Parenting Tips: Teaching Discipline, Self-Control

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Parenting Value for November: Self-Discipline

Richard and Linda Eyre

Part 1: Objective

Part 2: Methods for Teaching Self-Discipline

Self-Discipline

family8workingPhysical, mental, and financial self-discipline. Moderation in speaking, in eating, in exercising. The controlling and bridling of one’s own appetites. Understanding the limits of body and mind. Avoiding the dangers of extreme, unbalanced viewpoints. The ability to balance self-discipline with spontaneity.

General Methods

1. Maintain a family schedule. This can give children the security of certain things that are predictable and the discipline of being sure that they are there when expected. Have a set breakfast time and a dinnertime. Have different times for different days if necessary, but put them up on some sort of poster and see if everyone can discipline themselves to be there during this month.

2. Teach by example. Create a personal example regarding the value of discipline and moderation in all areas. Again, example is the number-one method. Make up your mind, especially during this “month,” to control your temper, to save a percentage of your income, to live within your means, to eat moderately, and so on.

3. Count to ten. Help children — and yourself — stay in tighter control of your tempers. There is no more obvious and noticeable illustration of discipline than in the control of temper. Teach your children the simple principle of counting to ten before saying or doing anything when they feel anger. Give some “bad examples” of people who hurt someone because they struck out (or spoke out) without stopping to think. Give some good examples of people who were about to say something angry or to hurt someone in some way and then thought better of it while counting to ten.

4. Use the words “discipline” and “moderation” frequently. This will help children understand them and “connect” them to everyday behavior. When you pass up a second helping of potatoes say, “I’m going to use moderation and not eat too much — it will help my waistline.” When you notice a child getting his homework done say, “There’s discipline for you.” Make the words the “theme” of your communications and your activities for the month.

5. Set up “deals.” Add motivation to your child’s efforts to discipline himself to accomplish goals. Having children set up certain objectives and attaching a reward to the accomplishment of those goals can give parents added opportunities for praise and can make children more conscious of consistently disciplining themselves to do things.

Sample Method for Preschoolers: The “Too Much” Game

This game will get small children thinking about the concept of moderation and about its benefits. Explain that too much can sometimes be worse than too little. Say, “Let’s play a game about too much. I’ll say, ‘too much ________,’ and you say something that you wouldn’t want to do too much of ________, then say what ‘bad thing’ might happen from too much.” For example:

Too much food. . . . You might get fat.
Too much exercise. . . . You might get too tired, or even injured.
Too much candy. . . . You’d get cavities, lose your appetite.
Too much television. . . . It keeps from playing, studying, and other good things.
Too much catsup. . . . You can’t taste the food.
Too much bathing. . . . You might wash your skin off.

As the last two illustrations, you can have some fun with the game. But the bottom line is helping small children to understand the value of moderation.

 Sample Method for Elementary Age: The “Choose the M or the A” Game

This game teaches older elementary school children the fact that some things are okay in moderation but bad in excess — while other things are bad in any quantity or form. Make up, on three plain sheets of paper, a large M for “moderation,” a large A for “avoid” or “abstain,” and a large N.L. for “no limit” (describe and define the words). Then explain that you are going to go through a list of things and you want them to pick one of the three signs for each of the items you are going to mention. Then go through the following list, adding items of your own and stopping to discuss or ask questions about any on which the answer is not clear.

