Families are strengthened when parents and grandparents work together to teach correct principles. Parents are responsible for rearing and teaching their children, but backup support from grandparents can make the job of parenting easier. Grandparents who reinforce the teachings of parents can strengthen entire families.
I remember a few years ago when I found some pretty dresses. Since I had only two granddaughters at the time, I could afford to purchase them each a new dress for Easter. When I arrived at the home of my oldest granddaughter, I found my daughter dealing with a serious problem. Her four-year old daughter had been treating her with disrespect whenever the two of them were alone, but she was well behaved when her father was around. I listened to my daughter as she described the problem, and then I spoke with my granddaughter. I explained to her that her mother was my little girl, and I did not like anyone hurting my little girl. I also told her that I brought her a nice gift, but I could not give it to her until she showed more respect to her mother. A day or so later, the little girl was more respectful to her mother, and I gave her the dress. For the next few months, my granddaughter would occasionally call me to let me know that she was "being nice" to her mother, and I would send a little gift. The gifts were usually something very inexpensive like a coloring book, but my support for her mother helped my granddaughter to learn the important principle of treating her mother and father with respect. As time went on, the gifts became more and more inexpensive and eventually the calls stopped. By learning a correct principle, the little girl became a joy to be around instead of a little tyrant.
Correct principles can be found in the doctrines taught by the Savior Jesus Christ. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made the following statement: "The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior." (See Ensign, Nov. 1986, p 17).
Human nature can be changed by learning correct principles as contained in the teachings of Christ. President Ezra Taft Benson explained: "The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." (See Ensign, November 1985, p 6.)
The truth of this statement is shown in the following experience of Keith R. Edwards as he served as a young missionary. He and his missionary companion were in the process of teaching a young family of five in Albany, Georgia, in 1963. "After the third or fourth discussion, the wife told us that since we had started teaching them, she and her husband were closer and he was treating her better than at any other time in their marriage. As we concluded the next discussion, the husband shared an experience. `Today the people I work with wanted to know what has happened to me. When I asked them what they meant, they said, You don't use the same language you used to use when you get angry, and you're more patient. You seem happier.''' (See Ensign, July 2008, 54-56.)
If adult behavior changes simply by learning correct principles, how much easier it should be for children and teenagers to change behavior because the bad behavior should not be so ingrained. For instance, I've noticed that children throw fewer tantrums when they realize that the tantrums don't bring the desired effect and eventually stop throwing tantrums. The exact opposite happens if the tantrums bring rewards of one kind or another.
It is the right of a grandparent to spoil his or her grandchildren a little, but it is important that the grandparent does not break too many family rules. Whenever a grandchild asks me for something and I am not sure of the family rule about that particular item, I always ask a few questions of the child. I can usually learn from the child or a sibling if the item is forbidden.
I am very impressed with the young parents I know, and I love to watch them as they teach their children. In fact, watching parents - and my children in particular - as they teach and train their children is one of the experiences of life that I really enjoy. I am relieved to no longer be on the front lines of parenthood and am grateful to be in the parent support position. I know for sure that grandparents can be invaluable to parents as they reinforce the teaching of correct principles to family members.
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