"Parenting Experts" are an interesting lot. Usually behavioral scientists or psychologists, they often give us a lot of psychobabble, and we often get the feeling that they base their findings on their clinical practices and on their treatment of other people's difficult children. That's why we have always preferred to be called "fellow strugglers" who might have an idea to share now and then.
What parents want most is just good, sound, practical advice for "normal" children in "normal" families. We want simple, practical ideas that work!
And as Mormon parents, we would also love it if there were some spiritual solutions — something higher and better than manipulative parenting techniques or psychological communication methods.
All parents with spiritual convictions, even those not of our faith, yearn for deeper, more spiritual solutions. Recently we asked a Muslim father in Indonesia what his goal was for his children. Unaware that he was stating an LDS cliché, he said, "I want them to be able to operate successfully in the world but not to be part of the world."
He wanted, just as we all do, for his kids to be able to live happily and successfully in the world but not be worldly.
He wanted his children to be well-adjusted and comfortable but to hold to higher, older values. As a parent, he wanted to apply spiritual solutions to worldly problems.
Don't we all! The difference is that Mormon parents, because of the Restoration, have the incalculably valuable advantage of a clear and complete spiritual perspective. We know through our doctrine who our children are and where they came from. We know they are our spiritual brothers and sisters and that we are mere stewards over them here and that their true Father, and ours, is God.
We know that they have been who they are for an eternity and that they come to us with pre-existing personalities, gifts and challenges. We know God as a personal spiritual Father, and we know something of his parenting methods.
We have in the church an extensive and remarkable support system that is designed for the purpose of helping us teach our children the values of eternity and the principles of the gospel. Youth leaders, bishops, Scoutmasters, home teachers, coaches, Sunday School teachers all surround us within a church that President Harold B. Lee called "the scaffolding" that helps us build eternal families.
And if all that were not enough, we have the very power of God with which we can bless our children and the true gift of the Holy Ghost to guide us as to what they need and how each can best be raised.
If you are a Mormon parent, let us know how interested you would be in "spiritual solutions to everyday parenting challenges." If you are reading from the print edition or online, send us a comment at Eyres@desnews.com, and we will respond.
More and more, we would like this column to be a dialogue between parents with the same hopes and the same beliefs. We will suggest specific spiritual solutions to common parenting problems, and you can respond and give feedback. Together, we will create a Mormon parenting dialogue that will help us all (and, more importantly, help all of our children).