Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LDS Writer Blogfest: "What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye To Be?"

     First off, before I get to the talk, there were two things that happened during conference that I just have to mention. While I was sitting on the couch, waiting for the Sunday morning session to start, my 6-year-old son sat next to me. He sat quietly, his arms folded across his lap, and watched. After the opening hymn was over he turned to me, his eyes wet, and said, "Whoa, I almost cried there." I just about fell off the couch. Granted, his quiet sitting lasted only minutes longer, but in that one moment, he felt the spirit. Awesome. He's totally his mother's son- feeling the spirit strongest through music. While I sang along to the intermediate hymn with the choir and the entire congregation at the conference center, I just felt this swell in my chest at all the voices joined together. I get that feeling in sacrament meeting sometimes and it's just awesome. Something I can't really describe except it's a bit of breathlessness, of awe, and a feeling of commonality, of being joined as one. Music is very powerful and truly amazing.
     Anyway, on to the talk- What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye To Be? given by Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy. There were so many great talks but one of the reasons I chose this one is because it was the kind of talk I wanted to listen to again to really understand it. And there were certain parts that really struck a chord with me and in different ways.
     In our quest to be like the Savior, there are many thing we need to do. But we also need to be. Brother Robbins says, "be and do are inseparable". If we aren't both being and doing, then we're hypocrites. To give very simple examples, I can go to church every Sunday (do) but if I don't believe in the gospel then what's the point- there's no be. Or, maybe I believe in my heart the truth of the gospel (be) but if I never act on it by going to church, I'm not doing. Those are over-simplified examples, but you get the point.
     One of the things that really got me was when he mentioned "to do lists". I'm such a to-do list person- and by that I don't mean actual written to-do lists, but rather ones in my head- and I rely on them daily. For example:
get up
feed the kids breakfast
get them dressed and off to school
wash sheets and towels
dust and vacuum upstairs
pick up son from kindergarten
feed kids lunch
put daughter down for nap 
make sure kids have done their homework/ home reading
make and eat dinner
put kids to bed

     This is my actual list for tomorrow (and most Wednesdays) and it will run through my head throughout the day while I mentally check things off. It gives me great satisfaction to get things done. When I do, I feel like I've earned the time to write, to read, or watch my favorite shows. But these things are all do's. They're important, yes. But where in that list is, play with the kids?
     Then I think of more churchly things- I can mentally check off: went to church, did my visiting teaching, read my scriptures, paid my tithing... you get the idea. But if I'm doing all those things simply to check them off my mental list, have I really gotten the point? Am I doing them more because I feel I have to- to get them done- than an overpowering desire to be even as he is? Hmm....
     Another reason I liked this talk is because Brother Robbins applied be and do to parenting. He says, "as a parent, when can I check a child off my list as done? We are never done being good parents. And to be good parents, one of the most important things we can teach our children is how to be more like the Savior."
     He says that teaching be to our children will improve behavior more effectively than focusing on do.
     So, my kids are fighting with each other (surprise surprise). When I yell at them to stop fighting with each other, is this really effective? Of course not. (Although honestly, sometimes they don't listen until I get to the yelling.) But instead of disciplining them for what they did, I need to figure out what would correct the fighting. Like teaching them to be patient and forgiving. Teaching them to love. Teaching them not to blame.
     The word discipline come from the same root word as disciple- therefore we should be disciplining with patience and with helpful lessons. Not with anger. He quotes D&C, saying we should discipline "by persuasion, long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge."
     There's something I feel the need to say though. First off, I am not even close to being "the perfect mother". If anything, I lose my temper too easily. BUT- I've seen other mothers who I think interpret the above to saying to their kids, 'please don't do that' in a plaintive almost begging quiet voice. While I applaud the non-loss of temper, most kids I've seen totally ignore this kind of discipline. So. I think there needs to be the happy medium: a very firm but non-yelling kind of discipline. Trust me- I'm saying this to myself because I need to quiet down my voice lots of times.
     I thought it was funny when he mentioned that a sweet child enrolls their parents in Parenting 101 while a more difficult child enrolls them in Parenting 505. For me and my four kids, I'd say I'm probably in 101, 202, 404, and 505- all different with each of my kids. What I find interesting (and somewhat awful) about myself is that I seem to be hardest on my 101 kid and yet she gets the least of attention. Could be because she's the oldest. But that's definitely something for me to work on.
     Brother Robbins talks about turning negatives to positives. If they confess to doing something wrong, praise their honesty rather than focusing on the actual deed. Give compliments on being, not doing. Instead of "good job vacuuming" try "it makes me happy when you do your chores with a willing heart". Instead of saying "nice goal" in a sport, try, "you never gave up".
     The talk was full of so much, and it gave me a lot to think about. A lot to work on in with my own actions and in how I parent my children. To finish I want to quote Brother Robbins. He said, "The most important way to teach to be is to be the kind of parents to our children that our Father in Heaven is to us."
     I'm really glad I got to participate in this blogfest. It helped me to listen extra attentively to the talks. And blogging about this one helped me to understand it better, to really think about it deeply in relation to my own life. I can't wait to read what the other bloggers have to say...

