It’s been more than eight years since Clark Gilbert, then the new president of the Deseret News, came up to our home in Park City and asked us to write the weekly flagship column for the Family section of the Deseret News.
We said yes, and also, for several years, wrote a second weekly column for Mormon Times.
And now, nearly 500 columns later, we are moving on. This will be our last regular column.
Looking back, it has been a joy — not only to share our ideas and feelings about family, but to get so much wonderful feedback from you, the readers. We have learned much. And we are particularly grateful to all those at the Deseret News who have guided, edited, and assisted with our efforts over the years. Special thanks to Clark Gilbert, Chris Lee, Paul Edwards, Aaron Shill and Christine Rappleye.
But all good things must end, and we find ourselves so busy now, not only with our nine children and 31 grandchildren, but with two new books just published ("Grandmothering" and "Being a Proactive Grandfather"). We also are now doing a regular column in a national Grandparents magazine and working on a major documentary film that is being made based on our book "The Turning: Why the State of the Family Matters and What the World can do About It." Additionally, we are working with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to see if there is a possibility of establishing a cabinet-level National Office of Family that would monitor and protect our most basic institution.
We are also shifting some of our efforts to social media, which is where the current generation of young parents can best be reached. We feel like we have reached two generations of parents through our books and TV shows and through columns like this one, but to reach this next generation of marriage partners and parents, social media is the key. You (and your children) are invited to follow us on Instagram @richardlindaeyre or on our website at www.Valuesparenting.com.
Many of the things we post on social media link back to one or more of our 500 Deseret News articles in the archives, and we hope to continue to share our voice with Deseret News readers.
So, come to think of it, we are not saying goodbye, but just that we will see you in other forms and on other media.
But what we would like to say in farewell is this: Family is the first priority and the prime joy source. And we all have families — we are all part of a family. If you are not married or with children, you are a sibling, a son or daughter, an aunt or uncle. Family is what matters. Family is what lasts.
Our personal paradigm, based on our religious beliefs, is that family (we like to say “eternal family”) is the END, and Jesus Christ and his sacrifice are the MEANS. We get to the end by our own effort and by the support and power of the means.
None of us — not you, and not us — are family experts, because there is no standard family and no one-size-fits-all family solution. But we each have a chance to become experts on our own families, on our own children, on our own marriages, on our own siblings, on our own grandchildren, on our own nieces and nephews. And the thought we give these stewardships and the time we spend on them will be the most important and consequential time, thought and effort of our lives.
We all have made mistakes with our children and in our family relationships. We all could have done better. We all feel some guilt. But guilt is not productive, and in our experience, most all of us have done the best we could, given what we knew and who we were at the time. Better to cast off guilt and just keep trying, keep learning, keep loving, keep improving.
We think of two stories we would like to end with. One happened after a speech we had given where a woman came up and, through tears and sobs, said “I have lost my son. He left home and was on drugs.” Struggling to know what to say, I mumbled, “so you have given up then?” Suddenly, this small woman, who had been a puddle of tears a moment before, gathered herself, stood taller and glared me in the eye. “Given up?” she said in a loud, firm voice, “He is my son! I will never, never give up.” I realized in that moment that the only way we can ever fail as parents is by giving up. If we don’t give up, it will get better. There will be reconciliation, soon, or in a year, or in 10 years, or in eternity. Never give up.
The other story happened when we visited a little rural church where no one knew us and where the Sunday School lesson happened to be on parenting. There was another visitor there, a real city slicker who raised his hand on every question and seemed to have all the answers. He started most of his retorts with “Well, my son the quarterback” or “my daughter the valedictorian” or “my other son the student body president” and then told us his brilliant parenting ideas. Toward the end of the class, a small farmer raised his hand, got called on and turned to face the big braggart. “Excuse me, sir,” he said in a quiet voice, “But God must not have thought much of you as a parent, sendin' you all them easy kids.”
Some of our kids are easy, some are hard. Some of our marriages are difficult. Some of our extended families have longstanding rifts and anger.
Life is real, and family life is particularly real. But if we keep prioritizing family, keep working on loving more, and keep looking for and accepting help, we will ultimately succeed at the most important and most joyful part of life.