Let me just preface this blog post with, I am still learning and imperfect at this! A couple years ago, I came across Elder Robbin’s talk called “Agency and Anger.” Since then, parts of this talk have been burned into my brain. Thoughts of this talk often come to my mind when I am starting to feel upset about something. Our family motto is “Cope’s Are Kind” and believe me, this motto is not always true! Ha! We struggle with the best of ’em, but that doesn’t mean there is no hope for us. I wanted to share with you some resources that have helped our family, and specifically our parenting immensely.
“The family is also Satan’s primary target. He is waging war on the family. One of his schemes is the subtle and cunning way he has of sneaking behind enemy lines and entering our very homes and lives.
He damages and often destroys families within the walls of their own homes. His strategy is to stir up anger between family members. Satan is the “father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Ne. 11:29 (Links to an external site.); emphasis added). The verb stir sounds like a recipe for disaster: Put tempers on medium heat, stir in a few choice words, and bring to a boil; continue stirring until thick; cool off; let feelings chill for several days; serve cold; lots of leftovers.
A cunning part of his strategy is to dissociate anger from agency, making us believe that we are victims of an emotion that we cannot control. We hear, “I lost my temper.” Losing one’s temper is an interesting choice of words that has become a widely used idiom. To “lose something” implies “not meaning to,” “accidental,” “involuntary,” “not responsible”—careless perhaps but “not responsible.”
Isn’t it amazing how phrases in our own language can elude to us not taking responsibility for our own actions? Contention and anger immediately drive out the spirit within any home. Satan is the father of contention. We actually can control ourselves and choose for ourselves not to become angry.
Concerning how to parent our children, this second talk by Lynne G. Robbins has also helped me a lot. You can find the whole text HERE.
This second talk is called, “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?” In it Lynne G. Robbins talks more about HOW to parent and discipline our children.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from it:
“When children misbehave, let’s say when they quarrel with each other, we often misdirect our discipline on what they did, or the quarreling we observed. But the do—their behavior—is only a symptom of the unseen motive in their hearts. We might ask ourselves, “What attributes, if understood by the child, would correct this behavior in the future? Being patient and forgiving when annoyed? Loving and being a peacemaker? Taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and not blaming?”
How do parents teach these attributes to their children? We will never have a greater opportunity to teach and show Christlike attributes to our children than in the way we discipline them. Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple and implies patience and teaching on our part. It should not be done in anger. We can and should discipline the way that Doctrine and Covenants 121 teaches us: “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge” (verses 41–42). These are all Christlike be’s that should be a part of who we, as parents and disciples of Christ, are.
Through discipline the child learns of consequences. In such moments it is helpful to turn negatives into positives. If the child confesses to a wrong, praise the courage it took to confess. Ask the child what he or she learned from the mistake or misdeed, which gives you, and more important, the Spirit an opportunity to touch and teach the child. When we teach children doctrine by the Spirit, that doctrine has the power to change their very nature—be—over time.”
My husband and I continue to talk about and listen to these talks often. We are far from perfect but I know the Lord makes up the rest as we try our very best. I have a testimony that we can learn how to manage our anger within the walls of our own home if we rely on the Lord and strive to work our hardest to repent every moment of every day. In our parenting, this is especially important. As we turn to the Lord, our children will see that and turn to Him also.