Family Specialist Lectures on Raising Self-Reliant and Respectful Children at BYU
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
“A home is where children are taught how to be self-reliant and where kindness and respect reign supreme,” said Daryl Hoole during the School of Family Life lecture at BYU on November 14.
Sister Hoole has been a home management and family living specialist for more than 50 years and has taught and written extensively on topics revolving around the home and family.
“As Church members we desire not only economic, emotional, intellectual, and social self-reliance for our children, but also spiritual self-reliance as well,” she said. “It is a prerequisite to service. It is a key to spiritual growth and progress.”
Becoming temporally and spiritually self-reliant works wonders in people’s lives—it is living in the Lord’s way, she said. An important part of becoming self-reliant is how children are taught in their homes.
“The ‘training program’ of our homes does make a difference—for better or worse—in the lives of our children. Children are the products of their homes, at least the great majority of them are. There are, of course, striking exceptions either way, but, generally speaking, the quality of the training program in the home is clearly reflected in children’s lives. In times past ... society helped us raise good children. That is no longer the case. Now society makes it much more difficult to raise righteous children.”
That is why so much depends on the home, she said. When parents do their job at home, society’s ills have less of an effect on their children. Parents have the responsibility to design their own individual home training program to nourish and nurture, teach and train their children.
“Raising children is a stewardship with accountability,” she said. “As parents, we have the divine trust and sacred obligation of passing on to our children our habits and skills, our knowledge and wisdom, our values and standards, and our faith and testimonies.” Sister Hoole shared five dimensions to creating a positive home environment.
A loving and listening environment
“Such a wonderful gift is ... for parents to give their children their very best, not that which is left over,” she said. “Loving and listening require a huge investment of time and effort on the part of parents, but doing so creates an openness wherein communication can take place. Good communication is a key to healthy relationships. The rewards are children who feel secure and strong enough to take responsibility for themselves and become self-reliant and who feel understood and valued enough themselves to treat others with kindness and respect.
An exemplary environment
One of the most effective ways to create a positive home environment is to teach by example.
“The greatest sermon any one of us will ever preach is the sermon of our lives,” she said. “Certainly an excellent way to learn about being self-reliant and respectful is to be surrounded by people who are fine examples of both attributes. The Savior set the pattern when He said, ‘Come, follow me.’ ”
A respectful, kind, caring environment
“People in general are becoming more casual in their appearance, in their behavior, and in their speech. Unfortunately, some people are also becoming increasingly rude and crude in their conversations. ... If you ever wonder what kind of an example you are setting as a parent, just listen as your child talks to his or her stuffed animals or pretends to talk to someone on the phone. There can be so much about us, frequently in our speech, that is hostile to the Spirit.”
It is through being a good example, turning disrespectful moments into teaching moments, and having zero tolerance for any disrespectful act or word in one’s home that children will learn respect.
Teaching and training environment
“As we teach and train our children, it’s important to remember that not everyone is on the same schedule. We have to allow people time to grow in their own way and at their own speed.”
Assigning children age-appropriate chores and teaching them how to do them is a way to foster development in key attributes. Establishing good habits helps the development of other good behaviors, causing happiness, motivation, and productivity—all ingredients for self-reliance. By establishing guides and clear expectations, parents are able to measure progress, because “what gets measured gets done.”
Oftentimes following through on expectations in home training programs can be difficult, but the results are worth it, said Sister Hoole.
“I’m making this sound easy, but it is not. Raising children can be the most intense, demanding, frustrating, challenging, and joy-filled work you will ever do. ... I was consoled by the thought that there is no way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good mother.
“Strong families are not without problems. In fact, families become strong as they realize that problems are not to defeat us, but rather they are to teach us as we learn and grow from them and endeavor to solve them.”
A gospel-centered environment
“Children are extremely perceptive in picking up the emphasis—or priority—of our homes and lifestyles, however subtle it may be. Think for a moment and be honest with yourself—how do you stress such things as education, music, sports, vacations, careers, fun times, traditions, clean houses, good food, cars, and other material possessions?”
It is important to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” as it says in Matthew 6:33.
“In homes where the gospel is emphasized above everything else, children come to understand why the gift of eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God. Preparing them to be worthy of that gift is of the highest priority. It matters so much, in fact, that nothing else can compare; nothing even comes close.”