Eating (M)
Taking Drugs (A)
Reading (NL)
Exercising (M)
Watching Television (M)
Caring for Others (NL)
Name-Calling (A)
Smiling (NL)
Drinking Alcohol
Drinking Before Driving (A)
Playing at Friends’ Houses (M)

Joseph resists TSample Method for Adolescent Age: Agree on Policies of Discipline

Give your teenagers the limits that provide security, convince them of your concern, and give them opportunities for the exercise of discipline. Sit down with your adolescent and decide together on some guidelines and standards that will help him exercise discipline and moderation as he moves into and through his teenage years. Some suggestions:

  • Decide on a curfew. There is really no need (or very seldom a need) for extremely late hours. An amazing percentage of problems occur after midnight.
  • Limit the number of nights out. Limit television, limit things that need moderation. A mutually agreed-on limit will help a teenager to exercise discipline more easily.
  • Date one person no more than twice in a row. Require a date with someone else before a third date occurs with the same person.
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Judeo-Christian Culture: Parenting Tips for Faith in Action, Parents Teaching at Home

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Parenting Tips for Faith in Action, Parents Teaching at Home

Laying the Foundation of a Great Work

By Steven R. Bangerter

(Parents teaching at home)

Lessons taught through the traditions we establish in our homes, though small and simple, are increasingly important in today’s world.

As parents in Zion, we have a sacred duty to awaken within our children passion and commitment to the joy, light, and truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While raising our children, we establish traditions within our home and we build patterns of communication and behavior within our family relationships. In doing so, the traditions we establish should ingrain strong, unwavering characteristics of goodness in our children that will infuse them with strength to confront the challenges of life.

This year our grandchildren wrote the topic of their message on stones and then, one by one, buried them next to one another, representing a sure foundation upon which a happy life is established. Woven among all six of their messages was the immutable, eternal truth that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of that foundation.

In the words of Isaiah, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.”1 Jesus Christ is that precious cornerstone in the foundation of Zion. It was He who revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”2

Lessons taught through the traditions we establish in our homes, though small and simple, are increasingly important in today’s world. What are the small and simple things that, when established, will perform a great work in the lives of our children?

Russell M. Nelson poignantly reminded parents of the sacred responsibility we have to teach our children. By these efforts, our beloved prophet urges us to make our homes “sanctuaries of faith.”4

Consistent, wholesome family traditions that include prayer, scripture reading, family home evening, and attendance at Church meetings, though seemingly small and simple, create a culture of love, respect, unity, and security. In the spirit that accompanies these efforts, our children become protected from the fiery darts of the adversary so embedded in the worldly culture of our day.

We are reminded of the wise counsel of Helaman to his sons: “Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”7

Years ago, while I was serving as a young bishop, an older gentleman asked to meet with me. He described his departure from the Church and the righteous traditions of his parents when he was in his youth. He described in detail the heartache he experienced during his life while vainly seeking lasting joy amidst the momentary happiness the world has to offer. Now, in his later years of life, he experienced the tender, sometimes nagging whispering sensations of the Spirit of God guiding him back to the lessons, practices, feelings, and spiritual safety of his youth. He expressed gratitude for the traditions of his parents, and in modern-day words, he echoed the proclamation of Enos: “Blessed be the name of my God for it.”

In those moments, we witness the wisdom of the writer of the proverb, who exhorts parents, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”8

Every parent faces moments of frustration and varying levels of determination and strength while raising children. However, when parents exercise faith by teaching children candidly, lovingly and doing all they can to help them along the way, they receive greater hope that the seeds being sown will take root within the hearts and minds of their children.

Moses well understood the fundamental need for constant teaching. He counseled,

“And thou shalt teach [these words] diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”9~Deuteronomy 6:7

We kneel beside our children during family prayer, we care for them through our efforts to hold meaningful family scripture reading, we patiently, lovingly care for them as together we participate in family home evening, and we anguish for them on our knees in the midst of our private prayers to heaven. Oh, how we yearn for the seeds we are sowing to take root within the hearts and minds of our children.

I believe that it is less a question of whether our children are “getting it” in the midst of our teaching, such as while striving to read the scriptures or to have family home evening or to attend Mutual and other Church meetings. It is less a question of whether in those moments they are understanding the importance of those activities and more a question of whether we, as parents, are exercising faith enough to follow the Lord’s counsel to diligently live, teach, exhort, and set forth expectations that are inspired by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an effort driven by our faith—our belief that one day the seeds sown in their youth will take root and begin to sprout and grow.

