Sunday, August 3, 2008

Basic Instructions

I was introduced to interesting concepts at a conference some time ago. We were discussing how things are (or should be) designed, and the conceptual models that assist others in using things we make/design. I subsequently checked out and read the source: a book titled The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman. I really liked it, and recommend it, too.

Besides hilariously bad examples of design and instructions, was the idea that if a simple design requires text instructions, even basic words, you (the designer) have failed. A simple example is a door at a public place. If the door has to have the Push and Pull words spelled out, then the design is a failure—there must be a better, more intuitive design.

I was reminded of this at the hospital the night that Benjamin was born. The bed that Maryann lay in had standard hospital bed controls to raise/lower the bed components—nothing special yet. What made the design stand out was the conceptual model of a pregnant woman that was built into the picture that accompanied the controls (see below).

An effective and humorous illustration. (After noticing the protruding stomach, I commented that they must have designed the bed with me in mind.)

I've thought of this recently as I've worked with a much more complex design issue—trying to help our sweet children remember to get along and be nice. I caught myself wondering why there weren't basic instructions on child rearing. Then I recalled a favorite passage of scripture with a personal twist:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of [parenthood,] only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— Reproving betimes with sharpness [clarity], when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy(D&C 121:41-43).

This priesthood instruction seems to apply. I, as a parent, shouldn't try to get my children to think, do, or be something simply because I said so. I shouldn't rely on parental authority (think of the too-easy "Because I said so" response) in my teaching. Knowing this, though, I wondered what could prevent me from going from this

to this

(at least in my eyes, and possibly theirs) as I raise my children.

Is there a way for me to, instead, work towards being perceived as this:?

Yes! Absolutely! Of course.

There is a way for me to be kind, loving, and Christ-like, and the basic instructions were provided by Him through those scriptures that came to mind, along with the firm rebuke from the Spirit that accompanied the message.

I love that we have both the words of the scriptures, and the catalyst of the Spirit to guide us through life and provide basic instructions, which if heeded, can help us to be happy now and in the future. In addition, I love the modern revelation of living prophets, which includes such counsel as:

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, ... to teach them to love and serve one another, [and] to observe the commandments of God (source).

I hope to continue to learn to love and lead my children as I follow Christ. I also want to remember that the family is the basic unit of the church and that solutions to our problems are centered in the Christ-centered family.

(Notice that it's the solutions to our problems that are centered in the family, not the source of our problems.)

I love my family and the basic instructions we have to live together in love.

(By the way, the pictures of me are from my BYU ID, and Maryann made the angel Clark while playing with Photoshop, so I made the evil Clark to provide an alternate point of view.)

2 thoughts

Maryann said...

I like those thoughts and feel like I am not doing so well... I like your pictures.

Dad said...

Hang in there. We are all in it together and it does get easier. You're both doing a great job.

Love the pictures!!

Glenn and Melody