Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How my parents taught us

My mom and dad made parenting look easy.

At least that’s the way I remember it. I remember getting disciplined (not often, I of course was an ideal child), I remember FHE lessons on getting along, but the things that stick out the most in my memory are lessons learned by example, not lecture. Our family is especially blessed by strong friendship between siblings, and until high school and college I though that every family was the same. But it wasn’t until recently (when my baby became old enough to interact with my oldest) that I began to inspect those childhood memories, and found more intent and deliberation in those seemly spontaneous, nothing-but-fun-here games and activities.

Take the “Good Do-bies”, for example. This was a fun game where you did a good deed for someone--made someone’s bed, for example, or finished someone’s chore--and never admitted it was you who did it. “It must have been the Good Do-bies!”

Or the Pinecone Pals. An idea taken from Girls’ Camp, we would draw names among the brothers and sisters and then, for a week, we would write little notes, leave little pieces of candy, help out anonymously, and so on until the weekend, when we would tell each other and draw names again.

There are other examples, and not every one of them worked. (Nobody was fooled by “Beat the Clock.” Cleaning is cleaning, and having a timer go off isn’t going to make us like doing it.) But so many of our games helped us learn service, love, and patience, without ever realizing that what we were learning.

As I’m raising my young family, I look forward to the time when they are old enough to play some of these games. I already thrill to the fact that my two year old loves to pat his little sister on the head, even if he does sometimes push her away from the toys she’s playing with. We’re working on his patience. I only hope we can do as good a job as my parents did.


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