Tag Archives: grandchildren

“Save the government”

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When our third- and fourth-grade grandchildren come over to visit, they like to play in the unfinished room in our basement. Sometimes they set up the card tables and chairs to play “school,” or “store,” or “city government.” I was a bit shocked and saddened a couple of days ago to find two signs they had posted on the wall: “Save the government,” and “Make it so terror does not become the government.”

I wondered: Are we adults responsible for this? Have we somehow instilled in them such anxiety about what is going on in the world that they fear for their freedom? Is this the legacy national leaders are leaving to children—doubt and fear?

Children should not have to worry that their way of life—freedom as they know it—is going to disappear.

They hear, and they know. Times have been tumultuous recently, especially in the political arena. Our resolve and our commitment to a democratic republic have been tested, and the tests are ongoing.

Integrity seemed to be an early casualty in the 2016 election campaign. Honesty and civility suffered severe setbacks. Freedom of speech and thought are under ongoing attack.

But I still have confidence in the right to think and speak what we believe to be right. I have hope that in the end this freedom will prevail.

Now, I am a natural-born pessimist. I tend to believe Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” I live prepared for people to disappoint me, seeking their own welfare first and foremost, ignoring the common good. (And how often, I have to ask, am I guilty of this?)

Fortunately, my wife–ever the optimist in our home–balances me out.

But as I have gotten older, I have become more optimistic. I have come to realize more and more that living in expectation of trouble is no way to build a worthwhile life. If you want happiness, look for it, seek it out, and if necessary, make it yourself. If you don’t want to be weighed down by gloom at the end of the day, look for happiness and joy along the way. They are there when you pay attention. Did you find them in the slant of early light through the trees this morning? In the mother at the store with a young child, or children, curiously and delightedly getting to know the world around them? In a quiet opportunity to read and ponder great ideas?

More and more I have tried to implement in my life the counsel of a man I accepted and honored as a prophet of God. Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “There is a terrible epidemic of pessimism in the land. . . . I come . . . with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.” He shared this counsel from his wise father: “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.”

We can all learn from our mistakes, of course, and we all have need to repent of our sins and errors. But when we look at those mistakes, do we also consider the good that may have come from our more selfless actions?

Struggle in this life begins when we are very young, and it will continue as long as we live on earth. After more than 70 years of facing it, the only useful approach I see to dealing with this struggle is simply to keep going on. Move forward. When you keep moving forward, you eventually reach your goals.

Again, I have come to rely on the counsel of Gordon B. Hinckley: “Keep trying. . . . Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.”

That is a lesson I hope to help my grandchildren learn.

 

 

Lessons from My Grandchildren

I wish I had enjoyed my own children more when they were the age that my grandchildren are now. But I think that sometimes I was too busy being the Father to be a good dad. Some of the joy I felt at being with them was eclipsed by the weight of the responsibility I felt to be a good provider and teacher. I did OK with the provider part, but I’m not sure about the teacher.

And I’m not sure I was ever the daddy that I missed while growing up as the son of a widow.

Izzy 5Aug14_0485Lately I have been involved in writing some gospel lessons for children. Trying to see the lesson topics as my grandchildren might see them has helped with the work. It has also helped me recognize some of the lessons I have learned from my grandchildren.

From a three-year-old granddaughter: Why walk anywhere if you can run or jump or hop? Don’t take simple things for granted. Isn’t life always supposed to be new and exciting like this?

From an eight-year-old grandson who can’t conceive of a world when there were no computers: Don’t wonder if you can do something. Just go ahead!

From a nine-year-old grandson who has learned that the world can be disappointing sometimes: Just because other people are unkind or unhappy, you don’t have to be that way too.

From a 10-year-old granddaughter who has dealt with a lot of challenges in her short lifetime: Children are very resilient and often capable of more than we expect of them.

From a twelve-year-old grandson who has been designing 3D models of things in his head for half his lifetime: Creativity is inborn in all of Heavenly Father’s children, but it comes out in different ways in all of us.

AC Paul Aug15_P1040201From a 12-year-old granddaughter, her 13-year-old brother, and a couple of their 15-year-old cousins: There is a lot of talent and intelligence packaged up in those young minds and bodies. With encouragement and support, they will be able to do great things. And if you can get them to talk, they’re fun to listen to.

I could go on. Every one of our 18 grandchildren has taught me. It’s a privilege to be associated with them.

It’s a privilege to be associated also with my children. They have all grown into fine, intelligent individuals, more because of their mother’s influence than mine. I love to think of them as friends.

I just wish I had been more responsive to their joys when they were growing up.