Saturday, June 29, 2013

For a wise purpose...which purpose I know not.

1 Nephi Chapter 9

Nephi made two sets of plates. One for the spiritual ministry of his people, and one for the historical record. He also included many of the things that were already in his Father's plates (the plates of Lehi). To Nephi, this seemed redundant, and he was not given an explanation as to why. But he obeyed the promptings he received and followed them.

Nephi had complete trust in his Heavenly Father. It is a blessing that our Heavenly Father is consistent and reliable and will never ask us to do something that is not good for us. Nephi fulfilled the commandments he had been given even when he didn't understand why he was doing it. This is a perfect example of trust.

I would love to have the same relationship with my children that Nephi has with God. And I think my kids do trust me quite a bit, but they often do not want to do something unless they know the reason behind it. Sometimes this leads to a lot of perusading them to just do what I ask already. But I find instructions are most effective when I also explain why I need them fulfilled. Maybe this is why Nephi trusted both Lehi and God so much. He had done this so many times before and they had always done what is best for him. More explaining to my kids why I ask them to do certain things will do 3 things: expose my true motives to myself, allow them to understand why they are doing what they are doing, and gain trust that whatever I ask them to do it will be in their interest to be happy and safe.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A vision

Lehi's dream is a beautiful metaphorical vision that Lehi had and shared with his family found in 1 Nephi 8. It is filled with beautiful analogies that bring to life many principles of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What I was impressed with beyond the analogies was the language and manner in which the dream was related to Lehi and then to the children of Lehi. The message given from God, our Heavenly Father, to Lehi was done through a dream. The symbolism in the dream was not complex or hidden, but yet wasn't spelled out in complete detail either. It was the perfect guidance that both tested the willingness and humility of Lehi, and yet provided instruction and encouragement for the benefit of those who made an effort to understand.

As a father my instructions to my children sometimes lack the perfect balance that Lehi's dream illustrates. With small children it is sometimes hard to give any instruction except for direct commands, yet there comes a point where those commands become demeaning and patronizing. Metaphors, like the ones used in Lehi's dream are tools that can provide the balance needed to provide complete instructions. They will also stick better in the minds of children, and test their ability to figure it out on their own. I am going to try and attach a story or metaphor to the instructions given to my children more often.

One are of instruction I think this would be particularly helpful with is in chores. Right now, my children are only motivated to do their chores if there is some reward involved. But I think a better and more consistent motivation would be to instill a sense of duty and hope they understand their ability to help the whole family through their chores. What are some good metaphors I could use for that?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Going back for the ladies

So after getting the plates, Lehi receives another vision and they need to go back....but this time you didn't hear any complaints from Laman and Lemuel because they were going back to persuade Ishmael and his family to come with them, and Ishmael had daughters that they could marry. Even though this positive motivation led to an easy departure and they were successful in convincing Ishmael and his family to come with them, Laman and Lemuel were still able to stir up a few people into rebellion against Nephi. Now that Laman and Lemuel had what they wanted they decided they wanted to go back to Jerusalem. I guess they were sick of living in the wilderness taking orders from their younger brother and father. This time Nephi had to use paersuasive negative motivation to keep them from going back to Jerusalem. First, he reminded them that they had seen an angel, and had miraculously taken the brass plates. Then he gave them some positive motivation by explaining that the Lord had promised them a "land of promise". Finally he reminded them that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed, the people wanted to imprison his father (Lehi), and ultimately they would be destroyed with Jerusalem if they returned.

So how do you think they took it? Well, they decided to bind him up and leave him for dead in the wilderness, and only stopped when others begged for them to stop.

Ok, so that was a little bit of a long summary, but I wanted to point out that Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi for that matter were all motivated in different ways. I feel like I am constantly trying to motivate my children to choose the right. I have heard countless strategies for teaching children to behave, including both positive and negative rewards or punishments. I have tried many different strategies as well, and some of them work, some of them don't. But I think we need to realize that our children are still children and we can expect them to know what to do and how to react to every situation, and they are not going to make the right decision all the time. They are going to need constant reminding of positive experiences and both positive and negative consequences, and sometimes they are going to need a bit of pleading. The hardest part is not getting frustrated and angry and maintaining a patient attitude.

I think it also helps to be reminded that the simple indiscretions of my children are not much different from my own mistakes. I am constantly making the same mistakes despite the positive and negative associations with my opportunities to do better or worse. I know those around me have had to exercise their share of patience as I have struggled through making the right choices. And I know that my Heavenly Father has given me a continual stream of second chances as I have made mistakes despite constant reminders of the blessings of choosing the right.