Anyone who has spent time around children has probably wished for the non-existent unique, individual, child raising manual. Parenting books are nice, but the examples do not always fit each child or have solutions for every meltdown. Whether you grew up in a home with twelve people or three, you will have experienced discord at some point. Perhaps you experience it more now in your home than you did growing up or vice versa. There is just no one-size-fits-all solution.
Of course, as parents we seek direction on how to create a home filled with peace. We have all read Mosiah 4:14 which says, “And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil who is the master of sin…”
I have beaten myself up with guilt over this scripture when my children argue and fight. Telling them that they are serving the devil as they scream at one another is like attempting to blow out a bonfire. I am convinced that the teaching comes after the conflict.
At one point, my two sons fought so badly that my daughter sobbed to me that one was killing the other. I knew that was not the case but in her sweet little heart, she was traumatized, even to the point of waking in the middle of the night in tears. It was those precious tears that finally dug into my oldest son’s heart. He still gets angry with his brother, but he has learned to walk away and be angry by himself rather than fight with his brother. It may be a small step, but it is progress, nonetheless.
When tempers are running high, I find that I need to separate the players, giving them a chance to “walk it off.” After a little while, I will often put on beautiful primary or church hymns that bring the Spirit. I have found it is most effective to have a “debriefing” to talk about what happened and recognize what we could have changed for a better outcome. I ask them whom they were thinking of when they made their choice. The answer is typically that they were only thinking of themselves. When appropriate, their consequence is to serve one another. The apologies usually come without me having to do anything more. Does it always work? No. Family life is not perfect. We learn as we go.
The most important thing we can do to deal with discord is to invite the Holy Ghost, allow them to feel His presence which will be the only one that softens their hearts. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said the following to families raising children, “May I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you. He knows that your giving birth to a child does not immediately propel you into the circle of the omniscient. If you and your husband will strive to love God and live the gospel yourselves; if you will plead for that guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit promised to the faithful; if you will go to the temple to both make and claim the promises of the most sacred covenants a woman or man can make in this world; if you will show others, including your children, the same caring, compassionate, forgiving heart you want heaven to show you; if you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do.”1
I am grateful to know we have access to a loving Father in Heaven who will guide us as we seek His help in obtaining peace in our homes as we deal with temporal struggles.
- “Because She is a Mother,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, General Conference April 1997, Saturday Afternoon Session