One Simple Method For Instilling Christ-like Attributes and Values Into Our Children’s Hearts

“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise” (Book of Mormon, Alma 37:6).

Just like we have a physical body that needs to be nourished every day, we have a spirit that needs daily spiritual nourishment. It would be ridiculous to say, “Well, I ate yesterday. I really don’t need to eat today.” While it is true that you won’t die from missing one day of food, it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience (unless you were fasting). Your spirit feels the same way when you miss a day of prayer and scripture study.

As parents it’s vitally important that we help our kids nourish their spirits every day. The first thing on my kids’ morning sticker charts is to make their bed and say a prayer. They think that I’m monitoring whether their bed is made or not, but what I’m really monitoring is whether or not they prayed. I don’t care about their bed. If their bed’s not made, I know they didn’t pray and I send them right back in there to do it. It’s becoming a habit for my older ones and they rarely forget, but for the younger ones it’s a good visual for me to see if morning prayers are done.

In our church we are counseled to have family scripture study every day. We also have a weekly family home evening (a family meeting) where we gather the kids together, teach them a gospel principle, and then have fun as a family. We always have a yummy dessert so my kids look forward to it! I know I have days when I wonder if our family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evening are impacting our kids at all – especially when one of my kids hits an older sibling during the middle of a family scripture discussion on patience!

To any of the other families who are wondering if family scripture study and prayer are working, I say DON’T GIVE UP! We don’t do scripture study and prayer for short-term benefits, but for long-term growth.

Let me illustrate my point (the following analogy comes from Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect):

Would you rather have a million dollars or start with a penny and have your money doubled every day for 30 days? Let’s pretend you choose the penny and your friends choose the million dollars. At first, you are dirt poor and the progress is painfully slow. Your friends who chose the million dollars are laughing at you! On day 10 you only have $5.12 and your friends are mocking you while they sit and drink pina colodas on their yacht. On day 20, you wonder if you should give up. You only have $5,242.88. Is it really worth it? Should you keep going? Some people may quit at this point – the struggle and wait just doesn’t seem to be paying off. But what a tragedy that would be! On day 28 you would break the one million dollar mark and on day 30 you would collect an astonishing $5,368,709.12! This is called the compound effect. It is much more powerful than just getting a lump sum of one million dollars.

A one million dollar lesson on patience to our kids may not amount to much. A one million dollar lesson on faith or repentance or charity may not amount to much, but what if you had a short gospel lesson every day? The compound effect kicks in and pretty soon you have the equivalent of a 5-million-dollar lesson with several topics in your kids’ spirituality bank accounts. One family home evening may not make a difference that day or even later that week, but over time, what is the collective effect of hundreds of family home evenings? It is astonishing! The spiritual power your kids will have gained will plant their spiritual roots firmly in the ground. They will not be uprooted by doubts or fears or unbelief very easily because of the compound effect of the spiritual things you have done in your home as they were growing up.

It’s never too late to start a regular scripture study habit or family home evening. Our family has monthly themes/values that we want to teach our children. They repeat themselves every year. We do that on purpose. We want those 12 values deeply ingrained in our children’s hearts and behavior.

THE 12 EGBERT FAMILY VALUES

How did I come up with this list? As a young mom, I started making a list of all the spiritual things I wanted to teach my children, but it grew so long that I became overwhelmed and discouraged. How on earth could I possibly teach all of that to my kids? It seemed hopeless. I knew I needed some way to organize it , but I felt lost.

Shortly afterwards, I was preparing a church lesson for the youth and turned to the For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet.  Have you ever wanted a list of all the Christian values we want our youth to understand and live by in a format that was clear, concise, direct, and short enough to finish in 30 minutes? In our church we have a pamphlet that is worth its weight in gold. It covers 19 topics from dating to honesty to work and self-reliance. You can check it out here. As I held that pamphlet in my hand, I thought, Duh! Here’s my list! I don’t need to come up with my own! Yes, I felt dumb, but I also felt empowered.

I immediately sat down with my husband and we combined some of the topics to come up with a list of 12 values to teach our kids. We assigned every value to a month of the year.

JANUARYPatience and Kindness (For the Strength of Youth (FSOY) “Language”)

FEBRUARY  The Law of Chastity (FSOY topics: Dating, Music and Dancing, Dress and Appearance, Sexual Purity). This topic corresponds nicely to Valentine’s Day and teaching children the true meaning of love.

