Every morning our family tries to do a little family devotional to start our school day off. We usually say a prayer, recite the pledge, review scriptures we have learned and work on the one we are memorizing. We sing a few fun songs and learn a new one, and then we dismiss so we can all get our jobs done and start school. Most days after the prayer and pledge my younger ones kind of check out and don’t really listen unless we are singing a fun kid song. They usually grab toys, chase each other, look at a book, or leave the room. I used to think they weren’t learning anything when they did that, but I was wrong! If you have ever worried that your kids, especially your little ones, aren’t listening to the things you are teaching, don’t worry, they are listening! They are listening, even when you think they are not!
Now I am not saying this happens 100% of the time, but I have seen this many many times in my 12 years of being a mother. I am always amazed at how much these sweet kids of mine are getting out of our family scripture study, family homes evening, and church meetings when they have been wiggly and when I think they aren’t really paying attention. I usually realize it a few days or even weeks later when we are having a discussion and my younger kids spout off an answer, or remind me of a story I told during a school lesson. It is amazing how much these kids can absorb, even when we think they aren’t listening.
Last week in Relief Society we were talking about how we can raise our children to know and understand the gospel. I raised my hand, which is really hard for me to do because I always struggling getting across what I am trying to say, and I get emotional, but I felt that I needed to share, so I did! I said that many times we as parent’s don’t do a lot of direct gospel teaching to our younger children. We rely on the primary teachers at church to do the teaching. Then then when our kids grow up we start “preaching” to them and they don’t want to listen. I said that we need to teach them starting at a young age in our homes. We need to study scriptures with them, help them understand important gospel principles, teach them to recognize the Spirit, and help them know and understand God’s love for them. It is crucial that we teach them in our homes starting at a young age even if we don’t think they are listening.
Let me tell you a funny little story about how I came to know they were listening, even when I thought they weren’t!
“He’s Not Going to be Vigorated”
They Are Listening – Even When You Think They Are Not
The day started like it always does. My 2 year old and 4 year old walked into the bedroom way too early informing me that they needed breakfast. Apparently they were “starving!!!” Like any good mother I rolled over and said, “Go back to bed. I’m tired.” That never works and they soon became crazy children whining and crying for their breakfast. I finally emerge from the bed and asked their sister, who was awake reading, to pour the boys a bowl of cereal while I went into the bathroom.
While making my bed and after the 4 year old was done eating, he came to me with a distraught sound in his voice asking if I could help him find his frog and his glow stick that he fell asleep with the night before. I told him to go into his room and try to find it himself and that I would be in to help. He informed me that his older brother was still asleep. I told him that his brother had gone to bed late and that we should let him sleep, and that I would help him find it later. In a frustrated voice of concern he said, “TJ is not going to be ‘vigorated’ because he is not getting up early!” At first I was confused, but than laughed when I realized that what he was trying to say was the word “Invigorated” from the scripture found in D&C 88:123 that I had been teaching my kids for the last couple of weeks during our family devotional in the morning. I didn’t know that he had actually been listening at all when I was teaching this scripture. He’s was usually walking around the room playing with his toys and being a 4 year old little boy. Realizing that he truly had been listening and actually understood the scripture, I said to him “You mean his body and mind are not going to be invigorated because he did not arise early?” He nodded his head and with a concerned look in his eye said back, “Yes, he is not going to vigorated”. He decided he should inform his brother of this problem and rushed into the bedroom to let him know. He walked in and turned on the light, which caused his older brother to moan and grumble–“Turn off the light and get out!” My four year old then said in a loud voice for all to hear, “TJ, wake up or your body and your mind are not going to be vigorated! Don’t you remember the scripture cease to sleep longer than is needful, and arise early?” TJ grumbled and continued trying to sleep, while his little brother cried in concern for the sleepyhead who was not going to be “vigorated!” Eventually the 10 year old woke up and all was well, but I was blown away by the fact that this 4 year old boy had truly understood the meaning behind the scripture we had been learning. Now I just need to help him understand what it means to “cease to find fault one with another! ”
These sweet children–we can learn so much from them! They are listening to us, even when we think they are not!
I listened to the best conference talk this week by Sister Mary R. Durham called A Child’s Guiding Gift . She talked about teaching our children. She said, “Children have a natural desire to do good and to be good. We can feel their innocence, their purity. They also have a great sensitivity to the still, small voice.”
Then she went on to ask the question…“How do we as parents increase the spiritual capacity of our little ones? How do we teach them to kick off worldly influences and trust the Spirit when we are not with them and they are alone in the deep waters of their lives?”
This is how she answers the question:I am so grateful to be a parent. I love the lessons I learn from my little ones as they try to figure this life out, and as they seek to understand these gospel principles they are learning at home, and at church.
I love this scripture in Deuteronomy 6:7 that says, “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.” We need to teach them as much as we can while they are young!In her talk Sister Durham refers to the verse in 3 Nephi 26, when the Savior showed us the spiritual capacity of children:
“He did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people. …”
It’s not always easy to have family home evening, or sit and have good discussions with all our kids at the same time, but these little ones are soaking it in, even when we think they aren’t. Don’t give up on them. They Are Listening!