I'm so thankful for the family. A family teaches us all to be selfless, to look beyond our wants and needs and see what we can do for others. Together we strive to be better people when we are in a family unit. Families teach us about love and charity.
I've been thinking about families a lot. I remember when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 put out the Proclamation on the Family. My family seemed quite broken at the time, and I wasn't in any position to be starting my own family with a spouse, but I knew it was brilliant. I do believe that functioning family units are central to a prosperous society. Strong families support and teach one another morals and standards to help them live righteously in society.
Take for example bullying. I honestly believe bullying wouldn't be such a problem today if we saw stronger marriages of people that loved one another and parents that taught their children proper ways to behave. Teaching children respect, showing them that we are all God's children, providing them positive examples of proper behavior in all settings is the way to stop bullying in our society. Governments can pass laws, but that will not stop behaviors that are learned inside the homes. Rules do not make me feel safer. Parents to helped me see why we have rules, and taught me right from wrong so that I don't end up with consequences that I regret have made me feel safer. Have I been bullied in my life? You bet. But I knew how to handle myself in those situations, to stand up for myself by walking away. These are things I was taught in the home. Other people's opinions of me don't influence me because I know I am loved by my family.
Everyone in a family has a job or responsibilities. Often, these responsibilities overlap. Doug and I as husband & wife, father & mother share responsibilities for our family and our children together as equals. We use our unique abilities and talents that Heavenly Father as given us to respond to the challenges we face in our lives. Are we the perfect family? Definitely not. We're simply doing the best we can, and asking daily for guidance from our Heavenly Father. I know he helps us with our roles as parents and spouses.
I've come to realize that there are a lot of things as parents that we need to teach our children. Its not just book learning, reading, writing, or simple things like hygiene or what to eat. We have to teach our children the gospel. It will help them understand God's plan for them. It will help them understand and give them purpose. It will help them understand how to treat their fellow man. It teaches them how to be polite and respectful to one another.
I want to teach my children how to love. I've been accused of saying "I love you" to much to my spouse and children. Some have expressed that the more I say it, the less meaning there is behind the words. I disagree. I want my kids to know that I love them. I think in my family I grew up with, we weren't sure how to express our love for each other. I remember wondering if anyone did love me. So I tell the people I love that I do love them. But that's not all, I back up those words with my actions, or at least I try to. I love to hug and kiss my children. Its not about giving them whatever they want. I don't try and buy my children's love. I do want them to have what they need, but sometimes what they need is discipline. Sometimes what they need is to hear no, or to receive an unfortunate consequence to their actions. Does that mean I don't love them? Of course not. So I try to explain it to them. Sometimes explaining why something is going on is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. By all means, I'm not perfect, but I do hope as my kids get older they understand that I love them, and they can confide in me because I'm here for them, and I'll take them seriously, no matter what. I imagine often what I say to them won't be what they want to hear, but that's okay, as long as they know I love them.
Everything behind Jesus's teaching and actions was love. He loved us. He wants us to love one another. I know that starts with our family. If we can love the people we spend every day with, it makes it easier to learn to love other outside our family.
Love isn't the only reason we have families. I can catch glimpses of the divine purpose of the family unit. I'm thankful for that and for the family that I've been given.