Do you ever wonder if your family is on the right track or if you are failing as a parent? I’ve asked myself those same questions a lot lately. On more than one occasion, my husband and I have asked each other if all large families argue and fight like ours. I’m sure it’s not uncommon when five very strong, and still immature, personalities live under the same roof and are together all day long, for tensions to rise and tempers to flare. Add to that, two very busy parents who, at times, lose their patience and it can make for sometimes volatile situations. The question, then, is even if it’s not uncommon should we settle? Should we accept our lot in life and give up on something better?
We determined that that would not be our plan.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World issued in 1995 by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states:
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” (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. Husband and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
The responsibility to raise our children to the best of our ability is something for which we will be held accountable before God. That’s a pretty weighty responsibility and one that we don’t take lightly. But, where do we start? For us, we found a start in our scripture study (if you can call it that with a family full of young children).
We were driving home from a family party after a long day and all five kids were grumbling and very testy with each other. Everyone was out to get everyone else, no one could make an honest mistake, and all intents were malicious. For a bit, every kid in the car was crying, grumbling, or scowling and then it went quiet.
In an effort to get kids to bed as quickly as possible, I seized the moment of quiet, pulled out my phone, and starting reading from the book of Alma. We’re in the middle of the war chapters, which I thought was very appropriate for the moment, and I figured we would read a few verses on the drive and then get everyone in bed.
To my surprise, our reading came to a halt two verses in.
And now it came to pass that the armies of the Lamanites, on the west sea, south, while in the absence of Moroni on account of some intrigue amongst the Nephites, which caused dissensions amongst them, had gained some ground over the Nephites, yea, insomuch that they had obtained possession of a number of their cities in that part of the land. And thus because of iniquity amongst themselves, yea, because of dissensions and intrigue among themselves they were placed in the most dangerous circumstances. (Alma 53:8-9)
I stopped reading and thought for a split second about what I had just read and then pointed out to my children that because of the iniquity among the Nephites they found themselves in “the most dangerous circumstances”. We then spent a few minutes discussing how the “iniquity” in our family puts us in dangerous circumstances. A wonderful conversation ensued. We talked about how contention opens the door for Satan to come in and the more and more we welcome him in the harder it is to get him to leave. One of our kids brought up the fact that we want to be an eternal family, but it won’t be that great if we can’t stop fighting.
By the end of our ride home every kid had changed his/her attitude and we went to bed with a peace in our home that can only come through the invitation of the Spirit of the Lord. We have most assuredly had arguments and contention since then, but I am convinced that the more we find ourselves in those teaching, and learning, moments the more our family will be able to let the word of God take hold in our lives and change our hearts.
To you, I offer an invitation to dive into the scriptures with the intent to seek answers to questions or resolutions to problems and with a heart open to receive the personal revelation that will surely come.
Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. (3 Nephi 14:7-8)