I read yesterday of a family with four children who were removed from an airline flight because of their noise and restlessness. One son had autism and a daughter had cerebral palsy. It was the childrens’ first flight. On another flight, a family was removed because their 3-year-old was crying. What surprised me the most about these stories was the enthusiastic “Kick them off and good riddance” chorus in the follow-up commentary.
I believe we are teaching by example the exact opposite of what we want our children to learn and to become. This intolerance is in opposition to the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
In Paul the apostle’s epistle to the Ephesians he encourages the Saints to act:
“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;” (Ephesians 4:2)
Paul then teaches the Collosians a similar doctrine:
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Collosians 3:13)
The author of this doctrine taught by Paul was the Savior, Jesus Christ. Christ had feelings of love and respect for children. They showed through His actions during His ministry.
“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)
No doubt when He was teaching, there were children who were excited and fidgety. There were probably some who were wandering around, digging in the dirt with a stick or throwing rocks to while away the time. Some were probably tired or hungry. I am sure there were some who were crying or hanging on their mother’s skirt. He knows that this is who they are and what they do. His patience and love for the children was personal and great. His blessing for the children was not a group blessing, but an individual one for each child.
His example and counsel tells us that patience and forbearance are traits that should be developed. In a confined space with no where to go, airline travel may just be the most perfect place to acquire these traits. Perhaps we ought to “glory in tribulations; also knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Romans 5:3)
Children learn most by example. They repeat actions that are done to them. If we want kind and tolerant children, we must first show them kindness and tolerance and live the doctrine taught by the Savior. Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley (15th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) stated:
“Teach your children goodness. Teach them civility toward others…Let there be taught in the homes of people that we are all children of God, our Eternal Father, and that as surely as there is fatherhood, there can and must be brotherhood. Let there be taught respect for womanhood and manhood. Let every husband speak with respect, kindness, and appreciation for his wife. Let every wife look for and speak of the virtues of her husband…Is this old-fashioned? Of course it is. It is as old as truth itself.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Four Simple Things to Help Our Families and Our Nations,” Ensign, Sep 1996, 2)
I can teach my own children good manners with love. I can practice patience and long-suffering when a child behind me on a flight kicks my seat or plays with the fold-down tray. When they are grown and airborne, I hope they will show me the same kindness if I snore or talk too much. My family can follow the counsel of Peter, the apostle, to develop a divine nature: through diligence, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. (Peter 1:4-7)