I have had a marvelous opportunity this year to spend some one on one time with my sweet 13 year old daughter, Miracle. She was given the opportunity to try out for the Northland Pioneer College Master Chorale. It is a unique opportunity for her, especially in these economic times of cutbacks to the music programs around the State. We both tried out, and we both are now singing twice a week together for two hours.
The drive to Snowflake is about 40 minutes each way. When we first started this, we tried to find a radio station, we have listened to all the talk CD's from various youth speakers, and we have even listened to music CD's. Finally, a few weeks ago, we tried something totally new. We spent the time talking. We have talked about testimony, school, friends, exercise, books, family, and hardships. We have discussed fair (and how that is the place you go when you want to see the pigs!) and we have talked about what being a 'daughter of God' really means. Most of our talks have ended on something spiritual.
A few weeks ago, she was having a rough time at school. One of her best friends has been especially mean to her lately. This friend has been trying to hang out with another group of girls and they been doing things that my daughter knows is wrong. It has been very had for her because she genuinely loves her friend, but not the person her friend becomes when she is active in this group. I know that the pamphlet, "Especially For Youth", put out by the church, talks about choosing friends wisely. I know that they need to be so careful. But I also feel very strongly that if we take away the influence of the "good kids" from the kids who are making bad choices, pretty soon they have no need or desire to make good choices anymore because the only friends they have are the "bad" kids. (Whew, I hope you can understand that one!)
Can you tell that I have lived that nightmare? I was the mom that had a child who really struggled. The young women leaders in the ward we were in, came to me and let me know that she was NOT welcome in young woman's. I have struggled with this for a long time because I feel like they did not leave her with any other choices if she wanted friends. Anyway, this experience influences every way that I handle this very sensitive subject with the rest of my children.
My daughter was trying to decide whether she should quit trying to be friends. So, I bit my lip, listened to all she had to say, and than asked her if she would like some suggestions. She said, "Please!" So I took a deep breath and asked, "Honey, does Heavenly Father love your friend? Did He command us to love and serve others? Can you choose to walk away when the choices are something that you know is wrong? Can you be a leader and love her through this, or are you a follower who will be led away?"
We discussed everything. I told her about her sister, and asked her if she believed her sister was bad? After talking, she decided that the best course of action was to let her friend know that they were still friends so that when things did not work out, she would still have Miracle to come to. But she also decided that she did not want to be around the other kids who were making bad choices. If they want to do good things, she will be there, if not, she was willing to go find someone else to be friends with.
I thought that was a pretty grown up decision for my sweet daughter. This past weekend, she came to me and said, "Mom, remember that talk we had about my friend? It happened just like you said. Those other kids have left her. They weren't real friends and she called me crying today. Is it ok if she comes over tonight?" We welcomed her into our home with open arms.
My point tonight is simply, when is the last time that you turned your radio off and talked together? Do your children know that you have a testimony? Have they heard your spiritual experiences? You know the ones I mean. The ones that are most sacred to your heart! Have you thought about getting to know them on a slightly different level?
I know that my daughter and I never would have had this conversation if I would not have quit trying to fill up the time with noise. Our most enjoyable times together over the last several weeks are the ones we spend on that short to and from trip going to Snowflake. I am so grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in my life and for the opportunity that I have had to get to know this amazing young woman. Try it with your own family. It might be your children, your nieces, nephews, even your own parents or husband. When you really take the time to listen to those whom you love, you might just find out how amazing they can be!
"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up".
Deuteronomy 6: 5-7