Thursday, March 17, 2011

Courageous Parenting

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Courageous Parenting, by Larry R. Lawrence
Of the Seventy

We have a park directly across the street from our home. Because of this, we can watch out our front window and see people when they think no one is watching. It's fun to catch glimpses of fathers with their young children being so gentle and caring as they play. We can see mothers gently helping their children learn to play new games and use the playground equipment in new and exciting ways. In short, we can see parents who love and care for their children.

Unfortunately, from our front window we can also see the effects of children whose parents are apparently out of the picture. We can see packs of youth with no parents or other adults involved being rough on the equipment, being violent to each other, and we can hear their loud abrasive language, riddled with swearing and derogatory words. When I see this, I cannot help but wonder about the absent parents.

For all I know, the parents of these wayward children can be loving and caring parents who trust their children to make good choices (and the children just aren't doing so). I like to imagine this scenario instead of uncaring parents who've given up in their roles and responsibilities. Elder Lawrence taught, "There are no perfect parents and no easy answers, but there are principles of truth that we can rely on."

I'm not concerned for the children whose parents are there playing with them and teaching them how to be kind and loving. I am concerned for the youth who seem to be on a path of destruction and ruin. As I think of how these youth would benefit from caring parents, I think of the powerful example that Elder Lawrence gave:

Imagine for a moment that your daughter was sitting on the railroad tracks and you heard the train whistle blowing. Would you warn her to get off the tracks? Or would you hesitate, worried that she might think you were being overprotective? If she ignored your warning, would you quickly move her to a safe place? Of course you would! Your love for your daughter would override all other considerations. You would value her life more than her temporary goodwill.

Challenges and temptations are coming at our teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train. As we are reminded in the family proclamation, parents are responsible for the protection of their children. That means spiritually as well as physically.

It does little-to-no-good to focus outwardly on the apparently missing parents of the youth at our park. Instead, I need to work on what I can do to be a courageous parent.

It takes courage to gather children from whatever they’re doing and kneel together as a family. It takes courage to turn off the television and the computer and to guide your family through the pages of the scriptures every day. It takes courage to turn down other invitations on Monday night so that you can reserve that evening for your family. It takes courage and willpower to avoid overscheduling so that your family can be home for dinner.

While I hope my children are never sitting on railroad tracks when a train is coming, I'm sure they will be tempted to do things that are even more dangerous. I want to be the kind of parent that uses courageous parenting to faithfully help my children to "be strong and of a good courage."

There were no trains on the tracks here!

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