A year or two ago, I was listening to a Christian radio station and someone was telling a story right as I was pulling into my parking spot. I decided to wait in the car and listen to the end. It was short, but had a great message. I quickly scribbled down the name of the pastor who told the story, but I have since lost that paper so I cannot give credit to him. I will share what I remember of the story, no doubt in different words.
There was a man who bought a bird and took him home. Not long after, the bird died.
He was talking to a friend and said, "I don't know what happened. I bought a biggest cage that the pet store had, and a colorful, fun swing for him to swing on. And I bought a ladder for him to climb on and a pretty little toy. I gave him everything a bird would want, so why did he die?"
The friend simply asked, "Was there food at that pet store?"
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the fun and the new, that we forget the essential and basic. Our bodies need to be fed and our spirits need to be nourished. Our children need entertainment and down time, but only when balanced and when given proper doses of gospel learning as well. It's great to go to Disneyland or a circus, but if that is all we do when we spend time together, they miss out on simple walks together, baking cookies while laughing, talking while in the car (instead of everyone listening to their own iPods).
Our children need us to teach them rules and values. They need us to show them love. The world will not give them those things, and the few years we have with them in our homes goes by too quickly.
My son Alexander recently sent me a link to the October 2010 LDS General Conference talk Courageous Parenting by Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy. I am still struggling with being a parent to teenagers, with all the new challenges that come with that. I am grateful for counsel from our leaders who speak plainly and to the point.
"It takes courage to gather children from whatever they’re doing and kneel together as a family. It takes courage to turn off the television and the computer and to guide your family through the pages of the scriptures every day. It takes courage to turn down other invitations on Monday night so that you can reserve that evening for your family. It takes courage and willpower to avoid overscheduling so that your family can be home for dinner."
Elder Larry R. Lawrence, "Courageous Parenting", Oct. 2010