Linda & Richard Eyre: Perspective is everything in parenting

Published: Friday, Sept. 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

GPS units

Ed Andrieski, AP

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A crusty, old sea captain steered his craft through a raging storm one night as his radar showed another ship directly in his path. “Give way, move aside,” he bellowed into the radio. “No, you give way. Adjust your course” came back the reply.

Enraged, the captain radioed, “Move! You are directly in my course.” The answer that came back immediately changed his perspective: “I am the lighthouse — you are the one that has to move!”

Perspective is everything. When we see things accurately and within the bigger picture, when we “get it” and understand what is really happening and why, we can then figure things out and make good choices.

If you were driving along in the dark and could see only the turnings into cross streets and the forks in the road, you would be subject to all kinds of directional mistakes. But if you had your GPS and could see it all from above, adjusting your perspective to a mile, to five miles, to 50 miles, to the whole distance from where you are to where you want to go, you could then make all the right turns along the way.

The plan of salvation is the big picture, the big map that shows the destination, and the restored gospel is the clearly marked path. And the gospel GPS is so advanced that it allows for U-turns and course corrections so long as we don’t turn it off or tune it out. And like a buddy-tracking application, it also allows us to locate the position of our children and to coordinate the journeys so that we all end up at the same place.

The trouble is, our kids are not driving on completed, perfect or easy roads. There is a lot of construction going on out there, some huge potholes, even some steep cliffs without guardrails, so it’s not enough to just tell them where we want them to go.

They might get there by trial and error, but that is such a painful and dangerous way to travel. We need to somehow give them their own GPS and to show them how to use it well enough to negotiate roads that are, frankly, more difficult and dangerous than ours.

Still, if they really see the destination clearly and if they understand how wonderful it is, and if neither we nor they ever give up on the GPS or on the renewal of course correction, they will get there, maybe not on exactly the route we imagined and maybe a little later than we would have liked, but they will get there.

As parents, we also need the GPS. Sometimes we have to pull back a little from the day-to-day, from putting out the fires and solving the little problems that beset us as part of “normal life.” We need to periodically rise above the practical challenges of homework and soccer practice and sibling rivalries and think about where we are going. We need to think about our goals for our family and our hopes for our children, and we need to share those goals and hopes with our children. We need to teach the gospel every day and think about Christ every day and help our children understand the plan of salvation and how they fit into it.

We need to use the faultless and matchless gospel GPS to plot both where we are and where we are going and we need to hold that destination and that course in our minds day in and day out, causing it to influence everything we do and how we do it.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.ValuesParenting.com and read their books for free at www.EyresFreeBooks.com.

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