“Strong family relationships don’t just happen. It takes time. It takes commitment, it takes prayer, and it takes work.” – Eugene Hansen (“Children and the Family,” Ensign, May 1998)
Being a parent is a great responsibility and many times we get discouraged. We feel disheartened because our children will not respond to us or listen to our advice. Because of all the outside influences such as radio, television, and peers, we have to make sure we are sending our children out with a mighty shield of protection.
Barbara Bush said to a group of graduates at Wellesley College:
“Whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.” (Washington Post, 2 June 1990, p. 2.)
There is no such thing as a perfect family, so don’t get discouraged. Raising a family isn’t easy. We’re human and make mistakes. Just remember the secret to a happy household is TLC. Talk, Love, Compromise! To compromise is the hardest thing in a family.
I have six grown daughters and we have had plenty of drama at our family get-togethers, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays. The reason why is because they all have definite opinions about certain things. I have seen them mad at one another one moment, then turn around and give comfort to the same sister. I have seen them throw up their hands in frustration with a sister and then run to the same one for advice and to talk about a few problems. I had to laugh when one of my daughters wrote a list of subjects to avoid at family get-togethers. When she showed it to her sisters, they all broke into laughter. I am so grateful for the bond my daughters have with one another.
“Women who make a house a home make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies or stand at the head of impressive corporations. Who can put a price tag on the influence a mother has on her children, a grandmother on her posterity, or aunts and sisters on their extended family?” –Gordon B. Hinckley
It is in the home that children learn integrity, respect, love, and honesty. We should teach respect for other religions, cultures, patriotism, and for the law. Being an example is the best teacher. If we expect our children to respect others, then we must show respect. Remember that our children learn by example. But that is not all. We must teach our children how to work and take responsibility. There is an irony in the fact that parents want their children to be self-sufficient and independent, but at the same time they give too much.
“Those who do too much for their children will soon find they can do nothing with their children. So many children have been so much done for, they are almost done in.” (Neal A. Maxwell, “The Man of Christ”, Ensign, May 1975, 101)
Perhaps we are so anxious to give our children what we didn’t have, that we’re forgetting the most important part…doing things together. Material objects will never replace affection or our absence.
Wealth and great careers should not come before family. How many times have we sacrificed something, such as not attending an important meeting, so we could see our son or daughter in a baseball game or perform in a concert? Have we given up something important to attend our children’s functions? Sacrifice is part of being a family.
The following story is an example of sacrifice. When I read this story as a young teenager, it touched my heart and I never forgot it.
After giving birth to a son, with great joy the young woman asked her doctor, “When can I see my baby?”
She could hardly wait to see her newborn child. The nurse promptly brought the infant to her and laid the little boy in her arms. When the mother removed the soft blanket from his little head, she gasped. Her little boy was born without ears. The doctor tried to comfort her and told her that he believed her son’s hearing would not be affected.
The doctor was right. As the years passed, the young boy had no problem with his hearing. When he eventually attended school, his peers made fun of him because he was different. Many a night he spent in his room crying. When his mother heard the sobs coming from his bedroom, she walked in, sat down beside him, and smoothed his hair with the gentleness that only a mother could give. Then he poured his heart out to her, telling her how he was treated in school.
This broke the young mother’s heart as she listened to her son’s anguish. What could she do to help? He was a good-looking and intelligent young man, but no one seemed to look past his handicap. He had a few friends, but how would he deal with people as an adult? Would they overlook such a problem or avoid him? What kind of future would he have? Finally the boy’s father took him to the family doctor and asked if anything could be done for their son.
The doctor looked at the young boy and said, “I believe that we could graft on a pair of ears, but it’ll be expensive. Would you be able to afford it?”
The young father instantly replied, “No, but we’ll make do. We’ll do anything to help our son, even if we have to mortgage our home.”
After they left his office, the doctor began the long search. Over two years went by and finally the doctor found what was needed. The operation was a success and the young man looked like a new person. He knew of the sacrifice that his parents had made by mortgaging their home and he was forever grateful. He never took their gift for granted. His confidence began to grow and he entered many school competitions and won. He graduated from college with honors and even fell in love and got married.
The years went by and he never forgot the gift his parents had selflessly given to him. One day, the young man received word that his mother had passed away. With grief in his heart, he went to the funeral and stood beside his father at his mother’s casket.
His father gently nudged him and said, “Your mother always thought of your happiness. Her love knew no bounds.”
Then he bowed over his wife’s body, and tenderly swept her gray hair from around her face. The young man gasped. Tears began trickling down his face as he saw the generous and beloved donor that had given him his ears.
I would like to end with one of my favorite quotes:
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home. The poorest shack, in which love prevails over a united family, is of greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches.” — David O. McKay. (Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116.)