Mormon,Mormonism: Parenting

The Lord explained how his children should be raised. As we discuss the scriptures that give his guidelines, let us remember that these guidelines are to be used in environments in which our children have agency. We are not to destroy that agency in any way. Rather, we are to follow the counsel of the Lord to help our children have proper limits to their activities and to exercise their agency within those limits. Our role as parents is to help our children grow in their ability to make wise decisions. As our children use their agency wisely, we are to give them more freedom by broadening the limits we place on them. In other words, we are to train our children to be self-sufficient people.

Many of the Lord’s parenting skills are described in Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In that section, the Lord was referring to missionary work, but his comments apply to child-raising, for raising children to become like the Father is the most important type of missionary work.

The Lord said that we should embark on this work with full intent. We are not to take our roles as parents lightly. The Lord continued by saying that this work would be a fruitful endeavor in which we would bring salvation to our souls as well as to those with whom we labor. He then enumerated several skills that we should use in raising our children.
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. (D&C 4:5)
We are to use faith in God as the basis for raising our children. This faith leads us to have hope that our families will be successful. That hope leads us to have charity and love for our families. The charity spoken of is the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:47), and that phrase has two meanings. It means that our love for Jesus Christ is pure; we honestly love him and are grateful for his suffering in our behalf as he paid the price for our sins. The phrase also means that we have for our families the same unselfish love that Jesus has for us; this love is to be the basis of our interpersonal relationships.

The Lord then explained how we use charity to raise our children. He said we should have the personal traits that he personified during his mortal ministry.
Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. (D&C 4:6)
Our relationships should be based upon faith in him. Those relationships must be based on virtue, for he is clean. We are to study parenting skills so our actions will be based on knowledge. We are to avoid extremes in our behavior by using temperance and consistency with our children. We are to remember that learning comes by way of frequent, small steps, rather than infrequent large jumps, and we are to teach our children with patience and allow them to learn from their experiences. Because our relationships with our children are to be based on charity or pure love, we are to have sincere kindness towards our families, and we are to exhibit godliness towards them. We are to be humble that we may be led and taught by the Spirit of God (D & C 42:14; 28:4; 75:10) and by our church leaders, for we are also learning as we teach our children. We are to be diligent, steadfast and faithful to the end. Not all of us will have righteous children, and none of us will be “perfect” parents, but we are to do as much as we can and then leave the rest to God.

In the final verse of Section 4, the Lord counseled us to be prayerful as we raise our families, and he promised that the way would be opened for us to accomplish our missions.
In Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord, speaking through Joseph Smith while the prophet was in the Liberty jail, gave further counsel to help us fulfill our stewardships as parents. He first counseled us that we can exert positive influences only if we follow principles of righteousness. He enumerated those principles.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile– (D&C 121:41-42)
We are to raise our children by using persuasion to influence them. We are to be patient and long-suffering with them as they learn from their experiences. We are to treat them with gentleness, meekness, kindness, and honest love. Because our children are God’s children, we are to treat them as we would treat the Lord himself if he were living in our homes.

The Lord went on to say there will be times when we must give correction to our children, but we must correct them only when we are inspired by the Holy Ghost to do so. He said that after we give correction, we must give increased love to our children so they will realize we acted out of love for them.
Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death. (D&C 121:43-44)
Many parents give correction out of frustration and anger rather than out of love. One can tell if his or her actions come from love or from anger. Love is positive and strengthens self-esteem while anger is negative and belittles and destroys the self-image of both the child and the parent.

The Lord emphasized that charity and virtue must be the foundations of our families, and he promised that those families who live as he lived would receive great blessings.
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever. (D&C 121:45-46)
Before giving us the counsel on positive parenting skills that we have discussed above from Section 121, the Lord warned us that we might exercise unrighteous control over his children. He first explained that the powers of heaven can only be used in righteous ways.
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. (D&C 121:36)
He then explained that we can receive positions of authority, but if we exercise unrighteous control, domination, or compulsion over his children, the Holy Ghost will be grieved. If our unrighteous acts are continued, we will lose our companionship of the Holy Ghost and our right to represent God here on earth. If that happens we are left alone to shrivel in our shells of bitterness.
That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins; or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. (D&C 121:37-38)
The Lord then said that almost all people exercise unrighteous dominion when they receive authority.
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (D&C 121:39)
It seems that many parents believe they have a right to excessively control their children, that to spare the rod is to spoil the child. Those parents sometimes point to verses in Proverbs as justification for their being strict with their children (Proverbs 22:15; 23:13; 29:15). As we read those verses, it is important that we understand them within the context of all of the Lord’s teachings on child rearing. We have discussed that the Lord wants us to establish wise boundaries for our children, for those limits allow our children to have and exercise agency. The verses from Proverbs are referring to such boundaries–correction and guidance given under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. There is no excuse for parents to use those verses to justify authoritarian control of children in ways that cause physical, emotional, and spiritual harm.

