I was recently trolling on the net and saw Marie Kondo, of The Magic Art of Tidying Up, fame. I have written about her and how her methods are having a deep impact on people. I just took a shirt to the DI pile because it no longer “gave me joy”. She has really changed how I look at the stuff around me. I read an article about how she is now teaching her 2-year-old how to fold her clothes, showing that you can’t be too young to learn how to be tidy. Marie is already ON IT– making sure that two year old can fold her clothes and socks–although she admits she refolds the socks so they are just right. It struck me how we teach our children what is important to us, in each of our individual families—whether you are in a musical family, a sports family, an organized family, etc. It also reminded me how quick our children are to emulate us at a young age.
Do we know the power we hold when it comes to impacting our children for good or bad at an early age?
I recently read this verse in the Book of Mormon. Limhi is the son of wicked King Noah. Noah has trashed the kingdom and has now been burned to death by his own people. Limhi makes a deal with the Lamanites to farm part of the Lamanite’s land because it’s the land of the people of Limhi’s inheritance. Limhi and his people are taken in by the cunning King of the Lamanites to give half of what they grow and make to the Lamanites in exchange for the land. It’s an uneasy alliance as shown in this verse, Mosiah 19:28:
“And the king of the Lamnites set guards round about the land, that he might keep the people of Limhi in the land, that they might not depart into the wilderness; and he did support his guards out of the tribute which he did receive from the Nephites.”
Any time you have to guard people to make them do what you, want that’s a bad direction. Because I am parenting a teenager right now, I am always looking for parallel applications in these Book of Mormon stories. If you use your time well when your children are young, if you show them what is important to you, you won’t have to guard them when they are teenagers, as much. If you have taught them to be honest, responsible, open and vulnerable to you, your life as a parent when they are teenagers will be so much easier. Someone talked to me this week about how the anchor of the Gospel that his parents secured in him at a young age carried him through emotional turbulence in his teens. His parents showed him what was important to them while he was young.
I heard this story below from a 2002 General Conference talk and thought, “She anchored early!” Gayle Clegg, second counselor in the General Primary Presidency, is the speaker. She tells a wonderful story of how teaching their daughter at a young age helped her in a stressful situation.
“When I was a young mother, my husband and I found ourselves taking our five children under the age of eight to live in South America. Although none of us spoke the language, my six-year-old had the greatest difficulty learning a new language. We decided to put her in preschool with four-year-olds, even though she should be starting first grade. Our hope was that interaction with younger children would be less intimidating to her and might facilitate her ability to communicate in Portuguese.’
“But the reality for my daughter was that she was as foreign to the children as they were to her. Each day was a struggle, and I anguished for her every morning as I walked her to school and then waited for her to return, dejected, at the end of the day.’
“One day, some children were particularly unkind to her. A few even threw rocks and bullied her, laughing rudely at recess. She was scared and hurt and decided she couldn’t go back into class. Sitting alone while the playground emptied, she remembered what we had taught her about loneliness. She remembered that Heavenly Father is always close to His children and she could speak to Him at any time, not just before bedtime. He would understand the language of her heart. In a corner of the playground, she bowed her head and said a prayer. She didn’t know what to pray for, so she asked that her father and mother could be with her to protect her. While returning to the classroom, a Primary song came into her mind.’
I often go walking in meadows of clover,
And I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue.
I gather the blossoms the whole meadow over;
Dear mother, all flowers remind me of you.
“As she opened her eyes, she noticed one little flower growing between the cracks of the cement. She picked it up and put it into her pocket. Her troubles with the other children did not disappear, but she walked back into the school feeling that her parents were with her.”
I know we are all doing our best at parenting and some of our children may not choose a religious path. We know that is ultimately up to them. Why I love this story is because it shows how meaningful early learning can be even when your children are young. Anchor your children in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Give them a powerful tool to help them weather the storms now and later in their lives, large or small. I would encourage you as a young mother that now more than ever these early years are the time to help your children feel those tugs of love, strength, truth, integrity and that God loves them and they have an Elder Brother they can turn to. Be an example and talk about how much the Gospel means to you, early and often. What have you taught your children early and often?