“And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.” Mosiah 4:14
It is ‘a given’ that many families will struggle as children express their independence, perhaps when teenagers (and pre-teens) under peer pressure interact with others. Negative behavior so learned and not corrected, can yield a lifetime of disappointment against happiness, success, earning power and relationships–including those clearly of eternal possibilities.
Correction and punishment often has no soft ‘Christ-like’ approach. Christ’s words and personality taught that real productive change comes when love is the motivating element behind it. Thus, for the paragraphs that follow, it will mean greater blessing to a family’s strength, when Christlike encouragement and example become the central theme in the home. Regular, earnest prayer and staying close to the Lord facilitates many positive, correct and often spontaneous solutions when needed… towards His sort of correct intervention and not to overdo it. Certainly follow the counsel of our leaders via any media available. (For part of the best sermon EVER written, from the Lord above, see D&C 121:41-46… or time permitting read it all from :34-46. it applies profoundly to all leadership, not just Priesthood / men.)
When parents have difficulty bringing order into their home and family, they can create unique ways for change. They could simply encourage a family paradigm that, “as part of our family and to keep order, each of us have jobs to do.” Then later with the less cooperative…Should any choose to be exempt from helping; should they fight and quarrel with parents or siblings, they also choose exemption from outward privileges including being with friends. Little rebellions or ‘smart remarks’ may be answered with, “Oh, thank-you!… for volunteering to do the dishes” or vacuuming, or cleaning the bathroom. When there are no extra chores to encourage discipline, a chore could be created, such as filling a wheel barrow with dirt, dumping and refilling.* Thus less rebellious siblings often learn to cooperate seeing a disagreeable brother or sister so taught. Use your imagination and remember practical lessons are learned when punishment ‘fits’ the situation. After any of the above ‘extras’ a child’s emotional / spiritual temperature and self-worth will be sustained through one on one time with a compassionate parent.
Where a child becomes distant from responsibilities and covenants, lazy in school work he/she used to do well, for no apparent reason, a practical lesson may be needed. One solution I learned recently was taught/adapted from a former Bishop, concerned about one of his Priests. He needed a forum in which to talk to, get to know, and hopefully reach the young man and created a situation at his home where they could work together on a project, then asked the young man to help. The work was mundane and strenuous. Conversation generated while they worked together (over several days) changed behavior and caused the young man to feel the Bishop’s love and concern. He later served a mission and continues happily married and active in his church responsibilities. Adapted to a school grades setting, this would be a way of showing a type of life work to be expected from a pattern of poor grades since such grades would likely lead to minimal income labor.
Where a child’s school environment becomes brutal, it may be necessary to find a different situation. In our own family, each move opened new and better possibilities for our children and we felt much blessed for the new environment (and to leave behind mean or rebellious peers). Moves were costly compared to staying in one place. In retrospect we would do it again. Many families today find home or private schooling to be a viable solution rather than the adversity often common in public schools.
There are always a number of factors influencing those making right choices towards a happy successful life. When opportunities come up parents can facilitate better choices for children by following patterns of quiet reason. Take it slowly, a step at a time. Current disagreeable patterns likely didn’t happen overnight. Spontaneous solutions may not be the best… or the Lord’s way.
With this or any of life’s problems earnest prayer sincerely and often given, brings needed help and sometimes profound solutions from above. Our children, each one, are wonderful reasons we should stay close to the Lord!
* I’ve known of children who have been refused use of the bathroom (when they felt above cleaning it), or a place at the family meal table and the meal itself when they felt their family not worthy of their presence, care and attention. Loving follow-up should happen when discipline methods have had time to cool but are still a fresh reality.