The things we talk of, the things we preach and teach determine the things that will happen among us. As we establish wholesome traditions that teach the doctrine of Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness of the truthfulness of our message and nourishes the seeds of the gospel that are planted deep in the hearts of our children by our efforts all along the way.

Related

The Language of the Gospel

Parenting: Teaching Responsibility, not Blame

Dinner Topics for Thursday

October Parenting Value Part 1

From Richard and Linda Eyre

Self-Reliance and Potential: General Methods

momdaughterwillow1. Praise. Reinforce your children’s self-image and individuality and build their confidence — that is required for self-reliance. Like flowers under rain and sunshine, children blossom and bloom under recognition and praise. “Catch them doing something good” and when you do, give effusive praise! When they make mistakes or fall short, help them accept responsibility for it and then praise that acceptance to the point that their pride in their self-reliance outshines their concern over the shortcoming.

2. Use yourself as the model and example. Show your children that you “value this value” and that you work for it. Take every opportunity to show your children how you are trying to improve. Talk about the things you think you’re good at and working to be better at.

Show pleasure in things you do well. Also, be obvious about taking the blame for mistakes you make. Say, “You know, that was my fault. Here’s what I could have done differently. . . .”

Let your children see that you can accept responsibility and blame and let them see that you take pride in who you are and that you are working to be better.

Sample Method for Preschoolers: Praise Creativity and Emphasize Individuality and Originality

Help your children to like their own unique selves. Just as small children need to hear the sound of letters over and over and over again before they learn to read, so also they need to hear their own unique abilities praised time after time before they actually believe in themselves and increase how much they like who they are. Simple as it sounds, the key “connection” of this chapter is that children who like themselves become capable of relying on themselves, of accepting responsibility, and of reaching for their full potential. Praise every effort you see them making — from drawing a picture to trying to tie their shoe. Look constantly for new things they learn to do or for any sort of aptitude at which they seem particularly good.

Help a child see that he is unique by making up an “I Am Special” book with a front cover tracing his silhouette, and with his height, weight, eye color, favorite food, funnest activity, best skills, and so on written inside. Help him understand that there is no one, anywhere, who is exactly like him.

Help children to learn to say, when they face something they can’t do, “I can’t do ___________, but I can do _____________.” This will help them later on to accept their weak points with their strengths.

Sample Method for Elementary Age: Consult Rather Than Manage

Put yourself in a role that maximizes your children’s development of self-reliance and self-knowledge. Try not to take initiative away from your child. Suggest rather than command wherever possible. Ask if he needs help rather than forcing it on him. Try to notice what he likes and where his natural gifts and abilities lie rather than trying to decide what he will do and what he should be good at.

When he asks you to do his homework, say no. But tell him you’ll check it after he’s done and tell him if it’s right and help him on the parts he’s tried to do but still doesn’t understand.

As children are old enough to understand the terms, tell them that you want to be their consultant and not their manager. Explain that they are the ones who have to decide what they will do and how well they will do it and that you want to help but not force. (Be sure they can separate this consulting help and guidance that relate to their choices from the laws and absolutes that govern their behavior.)

motherdaughterSample Method for Adolescent Age: Avoid Over-protectiveness

Build your adolescent’s self-respect, self-confidence, and self-reliance. Have clear rules (curfew, etc.) but within these, trust your adolescents and make a point of telling them that you not only trust them but have confidence in their ability to handle themselves and the situations they find themselves in.

This principle applies to smaller children also. Too many well-meaning parents may prevent a skinned knee or even a broken arm by being overly protective physically, but in the process they may exert undue influence and diminish the feelings of self-reliance and self-control.

