Heavenly Father’s Way of Parenting

A silhouette of a father and a son

These last two weeks have been pretty enjoyable as we have welcomed our new son into the world.  I rejoice that I can now be a father and it is an exciting adventure that we have embarked upon.  Of course I want to be the best daddy that I can be for my little guy and knowing that my son will now be watching me helps remind me that I need to be setting a good example for him to follow.  As I have tried to prepare for this time in my life, I have thought a little about parenting styles and how I want to raise our child–it seems like there is a lot of advice out there and sometimes it is hard to understand just what is best for our boy.  One blessing of fatherhood is that I can now feel closer to our Heavenly Father, and learn from Him, so that I can be a better person.  As I have been thinking over these things, it occurred to me that Heavenly Father has a distinct parenting style–and though I don’t fully comprehend it, there are some clues that I have picked up.

First of all, Heavenly Father gives us our agency.  If you have followed my blog, you’ll know that agency and the power of choice is something that I have written about on several occasions (see for example this post and this one).  Agency is the right and freedom to choose, “Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life” (2 Ne 10:23).  Heavenly Father knows that we need to have choices in this life in order to give us the opportunity to choose–and that by giving us that opportunity we have the ability to grow and become more like Him (see 2 Ne 2:11-16).  Of course Heavenly Father loves us and wants for us to return to Him–but He also wants us to learn to be self-sufficient and to grow.  If He was an overprotective parent, He wouldn’t give us choices but would force us to do what was right.  This was Satan’s plan in the pre-existence (see Moses 4:1).  Fortunately for us, we were given a choice and we chose to follow our Savior.  In like manner, as I strive to be the best parent that I can be, I need to let my son have choices.  As hard as it may be to let him be in control, that will be the only way that he learns to do what is right.

Almost as important as allowing His children to have choices, Heavenly Father also gave us some help to know what decisions were the correct one–in other words, He didn’t just abandon us to our own demise as we aimlessly make choices.  Heavenly Father has given us prophets to teach us the correct way to go, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7, see also Deut 18:18 and 2 Chr 36:15).  The prophets He sends teach us His commandments–in other words, Heavenly Father has established some “household rules” that He expects us to follow.  These “rules” provide a framework and boundaries within which we are free to act.  He also gives us the Holy Ghost (see John 14:26) and a conscience (see Moroni 7:16-18) to teach us and to lead us in the correct decisions.  Our loving Father in Heaven has definitely given us a lot of help!

The third principle that I have noticed in the way that Heavenly Father parents us is by rewarding us when we do what is right, “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20-21).  He also chastises us appropriately when we choose to do that which isn’t correct, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy” (D&C 121:43).  These two habits taken together help us to know when we are doing that which is correct and helps us to receive the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for us!

Finally, I have  noticed that our kind and gracious Heavenly Father encourages us in doing good things beyond that which He commands us(see D&C 58:26-28) and He expects us to give our best effort and not anything more (Mosiah 4:27).  He knows what we are capable of and in that He encourages us to do our best.  He also knows our limitations and is compassionate with our shortfalls–He knows we can only do so much.

I am grateful for the example and love of our Heavenly Father.  I want to be a better parent and I am thankful that He has set a pattern for me to follow–and I am SO happy that we have a new addition to our home and for the trust that Heavenly Father has given me.

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