Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reverence and Respect

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Respect and Reverence, by Margaret S. Lifferth
First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency

Facing a growing concern that our children were requesting to watch things on the television too frequently, my wife and I moved our one TV to our bedroom. We hoped that having it out of sight would help it to be out of mind. In its place, we now have a large bookshelf, from which we spend a great deal of time reading books together. However, lately the children have been requesting to watch movies more and more—it probably has much to do with not being as able to play outside because of the Texas heat.

Despite our media vigilance, we still observe behaviors and actions that run contrary to our desires. Now that we can't blame media as readily, I'm left wondering where my usually incredibly-sweet and well-behaved children pick these things up. (I don't even have the luxury of blaming other children because our extra-familial social interactions are limited.) Fortunately (and unfortunately), as I listened to Sister Lifferth's talk, I isolated the most probable source: ME!

We've tried to teach our children to have respect for others and reverence for holy things. On this topic, Sister Lifferth taught:

...Our ability and our credibility to exemplify reverence for God is strengthened as we show respect for each other. In today’s society, the standards of decorum, dignity, and courtesy are assailed on every side and in every form of media. As parents and leaders, our examples of respect for each other are critical for our youth and children because they are watching not only the media—they are watching us! Are we the examples we need to be?

Just yesterday, frustrated, David asked, "Why does everything have to do with sitting in the corner?" He was upset that he had been sent to the corner a few times since I had come home, as a result of his actions. To him, it seemed that everything he did resulted in an undesirable punishment.

As I consider what Sister Lifferth said, I'm left to wonder if I should send myself to the corner! I'm confident that much of the frustrations that my amazing five-year-old experiences have more to do with his emulating behaviors I've unknowingly shown than conscious decisions to go against what we've said.

I need to change before I start saying, "Do as I say, not as I do!"

Directly following the above quote is a list of self-analysis questions for parents. The one that stings me the most is, "Am I an example of respect in my home by the way I treat those I love the most?"

Please don't think that I'm some sort of monster (I'm usually not!); I've just come to realize that I can do much more to improve.

Assuming that I can do better, what else do I need to do?

...Reverent behavior is not a natural tendency for most children. It is a quality that is taught by parents and leaders through example and training. But remember, if reverence is rooted in love, so is the teaching of it. Harshness in our training begets resentment, not reverence. So begin early and have reasonable expectations. ... It takes time, patience, and consistency.

I take from this that I not only need to do better myself, but I may need to adjust my teaching style—Am I too harsh?—and evaluate my expectations to determine if they are reachable—I want to develop faith and fun, not resentment!

Quoting President Packer, Sister Lifferth taught me that I can change as I work on improving reverence and respect in my life: "While we may not see an immediate, miraculous transformation, as surely as the Lord lives, a quiet one will take place."

I'm excited and hopeful to be a better father, teacher, and friend to my sweet children.

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