Tuesday, May 8, 2012

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them, by Boyd K. Packer
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I teach a class of nine-yr-olds. They're not afraid of sharing the inner-workings of their families--a fact I'm sure many parents wish wasn't true! In a recent lesson, I talked to them about fairness. Using an example from our own family, I asked what they would do or say if their sibling came home from church with a delicious-looking cupcake from their class, and that the brother or sister didn't want to share.

Their universal answer: "It's not fair!"

I asked them what, if anything, their parents would do or say to such an outcry.

Their parents' universal answer: "Life's not fair."

I was comforted to know that other families deal with some of the same challenges that arise in our family, particularly the fairness issue. While we listened to conference together as a family, my wife and I looked at each other and quickly restated something that President Packer said in a "See, we're not the only ones who say this" sort of way:

It is not easy, but life was never meant to be either easy or fair.

I should note that two paragraphs earlier, President Packer said, "It is the challenge of mortality to be a worthy and responsible parent." I think that teaching children that life isn't fair (and that it's not meant to be easy or fair) is part of trying to be a worthy and responsible parent.

But it doesn't make the lesson go down any easier.

Full disclosure: my daughter is in a class at church where she often gets treats to bring home. Whenever her brothers start in on their "it's not fair" routine, to her credit, my beautiful daughter will often smile and say, "it's okay, I was going to share it with you!"

Just in time for Mother's Day is this gem from President Packer:

One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about what really matters from our children than we ever did from our parents. We come to recognize the truth in Isaiah’s prophecy that “a little child shall lead them."

Sorry, Mom; I guess my children are more important than you were. (But remember that I was more important than your own parents in teaching you, although I'm sure it was through difficult courses that the learning came!)

I know, that quote has more to do with learning through doing (and the inherent mistakes) than in the quality of mothers vs. the quality of their grandchildren. But it's important to remember that the reason why I personally can learn so much from my children is because I had such a great mother! (And my dad is pretty great, too.)

So, in summary, family is important, church is important, and family-friendly church is a great combination. I liked the instruction that President Packer gave:

Priesthood leaders must be careful to make the Church family-friendly. . . Family time is sacred time and should be protected and respected. We urge our members to show devotion to their families.

So the next time you find yourself sitting near our family at church and wonder why I seem to be having such a hard time keeping my children under control, remember that my children are busy helping me learn something.

And also do what you can to get the meetings to end on time (or better yet: early). After all, long meetings with small children just aren't fair.

(See, I'm learning from my children already: "It's not fair!")

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