself if I could just change my paradigms. It helped me to come to this roads since I had read "The Peace Giver" and "Bonds that Make Us Free". Both books had already helped me to take ownership for my parts in conflict. I just have been struggling on how to break patterns. Well I've also been trying to do more missionary work and so I've been focusing on being more Christlike. So when I went into the bookstore to get a book on developing your conversation skills and couldn't find it....Well the book, "Christlike Parenting" by Dr. Glenn I. Latham jumped out at me. It literally jumped into my arms and walked out the door with me, after I payed for it of course ;)
I went to the temple right after that and found myself reading a passage in Matthew that is talking about recieving the Lord's annointed but at the end talks about recieving his little ones. I'll come back to that in a minute. I had to pick up my older boys from their Dad's after that and of course my middle child with in minutes had turned the radio on to rock in roll. Now after the peace of the temple and the calm evening...listening to that stuff was not my first choice and normally I would probably have said something that would have caused him to turn sulky or a big fight to ensue, but I decided I would hold my tongue as long as we kept the music decent then I wouldn't say anything. My oldest, in trying to battle his insomnia, has taken to asking me to come in and sing a song to him before he goes to sleep. It's usually a primary song but sometimes a song that is special to us but always soft. My middle one surprised me that night by coming in to listen. So I started reading the book and low and behold within the first chapter, I can see myself, the parent that just wants to be appreciated. It was embarassing reading some of those quotes and seeing myself in them and yet it helped to remember I wasn't alone and atleast I didn't want to be that person. I want to let go of all of those feelings and change. Change into a more Christlike person where peace could rule our home. Yesterday, I read a quote from President Hunter in the book that says, "Please remember this one thing. If our lives...are centered upon Jesus Christ...nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right." This goes hand in hand with my focus of late which has been that we need to do everything in our lives only after first dedicating our performance to Christ so that it can be a blessing to us! This so excited me. It's not new none of the concepts in this book our new, they are just bringing together principles that I already know and love and applying them to parenting. The other thing that really struck me was in Chapter 2 it talks about how if you asked a teenager if they loved their parents they will usually say something like...'yeah, I guess, but' and from a parent about a teenager, 'yes...but'. But if you ask a parent the same thing about a baby, the response would more likely be a quick affirmative. My thoughts flew back to that scripture that I read in Matthew in the temple, and I realized that that was what I needed to change. I needed to stop looking at my kids as challenges. They aren't problems to be solved. They have problems they need help solving and they bring challenges to my life, but they are still my children that God blessed me with. No matter how old they get or what stage of life they are in; they will ALWAYS be my children. And I should love them with NO 'BUTS' in the way. If you think about it in relation to a gift, like if I recieved a shirt from somebody and they said don't you just love it and you basically did but there was this bow on the bottom that bugged you and so when you said that 'yeah you loved it'. Your whole heart wasn't in your voice because it wasn't completely true. How could I do that to my kids?! I realized that if those stupid 'buts' were there; there would be times and probably had been alot, especially lately when they didn't feel the full force of my love. I have never felt so ashamed. So now that I know. I have gotten to work and I have done homework in line with the things that he talks about. I'm taking it slow trying to make sure that concepts sink in. But I had my first real win/win last night. My middle son came in and was angry b/c he wanted to play playstation and couldn't find the controller. He naturally blamed the baby since he is always walking around with them and started being ugly. I remained calm and asked him if he would please sack up the garbage for me while I started looking for it that I was sure we could find it. After looking everywhere we couldn't find it. He was getting more ugly. I told him that he needed to not be mean to his little brother b/c it looked to me like maybe his older brother had taken it to his Dad's over the weekend and forgotten to bring it back. Of course at that point his wrath turned to his brother. I stayed cheerful and said "well the way I look at it you have two choices. You can either stay angry and alienate everyone or you can find something else to do". Well he mumbled something negative, I chose to pretend I didn't hear anything so I would maintain my calm and give him space to exercise his free agency. Oh my gosh! Within 5 minutes I heard "Star Wars" going on in the living room and he and the boys' friend who was over were having a great time discussing all the nuances of the show. Later I noticed that he had also gone the extra mile and put the new liner back in the trash can for me and I made sure to tell him I really appreciated it. I found something to thank both of them for through out the night. When it was time for bedtime, both boys insisted I come and sing. I offered to come to the middle ones room after but he said he was content to come in and sit and listen with the older one. I hope as time goes by and I continue this path that Mom's voice will become a boon and that the days of nagging and harshness will be drowned out by the softness of the sought out lullabyes.