Jesus taught in Mark 10:14: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”
On the Sunday following Thanksgiving, my family and I gathered for dinner. The week of Thanksgiving was busy, particularly because we were off of our normal routine with school out, family in town, and the auspicious start to the Christmas season with a little Black Friday shopping. With all of this frenetic activity, some things started to slip.
Near the end of the meal, my 13-year-old son turned to his dad and announced that we needed to get back to our scripture reading with the start of the new week. My husband grimaced, knowing my son had pricked the conscience of his priesthood holding father. Sure enough, Monday night we were back on task. There is nothing quite like children to give parents a reality check in a way no others can. As parents, not only is it our responsibility to love, reach, and rear our children, it is also our responsibility to learn from our children. Even those who do not have children of their own can learn a lot from spending time with a child.
In the October 2009 Semiannual General Conference, President Henry B. Eyring said,
“Just as Jesus used a child in His mortal ministry as an example for the people of the pure love they must and could have to be like Him, He has offered us the family as an example of an ideal setting in which we can learn how to love as He loves.
“That is because the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we experience are in family relationships. The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is. And the sorrow comes primarily from selfishness, which is the absence of love.”
In the everyday management of our lives, we find our children under foot when they are young, demanding when they are tweens, and disinterested when they are teenagers. How often has one of your children, usually a younger one, wanted to help you complete a project? As a parent you pause, knowing you should allow the child to help you, but also knowing that doing so will result in additional delay and stress, so you respond with “Not today, I am too busy, perhaps another day.” Then when they are are teenagers you have lost that opportunity forever. While we may be doing good things, can we be doing better or best things with our children?
Christmastime is a perfect example of how our lives get so focused on good things, like holiday parties, Christmas concerts, family traditions ,and of course preparing, for Christmas day. But what if for today we take the time to pause, recognize the children in our lives, the things those children teach us, and do something that is better or best? Here are some suggestions:
Make a child smile. It could be as simple as a big hug or unexpected kiss or carry candy canes or some other “prize” that is small like a tiny ball or car. You could carry items in your purse or car and hand them out to children, send a text message to your teenage children/grandchildren telling them how proud you are, play a game with your children, or my very favorite: read a book to a child. All children, young and old love to sit down and have a book read to them and they always leave with a smile and a good memory.