The parenting skill that requires moms and dads to count to three, to think of a consequence that will get a child’s attention, and then follow through, must be new to my generation of parents. I don’t remember my mom or dad ever counting. I adopted the technique as a seventeen-year-old freshman at BYU when I was enrolled in a class for potential elementary school teachers. As part of my experience I was required to spend a semester as an aid in an actual classroom. For three months I watched as a seasoned teacher, in the face of thirty plus seven-year-olds, lifted his voice above the clamor with these words: “I am going to count to three and if you do not _______ I will _______!!!!! The response was usually striking. I took note.
By the time I finished student teaching my junior year I was a “counting” professional and I was about to bring my first child into the world. For some reason “professional counting” is much more effective than “mother counting.” As my children got older I found myself counting higher and slower (three, ten, nineteen, nineteen and a half). In addition I became less inventive and had less energy. It was difficult to think of just the right consequences. “Natural consequences” were what parenting specialists suggested. And sometimes the punishment I had to enforce felt more like a punishment for me than the child.
One day I was sitting in Relief Society listening to a lesson on how to discipline children when I heard these words come out of the teacher’s mouth. “I occasionally tell my children that by the time I count to three I want them to ______. I don’t know what I would do if I ever got clear to the number three.” That did it! I didn’t know what I would do either and I always got way past the number three. By the time I was raising my fifth child I would say, with the smile of a mother who has grown a little less serious, “I’m going to count and if you don’t ______ something really really bad is going to happen.” This technique delighted my newly acquired son-in-law who couldn’t wait until the day he could count for little ones of his own.
How I relished the times (and I have to say there were many) when my children were obedient because they wanted to be, because they knew it was right, because they loved me, and because they could see the good that comes from being good.
I’m not so different from the little children in my life. I have been propelled to be “good” based on my desire to stay out of trouble with earthly parents and with my Heavenly Father. I know that if it becomes necessary for God to count to three and levy consequences He is willing. What ever it takes! Enos, speaking of his people says, “…And the people were a stiffnecked people…And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, which would keep them from going down speedily to destruction…”
Perhaps the greatest miracle of applying the 12 Steps and “recovering” our relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son is the change in our own motivation to do the thing they’ve asked us to do. Today I use the tools we have been given (prayer, scripture study, meetings etc), not to stay out of trouble with God, but to come unto Christ because I love Him and I need His help. As I apply each of the steps to my daily life with His divine assistance I feel His love for me. Today I want my obedience to be motivated by love and humility not “I’m counting to three and then…”
By Nannette W.
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Copyright 2008 by Nannette W.
All rights reserved. Making or sending copies is permitted if the page is not changed in any way and the material is not used for profit. This notice must be included on each copy made or sent.