Thursday, July 19, 2012

In Tune with the Music of Faith

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

In Tune with the Music of Faith, by Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

With young children, it seems that you're either trying to convince them to tell the truth, or to not be so honest with others. Most situations involving the first (to tell the truth) have to do with the child not wanting to get in trouble and fabricating a story to get out of something. Situations for the second (to not be so honest) are a different flavor altogether.

As I sat in front of a nine-yr-old girl in Church on Sunday, she leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "You know you're going bald, right?"


My wife and I think that this girl likes to try to get a reaction from people by making over-the-top "honest" comments. She probably wasn't satisfied with my response, though: "I know; isn't it great! I often wish all my hair would just fall out so I could be beautifully bald!"

My six-yr-old daughter is starting to learn that she doesn't always have to say whatever she's thinking, however honest it is. Some time ago, after I finished working in the yard, she found me without a shirt on. Her honest question was, "Daddy, why does your tummy jiggle so much when you walk?"

Sensing no guile, I answered honestly, "Probably because I'm fat."

Keeping up the honest theme, I recall her reply, "Yeah, you're fat and Mommy isn't."

I'm forgiving.

I say that she's learning to temper her honest comments because yesterday I was again without a shirt after doing yard work. Remembering our previous conversation, I apologized to her that she had to see her fat Daddy walking around. Her reply, "Daddy, you're not fat!" (NOTE: Yes I am.)

I smiled at her polite political response, but smiled even more when her four-yr-old brother chimed in, "Daddy, you are fat!"

Good thing some of us fat guys are known for being jolly. (If only I had a troupe of elves to help around the house/workshop.)

Children can be brutally honest. Which takes me to Elder Cook's talk.

When, as a family, we watched Elder Cook speak in conference, a combination of the lighting, the video feed, and the natural terrain of his scalp made for an ... interesting sight. Right after I noticed this, my daughter let us know she noticed too: "His head is bumpy!"

Coincidentally, this was right before Elder Cook said:

Remember, it is not up to us to judge.

I hope it's okay to notice that someone's head looks bumpy, so long as you don't judge them because of it. What do you think?

We have a few other funny stories of our sweet, honest daughter making sweet, honest comments to others (who may not have taken her words as sweet at all!), but we've tried to lovingly teach our children that it's good to be honest, but it's also good to not hurt others' feelings. I suppose we could pounce on our children when they make mistakes and blow things way out of proportion (I'm sure we do do this sometimes—and no, I didn't just say doodoo). In fact, Elder Cook said something about this as well (I emphasized one part):

Our great desire is to raise our children in truth and righteousness. One principle that will help us accomplish this is to avoid being overly judgmental about conduct that is foolish or unwise but not sinful. . . it [is] important to distinguish between youthful mistakes which should be corrected and sins that require chastening and repentance. Where there is lack of wisdom, our children need instruction. Where there is sin, repentance is essential.

I think we're doing well, but there I'm sure I have room for improvement. As I try to teach my children in "truth and righteousness," I need to remember to be an example. Elder Cook reminds:

Example is particularly important. What we are speaks so loudly that our children may not hear what we say.

Parenthood can be great fun with honest children, even with too-honest children. I want to live so that who I am coincides with what I'm trying to say, so my children want to listen.

Because, after all, I'm listening to them. And I'm also listening to all the funny things they say when they're being honest!

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