MARCHTestimony (FSOY “Go Forward with Faith;” Preach My Gospel Chapter 4 “How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?” Preach My Gospel Chapter 5 “What is the Role of the Book of Mormon?)

APRILPlan of Salvation & Missionary Work (FSOY “Agency and Accountability” Preach My Gospel – 2nd lesson (Plan of Salvation) and 3rd lesson (Gospel of Jesus Christ); Preach My Gospel Chapter 9 and 10.

MAYHonesty and Integrity (FSOY “Honesty and Integrity”)

JUNEHard Work, Self-reliance, and Goal Setting (FSOY “Work and Self Reliance” Preach My Gospel Chapter 6 “How do I develop Christlike Attributes?” Preach My Gospel Chapter 8 “How Do I Use Time Wisely?” Preach My Gospel Chapter 11 “Keep Commitments.” We didn’t want our kids to be lazy and waste their Summer so we have them set goals at the beginning of the Summer and help them develop talents. They go back to school very proud of all they have accomplished.

JULYService and Being “Others” Oriented (FSOY “Service) When your kids are out of school, it’s the perfect time (because you have extra time!) to plan family service projects.

AUGUSTRelationship Skills (FSOY “Family” & FSOY “Friends). August is the month right before school starts and it’s important to sit down with your kids and teach them about how to be a good friend. With our younger kids, we role-played introducing themselves to new kids at school and how to make friends on a playground.

SEPTEMBERProphets and Obedience with an emphasis on courageously standing up for what’s right and being a good example; being in the world but not of the world (FSOY “Entertainment and Media” Preach My Gospel – 1st Lesson). This prepares our kids for a wonderful broadcast our church does every six months called General Conference

OCTOBERSelf Mastery and Moderation – Physical, Emotional and Mental Health, Education, Tithing, Finances, Being Thrifty. (FSOY topics: Education, Physical and Emotional Health, Tithes and Offerings) October comes right before the holiday season and this month’s theme is a good reminder to eat well during the holidays & exercise, be frugal and not blow all of your money during the holidays, and take care of yourself emotionally.

NOVEMBERCheerful Attitude and Gratitude (FSOY “Gratitude”) This month’s value corresponds well with the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday.

DECEMBERThe Savior with emphasis on His life, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, repentance, and forgiveness (FSOY “Repentance” & FSOY “Sabbath Day Observance” – a way to draw closer to the Savior every week)

DISPLAYING THE THEME IN OUR HOME

Our 12 monthly values are displayed prominently in our home, right on the item that gets the #1 use in our house: the fridge! I laminated four cute scrapbooking sheets, and I use the first sheet to display the monthly theme and the next three to put up quotes. It is easy to switch the theme and quotes each month because I’m using magnets (that’s why I chose to use the fridge instead of framing things on a wall). I try to change the quotes each week so my family doesn’t get tired of the same ones for the whole month! I love having my house help teach the gospel – even if the kids aren’t listening to me they can read a quote on the fridge!

Need help finding quotes? I found a blog called Spiritually Thinking. This amazing lady has posted all of her favorite quotes (there are hundreds of them). She makes them super cute and FREE to print off and use in your house. Every month I search her blog for quotes that are relevant to my monthly theme.

HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS

We have four weekly family home evenings a month on each value and really focus on LIVING that principle every day that month, setting some goals, and BECOMING better in that area.

At dinnertime we remind the kids what the topic is, discuss it, share experiences of how we’ve seen that value in action that day, or work on memorizing one of the quotes. We try to ask, “Hey kids, our theme this month is honesty – how were you honest today?” Of course, some of my kids are so little that we have to tell them how they were honest, but they love to hear their parents tell them how amazing they are!

I really love this system because of the compound effect. One lesson on anger management (aka kindness and patience) may not stick, but four lessons on it plus daily dinnertime discussions make a huge difference in behavior. As it repeats each year, we go into greater depth with the older kids and it’s amazing to see their progress from year to year – not just in their knowledge on the subject, but in their behavior and conversion to that value. It is literally becoming a part of who they are. My hope is that they will always associate January with kindness, May with honesty, and December with the Savior.