 

Christian Character, Children’s Literature, and McGuffey Readers

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

William McGuffey’s Great Educational Legacy

mcguffeyreaderParents and Homeschoolers: These wonderful books not only teach children to read, but provide classic character education as well.

key“The Christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”[ “From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology.” ~William McGuffey

From Wikipedia

William Holmes McGuffey (September 23, 1800 – May 4, 1873) was an American professor and college president who is best known for writing the McGuffey Readers, one of the nation’s first and most widely used series of textbooks. It is estimated that at least 122 million copies of McGuffey Readers were sold between 1836 and 1960, placing its sales in a category with the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary.

Early years

He was born the son of Alexander and Anna (Holmes) McGuffey near Claysville in Washington County, Pennsylvania, which is 45 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. In 1802 the McGuffey family moved further out into the frontier at Tuscarawas County, Ohio. He attended country school, and after receiving special instruction at Youngstown, he attended Greersburg Academy in Darlington, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, he attended and graduated from Pennsylvania’s Washington College, where he became an instructor.

He was close friends with Washington College’s President Andrew Wylie and lived in Wylie’s house for a time; they often would walk the 3 miles to Washington College together.[1]

Professional life

McGuffey left Washington College in 1826 to become a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. A year later in 1827, he was married to Harriet Spinning of Dayton, Ohio, with whom he had five children. In 1829, he was ordained at Bethel Chapel as a minister in the Presbyterian Church. It was in Oxford that he created the most important contribution of his life: The McGuffey Readers. His books sold over 122 million copies. He was very fond of teaching and children as he geared the books toward a younger audience.

In 1836, he left Miami to become president of Cincinnati College, where he also served as a distinguished teacher and lecturer. He left Cincinnati in 1839 to become the 4th president of Ohio University, which he left in 1843 to become president of Woodward College (really a secondary school) in Cincinnati.

In 1845, McGuffey moved to Charlottesville, Virginia where he became Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia. A year after his first wife Harriet died in 1850, he married Miss Laura Howard, daughter of Dean Howard of the University of Virginia, in 1851. McGuffey is buried in the university burial ground, in Charlottesville, Virginia. The School of Education at Miami University is housed in McGuffey Hall which is named for him and his home in Oxford is a National Historic Landmark offering tours on weekdays.

Legacy

McGuffey is credited with the following quotation:

McGuffey“The Christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”[2]

The McGuffey School District in Washington County, Pennsylvania is named for William Holmes McGuffey. The industrialist Henry Ford cited McGuffey Readers as one of his most important childhood influences. In 1934 he had the log cabin where McGuffey was born moved to Greenfield Village, Ford’s museum of Americana at Dearborn, Michigan.

 More about William McGuffey in Wikipedia

 

 

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Heritage Foundation Report: Family Dinner Benefits Include Prevention of Substance Abuse

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Heritage Foundation Report: Family Dinner Benefits Include Prevention of Substance Abuse Dear Epicworld readers, I’ve been telling my readers  this for more than 15 years! And now family dinners are more important than ever.~C.D.   Family Day – A Day to Eat … Continue reading

Parenting Quotes: Teaching at Home

Parenting Quotes:

Teaching at Home

Teaching in the Home—a Joyful and Sacred Responsibility

By Devin G. Durrant

On-Call Teaching

Parental teaching is like being an on-call physician. We always need to be ready to teach our children because we never know when the opportunity will present itself.

We are like the Savior, whose teaching often “did not happen in a synagogue but in informal, everyday settings—while eating a meal with His disciples, drawing water from a well, or walking past a fig tree.”10

D. Todd Christofferson counsels:

Above all, we must continue to encourage and help parents be better and more consistent teachers … especially by example.”

‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and 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” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World

“Take Advantage of Spontaneous Teaching Moments,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way (2016), 16. Teaching in the Savior’s Way includes a variety of tips and tools for teaching in the home.

Parents as Teachers: Christian Moral Standards and Biblical Values for Children and Youth

Parents as Teachers:

Christian Moral Standards and Biblical Values for Children and Youth

Written, Not with Ink

C.A. Davidson

keyoldAnd we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26 )

 

Moses and 10 cropJochebed, mother of Moses, gently laid her infant son in a carefully crafted little ark, then watched over the short river journey of her precious cargo until he was safely in the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter. Even then, in the king’s court, she was there, nursing him and vigilant in his care.

