In his talk “The Love of God” Elder Christofferson discusses God’s love. My purpose today is to discuss how understanding God’s love can help us in our parenting efforts.
“Our Heavenly Father loves us profoundly and perfectly. In His love, He created a plan, a plan of redemption and happiness to open to us all the opportunities and joys we are willing to receive, up to and including all that He has and is.” In other words, God loves us so much and wants the best for us. This goal is what I want for my children. I strive to give them opportunities to learn and grow and be the best that they can be.
Knowing that God loves us perfectly gives us the confidence to come to Him with our successes, failures, wants, and needs. Our children should have the same confidence in us. I have found that there are things we can do to build that confidence in our children. Some examples are:
- Talking one on one with them
- Having activities as a family that strengthen the bonds we have
- Praying for them
- Setting rules and guidelines for appropriate behavior
- Always being ready to teach in the moment
“We need not hesitate to call upon God, even when we feel unworthy. We can rely on the mercy and merits of Jesus Christ to be heard.” Can we say the same thing about our children coming to us? Do they hesitate when they feel “unworthy” to come to us in times of need? What can we do to help them know that no matter what we are there for them?
In answer to that last question, I have learned that initial reactions are key. If my initial reaction is one of anger, disgust, disbelief, or sarcasm, my children become reluctant to talk with me. However, if my initial reaction is listening, empathy, and an outpouring of love, no matter how I feel on the inside, my children feel that love and know that I don’t condemn them, but want to help them. It’s not easy to have that initial reaction, but it is a must if we want to show God’s love to our children.
Love Does Not Excuse Sin; Rather It Offers Redemption
As parents, one of the hardest things we do is allow for consequences to occur when a child makes a mistake or wrong choice. We don’t excuse the behavior, but we do allow our children to redeem themselves when they commit an error.
Elder Christofferson, speaking of our religion states, “Ours is not a religion of rationalization nor a religion of perfectionism but a religion of redemption – redemption through Jesus Christ.” Do we offer redemption to our children? Do we avoid the easy rationalizations that the world offers?
As parents, Cheryl and I have had lots of opportunities to practice this principle of redemption over rationalization. For smaller indiscretions this is easy. For larger ones, it is most difficult. We have struggled with blaming ourselves when these larger transgressions have occurred. Several times we have asked ourselves “where did we go wrong?”. The answer has come to use every time. It’s not that you did anything wrong, it’s that your children have the freedom to choose.
God Loves Us, Do We Love Him?
The last section of Elder Christofferson’s talk discusses how we can show our love to God. As a parent, I have asked at times if my children love me? With all the experiences that happen over the time we spend as full-time parents it can seem as though our children don’t love us. It’s important that we recognize those moments where their love for us shows. As I said above, they have the freedom to choose and sometimes that means they will have harsh words for us. But there are other times when they choose to show us love. It is in those moments that we must cherish and strengthen that love.
The opposite is also true. Do our children know how much we love them? Do we show it in our actions and words? Of course we can always do better.
Parenting doesn’t have a manual or a checklist of items that shows us our success. We do, however, have a perfect example for how to love our children. God’s love shows us the way. If we can be more like God, we can love our children better.