Editor’s Note: From April to July of last year, Richard and Linda Eyre did a popular Meridian series on Opening the Door to Family Revelation. Those articles have now been compiled into a new book by the same name that is available for free to Meridian readers. This two part Meridian series (today and tomorrow) will draw you into the need for help from a higher source with our families and our children, and prepare you to find further detail in this new and completely free book. When you have finished today’s article, you can go to EyresFreeBooks.com, scroll down to the “How it Works” paragraph, get registered, and then scroll on down to the latest book on the list which is Family Revelation—and click on it to open the entire book for free.
Getting Help from a Higher Source for Life’s Hardest Job
We are getting ready to publish a new book called Prayerful Parenting. Many have asked the question: “Can a mainstream book talk about Prayer in its title?”
Why not? Surveys show that more than 90% of Americans say that they pray to God or to a Higher Power, whatever they perceive that Power to be.
And what is more natural to pray about than our children and our families?
We Americans are unique and varied in our spiritual or religious beliefs—the spectrum is wide, from pious and orthodox to amorphous and agnostic,
But whatever you call it, and however you find it,
There is a higher source that can help you raise your children.
In today’s turbulent world, parenting has never been more important, nor more difficult. And since every home situation is unique, this is not an article on what to do generally—it is on how to get divine answers for your family specifically.
Alfred Tennyson said,
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.
James, in the New Testament said,
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) availeth much.
Abraham Lincoln said he had often been “driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
Was he (were they) speaking of parenthood?
He certainly could have been, because all parents have known that feeling, at their wits end, struggling with the overwhelming responsibility of raising a child, facing a behavioral or situational problem, trying everything, nothing working, turning, sometimes desperately, to prayer, driven to our knees by the overwhelming conviction that we have nowhere else to go.
Many readers know us through our parenting books. But this is not an article about parenting. It is an article about seeking answers from a higher source for your family. The goal is not to give you prescriptive child rearing or family building advice but to strongly suggest that the best help (by far) that you can get for your family is not from a parenting book or from the advice of experts or even the examples of other families. The best help you can get for your family is from God.
No other family is just like yours. No other child is just like your child. No one knows enough about your unique situation and your particular family to be more of an expert on your children than you are.
No one, that is, except God. He is the true parent, and knows those children better (and knows you better) than you do. Your parental stewardship entitles you guidance from a higher source.
The Latter-day Saint Version
But here on Meridian, we don’t need to use universal language or justify a spiritual approach to family and parenting, because we already know that eternal families are the kingdom and the government of God. And even before the national book is published, we decided we would publish, online, a Latter-day Saint version of the book in which we become much more direct and quote from modern day Prophets and write within the paradigm of the Eternal Family. The book you will find for free at EyresFreeBooks.com (see directions above in Editor’s note) is the Latter-day Saint version, and instead of calling it “Prayerful Parenting” it is titled Opening the Door to Family Revelation and looks at the whole marvelous question of how earthly parents can get guidance and insight and revelation from Heavenly Parents about the children they share. Our daughter, Saydi, who is an “in the trenches” mom with four young children at home, co-authored the book with us and lends a voice of immediacy and practicality.
Five Questions Every Parent Should Ask
Dickens said, in A Tale of Two Cities, that it was “The best of times and the worst of times.” The same could be said in evaluating today as a time to raise children and create families. It is a wonderful time in the sense of having information and resources and all kinds of available institutional help. Yet there has never been a time when creating and maintaining a lasting marriage and a strong family was harder; and there has never been an age when raising good and responsible children was more difficult—thus the need for Divine help.
But knowing we need that help and knowing how to get it are two different things!
We may feel like we get bombarded with generalities WHAT and the WHY, but never with enough detail, and never enough about the HOW.
And that can be a formula for guilt.
We know a lot about WHAT we want for our children and WHAT we want them to be. But a lot of those “whats” seem impossible or unreachable, and we’re not quite sure they are the right things for our kids anyway.
We seem to be reminded often from all sides, WHY it is important to prioritize parenting and we know that both our happiness well-being as well as that of our children depends largely on how good we become as parents.
The more we hear and read and are told about the importance of the what and the urgency of the why, the more inadequate and guilty we may feel if we do not know the how.
These “Hows” involve the development of spiritual skills: The skill of deeper, more effectual prayer, the skill of holding effective family councils, and the skill of staying spiritually aware and of finding holy spaces and listening to holy sources.
Perhaps the best entryway into this whole topic is the asking and answering of the five W questions that form the parameters of any subject. If we can first answer Who, What, Where, When and Why, we will have the basic directions and dimensions for going deeper into Prayerful Parenting, and the formula for Opening the Door to Family Revelation.
WHO? You and only you. Because family revelation does not come in general terms or one-size-fits-all advice from a parenting book, and the answers are different for each parent and each child and each marriage. We may get prompts or ideas from others, but we need the tailor-made guidance that can come only to us and only by Family revelation.
