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Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Beyond "Battles"

by Saint Mark (bio)

Last night, after putting my sons to bed, I contemplated my interaction with them for the day. Having been apart for two weeks out of the past four because of business travel (me) and family reunions (wife and kids), I felt a distance growing between my six-year old son and me.

In my mind's eye, I thought I saw my death and afterwards my son, whom I felt the distance growing between him and me, reviewing the interaction we had before my death. It was not very memorable or uplifting. It consisted of prayers, scripture study, playing "battles" (i.e. setting up army guys for battle), and reprimands for his poor yet childish choices.

I realized that I did not want this to be his closing memories of our interaction here on earth. I wanted our relationship to go beyond "battles" and disciplining his behavior. Yes, the daily prayers and scripture study moments were important but because of his age and the age of my other son (four years-old), our family prayers were not very long and we could not read more than a handful of scripture verses with them. Thus, I did not find myself spending as much time with him as I wanted.

Without an abundance of time together, our relationship was deteriorating for a lack of love. This sentiment is captured best by President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, who recently said, "In family relationships, love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Things That Matter Most," Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2010, 22)

Before going to bed, I repented and prayed to God in the name of Jesus Christ for insights about what I could do to have better interaction with my son. As I meditated after prayer, ideas began to come to my mind. I wrote down these ideas which turned into a list of activities that my son and I could do that would go beyond "battles" and truncated, spiritual moments.

The list consists of simple things such as making a card together to send to his grandparents, playing board games together, sharing stories from when I was a little boy and listening to his stories, and creating lessons together for him and me to teach at Family Home Evening. As you can see, the dominant theme is doing something together that is positive and non-violent. In this way, I feel that our relationship will heal and become the close relationship it needs to be, that I want it to be and that I'm sure he wants it to be as well.

Being one of many modern mormon men is not easy, but I know it is worth it.

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