|image from mormonwoman.org|
Having just gotten home from a trip the night before we were all cranky, tired and yet needed to get the house clean. One child in particular was ready to make the work time anything but happy. So, a lot of grumbling took place (including from me, unfortunately).
Once the cleaning was done, rather than letting the previous contention go or giving a nice long lecture (both of which I'm prone to do), I decided to brainstorm with the kids. I asked them what reasons they had for being angry and upset about cleaning. Their responses:
A) The worry that it's going to take too long and there will be no play time
B) Comparing ourselves to other people. For example, "I'm doing all the work and they're doing nothing" and "I'm doing the harder job."
Then I asked them, "What can we do to combat these thoughts? The next time we clean as a family, what thoughts or ideas can we use to replace these negative thoughts?"
Solutions for Negative Thought A:
This is nothing compared to other people or places (i.e. countries in Africa)
Working rarely takes so long that we don't have playtime
Even if it does take too long, it's just one day!
There might be compensation. :-)
This is an opportunity to serve.
With that final thought, I was prompted to share this quote from Elder Ballard (quoting President Joseph F. Smith), "There can be no genuine happiness separate and apart from the home and every effort made to sanctify and preserve it's influence is uplifting to those who toil and sacrifice for it's establishment.... There is no happiness without service, and there is no service greater than that which converts the home into a divine institution and which promotes and preserves family life."
Solutions to Negative Thought B:
Mom and Dad really do the most work (they said this, not me!)
We can sing, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
The faster I work the more time I'll have to play (emphasis on I not we).
This prompted another thought to teach from the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. The kids were familiar with this story so I asked them to recount it for me. I then asked, "How does this apply to cleaning as a family?" We compared those who began working in the first hour as the first couple kids, then the 2nd, etc. The kids decided that no matter how much each person works, we all still get the same reward.
"And what are the rewards for cleaning as a family?"
We get a clean home where we can feel the Spirit, we strengthen our relationships with one another, and we get time to play.
This method worked so much better than any lecture I could have given! Now, when we start to squabble I can simply remind them of the principles that were taught and discussed. Maybe this is what it means to "teach correct principles, and then let them govern themselves." Maybe I can be better at receiving the divine direction to lead my children in coming to solutions on their own or together as a family! I think this is the essence of the Come Follow Me curriculum now being implemented by the Church...to teach the youth how to govern themselves, how to be agents unto themselves, and to act rather than being acted upon. Honestly, this way of teaching is so much more liberating as the responsibility of acting is placed more on their shoulders than on mine. Hopefully this will stick. Hopefully I will listen to inspiration to teach this way more often!