WHAT? God’s answers—directly from His Spirit to our spirit. Because what we are looking for in Family Revelation is not only insight and solutions, but the divine strength and motivation to implement them. What we are really asking for is His will for us and for our lives and for our children. The objective is to find out more fully who we are and who our children are and what God wants us to do and to become.
WHEN? Always. Because we don’t understand enough even to know just when we need help. If we can plead for Family Revelation not only while we are on our knees asking for it, but at the very moments and in the very situations when we need it most, we open ourselves not only to the guidance of God, but to His timing.
WHERE? To our minds, but also to our hearts. Sometimes Family Revelation comes as a mental idea, illuminating our brain to clarity and deeper understanding, but it also comes to our hearts, prompting us to love more unconditionally. And it can come in any physical location, but most often in places that are, in one way or another, holy places.
WHY? Simply because we can’t succeed as parents or marriage partners or in any familial
relationship without help. None of us are wise enough or capable enough to fully know a child or his needs, or to anticipate dangers, or to have full empathy for another family member without some kind of help or guidance or support from a higher power—without some form of Family Revelation. The simple answer to why is “because we desperately need it.”
Stewardships and Mantles
A further answer to the why question involves the beautiful concept of stewardship.
“Stewardship” is not necessarily a Church word, but as a Church, we use the word in a unique and wonderful way, connoting the fact that when we receive a calling, we have responsibility for (not ownership of) those within the preview of that calling. And the most lasting (eternal) calling is that of Parent.
Our children are actually our spirit brothers and sisters, and somehow, by the wisdom possessed only by God, we came to earth two or three decades before they did and now have the awesome stewardship of caring for and raising them, and of teaching them the Gospel.
Within this stewardship lie the greatest joys and the greatest challenges of mortality.
There is a mantle of stewardship and access to revelation that goes with each calling, and the calling of parent is no exception (though it is exceptional in that it is the one calling from which we will never be released.)
Our sense of the real and tangible nature of the mantle of a calling was particularly vivid and strong during our Mission Presidency in London where we understood so sharply our own inadequacy in leading over 500 missionaries in the way they deserved to be led. We felt that mantle frequently, including every transfer day as the Lord told us where and with whom He wanted each of them to serve. And we felt the lifting of that mantle on the afternoon we were released on a mid-summer day in London and crossed the English Channel into France. We looked at each other and knew we were different—the mantle of that calling was gone, and we were moving on to something new. We also had a deeper appreciation and keener perception than ever of the mantle that continued with us—the mantle of parenthood of six children, four that we had brought to England with us three years earlier, and two that had been born there during our mission.
Perhaps the best answer of all to the question of “Why” is the answer that Nephi gave concerning why we are now in this mortality. “Adam fell,” as the familiar scripture goes, “that man might be (mortal) and man is (mortal) that he might have joy.” Joy is the ultimate reason for seeking and finding Family Revelation. Our families and our children are our greatest sources of joy, and seeking and receiving the inspiration we need to guide and raise them, and to make our families into eternal institutions is the very core of the joy process.
There is nothing on this earth like the moment a new baby enters the world. For a moment time stands still. The veil between us and another world is so thin that if we are in tune, we can feel angels in the room.
Like us, most parents have gazed into an infant’s eyes and sensed an older soul, and we know that each child comes, as Wordsworth says “not in entire forgetfulness and trailing clouds of glory from God who is our home;” and we might add “and bringing a distinctive nature, personality and character that has already developed over an eternity.” Our job as parents is to discover that unique nature and spirit in each child and parent him or her accordingly.
We are awestruck when the soul of this beautiful baby immerges from heaven and alights in this unknown world, usually crying lustily from the trauma of the entrance. It is an ethereal, surreal moment. Very soon though, the real world settles around us and we realize that every child also brings a starling new beginning for us as his or her parents. As we get into that new reality, often it is ourselves that feel like crying as we embark on the joyful but sometimes heart-wrenching journey of raising a child. As new parents, we have no idea what joys and sorrows lie ahead but we go forward with faith that we will be inspired to know what to do, and know that with urgent requests for help, we’ll discover who this little child really is and how we can help him or her with the life-journey ahead.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, every child has his or her own “package.” Each one is unique. That makes life a lot more complicated! As parents of nine children, we firmly believe that our children joined us in this world from another exitance with individual, eternally-developed souls of their own. And they come who they are! Those of you who are parents of two or more know that two children raised in exactly the same environment and from the same gene pool still come with very different personalities, intellects, passions, needs and spirits. Some have naturally believing hearts and others struggle to find truth and light the hard way.
Join us here tomorrow for part 2 of this article where we will revisit the five Ws of Family Revelation in the light of the adversity of our lives and the foreordinations we are all seeking both for ourselves and for our children.
Author’s note: Be sure to go to EyresFreeBooks.com and download the entire book for free.