Monday, October 19, 2015

Pride and Parenting Part Two

I am the oldest of eight children and I probably fulfill just about every oldest child stereotype there is. I feel the most safe when I am in control of whatever situation I may be in. I don't have to be in charge of the situation per say, I just need to feel like it is under control. This tendency mellowed when I had the twins and my life was throw almost totally out of control with absolutely nothing I could do about it. But it is still there to some degree, and it was especially strong when my oldest two were young. There was a certain way I felt they should behave, learn, perceive etc. and I was going to make sure they behaved, learned, perceived, etc. that way, no matter what. 

I still strongly believe in a well behaved, self-disciplined, well mannered child. I think we, as a society, are miserably failing in that regard. But I think I, especially with the older kids, went about achieving these goals in the wrong way.

Now that I have a teenager and an almost teenager, they are testing boundaries and are not as willing to go along with mom as they once were. I recognize that this is totally normal behavior, but it still has thrown me. Especially with my oldest. 

He also fulfills every oldest child stereotype :). And over the last few years his certain perception of the world and how things ought to be done often differ from mine. Countless times have I pulled the - "I'm the mom, this is how it's going to be, deal with it." We have had more yelling battles than I care to admit, none of which are particularly productive. I have been unsettled for quite some time about it, but honestly just didn't know what to do. I was trying so hard to treat the symptoms, that I was missing the disease itself. 

My disease became so abundantly clear as I studied President Benson's Beware of Pride address. I was a prideful parent.

I was a prideful parent.

I was so concerned with my son growing up to be a happy, productive, intelligent Priesthood holder that, without even being aware at first, I had begun to govern him as the adversary seeks to govern us, with enmity. My son was going to make it back, but I was going to control every step of that process and disregard his agency entirely. A chilling realization.

Our relationship had become one of annoyance, argument, and difficulty. We were losing our son.

As I studied the address, the following words kept ringing in my ears -

Pride Destroys

President Benson gave a very lengthy list of the manifestations of pride. As I went through the list, thinking specifically about my relationship with my son, I realized the following applied directly -

Looking Down
Never Enough
Witholding Gratitude
Withholding Praise
Power Struggle
Self Pity
Worldly Fulfillment
Self Gratification
Self Seeking
Unrighteous Dominion
Generation Gaps
Easily Offended
Holding Grudges
Witholding Forgiveness
Justifying Injured Feelings
Does Not Receive Counsel
Not Easily Taught

These were characteristics on my side of the relationship specifically. At this point I felt it was important to ask, "Lord, is it I?" instead of focusing on what I felt were my son's weaknesses. 

As I spent the week before my lesson, I found my eyes were opened. What before would have been a normal parenting interaction, my mind was now firmly instructing me, "that was a manifestation of pride", "that was prideful", "pride, pride, pride!". It was an unbelievable experience. 

Clearly, the error had been manifest, now it was time to begin the repentance and change. 

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