WHY IS A FAMILY? (Continued)
Look in the mirror. When the pressure is on, look yourself in the eye and ask, Is my attitude helping or hurting the situation? When you see that clearly, then is the time to look objectively at what others are doing to aggravate the problem at the mote that are in their eyes. You will find, if you do this honestly, that you are consuming whole vats of inner energy in defensive thinkingâ€ï¿½giving numerous reasons why you are feeling the way you feel, none of them pointing to your own responsibility. You are using the rest of your energy naming to people and conditions and problems that make it all hopeless---offensive thinking. One tenth of that energy turned to creative ways of reducing tension in yourself would go miles to improve the situation.
- D o not store up resentments. In connection with home night or family hours, a family council provides an excellent opportunity to talk out grievances and generate solutions. Letting a backlog accumulate and pretending it isnt there only worsens things. Let your concern out all the appropriate time, and let then out honestly, on the level.
- Seek counsel with others who are trustworthy. A third party a biship, a teacher, a wise friend can often help restore perspective when two family members are grappling with each other. Teenagers (despite what cynics may say) are greatly influenced and greatly inspired by others. They are natural hero-worshipers. If you have found a person who brings out your best self, let him or her make a contribution, hearing your troubles and giving you unprejudiced counsel. This is not a sign of weakness. It is a fact of life that all of us need one another. It is a fact of life, too, that all of us, sometimes are so down that others who are up are desperately needed.
- Try wearing other shoes. One of the most helpful questions you can ask yourself about misunderstanding with your parents is this: How would I deal with myself if I were my father? Or ask: How would I deal with my own children if they were like me? Depending on how well you know yourself, these questions can open up some real insight. You will find that, if you treat parents with the respect you would like, you will find a return wave of mutual regard and concern. Tell your parents occasionally, though you have not said so for a year, that you really appreciate them. Wouldnt you like to be told that? Say, for a change, You know, I see your point. I really am hard to live with sometimes. Some depressing day approach each parent and say, Ive made up my mind that I want to do at least one thing just for you today. What will it be? Such gestures are but a reflection of the golden rule. This attitude will take from the scrapping mat to genuine understanding. Try, in sum, a hug, a pat, a kiss, an arm in arm. There is often more lift in this than in words; and you will get one, too.
WHAT IS ALL THIS ABOUT?
We have been saying that independence develops normally in the home stresses. Why cant parents give more freedom more easily?
Define it correctly. Freedom is responsibility. Responsibility in homes patterned in the divine blueprint is the ability to stop just reacting feverishly to everything. It is the ability to respond with mature consideration and patience, to endure sustained pressure to achieve long-range goals (and not to say, as we all do in our childishness, If you really loved me, youd let me do this idiotic thing.)
Judgment can come only with time and experience. We gain both of these in the home, providing ourselves without killing ourselves. The real question is whether, once away from parental warmth and guidance, we can stand up and face the winds. Will we then react like little boys out of school and run to the forbidden things? Or will we have grown up enough to know that most things are forbidden because they are harmful and costly and unpleasant?
A questionnaire was recently sent to a large number of returned missionaries asking them to describe two or three of the most important changes in their lives through their mission experiences. Almost without exception they put down that a major change was a new appreciation for their parents.
Why should a young person away from home come to feel this way? Partly by contrast seeing the brutal, cold places called home that are often behind the doors on which they knock. Partly by distance. You never miss the water till the well runs dry. Absence makes one aware of how many subtle and unnoticed things the family provided. Most of all, however, it was the sudden descent of responsibility onto their shoulders. The missionary is expected to be, is required to be an adult. The transition is abrupt. He is often shocked to be asked for counsel in the most bewildering problems of life by people who are decades older than he is. He is asked not just to represent his family, but to represent God. At that point, he sees Mom and Dad through new wyes, with a new awareness of how it feels to be the one who shoulders the load. There is a wave of sympathy, and the letters home reflect a deeper gratitude for burdens born and services rendered. Many a missionary has struggled on only because he was trying to be true to a mother or a father, alive or dead.
If you want responsibility, want to be treated like an adult, want to be more trusted, there is a way: It is to act like an adult, to accept responsibility and prove your reliability. Prove by your actions and your attitude that you can be trusted, no matter what. In short, be responsibility.
Our Heavenly Father sent us away, here to this earth out of his direct presence, to find how trustworthy we are, how much we can be trusted with, how much responsibility and hence how much freedom we can handle. It is much the same with your parents, and they rejoice to give you increasing charge as you show them that you are worthy of the charge.