Friday, March 30, 2018

What Easter Can Teach Us About Parenting

by Jen Sorensen

I’ve been really thinking about the last week of our Savior’s life and I keep drawing parallels between his great sacrifice and parenting. I consider being a mom the best thing I do every day. It’s definitely not the only thing I do every day, but it is the most important and I will take any help I can get, especially in the form of my Savior’s example.

What Easter Can Teach Us About Parenting - Mormon Mom Planner Blog

We need to let our kids do hard things.

I think of our Father in Heaven hearing that plea from our Savior asking if the cup could pass from Him and I just hurt inside, but they both knew it had to be done for the rest of us. While our kids’ struggles have little bearing on the rest of the world, we do know that they have to go through hard things to refine them and become capable, independent adults. But, man, it’s hard to watch! I don’t give in to many things—whining makes me angry and begging makes me roll my eyes—but real, genuine struggling is so hard for me to watch. When my kids are hurt or are sick or in pain, I just want to do anything in my power to make it go away. Sometimes, though, that is exactly what they are supposed to go through.

My 11-year-old has struggled in school for a long time. We always spend the last couple weeks of summer trying to remind him of all the good things about school like friends and recess and fun fridays, but all he would do is turn his back to us and pretend he can’t hear. It was so hard for him to even think about going back to school that he couldn’t face us. Literally. I wanted to just wrap him up, squeeze him tight, and tell him that it could just be him and me together forever while we ignore this hard thing in his life. Instead, we got him ready right along with all the other kids, told him he was brave and that he could do it and then took him on his first day. He looks like he’s about to throw up in a couple of his first day of school pictures. What he doesn’t know is that I always spent those first few days in knots and crying my tears while he was at school so I could be strong for him when he got home.

Watching him struggle to read a simple book or relearn the same math he thought he had mastered the day before was hard. Really, really hard. But we couldn’t let him give up on himself. The Savior endured to the end with the help of his loving Father and so we kept fighting for him, praying for him and cheering him on, and it paid off. He just finished six months of vision therapy after finally being diagnosed with a form of dyslexia. He still has a long road of catching up to do and that’s okay. He’s grown and turned into a happy kid who doesn’t dread being at school and doing his homework, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

We need to try to feel what our kids are feeling.

One of the most beautiful parts of the Atonement is that we know our Savior felt all that we have felt or ever will feel. I would love for my kids to have even the slightest trust that I feel and understand what they’re going through. To do that, I can’t “mom” halfway. I really need to stop the million-and-one other things I’m doing and listen to what they’re saying. And I really need to listen to what they’re not saying.

How else will we know that a “bad day” was really someone they thought they could trust telling everyone their biggest secret. Or how else will we know that the “grumps” is really a kid who is struggling to admit that they made a mistake and it’s affecting how they feel about themselves and they really need help and guidance to make it right again?

So often we just react to our kids instead of absorb what they really need from us. I am going to try harder to emulate the perfect empathy that our Savior has because understands all of our feelings with only one goal: to help us become who we can really be. If we strive to understand our kids’ feelings, then I know we can issue fewer rash punishments and instill more lifelong lessons.

I'm so grateful for the unmatched sacrifice of our Savior so that I could spend each day figuring out how to be a better mom to these cuties.

We need to teach our kids to forgive others, but especially themselves.

Why is this lesson so hard for us to learn? I think sometimes we get so frustrated with our kids that we kinda hold a grudge. Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe in coddling our kiddos; sometimes they just need to know they’re in trouble. But when we hang on to our anger and frustration, they forget what they did that actually got them into trouble and focus instead on feeling uncertain where they stand with us. If we can make sure they understand the lesson (whether that’s through a talk or consequences or both), then forgive them for the mistake or behavior, then they will learn to forgive themselves and move forward.

I believe our Father in Heaven did not intend for us to learn lessons in this life by carrying prolonged guilt or surviving extreme punishment. I believe that he wanted us to learn our lessons by experiencing more and more of His Spirit with every correct choice we make. We can learn a deeper meaning to this by parenting our children with that same love. Of course, as we’re taught about repentance we know that they do need to experience consequences that nudge them back to the right path, but so often they just need our sincere love and adoration and forgiveness.

I'm grateful for the example of our Savior and the layers and layers of lessons we can learn from His life. I'm grateful that this week I was able to ponder the last week of His life and the extreme and unmatched sacrifice He made for me so that I could be here  and be a mom. I'm so grateful for Him! Happy Easter!

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