Elder M. Russell Ballard, an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke several years ago on the topic, “What Matters Most is What Lasts Longest.” As I read his talk, it struck a chord with me.
So often as we’re parenting our children, we get hung up on things that don’t last very long and probably aren’t very important – i.e. if our son didn’t scrub under his nails or our daughter doesn’t wash her hair often enough. These are important activities, true. Good personal hygiene is a lovely thing!
But sometimes as parents we become frustrated and angry in ways that aren’t needful. If we’re not careful, one day we might lose the opportunity to correct this. Elder Ballard spoke of his experience when he visited displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. Listen to this:
“Their stories and situations are tragic and poignant in many ways, but in all that I heard, what touched me the most was the crying out for family: ‘Where is my mother?’ ‘I can’t find my son.’ ‘I’ve lost a sister.’ These were hungry, frightened people who had lost everything and needed food, medical attention, and help of all kinds, but what they wanted and needed most was their families” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 41)
I read this and thought of the truthfulness of this thought. One can see this born out at airports, in fact. Suddenly everyone seems to love each other – for in saying goodbye, one often realizes what they will soon be missing.
So as parents, what can we do to correct hasty, angry, sour moments with our children? Here are a few thoughts.
First, we can love more verbally. I have heard it said that a child hears one positive comment for every seventeen negative comments. Perish the thought! No wonder children as they grow often turn to peers to have their needs met. Indeed, as parents we do NOT need to bend our rules. But we do need to love verbally better and more often. We need to catch our kids doing all the good things they do, and express gratitude over it. Why wait until it’s too late?
Second, we can love more physically. Why not spend fifteen minutes tossing a ball back and forth or spending the last few minutes of the day giggling or reading a story together. I’ve heard it said, “The family that laughs together stays together.” And it is true. Families that have fun together seem to weather the storms of life better.
Finally, we can love the Lord more. This is for both individuals and families. When children see parents serving God and reading their scriptures and praying, the children will learn to do the same. The result will be a family that draws closer because they are based on the things of God.
Why wait for a devastation such as Hurricane Katrina to wake us up to the people living in our own homes and how terrific they are? Why wait till saying goodbye at an airport or a funeral to then say nice things to or about each other? Let’s start today making a difference in the hearts and lives of those we love by loving them more verbally, physically, and spiritually.
To read the rest of Elder Ballard’s talk, click on the highlighted text. To learn additional ways to strengthen your family, feel free to visit the Provident Living website. Families will last for a long time – even an eternity – if we just treat them right!