Friday, August 03, 2007
Teaching The Truth
I just had one of those moments with Savannah that are very trying, but very worthwhile after the whole ordeal.
We've been trying really hard to encourage the value of modesty in our home. We encourage them to make sure that they wear modest clothing to try keep their bodies covered, as we believe that our bodies are sacred and should be taken care of and treated as such.
Well Savannah, understands this. She knows what modesty is. She can tell you exactly what modesty is and what it isn't. But that doesn't mean that she always cares to be modest. In fact she loves to wear her sister's clothes which are always 2 sizes too small. So the pants are super tight, barely cover her bottom, and ride up to her knees. The shirts look like the 80's belly shirts.
Well this morning she was adamant! She wanted to wear this outfit. So of course being the frustrated mom, I tried technique one: "That outfit is not modest, go change it right now." Which results in tantrums and timeouts, angry kids and an even more frustrated mom... not the right way to parent I'm sure.
So the second method. Try to help her convince herself that she needs to change. "Savannah that outfit is not modest, I can see your stomach and when you bend over we can see your bottom. How are you going to change that?" Being the very smart girl she is.. replied with the answer. "I'll pull my shirt down and I just won't bend over." How are you going to do that when you play and are picking things up?" I asked. "I'll sit down first so I don't have to bend over (as she demonstrates the technique)..." It worked but we still weren't getting to the issue.
Finally I had her come over and look me in the eyes while we talked. "Savannah, the prophet, President Hinkley, has asked all the girls in the church - you, me, Emily, Amanda, Laurilyn (her good friends), all of us, to wear modest clothing. He asked us to keep our bodies sacred by keeping them covered, and to wear clothes that aren't too tight. Who does the prophet talk to? That's right.. Jesus Christ. He talks to Jesus Christ, because Christ tells the prophet what he wants us to do. So Christ asked the prophet to tell us that we need to keep our bodies sacred, and modest." At this point she stopped me and said "I'll go change my clothes." "That's a good choice Savannah. Because do you know what happens when we choose to disobey and not follow the prophet? The scriptures teach us and show us. If we do not follow him and obey him, then the spirit leaves from our lives and Satan is left to tempt us."
"What is tempt?" she asks. "It means that Satan will try and make us do bad things."
With that she ran off into the room and appeared later wearing her own clothes that were modest and gave me a big hug because she felt better. She felt good knowing she had made a right decision.
It made me realize all too often it's easy to demand as a parent, tell them what they need to do and enforce it. Sometimes it works to think it out with them and help them come to the conclusion on their own. But most important... the most important way to teach is to teach truth. Often times I forget assuming they are too little. They are not too little, the spirit bears witness to them, just as it does to us. They know what is good, they know what is true, and they have a desire to be good. Once she was taught the doctrine and the truth, she acted herself. Truth is the most powerful teaching tool we have, and I need to learn to use it more as a parent.