A Sacred Duty

I am part of a women’s organization that, among many other things, goes out to visit other women once a month and share an uplifting and comforting message of truth. Right now I get to visit 4 wonderful women, whom I truly love.

The message we shared this month was called “Parenthood is a Sacred Duty,” and there were many things within this message I thought were highly applicable to homeschooling. Pretty much any truth principles pertaining to parenting can be applied to homeschooling. Homeschooling is just parenting on mega steroids, right?

Maybe.

Anyway, here is the link to the full message, but I’m going to pull out a few gems. The message is pretty short and will take you maybe 5 minutes to read – more if you look up the scripture references.

First of all, I love that the title calls parenthood a “sacred duty.” Yes, it is a duty. It is an obligation and a responsibility. Parenthood is not a hobby or a pastime or something we do because every one else is doing it, too. Our children are not there to make us look good or use as accessories. But being a good and purposeful parent is vital and essential to the wellbeing of our communities and our society. Not only that, God’s plan for all His children is that they grow up in families. Families, and parents and parenting, are eternal principles.

But it is not just a job that we grudgingly fulfill and complain about, anticipating the day when we get to have our own lives back again. Although somedays are not pretty (ok some can be horrifyingly ugly and downright frightening) and there are times we really do wish we were doing something else, it is important to remember that being a parent is a sacred duty. There is something more to it than just fulfilling a job or putting in the hours. It is set apart from the rest of the world. It is a holy responsibility. It is different than worldly pursuits because the family relationship can transcend worldly limitations. A family can be eternal.

So this little message taught/reminded me of a few things I can do as a parent to treat my responsibly as something more, as something sacred.

  1. “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” (President Thomas S. Monson) I try to be very efficient and goal oriented in my homeschool. There really is more to be done than can be done in one day. But in reading this quote I realized that I am looking more at the duty part of things, and less at the sacred part of things – and the sacred parts are those beautiful spirits that I am blessed to call my children. I do love them. And they should know that I love them, even more than I love staying on my schedule and finishing all our schoolwork.
  2. “Sometimes discipline, which means ‘to teach,’ is confused with criticism.” (Susan W. Tanner) I think this can go both ways. First, I realized that I do criticize more than I mean to. Because I am in a hurry and problems need to be solved right away, in the moment it makes more sense to me to just quickly tell them what they are doing wrong or what needs to be corrected and then move on. But that is not teaching. That is criticizing. I can really do better there. And then second, sometimes perhaps our children hear our teaching and take it as criticism. Different little souls understand instruction in different ways and even if we intend no harm, it would be a good idea to know how our children are receiving the correction we are giving them. A good conversation in pride and humility (and charity and love) might go a long way.
  3. “Grandpa! Are you in there?” (Elder Robert D. Hales) This was a cute story about a grandchild trying to get his grandpa to actually listen to him. This quote was maybe my favorite, since I had read a little meme on Facebook a few days prior that said something like we are born with the ability to hear, but not the ability to listen. Listening is a skill and a habit that we must develop and cultivate. That got me thinking about how well I listen to my children. I mentioned this to one of the women I visit each month and she said, “But you homeschool! How can you homeschool and not listen to your kids?” Well, actually it’s pretty easy. You can just tell your kids what to do all day long and not really listen at all if you don’t try. I realized I wasn’t listening as well as I should. Yes, sometimes the input is way too much and you have to zone out a little bit for your own sanity and ultimately the health of the entire household. But I’ve used that as an excuse too many times to just zone out and focus on myself, my schedule, my wants and plans for the day, and not take time to listen to my children and their wants and plans for the day. And in fact, they do actually have plans for their days. I’ve learned that often I just plow right over them.

These little insights have helped me make some changes in the way I do things at our house. In fact, it was while I was “teaching” these principles to the women that I visit that I realized how they apply to me today and right now and prompted the previous blog post experiences.

Now in case you aren’t perfect yet either, or in case you are also human and sometimes slide a bit on all your good intentions, maybe this message will be beneficial to you, too. It’s just a little monthly reminder of the very important part we play in God’s plan for His children, for our children, and how it is a holy responsibility He has entrusted us with. And also, a gentle reminder to shift gears, perhaps, when we are focused more on the duty and less on the sacred.

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