Years ago I worked at Sears Regional Credit Card Center as a collection agent A.K.A. bill collector. One evening I made a call to a gentleman who, as you can imagine, didn't want to talk to me. His very young daughter answered the phone. I asked for the customer by name and she said, "He's here I'll get him." A moment later he answered the phone. In order to verify who I was speaking with before divulging information about his delinquent account I asked if it was him? At this moment he realized I was not someone he wanted to talk to and he replied, "Oh sorry, he's not here." In the background I heard his daughter say words that I've never forgotten, "Daddy, you're lying!" He stuttered, confused about what to do. I took that moment to help him make a decision and resolve the internal conflict within him. I verbalized what he was probably thinking, "You are about to teach your daughter a lesson. If you hang up she'll learn through your example that it's okay to lie in order to get out of something difficult. If you own up and talk to me she'll see the importance of being honest even when it causes discomfort." Another pause and then he said, "I'm am sorry. How can I help you?"
I've chuckled about this experience before, a father trying to be sneaky who ended up humbled by his daughters simple confusion at his choices. In thinking about this situation, I've been able to gather some information from the mere fact that the little girl was surprised at his actions. One, she'd clearly been taught that lying is wrong and two, she had a good impression of her father- I'd imagine she thought of him as a man with integrity-which is why the confusion when he went against those things he'd taught her. Even as parents we make mistakes. Sometimes our children are witnesses and question our actions and motives or remind us of those very things we've been preaching and we are brought to repentance- hopefully.
Something stood out to me yesterday as I read the scriptures for this weeks Gospel Docterine lesson. To quickly bring us up to my point, you'll remember that in 1 Nephi chapter 16, Nephi and his brothers had the responsibility of providing meat for their large family who were journeying through the wilderness. Nephi's bow broke. Laman and Lemuel's bows weren't working either. The family was hungry when no food was brought home after at least one hunting trip. Then we find that not only were Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael angry with Nephi and murmured against the Lord but so did Lehi, his father.
Nephi could have gotten snappy with them or gone off and pouted, after all, his wasn't the only bow out of commission. He was just as hungry as they were. He was not only dealing with the worry and frustration of how to feed his family like they were but he had the added afflictions they were causing him. As it was Nephi talked to them as he'd seen his father do previously- with the energy of his soul, those things which humbled them. Then he made a bow and an arrow out of wood.
Now we come to the part I've been thinking about this week. Nephi went to his father and asked him where he should go to hunt for food. They had been using the Liahona for direction. Through it the Lord directed them to "the most fertile places". Nephi could easily have gone to the Liahona himself. After all, we know that the Lord had worked through Nephi already. He'd seen angels and received revelation. I believe this was a choice to showed Lehi that Nephi was not only forgiving but acknowledging to his father that he recognized and respected his place as patriarch and prophet. I'm touched by this act that shows the love Nephi had for his father.
If Lehi wasn't already humbled enough, going to the Lord to ask for directions put him right back where he needed to be in order to fulfill his duties as father and prophet. It says "he was brought down into the depths of sorrow. Lehi felt true Godly sorrow.
This was a good lesson for me. I think it's imperative that as parents we not only teach with example the principles we are trying to instill in our kids but when we make mistakes we own up. Our children need to see us humble ourselves, admit we're wrong, seek forgiveness and make up for our wrong doings. I think it will help them trust and respect us, just like Nephi who went to his father for advice once he'd humbled himself. Isn't that what we seek- a relationship with our children full of forgiveness, trust and respect? And just as Lehi had taught Nephi those things which were pleasing unto God, we teach our children those ideals and principles as well. When my kids grow up I pray that they'll feel they were raised by "goodly parents."
What have you learned from your kids?