Most people want to be good parents. They want to raise happy, healthy children and maintain close, loving relationships with them. They want their homes to be filled with peace and love. They begin their journey through parenthood with the highest ideals and the best of intentions.
These “noble aspirations” are often thwarted when parents are confronted with the trials and struggles of daily life, H. Wallace Goddard says, adding that “parents get tired, distracted, frustrated, and overwhelmed.” In his recent book “Bringing Up Our Children in Light and Truth” (Walnut Springs Press, $14.99), he suggests the use of basic gospel principles to make the goal of being a good parent a little easier to accomplish.
Goddard believes that parenting “is, above all else, an apprenticeship for godliness” and we cannot be successful without divine help. He likens the process to building a house and offers the following as a “Model for Godly Parenting.”
• Footing — Be a flourishing person
Parents must be healthy, balanced individuals. This includes not only mental, emotional and physical health, but spiritual health as well. To become a flourishing person, parents need to show gratitude, share their talents and serve others.
• Foundation — Have compassion
Godly parenting cannot exist without compassion. Goddard defines compassion as the “divine gift of feeling what another person feels even though we do not have his or her life experience.” He says that we “simply are not capable of true compassion without heavenly help.”
• Body — Nurture and guide
Parents must love, support and encourage their children. They must also teach them about eternal principles and the consequences of their actions. According to Goddard, nurture and guidance are equal partners in parenting. He writes that “guidance of children is not effective in the absence of nurture. And nurture without guidance is indulgence.”
• Roof — Have an eternal purpose
Parents must remember that they are not merely trying to get their children through this life. They are also trying to prepare them to serve their Heavenly Father. They have an eternal purpose and should continually seek heavenly guidance to raise their children in “light and truth.”
Goddard is a professor of family life for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. He and his wife Nancy are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have three adult children, 10 grandchildren and have cared for 20 foster children during their 37 years of marriage.
Sandra Nazar lives, writes and blogs in Oklahoma with her husband and five children. She blogs at www.sincerelysandra.net.