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”


  1. Thanks for a great post, Melanie! I definitely need to focus on the be more than the do with my kids. They deserve the same kind of attention from me that I get from the Savior.

  2. My eight-year-old daughter turned to us after L. Tom Perry's talk and said, "I liked that talk. It had some real power." Moments like that are worth at least a dozen Parenting 505 classes. Good post, Melanie.

  3. Great post! It's so easy to get caught up in doing that we forget to check in on how what we're doing is shaping who we are. Thanks!

  4. What a wonderful post! I loved this talk as well. I love the example of Heavenly Father's discipline. He is very firm but loving at the same time.

  5. This was a great talk! Thanks for your post - it gave me so many things to think about. I love the way Heavenly Father disciplines - He is very firm but always loving. I hope I can emulate that.

  6. Beautifully said. :o) I loved that talk too. I need to focus more on what to be more than what to do. Thanks for the reminder! And it's great to "meet" you. :o)

  7. Wonderful post! I love this talk as well; another reminder of how to discipline as Heavenly Father does.

  8. I actually wrote 'play with my kids' on my list of things to do the other day. I just feel like I take care of them but don't play with them. It's sad really. And I'm the same as you. I see those mother's who calmly quiet down their kids and I get jealous. Why do I have to get so upset sometimes? Ugh! My four girls definitely put me through parenting 909 all together :) Thanks for sharing a little bit about your life. It's great to connect with others beyond just the fact that we are writer's. And it was nice to meet you!

  9. Eeesh. I need to learn the right balance of not freaking out at my kids as well. I do have a lot of patience, but my kids seem to know how to push my buttons to the very max. I'm doing better though. Instead of just getting mad at whatever they are doing wrong, I've learned to ask them what happened, tell myself to calm down, and then we talk about it or they go to their rooms. ;) Thanks so much for this post! It's so nice to meet you! :D

  10. All of the talks were so good. The more I read these all the posts from the blogfest, the more I want to go back and listen to all the talks again. I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for sharing your testimony!

  11. Thanks for all the comments and all your awesome posts. It's been a great day!

  12. I'm such a list person. My older two kids were actually laughing during this talk and telling me to pay attention.

  13. Thanks for sharing that sweet story about your son, and thanks again for participating in the blogfest. While Elder Robbins was speaking, I thought, "This is one of those talks I'm going to have to go back and reread," just because it was so packed with awesome information.

  14. Great post! I agree with you on the whole FIRM but gentle thing.

  15. Hi Melanie! I'm finally getting over here. I loved this talk too, but your post made me smile. With four kids of my own and life being the way it is, I kept thinking "yep, yep, oh me too!"

    Nice to meet you!

  16. Melanie, such a good post!! I loved that story about Logan, it made me teary eyed when you told me...he is such a sweet boy!

    Ohhhhh, did I ever need to read all you are saying in this post. The part about "be and do are inseparable" and if we aren't both being and doing, then we're hypocrites. It all hit me like a brick to the head....cause it is so, so true! Thanks for sharing, I learned a lot from all you said- and probably more so cause I can relate on soooooo many levels :)

  17. Thanks for your thoughts - on your comment about a happy medium. People forget, the Savior raised His voice in the temple (and even branished a whip) when there were clearly acts violating the spirit of the temple. I do think there is a balance and sometimes we have to take a different road than just the quiet "please try not to do that, honey" voice!

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