Despite the opposition of those who would have killed him, Moses grew to manhood, delivered his people from bondage, and left to the world the priceless moral code known as the Ten Commandments. Moses went on to his reward, but opposition to his work continues.

In the New World, about 148 B.C., the prophet Abinadi was put to death by a king, for defending the plan of salvation and the Ten Commandments.

This revered code has been preserved, found today inscribed in stone or metal. The Ten Commandments have been ridiculed, forbidden, removed from public display. Yet within the calm eye of stormy hostility, this code remains serene, steadfast, and immovable.

After the children of Israel broke the Ten Commandments and other higher laws, Moses was instructed to create a complex structure of rules and regulations.

Today, many try to replace the Ten Commandments with gargantuan legal documents of government regulation.

10commandmentsLaws of men come and go. People have been killed or thrown in jail defending the Ten Commandments. But this moral code persists as a foundation for all civilized societies. Why? Because its Author is absolute— the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The Ten Commandments are moral absolutes.

Those whose behavior is consistent with moral absolutes are guided by what is called “internal government.” These individuals can successfully govern themselves, but are accountable to a just God.

When internal government breaks down, external government takes over, with rules, regulation, and bureaucracy. Persons under external government are accountable to men, who may not be just.

lesmisbookIn Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, a timeless novel about justice and mercy, hero Jean Valjean served in prison for decades because he stole one loaf of bread. He learned about mercy when a compassionate priest bought his freedom with two valuable silver candle holders. Because of that gracious gift, Valjean lived out his life serving and bringing joy to others. But Javert, his jailer, refusing to accept the price paid for Jean’s deliverance, became obsessed with re-capturing him. Failing in his objective, Javert finally ended his own miserable life. Such is the state of man at the hands of human justice.

In a civilized society, however, justice must be served, or there would be nothing to deter evil and protect the innocent. But much as we may desire to be morally perfect, we all fall short. What is to be done?

Many today reject moral absolutes because, like Javert, they do not understand the plan of mercy. A loving Father in heaven knew that his children would fail to keep all the commandments that justice required. Only His perfect Son could meet the absolute demands of justice and pay the price for His children’s deliverance.

Gethsemane2Parents need not be afraid of holding their children to high moral standards. The atonement of Christ is a safety net in the times of falling short, but it is fastened to repentance. Like Valjean, our children must forsake evil, or justice will have claims upon them.

If we as parents, like Jochebed, diligently train, nurture, and safeguard the internal government in our children, their souls will remain clean and whole when all around them are falling apart. Despite the fading ink of human doctrine, our children can remain true to eternal principles, written, not with ink, but in the fleshy tables of their hearts. (2Cor.3:3)

But remember, “It is easier to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Children prepared with strong internal government will always make honor and virtue their choice; they will triumph over evil, and rejoice.

 

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

knightandlady

  1. Give examples in the world today of human injustice, in which the Ten Commandments have been perverted and the atonement of Christ is denied.
  2. If we do our very best to live high moral standards, but fall short, what must we do to receive the mercy of Christ?

 

Copyright © 2010 by Christine A. Davidson

 

True to the Faith

By Evan Stephens

 

truth1Shall the youth of Zion falter in defending truth and right?

While the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight? No!

While we know the powers of darkness seek to thwart the work of God,

Shall the children of the promise cease to grasp the iron rod? No!

 

We will work out our salvation; we will cleave unto the truth;

We will watch and pray and labor with the fervent zeal of youth. Yes!

We will strive to be found worthy of the kingdom of our Lord,

With the faithful ones redeemed who have loved and kept his word. Yes!

 

ShieldresizeTrue to the faith that our parents have cherished,

True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,

To God’s command, soul, heart, and hand,

Faithful and true we will ever stand.