I make a lot of mistakes as a mom, but having a system in place that makes it easy to review spiritual topics gives me great peace of mind. Even when I’m dead tired, I can look at the fridge and lead a short family discussion on the monthly family value or on one of the quotes. It may seem like I only added a spiritual penny into my kids’ testimony bank that night, but I know the compound effect is in place and that penny will eventually turn into a $5 million testimony.
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The Secret To Why Teenagers Butt Heads With Their Parents

“Who plays soccer?” I asked. I picked a volunteer and I picked another volunteer who didn’t play soccer. My soccer star taught the non-soccer player how to pass a ball. After the drill, we had a class discussion about the role of a coach. My students clearly understood that a coach was supposed to teach, but I pointed out that it is critical that a coach CORRECTS. The players on a team will never improve unless they understand what they are doing wrong, how to fix it, and then practice the correct behavior.

I coached lacrosse for many years. One year I had a girl who was a natural. From the very start, she could catch sooner, pick up ground balls faster, and shoot harder than any of the other girls. However, as good as she was, she didn’t cradle correctly. In girl’s lacrosse, it is imperative to learn how to properly hold (cradle) your stick because the pocket is not very deep. If you change directions quickly with your stick, the ball will fall out unless you are cradling it. I gave the same instruction over and over to her, but as she could run past any of the other girls she never corrected it. My heart broke during the end of the season when she would drop the ball every time she made a sharp cut. She realized too late that the other players had now improved immensely in skill and the only way to get around them would be to cradle properly, which she had never learned how to do.

Another girl on the same team struggled with every skill. She dropped the ball every time I threw it to her and could never seem to pick up a ground ball on the first try. The difference, however, was that she listened to my corrections and did everything she could to follow my advice. It took her a long time, but eventually, by the end of the season she was the best player on the team, even better than the girl who was a natural at it! All because she was humble enough to make changes and worked hard to improve.

Humans are notorious for being defensive when criticized. We are quick to point out others’ mistakes, but we will defend our own to the grave! Never correcting, never looking for ways to improve, but going to great lengths to justify, rationalize, and excuse our behavior! That’s exhausting work! Instead of using our energy to change and improve, we use it to defend.

“‘Many will say they want to learn but feel threatened if there is the slightest element of correction in what they are given.’ Why does this seem to be a natural tendency? It may be because of our own personal pride and ego. It is an irony that we want to be viewed by others as competent and even flawless but can be resistant to suggestions that would help us get closer to that ideal. It’s almost as if we are willing to trade long-term growth for short-term appearances.”
–Paul V. Johnson, “Counsel and Correction,” CES Satellite Training Broadcast, Aug 2004

We need to be extremely careful not to trade long-term growth for short-term appearances! We need to be truly grateful for those who love us enough to correct us.

“In his last conference address, Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught us to “be grateful for people in your lives who love you enough to correct you, to remind you of your standards and possibilities, even when you don’t want to be reminded. We can each do better in this particular area in our lives. We can be more open and less defensive. We can make it easy for others to give us suggestions and be truly grateful for the help. It is not a sign of weakness or incompetence. In fact, defensiveness and unwillingness to take correction or even chastisement is a sign of weakness.”
–Paul V. Johnson, “Counsel and Correction,” CES Satellite Training Broadcast, Aug 2004

I love that last line: “defensiveness and unwillingness to take correction…is a sign of weakness.” Raymond Jones gives one of the best definitions of a fool that I have ever seen.

“Human beings don’t like correction.  They prefer to protect the position they have taken.  But, in reality, any response that takes offense to correction is inappropriate.  If the person who gives you correction is a fool, to be upset by a fool is to make yourself an even greater fool.  If the input is of value, then to not consider it places you once again in the position of a fool.”

Humility is the unique gift of not only being open to criticism, but SEEKING and being GRATEFUL for it. It is a striving and an inner desire to become better. More and more, I have come to understand that humility is an action word. It is not just a passive state. It’s not just turning the other cheek. It is swallowing our pride and, instead of defending our position, looking for ways to improve it!

The following story represents the true definition of humility

“If you were to take a long trip, say from San Francisco to Hawaii, aboard a 747 with several other people, you might be appalled if you knew who was flying the airplane.  It is not the pilots; it is a couple of guys named Fred and George.

