A child’s safe space to choose the right

Our guest author today is Emma Lu, a wife, mother of seven, and grandmother. She is an author and lecturer, and she enjoys writing histories and life events.

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publicdomainpictures.net

This story took place, you might say yesteryear, when it was safe to leave a child alone, but not so in today’s world; to protect a child from harm is a parents/guardians greatest responsibility.  I invite you to read and ponder the message of a wise parent letting their child learn self-discipline by consequences.  It is my wish, as you read, that you will consider the question: Does a child learn best by being forced to choose the right, or whether to provide the space for children to (safely) learn from their mistakes.

I remember well the day I made a choice to attend church; I was six years old.  It was a lazy Sabbath day with the summer sun beginning to ride the horizon.  The scene opens on my neighbor’s front porch.  I recall playing with friends and having a great time.  I was straddled across the porch railing pretending, along with my friends, to be cowpokes riding gallant horses in the the untamed west.

While being in never-never land, I heard my mother’s engaging voice call out, “It’s time to come home and get ready for sacrament meeting.” My thought was, “I’ll come later.” Soon her voice called again and I pretended not to hear her.  The next voice was my father’s.  With a deep commanding tone he confirmed, “Your mother has called you home; it is time for church.”  Not wanting to obey, I called back in a defiant voice, “Do I have to go to church?”  There was an uncomfortable time lapse as I waited for his response.  “No, you don’t ever have to go to church.”  With his final statement he departed into the house.

As he left, my friends laughed, but I felt confused and crushed.  I really didn’t want to be a “brat” in the eyes of my parents.  However, I put on a good show of cheerfulness for my friends.  I continued to ride my imaginary stallion and galloped across the dry prairie like a fearless rider.  Soon my noble steed slowed to a trot, and then to a slow pace, coming to a stop.  I slid off the porch railing and wandered home as if I were a forgotten child in the dungeon of doom.  My parents were going on without me!

I returned home to empty rooms and felt completely dejected. That’s when I made my own personal choice to be a church attender because my parents let me experience the emotional consequences of my poor choice. That was the key…natural consequences accompanied with a kind, calm, firm manner.  Once again as stated, it is not wise to leave a child alone where harm could come, but the method of natural consequences is a wonderful example to follow.

As parents/guardians we can wisely choose to help a child safely learn self-discipline through the principle of natural consequences. It takes courage, prayer, genuine love, and guidance from the Holy Spirit.  It is not easy, but as parents/guardians we must remember the wise counsel from the book of Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

-Emma Lu

A version of this story originally appeared on RealLifeAnswers.org as “Why Does God Want Me to Go To Church?” 

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Filed under Discipline, Life Lessons, Parent Involvement, Reaching the One

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