 

 

Christian Standards for Children and Youth

 

holyspiritI will follow Heavenly Father’s plan for me.

I will listen to the Holy Spirit.

I will choose the right. I know I can repent when I make a mistake.

I will be honest with Heavenly Father, others, and myself.

I will use the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ reverently. I will not swear or use crude words.

girlmodesty_largeI will do those things on the Sabbath that will help me feel close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I will honor my parents and do my part to strengthen my family.

I will keep my mind and body sacred and pure, and I will not partake of things that are harmful to me.

I will dress modestly to show respect for Heavenly Father and myself.

familyprayerI will only read and watch things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father.

I will only listen to music that is pleasing to Heavenly Father.

I will seek good friends and treat others kindly.

I will do my part to strengthen my family.

 

Parenting Tips: Teaching Peace

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

“Peace-ability”

Parenting Value: Anger Management

 

Richard and Linda Eyre

teenagerSonAndMomkey“Calmness. Peacefulness. Serenity. The tendency to try to accommodate rather than argue. The understanding that differences are seldom resolved through conflict and that meanness in others is an indication of their problem or insecurity and thus of their need for your understanding. The ability to understand how others feel rather than simply reaction to them. Control of temper.”

Sample Method for Preschoolers: The Magazine Game

This game helps small children realize that it is all right to feel mad or sad, just as it is all right to feel happy or glad, but that it is not all right to hurt other people or their feelings because of how we feel. Flip through magazines with a child, stopping every time a person is pictured and asking, “How do you think he feels?” (Happy, jealous, worried, etc. — this is also a chance to teach children new words and the names of new emotions.) Then say, “It is okay to feel this way?” (Yes) Then say, “Is it okay to be mean to someone else if you feel mad or sad?” (No!)

Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Color Game

This is a good way to teach younger elementary-aged children the good consequences of peace and the bad consequences of anger and retaliation. Cut out two single figures in the human shape, one from red paper and one from pastel color. Tell the children that the red represents temper and impatience, the pastel is control and peace. Give them a situation and let them tell you what each figure might do in each of the following situations:

  • Your alarm clock doesn’t go off, so you’re going to be late for school.
  • You’re playing basketball and you get called for a foul you didn’t think you committed.
  • Your friend forgets to meet you for lunch.
  • Your little brother flips you with a rubber band.
  • Your mom says you can’t have a sleep over because there’s school tomorrow.
  • The new pen you just bought won’t work.

And so on. Think of your own, based on your own experiences.

Sample method for Adolescents: The “Analytical-of-Angry” Discussion

Help young teenagers conceptualize the benefits of trying to “understand” rather than trying to “win.” At dinner or some other natural conversation time make the statement that we have many situations in which there is a choice between two A words — arguing or analyzing. In other words, when someone does something to us or says something with which we disagree, we can either fight back and argue or we can try to analyze why he did or said it.

Point out the second choice is better because we learn something whenever we try to figure out why, and we keep our cool and keep our friends.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Parenting Tips, Teaching by Example, Biblical Values in Daily Life

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Parenting Tips, Teaching by Example, Biblical Values in Daily Life

Building Spiritual Patterns

By Karmel and Lloyd Newell

You can provide safety and strength for your family by establishing patterns of spiritual living in your home.

One morning, a family was gathered for scripture study when the phone rang. The mother picked up the phone, and her sister-in-law from New Jersey spoke frantically on the other end: “Hurry! Turn on the news.”

The day was September 11, 2001. The news told of a horrifying terrorist attack in New York City. The children were shaken. Going to school seemed a little scary now.

The parents turned off the TV, and the family knelt to pray. After the prayer, the eight-year-old daughter said, “It’s going to be all right. I think the terrorists are just like the Gadianton robbers. We don’t need to be afraid of them.” Peace replaced fear. As the children left for school, the mother and father turned to each other and said, “That’s why we do this every morning.”