Fred and George are two black boxes, and they really are referred to as Fred and George.  Fred is a gizmo called an inertial Navigation System.  Fred knows at every moment exactly where the airplane is and where it is supposed to be.  In the old days a human navigator took a look at his instruments and did some figuring, and by the time he had the position worked out the plane was long from that spot.  Fred knows NOW where the plane is.

George is the autopilot.  He moves the controls to guide the airplane this way and that, speed it up or slow it down.  He and Fred talk to each other constantly.  If their conversation were in English, it would sound something like this: Fred will say, “George, we’re off course two degrees to starboard.” And George will say, “O.K. Fred, I’ll fix it.”

“George, we’re off course three degrees to port.”
“O.K. Fred, I’ll fix it.”
“George, we’re forty knots below our airspeed.”
“O.K. Fred, I’ll fix it.”
“George, we’re three hundred feet too low.”
“O.K. Fred, I’ll fix it.”

This conversation continues all the way to Hawaii, and George and Fred bring the giant plane within a thousand yard of the runway in Honolulu within 5 minutes of the scheduled time of arrival.
The incredible thing is not so much the accuracy of Fred and George, but the fact that the airplane has been in error 90% of the time of its flight.  In error 90% of the time and still it lands on target and on schedule!

The secret is that George made thousands of errors in driving the airplane, but for each error Fred called out a correction and George corrected.  The flight line was made up of thousands of small jobs that criss-crossed the ideal straight flight line and still put the airplane at its destination when it was supposed to be there.  A rocket to the moon travels in exactly the same way.

If we human beings could see that we can get a 747 to Honolulu or a rocket to the moon even having been in error 90% of the time, we might be a little less uptight about being in error ourselves.”
–Raymond Jones

Raymond Jones goes on to list the fears that cause us to be so defensive:

“There’s nothing that kills performance like fear of failure, fear of being foolish, fear of being caught in error.  We are particularly prone to this fear when we contemplate the perfection of eternity, which we are endeavoring to attain.”

Raymond Jones also points out the secret to success – how Fred and George were successful in arriving at their intended designation, despite the fact they could not possibly fly the plane perfectly all the time.

“The secret to the success of Fred and George is correction.  They work as a perfect team.  Fred spots and error.  George corrects it immediately.  Some human beings work that way.  Most don’t.

To be in life means we are constantly off course.  What is important is not that we are off course, but whether or not we make the corrections that need to be made.  Human beings differ from Fred and George in one important and often fatal respect: the desire to protect one’s position.

Suppose Fred and George were human and Fred had just pointed out for the fiftieth time that George was wrong.  George, the human George, would likely reply, “Will you leave me alone!  I’m doing the best that I can.  If you think you can do any better, come and fly this thing yourself!” Fred and George, the machines, don’t do that.  They work together and get the job done.

Most people don’t make the necessary corrections because they are too busy being concerned with protection.  Most people’s failures in life are a product of protecting themselves when they should have been correcting themselves.
–Raymond Jones

The trick to achieving any goal is not flying there perfectly in one shot. Wouldn’t that be nice! The trick is to constantly make course corrections.

REPENTANCE

By definition, repentance is course correction. It is changing our sinful behavior and re-aligning ourselves with our Heavenly Father’s path. When we sin, we deviate from his path. In German the word for repentance is “umkehren” which literally means U-turn. We have strayed from our Father’s path so we must literally turn around and get back to it so we can continue making progress down it!

God has high expectations of us. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). “He knows what is required, and so, to make our transformation possible, He provides His commandments and covenants, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and most important, the Atonement and Resurrection of His Beloved Son” (D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many As I Love I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign May 2011).

“Sadly, much of modern Christianity does not acknowledge that God makes any real demands on those who believe in Him, seeing Him rather as a butler ‘who meets their needs when summoned’ or a therapist whose role is to help people ‘feel good about themselves.'”
–D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many As I Love I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign May 2011

As Brad Wilcox said, “A God who requires nothing of us is making nothing of us.” (Learning not Earning Heaven, Audio CD).

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“In all of this, God’s purpose is that we, His children, may be able to experience ultimate joy, to be with Him eternally, and to become even as He is” (D. Todd Christofferson). Because God loves us and wants us to return to Him, He corrects us. Unless we get good at accepting correction (truly becoming humble), we will end up resisting the very things (trials, advice from Heavenly Father, etc) that will make us more god-like!

Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way. We clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous training will never become a world-class athlete. We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.
–Paul V. Johnson, “More Than Conquerors Through Him That Loved Us,” Ensign May 2011

The gospel of Jesus Christ is corrective in nature. It calls, encourages, and shows us a way to do better, live better, and become better. It is a gospel of constant improvement. If we resist correction, we will find ourselves off course, and we will miss our destination.

One of the many roles of the Holy Ghost is to correct us.

“Most importantly, we each have access to a powerful source of correction and counsel—the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost works on some of the same principles we have discussed. The Savior taught, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26).

If we are defensive and ignore promptings from the Spirit, we become less able to receive further counsel. If we are open and willing to change and follow the Spirit, we become more familiar with the whisperings and can have the Spirit as a constant companion.

Elder Maxwell said: “As the Lord communicates with the meek and submissive, fewer decibels are required, and more nuances are received. Even the most meek, like Moses (see Numbers 12:3), learn overwhelming things they ‘never had supposed’ (Moses 1:10). But it is only the meek mind which can be so shown and so stretched—not those, as Isaiah wrote, who ‘are wise in their own eyes’ (Isaiah 5:21; see also 2 Nephi 9:29 and 15:21)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 90; or Ensign, May 1985, 71).
–Paul V. Johnson, “Counsel and Correction,” CES Satellite Training Broadcast, Aug 2004

PARENTING

Why is it so hard to be a parent? Why do teenagers and parents butt heads so often? The Lord has mandated that parents correct their children and children, as all humans, are resistant to correction.

Parents can and must correct, even chasten, if their children are not to be cast adrift at the mercy of a merciless adversary and his supporters. President Boyd K. Packer has observed that when a person in a position to correct another fails to do so, he is thinking of himself.
–D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many As I Love I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign May 2011

Trying to change my teenagers’ perspectives, I taught them that their parents were their coaches. And they would be horrible coaches if they didn’t instruct and correct their kids.

Being a parent, I realize we don’t always correct in the best way. Sometimes harsh voices or glaring looks are given. However, I testified to the youth that although they can’t control how their parents correct them, they can control their attitude – how they receive that correction. Even if criticism is given in a mean tone, they could sift through it, find ways to improve, and become a better person because of it. Realize it is your parent’s job, their God given DUTY to correct you. Realize any correction can be beneficial – even if it comes from our enemies. They often don’t sugar coat our shortcomings!

“Even when we encounter mean-spirited criticism from persons who have little regard or love for us, it can be helpful to exercise enough meekness to weigh it and sift out anything that might benefit us.”
–D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many As I Love I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign May 2011

Sadly, if we are resistant to correction, people will stop giving it.

“Remember that if we resist correction, others may discontinue offering it altogether, despite their love for us. If we repeatedly fail to act on the chastening of a loving God, then He too will desist. He has said, “My Spirit will not always strive with man” (Ether 2:15). Eventually, much of our chastening should come from within—we should become self-correcting.”
–D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many As I Love I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign May 2011

As humans we often equate mistakes with failure. That could not be further from the truth. A concert pianist doesn’t become perfect at the piano in one day. He makes countless mistakes. The mistakes are not failures. They are learning opportunities. They are chances for him to learn what he doesn’t know and see where he can improve. Failure only comes if you give up all together. Mistakes are NECESSARY. From them we gain experience. We learn what NOT to do, what the BEST way is, and hopefully, we learn resilience.

Few are open to criticism and even fewer seek it, but if our goal is to become a concert pianist, it would be pretty foolish to become angry with our piano teacher and refuse her advice! God has blessed us with many trainers throughout our lives – Jesus Christ, prophets, parents, church leaders, inspired friends, etc. Let us always be open to receiving the advice from trusted sources and be humble enough to improve. As D. Todd Christofferson counseled, hopefully, with time much of our chastening will come from within. We will become self-correcting.

How To Stop Being The Referee And Teach Kids How To Resolve Their Own Problems

“I need two volunteers!” As my two volunteers came up to the front of the room, I took out a full-sized candy bar and a tootsie roll. I explained, “These are for the two of you. Both of you need to decide who gets what. The only rule is that you cannot break the candy in any way.” I stepped back to watch how they would handle it. How would you handle it?

