The Proclamation To The World states “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” With seven kids, it is important that they learn to be kind to each other and work together.
One of my favorite stories to share with my kids is “The Wind and The Sun“.
This story is about the wind who challenges the sun to a test to see who is strongest. The task is to see who can get a man’s coat off him first. The sun graciously agrees and allows the wind to go first. The proud wind blows hard cold wind at the man in an attempt to blow the jacket off. The man feels the wind and pulls the coat close to himself trying to block out the cold. The wind tries some more, each time getting stronger and cold, the man reacts by hugging his coat even tighter to himself. Finally the wind gives up and allows the sun to try. With a smile, the sun shines and the man immediately starts to loosen his arms around his coat. The sun continues to shine up on the man below and eventually he can not stand the heat any longer and takes his coat off on his own accord.
This is one of my favorite stories and I remind my kids of it often when they are frustrated, or being demanding. I like to use this story to illustrate that we are all on the same team. We are all trying to go the same way and the easiest way to accomplish our goals is to work together. When we are all pulling in the same direction, whatever it is that we are trying to accomplish will be far easier to do so. While we are all on the same team, we do not all have the same abilities and skills or even desire to work towards our goals. It is important that the younger kids learn to ask kindly for help, and listen to instruction. It is also important that the older kids direct with gentle persuasion and are happy to guide and be guided. Just as everyone is happier when the sun is shining, so is our home happier when people are showing kindness. In this environment, we are not so concerned about protecting ourselves from a cold cruel world, but instead gratefully basking in loving sunshine. It is when our home rings with laughter that the spirit of Christ can really be felt.
The master example of teaching with kindness is our Saviour. He bore ingratitude, meanness, threats on his life and ridicule with love and patience. He taught with such a kind open heart full of the vital ingredient “LOVE”. Truly the Saviour was full of love for all, and just as the Saviour was able to bring hundreds to salvation, as we fill ourselves with love, we too will be able to effect a multitude of people. This learning to be patient, kind and loving begins at home. If we succeed in producing an environment of safety, our children are more likely to protect each other and protect one another from spiritual and physical danger.
In the story “The King and His Hawk” we read about a hawk who died trying to protect his King. The hawk was the Kings trusted friend. The King took the hawk on many adventures, and depended on him to see things he could not see. One day the King got lost and was bitterly thirsty. After my time, the King came upon a small spring. Exhausted he stooped down to catch some water in his cup to drink. Before he could drink his water however, the hawk dove down and knocked the cup out of the Kings hand. Three times the hawk did this and finally in anger the King killed the hawk. It wasn’t until then that the king noticed a dead poisonous snake rotting just above where he was collecting his water. The hawk saw this and knew that had the King drank of the water he would have died. The King had not seen the snake because he was too low down, the Hawk on the other hand had a better vantage point and was able to see things that the King could not. This story always disturbed me when I first heard it but I have come to appreciate the message it contains. (To watch an animated version “The King and His Hawk”)
This story illustrates the fact that each member of our family will be that Hawk at one time or another. It doesn’t matter what our ages are, Heavenly Father has planted in each of us, our own special gift. This gift will allow us to be able to see things that perhaps those around us can not. It is important that we, as a family learn to work together and trust each other, so that when that time comes, we will listen to those who have a higher vantage point than us. It is also vital that we work at strengthening our relationships now, so that when that time comes to lead others to safety, those we are leading feel confident that they can trust us. Had the hawk had words, he could have explained his actions to the King, but he did not. We need to acquire the words needed to help others.
The Saviour was a perfect example of this. Long before the Saviour asked his disciples to die for him, he lived with them, taught them and loved them. For three years the Saviour was by the side of these great men, and loved them despite their imperfections and unbelief at times. The Saviour understood those he taught and gave them time to learn to love and trust him. Only after that trust was firmly established, did the Saviour call them to on a mission that would eventually take all of their lives. As families, we need to follow the Saviours example and do whatever we can to fill our families up with love. If we do this in times of relative peace, I firmly believe that the Lord with magnify our efforts and help us rise to the trials placed before us so that our families can truly be “Together Forever”.