The family was fortified during a time of great distress because they had established a pattern of family prayer and scripture study. When fear struck, it was natural for them to pray because they prayed together every day. When world events were upsetting, they found reassurance in the scriptures because that’s where they always found reassurance.

Thankfully, events this dramatic don’t happen every day. Most often the challenges our families face are less drastic, but they are real, and they can be dangerous. You and your family can prepare to face life’s challenges by establishing patterns of spiritual living in your home.

What Is a Spiritual Pattern?

A father reads to his three young children from the Holy Bible.

A pattern in a work of art, such as a piece of music or a quilt, is a repeating design of notes or colors. A work of art is often defined by the patterns it displays.

Spiritually speaking, patterns can work in our families the same way. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) outlined some basic spiritual patterns when he counseled mothers: “Teach [your children] to pray while they are young. Read to them from the scriptures even though they may not understand all that you read. Teach them to pay their tithes and offerings on the first money they ever receive. Let this practice become a habit in their lives.”1

These spiritual habits can become such a consistent part of our families that they help define who we are. They can unite family members, continue from one generation to the next, and give us a strong sense of stability, identity, and cohesion. Most important, they bring us closer to the Savior and help us overcome trials and temptations.

Beginning to Build

The patterns we hear in a beautiful piece of music don’t happen by chance; they must be carefully planned and precisely executed. The same is true for spiritual patterns in our families. Without deliberate planning, it’s easy for other activities to creep in and take precedence over spiritual patterns. Here are some tips for creating spiritual patterns in your home:

  • Begin by discussing with your spouse the spiritual patterns you want to develop in your family.
  • Prayerfully create a plan and present it in a family council.
  • Decide on a regular time and place for the spiritual pattern. For example, one family decided to gather around the kitchen table for scripture study so there would be less contention and fewer distractions.
  • Make it fun! Nothing quite compares with marching around the kitchen table singing “We Are All Enlisted”2 after family prayer, or sipping hot chocolate together during scripture study on a cold morning, or watching your children act out an adventurous scripture story.
  • Give spiritual patterns priority. Schedule other activities around them.
  • Be creative and adapt to the needs of your family members. Scripture study for small children might last just a few minutes each day. A family home evening lesson for teenagers with lots of homework could be a well-planned 15 minutes. Remember that the length of time is not as important as consistency.
  • Pray for inspiration for successfully integrating a spiritual pattern into your busy lives.

Following these guidelines is not a quick process. But through the patient repetition of small and simple acts, we can develop reliable spiritual patterns to strengthen our families, being assured that “by small means the Lord can bring about great things” (1 Nephi 16:29).

Persistence through Resistance

Because establishing spiritual patterns takes time, the rewards aren’t always immediate. Parents may wonder if their children are really benefiting from their efforts—especially when the kids quarrel, complain, or refuse to participate. Unfortunately, too many parents feel paralyzed by the seeming picture of perfection they see in the families around them, causing them to think: “Other families don’t argue during family night.” “Other families don’t forget to pray. What’s wrong with us?”

The truth is, no family is perfect. Every family encounters resistance to establishing spiritual patterns. But when children resist, wise parents persist. Gordon B. Hinckley shared this encouraging example from his own parents, who established a spiritual pattern of family night that included musical performances:

“In the beginning, we would laugh and make cute remarks about one another’s performance. But our parents persisted. We sang together. We prayed together. We listened quietly while Mother read Bible and Book of Mormon stories. Father told us stories out of his memory. …

“Out of those simple little meetings, held in the parlor of our old home, came something indescribable and wonderful. Our love for our parents was strengthened. Our love for brothers and sisters was enhanced. Our love for the Lord was increased. An appreciation for simple goodness grew in our hearts.”4

Blessed for Your Efforts

The spiritual patterns you establish will bless your family and help you draw closer to each other and to the Lord.

