by Saint Mark:
This is a series of sermons that many Latter-day Saints love and believe. I hope these sermons promote and perfect your faith as they do mine. Read or watch this sermon here, or read previous MMM Sermons.
Afraid that if you tell your child "no," they will stop loving you? Fearful that if you kick your son out of the house even though he's in his late-20's he won't make it on his own? Scared to ruin your relationship with your child by being authoritative? Then, Elder Larry R. Lawrence's sermon is for you.
Elder Lawrence laid out how we need to be courageous parents in October 2010 General Conference. Here is some of his counsel:
Imagine for a moment that your daughter was sitting on the railroad tracks and you heard the train whistle blowing. Would you warn her to get off the tracks? Or would you hesitate, worried that she might think you were being overprotective? If she ignored your warning, would you quickly move her to a safe place? Of course you would! Your love for your daughter would override all other considerations. You would value her life more than her temporary goodwill.I love this train analogy. It gives me courage when I sometimes would rather keep silent than discipline my child. Elder Lawrence's sermon is in line with family studies. It seems that there are at least four parenting styles: Permissive, Authoritarian, Apathetic, and Authoritative. The first three lack the requirements of being a good parent, namely love AND discipline. Permissive has all love and no discipline. Authoritarian has all discipline and no love. And, Apathetic has no love and no discipline. You can imagine or have lived scenarios of each, I'm sure.
Challenges and temptations are coming at our teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train. As we are reminded in the family proclamation, parents are responsible for the protection of their children. That means spiritually as well as physically.
But, Authoritative is unfeigned love. It is love that says I love and support you no matter what but there are consequences for your actions. This is God's love. Check it out for yourself. No where in the scriptures is unconditional love (or all love and no discipline, i.e. Permissive parenting) ever referenced. What is explicitly noted and required is "unfeigned love." Love that is not false. Love that has expectations. Love that is true and allows us to feel supported or chastised when we need it. In other words, love the way God loves us.
Elder Lawrence's talk reminds me that I shouldn't spoil or ignore my children's needs. Both of these false options are extreme. What my children need is a deliberate, courageous parent who will show them unfeigned love even at those moments when I feel like Abraham and it is hard for me.
What are your views on parenting? Do you think Dr. Spock had it right all along? Who do you look to for parenting approaches?
Saint Mark is one of those oxymorons: a Mexican who speaks fluent Japanese, a bibliophile even though he did not grow up with a book, pen or paper in his home, and a mormon who grew up in the casino lights of Las Vegas. After becoming a modern-day Ammon in Kyushu, Japan, he returned to the States to become a lifelong student, literally. He has a bachelors from Brigham Young University, a masters from Georgetown University, and a juris doctor from Boston University School of Law. Mark is a husband of a wonderful woman who is done with Mark being a student, a father of two intelligent and rambunctious boys who beat him at chess and football, and an active participant in his ward and community. He identifies himself as someone who quickly tires of chit chat and wants to know "the five things you want to do before you die" when he first meets you.