Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is Your Family Floating?

Paddle, paddle, kick, kick, sink, sink, HELP!!!. Learning to swim can be tough. Do your kids know how to swim? Most of us can answer yes to this question (unless your children are too young). Did they take a class or did you teach them? Either way they had to learn certain techniques somehow to keep their head above water. But even when they finally can venture out and do a little paddling and kicking solo we like to send them on their way with some added protection - wonderful cute little floaties. Not to mention we don't mind when there is a pair of eyes perched up above watching just in case their life guard expertise is in need.

Recently I was talking with a mom who has a struggling teen and her words struck me, "I'm just holding my breath and hoping that everything turns out okay."

Because this post was already in the works I immediately pictured her holding her breath under water trying to keep her son afloat and I realized that they were taking quite a risk. She can only hold her breath for so long and he doesn't have any floaties.

Have you given your kids oodles of floaties...

...spiritual floaties?

They need them. And maybe we as parents should grasp the paranoia of this Dad and plaster our kids with their protective floaties even though our children at times may roll their eyes at us. We can't afford to have their heads sink below the water because they can only hold their breath for so long and eventually will gasp in some of the worldly waters.

But why do some of us not give our kids the floaties and if we did initially why don’t we continually pump them up?

The scriptures give us three reasons:

1. We are at “ease in Zion” and think “All is well” (2 Nephi 28:24-25). We think things like, “We are doing just fine. We go to church. We’ve got the basic techniques down.”

2. We are confused by our worldly wisdom. How will doing the small and simple things even make a difference or make great things come to pass (Alma 37:6-7)? We think things like, “It won’t make a difference if we miss FHE this week or don’t hold family scripture study. Floaties are so small they barely do anything.”

3. We are simply slothful (lazy) or forgetful (Alma 37-41-42). We think things like, “I don’t want to get the kids up for scripture study. Let’s just watch TV instead of FHE. We forgot family prayer AGAIN. Where did I put those “floaties”? I don’t feel like putting them on right now.”

When we choose not to pump up or use our floaties our children begin to sink and we do not progress in our journey. Our families experience afflictions (Alma 37:42) because of our contentment, or our worldly wisdom, or our laziness.

But if we realize the risks in not putting the floaties on and listen to the counsel we’ve been given we can prepare our families so that our heads will not sink even remotely close to the worldly waters.

In General Conference Elder Andersen said, “In our world today, each child, each young man and young woman needs his or her own conversion to the truth. Each needs his or her own light, his or her own “steadfast and immovable” faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, independent of parents, youth leaders, and supportive friends.

Like Elder Andersen said, our children need to have their own foundation, their own testimonies, their own techniques but as they learn they will also need protective floaties and they will continually need air pumped into them to keep their heads high above the worldly waters that may drown them spiritually. They will need the extra protection that comes from doing the Small and Simple things. Because by doing small and simple things great things are brought to pass (Alma 37:6-7).

Here are four small and simple floaties that will buoy our families high above the potential drowning effects of worldly waters (and that promised buoyancy is indeed a great thing that will come to pass):

Family Prayer - President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I submit that a return to the old pattern of prayer, family prayer in the homes of the people, is one of the basic medications that would check the dread disease that is eroding the character of our society. We could not expect a miracle in a day, but in a generation we would have a miracle” (Ensign, Feb 1991, 2).

Scripture Study - President Ezra Taft Benson: “The Book of Mormon will change your life. It will fortify you against the evils of our day. It will bring spirituality into your life that no other book will. It will be the most important book you will read in preparation for a mission and for life. A young [person] who knows and loves the Book of Mormon, who has read it several times, who has an abiding testimony of its truthfulness, and who applies its teachings will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and will be a mighty tool in the hands of the Lord” (Ensign, May 1986, 43).

Family Home Evening - President James E. Faust:“’Regular participation in family home evening will develop increased personal worth, family unity, love for our fellow men, and trust in our Father in heaven. It is our promise that great blessings will come to all who conscientiously plan and hold weekly family home evenings.’ This is as true today as it was almost 30 years ago. If we go forward with our family home evenings, our homes will be enriched, our wards and branches will grow and prosper, our lives will be purified, and the gates of hell will not prevail against us” (Ensign, Jun ‘03, 2–6).

Temple Attendance - President Boyd K. Packer: "No work is more of a protection to this church than temple work and the genealogical research which supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people” (The Holy Temple, 265).

Let us recognize the need for our children to have their own techniques, their own testimonies, but also let us recognize that to keep their testimonies strong and to protect them from the raging waters of the world we must give them spiritual floaties and continually pump them up. We must strive to do the “small and simple” things and if we do we are promised great things.


Ramona Zabriskie said...

I feel very strongly about this. Last week in RS, the teacher asked, "What can we do to teach our children moral discipline?" Immediate answers: LOVE THEM. EXAMPLE. Then silence. I finally raised my hand: "Reasoning," I said. Everyone just sat there and the teacher made no move to write my answer on the board beside the others. They didn't get it. So I expounded: Our children are getting tsunami"ed" by moral relativism: all lifestyles are of equal worth. The truth is, is that relativism is intellectually lazy, let alone spiritually lazy. Teaching children standards and truth ("floaties") - developing character -- is so much more rigorous. We have to use REASON with them. We have to constantly teach them WHY the higher road is desirable at every level. We have to actively teach them "the promises afar off". Love and example will seal the deal. Rules WIHOUT relationships breed rebellion (both personal relationships and relationships to solid reasons.) And, of course, rebellion means the exhaustion of jumping in to save their lives over and over. It is far less stressful to swim beside them when they have become responsible, thoughtful adults because of the rigors we put into equipping them with their own "floaties" as children and teens.

Dianna said...

Thanks for this article. It's just what I needed today!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your very well thought out post. I enjoyed the connections you made.

Stephanie said...

Love your "floaties." I've wondered lately how sometimes these simple things can seem so HARD to do at times. A good friend recently pointed out to me that since they're so important, they are met with OPPOSITION. This thought was so liberating to me because I'd begun to wonder if I was just a spiritual wimp. Now I realize that I'm not, but there's a battle against the basics and I have to fight for them.

Pokemon said...

Steph, thanks for sharing. I think that opposition needs to be a fourth reason added on of why we don't put on the floaties or continually pump them up. It is so, so true.

Satan definitely doesn't want us to stay afloat and I'm sure that he tries to puncture our little floaties, make us lose them, or forget about them entirely. Definitely opposition there. Thanks again.

Pokemon said...

Mona, I love your thoughts. Reasoning is so important. Our kids need to know the why behind what we and the Lord expect of them. I love the book called, Why? Powerful Answers and Practical Reasons for Living LDS Standards, by Hilton and Sweat. If you haven't read it, I'd highly recommend it to everyone.

Shoebox Princess said...

Great post!

Reasoning is necessary! I just had a discussion yesterday with my high school senior son who came home with news of a drug sweep at his school that resulted in an acquaintance (known to both of us) being arrested. We talk often about cause and effect, consequences of choices, etc.