Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I have always taken these verses of scripture (from D&C 121) to be a guide to my parenting (sorry for the lengthy quote):

"36 That the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness.
  37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to acover our bsins, or to gratify our cpride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
  38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to akick against the pricks, to bpersecute the saints, and to cfight against God.
  39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the anature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little bauthority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion.
  40 Hence many are called, but afew are chosen.
  41 No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the bpriesthood, only by cpersuasion, by dlong-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
  42 By akindness, and pure bknowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the csoul without dhypocrisy, and without eguile
  43 aReproving betimes with bsharpness, when cmoved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of dlove toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
  44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of adeath.
  45 Let thy abowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy cconfidence wax strong in the dpresence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the edews from heaven.
  46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant acompanion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of brighteousness and truth; and thy cdominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever." 
So when Daniel started a new phase this week, I didn't quite know how to jump. See, he called my bluff. His latest claim is, "You can't control me. You can't control anything."
Each time he said it, part of me wanted to assert my authority as mother. Another part of me heard that verse, quoted above, running through my head, "exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved;" 

Really, he's right. I can't control him. I can't control anything. 
And you know what? 
I don't even want to. 
I've just wondered if he is old enough and mature enough to understand the implications of what he has grasped--that if I don't control him, HE has to; that obeying is not the same as being controlled; that "when we obtain any ablessing from God, it is by bobedience to that law upon which it is predicated." (D&C 130:21).   
Can a 4-year-old understand that when NOBODY is in control (including our own selves), chaos and unhappiness ensue? Can he understand that we have rules to benefit us? Can he understand that when I say, "Go potty and get in bed", I'm not trying to control his soul, but merely trying to help the whole family run smoothly for everyone's benefit? Can he understand that Tim and I have always made it a point to allow EVERYTHING in our family to be up for negotiation--but he has to be able to negotiate, not yell and storm out? Can he grasp that teaching isn't the same as controlling? And that it is my responsibility to teach him, and that I have been given specific instructions by God (Mosiah 4) in regards to the stewardship he has granted me over his children (who are also now my children)? Can he see that God also gives us instructions, and we can choose not to follow them, but it doesn't lead to joy and peace in our lives?

I suppose I ought to sit down with him sometime when he hasn't been yelling, "You can't control anything!" and talk to him about it.

I think I also need to deal with the core issues in his life, which seem to be a sense of insecurity (and no wonder, with us unsure of when and where we will land more permanently, waiting for job applications and auditions to settle out one way or the other, and Tim gone on tour!). In fact, he looked at me tonight and said, "You can't control anything. Because Grandma is in charge of you and SHE is the one who can control things." How's that for insecurity--he is trying to sort out the fact that the ultimate authorities in his life actually bow to a greater authority? (How does that work and how does he fit into the new order of things?) Understanding this concept will help him understand a relationship with God, but is a 4 year old mature enough to grasp willingly stepping aside to a greater authority--without losing any of your own? Or that my relationship with his Grandma is founded on respect and love, willing obedience, service (both ways), and honor, not Grandma CONTROLLING everything?
He also came in the other day and said, "I'm smarter than Anda, right Mom?" And I said, "I don't know about that. She's smart and you're smart, but I don't think either of you is smarter." "No," he replied. "I'm smarter." "You are smarter in some things, I'm sure. And she's smarter than you in some things. God made us that way so we would need each other." Anda was standing right there, by the way. Dan looked at me and shook his head. "I'm smarter than Anda, and I'm smarter than you, too," he replied firmly.

See? Plenty of hints that I have a child in crisis. He's reached that age when he is big enough to understand and choose things for himself. He's self-aware. He's starting 1st grade, so he's getting lots of good educational challenges that he's succeeding at (pretty good for a guy who just turned 4!). But there is lots of instability in our lives right now--lots of chaos, lots of people all the time who do things different than I do and are still happy, lots of mommy not running the show....

I think it's time for Mommy to swoop down not with greater bossiness and insistence, not with a good beating and more firmness in the rules, but with lots of hugs, love, listening, talking, hearing what he has to say, good meals, snuggling, praise, attention, and reassurance.  And also with a greater measure of good-old-fashioned grown up respect, a little more responsibility, and some added freedom wherever he can get it.

Daniel is in what I call the "verges"--one of those ages where he is in a gap between two worlds--in his case, between toddlerhood and childhood--and those times are hard for kids (others include age 2--between baby and toddler, age 12-13--between child and teenager, etc.).  Those are the times when the children are suddenly ready for more freedom, and when parents are caught off guard and don't know if their child is ready. Those are the times of conflict, frustration, fighting, and establishing new patterns of interaction. 

In other words, they're times when the kids are ready to grow up. 

And we, as parents, have to strike that gentle balance between letting them grow and loving them through it.

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