My son tells me that when he grows up he wants to be just like his dad. I smile, knowing that if he did, he would be a remarkable man. My smile grows wider. I tell my son that when I grow up, I want to be just like him. He looks at me, quite surprised.

Mormon ChildrenThe scriptures tell us to “become as a little child.” The Savior pointed to a child when He was teaching a lesson on entering the kingdom of heaven. Our children can teach us much if we are ready. What are the great lessons we are supposed to learn?

I have found that my children teach me in two ways. First, they teach me by example. Second, they give me an environment and opportunity to learn. If our eyes are open to it, we will recognize the natural gifts of our children. We will see that we are in the presence of greatness.

They Teach By Example

When Jesus Christ was asked who was the greatest in the kingdom of God, He taught:

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4

Humility is a natural gift of children. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin taught his people about this and other gifts of children:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

Humilty, meekness, submissiveness, patience and a heart full of love are all childlike qualities. Our children are great examples of a learning mind and heart. They are open to what we teach them as we should be open to what our Father in Heaven has in mind for us to learn. Children willingly repent and forgive quickly, also setting a good example for what we should do when we, and others, make mistakes. The word repent is from a Greek word that means to have a change of mind, or obtain a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world (BD). Our children happily do this every day.

Children also have very strong faith in simple gospel principles and an innate sense of right and wrong. They believe that God exists and know He answers prayers. If you ask a child what Jesus would do in a situation, they can tell you easily, as though they had known Him all their lives.

They Give Us Opportunity to Learn

Our children give us daily opportunities to learn these same characteristics. They give us an environment where we must learn them to survive, grow and hopefully excel at parenting!

We become more patient as we watch the three-year-old struggle with his shoes, even when we have to get somewhere on time. We develop meekness as we set aside our own to-do list and help our child with challenging homework. We wonder how to stop family arguments and humble ourselves in prayer to find answers. We become submissive to the will of our Father in Heaven as we strive to care for these precious children in the way that would be pleasing to Him.

Yesterday, as the story goes, our family had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Disobedience and chaos were rampant. Voices were loud and I was not a mother feeling calm, or patient, or full of love. We work hard as a family to keep those days rare, but it was also a day of great learning. It was a day to remember that force does not motivate, but love does. It was a reminder that the Holy Ghost cannot be present where contention exists. It was a day to learn the characteristics of humility, meekness, submissiveness, patience and love because I had to. I learned more about what didn’t work, searched the scriptures for what did, and prayed to know how I could do better. I learned more about these characteristics because of our family experience, not in spite of it. Because of my children, I grew.

By example and opportunity, our children are masterful mentors of their most natural gifts. It is no wonder that Christ pointed us to the gifts of a child.

About Jenny A

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