Thursday, June 27, 2013

Some of the best lessons are those that require little preparation

Yesterday I posted about being prepared to teach your children gospel lessons. Today my point is also about preparing but in a different way.
So my fourth point is that some of the best lessons are those that require little preparation. But when I talk about requiring little preparation, I am talking about the physical kind where you spend time considering what cute games to use or what activity would best teach a specific principle.
This point is about looking for opportunities to teach your children about the Gospel.  If you are gardening, consider comparing a seed to faith, or the work put into helping your garden grow, like the effort required to make your testimony grow.  If you are cleaning windows together you could point out how as you wipe the grime off the windows it is like how the Atonement wipes us clean of sin through repentance. With a little thought and practice, these types of discussions can come naturally and easily. As you find ways to point out real life applications of the gospel to your children's lives, they will begin to see how God really is in the details of their lives and how all things can point to their Heavenly Father.
When Will was very little I lost my keys one day.  I was pretty frustrated as I had a lot to do in a little amount of time.  I asked Will to go brush his teeth while I looked for my keys.  He came back in the room visibly upset and said that we needed to leave right now to go buy a toothbrush.  He could not find his.  I told him that we would go as soon as I found my keys and he proceeded to lose it.  I was so confused by his sudden melt down and it added to my frustration.  I sent him to his room. He went screaming and demanding that we "Leave Right Now!"  I told him that if he screamed or banged on his door one more time I’d spank him.  He proceeded to scream and bang on the door--all the while insisting that we buy a new toothbrush.  I stormed into his room and told him to turn over so I could spank him.  I warned him and now I was going to follow through on my promise.  As I spanked him he kept saying, “Mom, just listen to me.  Just listen to me.”  I said something like, “I’ve listened to you long enough” and proceeded to spank him.  Then I rushed out the door leaving him behind to cry.  I went to my room and knelt and prayed and asked Heavenly father to help me not be so angry and to be able to listen to him.  After a few minutes of sitting on my bed and trying to get a hold of myself, I went back to his room and asked him what he needed to tell me and why his toothbrush was so important.  He said, “I don’t want to be a pirate!”  I was like, “What?”  Then it dawned on me that I had read to him “How I Became A Pirate” earlier that day and pirate have green teeth because they don’t brush their teeth.  And pirate's mommy's don't read them bedtime stories or make them dinner. He didn’t want to be a pirate.  When I finally listened I understood his behavior.  

I felt so stupid and I felt the impression that I could use this experience to teach Will a valuable lesson. I said to Will, “Will, we need to kneel together and ask Heavenly Father to forgive us.  We have acted in a way that makes him unhappy.  He is sad that you acted the way you did but he is more sad that I behaved so poorly.  He wants us to be kind to one another.  I’m sorry I was not nice to you and we also need to ask Heavenly Father to forgive us.”  We knelt down together and asked our Heavenly Father to forgive us and to help us show each other love and respect. As we prayed together such a sweet spirit filled the room.

Will does not remember this experience but what Will does remember is that when I make a mistake, I will ask him to forgive me and that I believe in prayer and in asking Heavenly Father to forgive me.
This experience has stuck with me for five plus years now.  It is a lesson that was taught with no time consuming activity or fun game or treat after the lesson.  It was just me and him talking together and praying together.  

I truly believe that had I not gone to my room and asked Heavenly Father to help me, I would have missed the opportunity to hear the spirit tell me how to teach Will in that moment. If we are open to the spirit, He can teach us.  We can hear Him say, “Teach this principle Now.” But this takes practice to look for the opportunities and to hear when the Spirit is telling us to act.

So point number four is: Look for opportunities to teach your children in your every day lives and prepare yourself to be open and ready for the spirit to prompt you. It requires practice but little preparation.

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