6 points offered for teaching children
Deseret News Religion Editor
Building better marriages and raising righteous children are the unofficial themes for the annual LDS Education Week lectures this week at Brigham Young University.
Following the conference theme of "The Quest for Light and Truth," thousands of Latter-day Saints have gathered on campus to explore everything from family financial planning to marriage enrichment, effective scripture study and parent-child relationships. Included were two three-hour blocks of classes on healing from abuse and understanding domestic violence.
A. Lynn Scoresby, associate professor of family sciences at BYU, said whenever he speaks to large LDS gatherings about family relationships, he will invariably be sought out after the presentation by women hurt by family violence. "In the name of whatever love is between a man and a woman, which would never include sitting by and watching anyone hurt her. It's just unacceptable," he said. "I'm so grateful for the admonitions given by the general authorities during General Conference about the consequences for a man who would do that."
A good marriage can be the best relationship for learning how to love in a Christ-like way, he said, but such love "is a very complex enterprise. It's a highly significant experience that must be tested, worked at and learned over time."
Learning such love "is a pre-condition for rearing righteous children. They need the active involvement of both parents. And children need fathers and mothers who are unified" on family issues including finances, discipline and rule enforcement.
Because Mormons believe marriages performed in temple ceremonies will continue throughout eternity, they must use that understanding to make their relationships flourish through "basic practical caretaking." That means a husband who — rather than merely telling his wife he loves her — will get up without a word and wash the dishes after dinner.
The concept of "equality" isn't relevant in Mormon marriages, he said, because such a measuring tool "relies on some external judgment" of what the relationship should be. If each spouse understands the marriage covenant the way it was mean to be applied, both will constantly be working to help and support the other. Selfishness is banished in such relationships, he said. "Our differences are the source of vitality and growth in a marriage. In that setting, the concept of justice and fairness are far superior to those same ideals applied under the banner of equality." That art of "individualizing" a marriage so it is structured to best meet the needs of both spouses creates a true partnership, he said. "If a man truly honors his covenants, then he will spend his life treating his wife as the first and best priority in his life."
With that foundation, children can best be taught by applying six key points of family leadership:
· Prepare children more than punishing them by employing mentoring and teaching techniques. By so doing, "we're helping God do his job, which is to help his children develop and grow."
· Learn to communicate more than control. Anger is a controlling emotion that may get results but creates resentment, while discussion and communication develop a relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
· Encourage more than you criticize.
· Involve every child in family group activities, but learn to individualize situations geared toward each one's personality.
· Love more than you isolate. "If you send them away and isolate them for bad behavior when they're small, whey they need help or advice as adolescents, they won't come to you. The Savior constantly asked people to come to him, rather than sending them away."
· Love children enough to set and maintain limits regarding their behavior, financial resources and time. "Every righteous person has a set of internal limits. Righteous children understand what limits are."