A FAMILY FIGHT IN THE SCRIPTURES

What does this object lesson have to do with Genesis 13:5-7? Abraham and Lot had too much substance to live on the same piece of land. It was starting to cause contention between Abraham and Lot’s herdmen.

How did Abraham solve it? Did Abraham say, “I’m the uncle. I’m very rich and have more stuff. I need the bigger land.” No. He decided to let Lot choose which piece of land he wanted (Genesis 13:8). Lot chose the land that was “even as the garden of the Lord.” He picked the candy bar and left the tootsie roll to Abraham!

One Saturday when I was younger, my mom wrote down a bunch of chores she wanted us kids to do before we could play. My older brother held out the slips of paper and let his younger siblings choose which ones they wanted to do. It was a race to get the easiest chores! I vividly remember picking the 2-3 easiest chores I could find and being slightly annoyed when my younger sister beat me to the simplest one! I remember looking at the chores my brother held in his hand. They were hard and I knew they would take a lot more effort. He didn’t utter a word of complaint. He said, “Let’s get them done fast and then we can play!” As I recall, he finished his chores before we did and then he came to help us. I always remembered that – how happy he was to sacrifice for us.

This was exactly how Abraham felt towards Lot. He didn’t hold a grudge. He meant it when he said, “Let there be no strife” (Gen. 13:8). As a result of his generosity the Lord poured out special blessings for Abraham including land and endless posterity (Genesis 13:14-18). I used to think this was just a lesson on karma – you are generous and the Lord is generous to you, but there is more to it. The Lord blessed Abraham with prosperity because he knew Abraham would use it to bless all the people around him (as we will see shortly). The Lord is more willing to bless those who are eager to bless others.

What did Lot get? Yes, he got the better land, but that was definitely only a short-term advantage. Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). He was selfish and ended up living by (and eventually with) selfish, evil people. We need to be very careful with our thoughts, words, and actions. We end up becoming friends with the people we are like! And that can have dire consequences. People often end up doing things they never dreamed they would do because of the influence of bad friends and they sometimes get the consequences of their friends’ bad choices. Because of Lot’s proximity to Sodom, he was captured in battle. He hadn’t done anything wrong, but he fell victim to the wicked kings in that area.

Lucky for Lot, Abraham truly didn’t hold grudges. He “armed his trained servants (Abraham was always prepread!), born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan” (Genesis 14:14). Abraham raises an army and rescues Lot! He risked his life to save a man who had taken the better land. Abraham also ends up rescuing all the prisoners of war and their goods. The King of Sodom was so grateful he told Abraham to keep all the goods and just return the people. Abraham replied, “I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich” (Genesis 14:23). Abraham understood that all the earth belongs to God and any wealth we obtain comes from Him.

“We are here on His [God’s] earth, we breathe His air, we behold His sunlight, we eat His food, we wear His clothing. ‘Our own’ property belongs to Him.”
–Joseph F. Smith, “In The Presence of the Divine,” Ensign June 1979

Abraham wanted the glory to go to the Lord. He wanted people to know that the Lord had blessed Him with victory and with riches, not the King of Sodom. Abraham didn’t want anything to do with wickedness. He stayed as far away from it as possible. He wouldn’t even accept a shoelatchet from the King of Sodom! Abraham didn’t get anything of worldly value for himself in rescuing Lot. Truly, Abraham was the epitome of unselfishness.

THE UNHAPPY ENDING OF LOT’S STORY

Sadly, Lot doesn’t learn his lesson. Some time after the battle, he ends up living IN Sodom! Many a righteous person has declared, “I can be around these people. I can choose to be righteous even if they do wicked things. I’m just having some fun. I want to enjoy life.” But the words and actions of those we associate with rubs off on us.

Lot learned this lesson the hard way. He reaps the consequences of living among the wicked. The city is destroyed and although he escapes with his life and two daughters (but none of his possessions), he loses his wife and his married daughters. He could not convince his sons-in-law to leave the city (Genesis 19:14). Yes, Lot didn’t succumb to wickedness, but he paid a heavy price for living among the wicked. Let us be diligent in teaching our children what good friends are, what bad friends are, and the dangerous consequences that come from choosing bad friends. We are nice to everyone, but our close friends should influence us for good. The definition for a true friend is someone who makes it easier to live the gospel and become like Jesus Christ.

