I have to admit that the idea of being a parent to teenagers terrifies me. Now, let me say, there are definitely things about it that are enticing too. But, for the most part, I’m terrified! Hopefully the years between now and then will provide me with added wisdom and knowledge to help my kids become well-rounded, decent people.
I loved the talk in General Conference titled “Courageous Parenting” by Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy. While I am still a few years away from dealing with some of these issues, it gives me hope to know that we have righteous leaders that are guiding us. Through faith and prayer, we can know how to raise our kids in a way that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.
A few things in this talk stood out to me. First, I was gratified to know that the Lord wants us to be united as husband and wife in the way we raise our children. If one person does not feel comfortable with something, then the other half should support that decision. That is, of course, when both parents are relying on the influence of the Holy Ghost in how to best parent their children. I have seen many times in my own marriage where my husband and I have had a different idea of how to discipline our children. And, our children are only 4-years-old and almost 2. But, we were raised very differently, so often, we have different ideas on what works best. But, so far, we have been able to talk through those differences, and come to a decision that is best for our child. After all, our children are a little piece of both of us. So working together makes the most sense.
He also reminded us of a past general conference address where, “Elder Joe J. Christensen reminded us that ‘parenting is not a popularity contest.’ In the same spirit, Elder Robert D. Hales has observed, ‘Sometimes we are afraid of our children—afraid to counsel with them for fear of offending them.'”
I have seen this happen in the lives of so many parents these days. Many times, I will see parents afraid to speak up about what their child is wearing, or letting them participate in school activities on Sunday for fear of disappointing their child. But, who are we trying to please? It is our Heavenly Father’s approval that we should be seeking when we are making those important decisions for our children. I strongly believe that our children need boundaries, and they will eventually respect being told no. At the time, they will find it hard, but in the future, they will appreciate it.
As a youth growing up in Texas, I did not have a lot of LDS friends. So, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I had to constantly stand up for what I believed in, and my testimony grew because of those experiences. I remember not being allowed to wear a prom dress that was sleeveless to my senior prom. That was devastating to me. It was also nearly impossible to find a prom dress that had sleeves on it! I remember crying and being so upset with my parents for enforcing this rule. Today, I am grateful for it. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I am conscious of the other girls around me, both LDS and non-LDS that dress inappropriately. For me, it has never been a hard decision to dress modestly from that point on in my life. I have been able to maintain that level of modesty, and now am beginning to be aware of teaching my daughter about being modest at the ripe age of four years old.
Being a parent does take a lot of courage. It is hard to disappoint those that we love most. It is hard to say no. It is hard to watch them feeling left out, or different. However, I know that through that courage, we will prevail as parents. Our children will love us more for saying no. Maybe not immediately, but someday.