Even if they don’t realize it at first, your children will be strengthened by the righteous habits you choose to create in your family. One young woman described how her parents put imaginary armor on her and her siblings before they left for school each day. This was meant to remind them of the spiritual armor that would protect them from evil. “I never really appreciated this until I was older,” she said. “I am just now realizing the significance of this ritual they created. … Even if it was something I thought was stupid, I know it had an impact on the way I lived my life.”6

Another young woman shared how she was affected by her mother’s persistence: “She constantly invited me to come to prayer and [scripture study], even when I refused to come. It was her consistency that helped me to repent.”7

When we consistently strive to strengthen our families and center our homes on Jesus Christ, the Lord will bless our efforts. We never really know when and how those blessings will manifest themselves. Perhaps your family or your children will face an intense crisis, as the family did on September 11, 2001, and the spiritual patterns you’ve established will provide the peace and strength to move forward with faith. More likely, a spiritual pattern will help you and your family withstand the temptations that subtly attack us every day. The Lord has promised, “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).

To Be Given Highest Priority

“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”

First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999

Parenting: Teaching Courage

Dinner Topics for Thursday

chicken

What does a Chicken have to do with courage? See this post:

Parenting Value: Courage


Methods for Teaching Courage

Richard and Linda Eyre

Courage

“Daring to attempt difficult things that are good. Strength not to follow the crowd, to say no and mean it and influence others to try it. Being true to convictions and following good impulses even when they are unpopular or inconvenient. Boldness to be outgoing and friendly.”

Method for Preschoolers: Teach Small Children to Look People in the Eye

This can help children learn a useful habit that takes courage and that gives you a good opportunity for praise. Establish a family tradition of looking people in the eye. Explain to small children that if you look right at people, they will like you and know that you like them. Practice looking in each other’s eyes as you say, “Hello,” “How are you?” “Thank you,” or as you ask questions: “Where do you live?” “What school do you go to?” And so on. Have little contests to see who can look into the person’s eyes the longest while having a “made-up” conversation. And have “staring contests” (who can look into the other person’s eyes the longest without blinking).

Explain that being brave means not having anything to hide — and when we look right at someone, it is like saying, “I trust you and you can trust me.” Learning to do this helps us not to be afraid to ask people questions or start conversations.

Method for Elementary Age: “Hard and Good” – The Relationship Between Them

This activity will help children begin to relish rather than resist hard challenges. For this game set up two sides with at least one child to a side. Say that you are going to mention certain actions and you want one side to write either “hard” or “easy” to define each action. The other side should write “good” or “bad” about each action. (Each side needs a paper numbered from one to ten and a pencil.)

1. Get up early and study for a test.
2. Say you’re sorry to someone even though it’s embarrassing.
3. Try smoking with your friends so they won’t call you chicken.
4. Make friends with the new kid at school, even though everyone else is ignoring him.
5. Sleep in on Saturday instead of getting up to do your household job.
6-10. Add your own (try to draw from real experiences).

When the game is over, match up the two team lists. Show how “hard” almost always matches up with “good.”

Method for Adolescents: Decisions in Advance

This can help adolescents make right — and courageous — decisions before they are in situations conducive to wrong choices. Explain to adolescents that many decisions are best made early — before we’re confronted with pressure to decide. Help them to make a list (preferably in the back of a journal or diary) of “decisions in advance.” For example, I will not smoke. I will not cheat. I will not be cruel or rude even if others around me are, and so forth.

With each “decision in advance” help the adolescent to imagine a future situation where it would be very difficult to keep the decision. Think it through together. Point out how much easier it is to do the right thing when the decision has been made in advance.

To illustrate the point tell them the story of Abraham Lincoln, who was riding in a coach with an important and influential man who was insistent that Lincoln smoke with him. He said he would be offended if Lincoln did not.

Abraham Lincoln said he had made a decision twenty years before not to smoke. He had committed himself to that decision and had even made the commitment to his mother. Because he had made the decision in advance, courage to keep it came easy for Lincoln, and his friend did not push him further.