THE DANGERS OF SELFISHNESS

Neal A. Maxwell described the dangers of selfishness. They are much more potent than meets the eye.

“Selfishness is much more than an ordinary problem because it activates all the cardinal sins! It is the detonator in the breaking of the Ten Commandments.
By focusing on oneself, it is naturally easier to bear false witness if it serves one’s purpose. It is easier to ignore one’s parents instead of honoring them. It is easier to steal, because what one wants prevails. It is easier to covet, since the selfish conclude that nothing should be denied them….
The selfish individual thus seeks to please not God, but himself….
Selfishness has little time to regard the sufferings of others seriously, hence the love of many waxes cold.”
–Neal A. Maxwell, “Put Off The Natural Man And Come Off Conqueror,” General Conference October 1990.

One of the greatest hindrances to peace in our homes is selfishness. How many of our disagreements could be solved if we took a step back to think about the other person’s perspective?

TEACHING CHILDREN TO RESOLVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS

In the book Siblings Without Rivalry, the authors talk about having problem solving sessions. We have used this technique and love it. We had to use it a lot at the beginning, but as we’ve used it more and more our kids have discovered, developed, and invented more ways to solve problems and they can work out many more problems by THEMSELVES! My favorite thing is to hear them talking out a problem in a different room. Music to my ears!

What is this technique? You simple call a family meeting (or call a meeting of the disagreeing parties) and lay down some ground rules. Each child gets to talk about the problem and describe their feelings (without any interruptions). Then, they get to list all the solutions they can think of without any fear of their idea being rejected or ridiculed. It is imperative that ALL solutions are written down (no matter how ridiculous!). If ideas are immediately vetoed, kids are less likely to offer solutions and they learn that their ideas don’t matter. Some may conclude, “Mom or an older sibling get to decide my problems for me. I’ll just sit here and let them solve it.” That’s a sure way to get more future fights because if you have a child who doesn’t know how to solve a problem, there will be endless fighting exactly because they don’t know how to end it!

I let my kids exhaust all possible solutions before I offer some of my own (sometimes I don’t need to, but for younger kids or tougher problems, I do step in and offer some solutions). The next step is to decide which solutions will work for everyone. If someone isn’t happy with it, then we move on to the next possible solution.

This has been a marvelous opportunity for my kids to learn to listen to each other, understand the other sibling’s feelings and perspective, and use critical thinking skills and creativity to develop some pretty awesome problem solving skills! They have come up with solutions that I never would have dreamed up! Never underestimate children’s abilities to work out problems. My three-year-old has come up with some impressive solutions. If mom always steps in to solve problems, the children never learn how to communicate, cooperate, compromise, or negotiate. Their only solution is to run to mom. And as fair as mom tries to be, there is often one kid who feels like the winner and another one who feels like he lost which can create resentment and bad feelings toward their sibling or mom. But if the kids work it out, they find great joy and pride in coming up with their own solutions and there is often a mutual feeling of fairness – they both win!

This strategy also works well if mom (or dad) is having a chronic problem with a child (for example: child A isn’t getting ready for school on time or child B resents practicing the piano). I’ve found it works much better to sit down with that child and work through this process. Child A is much more likely to follow through (and have a better attitude!) with a solution that he/she helped come up with.

Russell M. Nelson has given great advice about teaching children.

“The family has been under attack ever since Satan first taunted Adam and Eve. (See Gen. 3) So today, each must guard against the hazard of contention in the family. It usually begins innocently…In a large family of boys, those with the longest reach were the best fed. In order to avoid obvious contention, they adopted a rule that required them at mealtime to leave at least one foot on the floor.
The home is the great laboratory of learning and love. Here parents help children overcome these natural tendencies to be selfish.”
–Russell M. Nelson, “The Canker of Contention,” Ensign May 1989

I echo his statement: the home really is the great laboratory where we TRAIN our children to be selfless and Christ-like. I used to despair that there were so many problems every day, but now I see that it is, in large measure, a good thing. Where better to learn how to deal with the challenges of life than in a home where you are loved? The next time your kids start arguing, take a deep breath and remember that this can be turned into a great learning opportunity for them!