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Just dropping by ... Parenting in a world of polar opposites

Yevet Tenney Published on 06 August 2015

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose
under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

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A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time
to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time
to embrace, and a time to refrain
from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time
to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time
to speak;

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A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
King James Version (KJV)

As this scripture points out, life is an indeterminate path of polar opposites. In our mortal journey, we experience both sides of the spectrum. Sometimes we have joy, and sometimes we have sorrow. These opposites help us to grow.

We cannot understand the good without the evil. We do not understand hot until we have experienced the cold. Light is not discernible until we have walked in darkness. We cannot understand life unless we have seen death. We are not able to feel sorrow if we haven’t felt the ecstasy of joy.

That was the plan. God wanted Adam and Eve to experience the difference between good and evil so they could grow. If they had never eaten of the forbidden fruit, they would never have learned from their own choices because there would not have been any choices to make.

As we move through this mortal existence filled with polar opposites, we gradually learn to make choices designed to make us happy.

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It is wonderful that God designed a family to help his children so they do not have to experience everything before they understand the difference between good and bad choices. They don’t have to jump into a pit of vipers to know it would not be a good choice.

Good parents take the parenting responsibility seriously and will help their children avoid decisions that will scar them forever. They will also set them on a path that will help to discern between the bad, good, better and the best choices.

There are five spokes in the wheel of a child’s development that, if nurtured properly, will help the child to grow up to be productive and happy.

Parents must help their children to make choices about their bodies, emotional identity, educational opportunities, recreational pursuits and spiritual development. In each of these areas there are bad choices, good choices, better choices and the best choices.

Our society is full of parents who have no clue what it means to parent because they were never parented. They were allowed to bump up against life and make their own mistakes, like ships without rudders.

Naturally, they allow their children to grow up the same way. They allow their children to wander through the maze of polar opposites developing habits of bad choices. Often, bad choices lead to more bad choices.

These children end up as social misfits and find themselves in jail or on the street because no one taught them crime was wrong. No one taught them an education is vital for success. No one taught them their bodies were God’s special conduits to bring His children into the world and to perpetuate humanity.

No one taught them drugs and alcohol could destroy chances for happiness. In short, no one taught them the consequences of leaping into a pit of vipers.

Sadly there are more and more parents in our society who are abdicating their parental responsibilities to the whims of chance. There will be more and more children who join the cycle of wandering aimlessly through life until they are trapped in the viper pit.

Good parents take their parental duty seriously. They teach their children all the rules of society. They send them to school to get an education. They take them to church and teach them about God.

They make sure their children make good decisions – often without teaching them how to make decisions. “It’s my way or the highway.” They put their children on the path to success but don’t tell them why they need to stay there.

Sadly, when these parents aren’t around, these children don’t know how to make good choices. They flounder – and sometimes even unwittingly end up in the viper pit. The parents shake their head and wonder, “We taught them all the right things. Why did they make those mistakes?”

Better parents are involved in every aspect of the child’s life. They become actively involved in school activities and education. They make sure their children get good grades and monitor their parties and get to know the parents of their children’s friends.

They eat meals with their children and talk about the events of the day. These parents take their children on family activities and enjoy spending time with them. They set rules and give consequences.

They take their children to church and teach them the gospel. They teach them about God and prayer. They teach them the pattern of prayer and pray with them. These children are more apt to stay out of the viper pit and grow up to be happy, productive adults.

Best parents realize the magnitude of their stewardship over these children on loan from God. They realize parenting is a partnership with God and that, because of prayer, God is not a silent bystander.

They recognize that these precious children will one day be parents and, in turn, their children will become parents. They recognize that they are not teaching one child; they are parenting millions of future generations.

Best parents understand God’s plan of polar opposites and will teach the difference from the cradle to the grave. Best parents realize words and consequences alone will not make the difference in a child’s behavior or ultimate success.

They take each spoke of the wheel in a child’s development and teach them methodically the importance and care for each aspect of their lives. They help them learn to make age-appropriate choices and allow the natural consequences to follow.

Best parents will teach children their bodies are God’s temple and the home they must inhabit throughout their mortal journey. “Take care of your body. Guard it from predators and keep it safe because precious future generations live within your body and will one day walk the earth. Give the future the best chance you can by not taking things into your body that would be passed on to them.”

Best parents will teach their children their emotional identity. There will be adversity and storms. That is the way we grow. Best parents will take time to help children sort through their emotions by allowing children to express their feelings without jumping in to solve the problems or telling them they shouldn’t feel that way.

They will teach their children to see things from different perspectives and will teach them how to make proper decisions by allowing them to make mistakes. Best parents will not rescue their children from natural consequences but will be with them and support them through their pain. They will teach them Christ is the healer of all pain, and prayer will make the difference.

Best parents will be mentors in every aspect of life. They will not just allow the school to be responsible for their children’s education. They will help their children sort through the sophistries of secular education and will help them look at the fruits of different philosophy trees before they adopt them as truth. They will ask often, “What do you think will happen if ...?”

Best parents will not just allow their children to play. They will play with them. They will teach them to laugh and enjoy life.

Finally, best parents will not just take their children to church and teach them about God; they will teach them how to pray and to get answers. They will not just teach them to read the scriptures; they will teach them to translate scriptures into their own lives.

This world of polar opposites isn’t an easy place to live, and parents have been given a grand stewardship from God to teach their children to make decisions. PD

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