Agency and Parenting

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:28

Recently our daughter (who just turned one) has started manifesting her personality a lot more.  Sometimes this means she throws tantrums or fights with me to get her own way.  As a new mom, I am still learning how to deal with this very common parenting problem.

Recently, though, I realized something that helped calm my anxiety about my daughter’s immediate and long-term future.  While parenting is the most important thing I will ever do, and as such I should put my greatest effort into being the best parent I can, I will never be able to make her choices for her.

Lehi also seems to realize this in the way he entreats his own children to make their own good choices in 2 Nephi 2:28-29:

And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

God, the ultimate Father, has already given us, and our children, agency.  My job as a parent is not to make my child do the right thing, and thus take away her agency, but rather to focus on doing everything in my power to convince her to make her own right choices. I have already learned through many experiences in my life that I am much, much happier when I focus on things I can control (like how I parent) instead of things I can’t control (like my daughter’s choices).

Today I am going to write down several good things I can do when my daughter is doing something I don’t want her to do.  While I will do all I can to help her make right choices, the things I write down will be things that I will do, not things that I will try to force my daugther to do.

Have you had an experience where you learned to respect someone else’s agency?  When are others most able to help you improve, and how can you apply that to your own efforts to help others?


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