As Latter-day Saints, it can be easy to get caught up and let life happen instead of taking control of our days. Here are five habits Latter-day Saint families might have—and why they should stop doing them right now.
1. Thinking that preparing and eating food is the goal at mealtime
Sometimes we slip into thinking that our need for nutrition is the objective of preparing and eating food. We grab breakfast, if at all, on the run. We eat lunch over work or alone to escape the hustle and bustle. We eat dinner in haste or whenever we are able.
Eating meals together during the week has all but disappeared in our society. President Ezra Taft Benson taught that “mealtime provides a wonderful time to review the activities of the day and to not only feed the body, but to feed the spirit as well” (“Strengthening the Family,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 51).
Barbara B. Smith, former general president of the Relief Society, said, “Let us make our kitchens creative centers from which emanate some of the most delightful of all home experiences” (Ensign, “Follow Joyously,” Nov. 1980, 86). May I suggest that preparing and consuming food ought to be done with family relationships in mind, from start to finish. Children can help make a salad, butter the French bread, set the table, or stir a pot. Food preparation is an excellent time to talk to each other. The time we use to prepare food can and should be a family affair because preparing and eating food is not the primary objective of mealtime. Building relationships and fostering love is.
2. Having fuzzy rules and expectations.
There is sometimes a tendency for families to be cautious or even fearful about creating restrictions, rules, and expectations. On one hand, you don’t want to stifle creativity or prohibit growth by having too many limits. On the other hand, some people can be afraid that if they institute rules family members don’t like, then those family members will rebel against the rules.
We live by daily traffic laws, city ordinances, rules, expectations, and commandments. They are a part of life! They bring order to a world that would be chaos without them. Think about it! No parent would take their child to the top of a 10-story building and turn them loose to discover the law of gravity on their own.
Wise families will not have too many rules but will always have clearly defined boundaries which revolve around the commandments of a loving Heavenly Father. People, young and old, need to know their family loves them. They need to know that love gives guidance and expectations which will bless them, even if they may not like the rule.
David O McKay once taught:
“Parents who fail to teach obedience to their children, if [their] homes do not develop obedience, society will demand it and get it. It is therefore better for the home, with its kindliness, sympathy and understanding to train the child in obedience rather than callously to leave him to the brutal and unsympathetic discipline that society will impose if the home has not already fulfilled its obligation” ("The Responsibility of Parents to Their Children," p. 3. Pamphlet n.d.).
Make rules and boundaries crystal clear and always consistent. Adjust them as family members demonstrate their ability to choose the right on their own.
Learn more about raising a righteous family in Christlike Parenting.
Based in scripture and practical Christian and behavioral principles, Christlike Parenting offers parents strategies that can increase harmony and communication in any home, even those with angry or delinquent children. The methods Dr. Latham (The Power of Positive Parenting) encourages are fair, loving, and proven and will inspire every parent to new and attainable heights.