In 1995, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World. This declaration offers an explanation of the divine plan of happiness for all of God's children, as well as the family-focused doctrine and priorities that church members are commanded to follow. Lately I have had this excerpt on my mind:
"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."
Until I became a parent I didn't realize how hard it is to introduce principles and establish best practices, all while maintaining that ever-elusive feeling of "love at home." The day-in, day-out effort is exhausting, and mostly I wonder if the kids are absorbing anything Garry and I are trying to teach. The fact that I believe in impeccable honesty, a peacemaker attitude, and a daily change of underwear just hasn't sunk in for some of our offspring. How can I teach them the importance of weightier things like faith and prayer and obedience and the Atonement if they don't listen when I teach about clean socks?
When Garry asked one child today what he'd like to study in the scriptures, he said, "Star Wars!" He got Helaman instead. Today was a day of holy terror on our church bench (certainly not the kind of holiness one would expect while partaking of the sacrament). I also discovered that our children had raided my annual Easter lesson for Family Home Evening, scattering its contents who-knows-where. (Luckily a friend helped me find the guide online...now I just have to re-prepare it.)
And yet, we still move forward. I took these shots of the kids as we read our scriptures together the other morning. Between the sleepy eyes and the spilled milk, I was sure this was a day when the words were flying over our heads instead of into our hearts. Zach's grumpiness level was near its peak, and even Tyler, who normally asks question and appears engaged, was struggling. Gavin and Lexi enjoyed their turns "reading," but Garry and I kept exchanging glances. We were on the same page, literally and figuratively. This was ridiculous.
There was a talk during General Conference that really resonated with me. This month, I keep remembering these words from Elder Maynes:
"We learned that our children might not remember everything about the family home evening lesson later in the week, but they would remember that we held it. We learned that later in the day at school they would probably not remember the exact words of the scriptures or the prayer, but they would remember that we did read scriptures and we did have prayer. Brothers and sisters, there is great power and protection for us and our youth in establishing celestial traditions in the home."
And so we keep trying!