Here are links to science research papers on parenting skills and the effects of parenting.
No matter where they live in the world, university students who were spanked as children are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, according to new research by Murray Straus, co-director of University of New Hampshire Family Research Lab. Even young adults whose parents were generally loving and helpful as they were growing up showed higher rates of criminal behavior.
While popular media often depicts highly-involved parents negatively as "helicopter parents" or "tiger moms, how does placing one's children at the center of family life really affect parental well-being? New research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science finds that parents who prioritize their children's well-being over their own are not only happier, but also derive more meaning in life from their child-rearing responsibilities.
Growing up in poverty can have long-lasting, negative consequences for a child. But for poor children raised by parents who lack nurturing skills, the effects may be particularly worrisome, according to a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
An article by researchers at the University of Exeter has shed light on the link between depression and poor parenting. The article identifies the symptoms of depression that are likely to cause difficulties with parenting. The findings could lead to more effective interventions to prevent depression and other psychological disorders from being passed from parent to child.
"There is a lot of pressure on parents these days to produce children that excel in everything, socially and academically," says Reut Avinun of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Since children are not born tabula rasa, I felt it was important to explore their side of the story, to show how they can affect their environment, and specifically parental behavior." Most studies of parenting look at only the reverse, how parents affect their children's experiences.
Fathers' extremely long working hours can be detrimental to their sons´ wellbeing. This is the key finding of a longitudinal study by Jianghong Li (senior researcher at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center) and four Australian co-authors, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
A new study out of the University of Cincinnati not only finds that parents feel responsible about taking action when their children struggle with social issues, but also that parents are influenced by their own childhood memories. Jennifer Davis Bowman, a recent graduate of the special education doctoral program at the University of Cincinnati, will present her research on Aug. 12, at the 108th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York, N.Y.
"Cognitively stimulating parenting is where parents include activities designed to get children thinking such as reading to them or doing puzzles together.
Preschool children who have been neglected or emotionally abused exhibit a range of emotional and behavioral difficulties and adverse mother-child interactions that indicate these children require prompt evaluation and interventions, according to a systematic review by Aideen Mary Naughton of Public Health Wales, Pontypool, England, and colleagues.
The study made use of specialized, baby-friendly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the brain growth in a sample of children under the age of 4. The research found that by age 2, babies who had been breastfed exclusively for at least three months had enhanced development in key parts of the brain compared to children who were fed formula exclusively or who were fed a combination of formula and breastmilk. The extra growth was most pronounced in parts of the brain associated with language, emotional function, and cognition, the research showed.
"I don't think a lot of parents give these ideas about meaning much thought," Cookston said. "You may think that you're being a good parent by not being harsh on your kid, for instance, but your child may view that as 'you're not invested in me, you're not trying.'"
A new report indicates that more than one in five parents of teens aged 12 to 17 (22.3 percent) think what they say has little influence on whether or not their child uses illicit substances, tobacco, or alcohol. This report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also shows one in ten parents said they did not talk to their teens about the dangers of using tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs -- even though 67.6 percent of these parents who had not spoken to their children thought they would influence whether their child uses drugs if they spoke to them.
In the long run, encouraging a baby to finish the last ounce in their bottle might be doing more harm than good. Though the calories soon burn off, a bad habit remains.
According to the study, which was presented at the Society for Research in Child Development 2013 Biennial Meeting in Seattle, a sample of low-income mothers who had experienced their own childhood traumas exhibited ongoing "traumatic avoidance symptoms," which is characterized by an unwillingness to address thoughts, emotions, sensations or memories of those traumas. This avoidance interfered with mothers' ability to talk with their children about the child's emotions, leading to shorter, less in-depth conversations; those mothers also used closed-end questions that did not encourage child participation.
Early, substantive dialogue between parents and their grade-school age children about the ills of tobacco and alcohol use can be more powerful in shaping teen behavior than advertising, marketing or peer pressure, a University of Texas at Arlington marketing researcher has shown.
Children who are exposed to negative parenting -- including abuse, neglect but also overprotection -- are more likely to experience childhood bullying by their peers, according to a meta-analysis of 70 studies of more than 200,000 children.
Prior research has shown that the transition from high school to college is a particularly vulnerable time, associated with increased alcohol use and risk of negative alcohol-related consequences. While studies have examined the effectiveness of prevention programs to address this problem, few have examined which students may benefit the most. A study of student characteristics has found that parent-based interventions (PBIs) can be effective even among those students feeling high peer pressure to drink alcohol.

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