Monday, March 9, 2009

Parenting: Lessons from Agriculture and Prayer

I was given a quote to read in our marriage and family class in Sunday School yesterday that touched something inside of me. Even though I don't have an agriculture background (despite attending a high school that was literally in the middle of corn and soybean fields), I feel like I can relate to Loren C. Dunn's story:

While we were growing up in a small community, my father saw the need for my brother and me to learn the principle of work. As a result, he put us to work on a small farm on the edge of town where he had been raised. He ran the local newspaper, so he could not spend much time with us except early in the morning and in the evening. That was quite a responsibility for two young teenagers, and sometimes we made mistakes.

Our small farm was surrounded by other farms, and one of the farmers went in to see my father one day to tell him the things he thought we were doing wrong. My father listened to him carefully and then said, “Jim, you don’t understand. You see, I’m raising boys and not cows.” After my father’s death, Jim told us his story. How grateful I was for a father who decided to raise boys, and not cows. In spite of the mistakes, we learned how to work on that little farm, and I guess, although they didn’t say it in so many words, we always knew we were more important to Mother and Father than the cows or, for that matter, anything else. (Ensign, Nov. 1974. p 11, link)

Upon reading the above quote, I wondered if I could say the same thing. Can I likewise say, "I'm raising children, not degrees," or "I'm building a family, not just keeping a clean house"?

I hope so.

Thinking on the responsibilities I have as a parent reminded me of a comparison I read in the Bible Dictionary under Prayer (link), which is presented below with modifications to show how it was changed in my mind regarding parenthood (swapping parenting for prayer in the quote):

As soon as we learn the true relationship in which [our children] stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and [they] are his children), then at once [proper parenting] becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7: 7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about [parenthood] arise from forgetting this relationship. ... Blessings [of parenthood] require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. [Parenting] is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

It is humbling to think of the divine charge I have as a parent, especially when I consider how amazingly wonderful my dear children are. I don't want to be one of the many bad influences that they may encounter, but want, instead, to be a representative of their true Father as I teach them in love.

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