Bestor parents are thankful for their children's successes

Published: Saturday, June 18 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

They built their first house in Provo, in an area lovingly dubbed "Celestial Circle" because of all the LDS church leaders who lived there.

"We were accepted; our children were accepted," he says. A decade later, they were Mormons. "That story could fill a book," he jokes. In fact, it will. Phyllis is writing a book called "How to Live Among the Mormons for Ten Years and Not Be One …"

Phyllis spent her career as a teacher. "Back then I was the only woman in the neighborhood working outside the home, but we had a relationship that made it work. Teamwork became an asset, and our children learned independence."

As a teacher, "she was in tune with the children, and that enabled us to be more effective parents," Rollie says. And they shared tasks, he said. "She'd go to school, and I'd be here doing the canning."

Their parenting style evolved, he says. It didn't happen all at once. But looking back, he sees several techniques that he thinks make a difference.

First, he says, "We always encouraged them to take risks." He remembers holding the rope for Carrie so she could fly in a ninth-grade production of "Peter Pan." "We urged them to find other ways to fly."

They all took piano lessons, but each one also was expected to learn a second instrument. For Kurt, it was the trumpet; Jill played the French horn; Carrie, the oboe and flute; John, the trombone."

They encouraged their children to "do it Mozart's way, then do it your own way," he says.

Children, he says, "can lurk in the shadows, or they can get out there and be a part of life. And there are many creative ways to get the job done."

They learned early on the power of example. "I was driving with Carrie and threw a candy wrapper out the window. She asked, 'Dad, why did you do that?' I felt so bad; I've never done it again. I learned you can't preach and not follow through."

The whole idea of mixed messages is "so powerful," Phyllis says. "If you want to teach your children not to speed, you must never speed. If you have any rule, you have to live up to it, too."

The Bestors encouraged their children to stick with whatever they started. "John was a decathlete at BYU. That took incredible tenacity," Rollie says. And that carried over to other parts of his life.

"One day he decided he was going to get a second minor degree in voice. We thought, 'no way; he's never even sung in public.' But he found the best teacher, Clayne Robison, and convinced him to give lessons. To get his degree, John had to sing in front of a jury, and after that we got a call from Clayne saying he thought John had the best set of vocal equipment on campus."

Another principle the Bestors tried to teach their children is that sometimes it's OK to make a mountain out of a molehill. "Take something that has a little potential and reach higher, make it bigger," Rollie says. As a teacher and coach, he met many students who were not going to succeed in traditional sports. "But I could see a little molehill. Some of them became my best swimmers."

Above all, say the Bestors, they encouraged their children to be themselves. "We wanted them to magnify their calling in life, to live a dynamic life," Phyllis says, "but we didn't want them to compare themselves with others. They had to be themselves, find their own roles."

And that's what they've done, Rollie says; it's what makes him the proudest.

"Did we always know what to say to do? No! Did we provide critical counsel and direction as they continued to 'spread their wings?' We always tried our best to do so. There isn't a handbook that tells you exactly how to raise a child, how to motivate and encourage the child through the learning and growing years nor how to handle the thousands of questions and new experiences all children go through."

But today, Rollie and Phyllis Bestor have the satisfaction of knowing "that for the most part our sincere parenting efforts paid off."

It's a feeling they wish for every parent.

Email: carma@desnews.com

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