Recently, after I tucked my kids into bed, Blake came back out to ask me a question. It was a question about something that he learned in church that was really bothering him. A principle that he had been taught that made him very uncomfortable. (And hearing it from his perspective made me very uncomfortable as well.) When he asked me about it, I shared my opinion and explained that my opinion is probably a little different than what he will learn at church. I calmed him down, and then assured him that it is Ok and said "You don't have to believe everything they tell you at church". I have been working hard to teach my kids (and myself especially) how to sift through opinions vs doctrine. If you are LDS you know that there is a tendency for those lines to get deeply blurred. I have been trying to teach my children (and again myself) the Power of the Holy Ghost to teach us and to lead us. I'm doing this with the hope that they will not find themselves hurt from "leaning on the arm of the flesh" but to always know that they are trusting in the Lord.
As I tucked him back into bed, I was praying that he understood and that I had helped calm his fears. Then he looked up at me, in a very tender and innocent way, and said "Yeah, and you don't have to believe everything your parents say".
That hit me like a ton of bricks.
For the better part of my life I have been on the Child end of that spectrum. I only became a Parent 8 years ago. As the child, it has been easy for me to recognize that I don't have to believe everything my parents tell me. (After all, what teenager doesn't think that they know more than their parents?) Sometimes they have been right, and I have seen the consequences of not believing them. In other times, they have been wrong, and I have seen the benefit in believing differently than them. Neither of those situations have been all that difficult for me, because I have been on the child's side of the coin. But now that I have flipped that coin, and become a mother myself, I am seeing the other side.
Of course, as a Parent, I think that I am probably right. (Honestly, I am a know-it-all anyways who always assumes I am right!) I think that every one of my children should probably believe me for the simple fact that I believe me. Why wouldn't they? But when Blake said it in such a clear statement I realized that the day is coming when my children may not believe some of the things that I believe. And suddenly, from this side of spectrum, I can understand the struggle that other's have felt as some of our beliefs change. I can be much more sympathetic to the shock, surprise, and hurt that a parent may feel as their child decides not to believe some of the things that they were taught. I can see the risk in teaching your children that they don't have to believe everything that they are taught. Then there is the chance that they won't believe me! But the greater risk and the greater harm would be in not allowing them to do this. The greater danger is in not trusting my children to be able to follow the Spirit and follow their own conscience. Whether or not it is the path that I have chosen. (I know, some of you are snickering and thinking how you are going to read this back to me in 10 years when my kids start making their own choices and I want to eat my words. Please, do read this back to me. Remind me that I was once able to trust my kids. I am sure I will need it.)
After the moment of pure shock (and Blake's life passing before my eyes) I was able to agree with Blake. I was able to tell him "Yes, that is right, you can pray about it yourself, and it is absolutely OK to not believe what I say." (SOOOOO hard to say out loud!) To my pure relief he responded "But this time I do believe you".
Score one point for mom. Next time may not have the same outcome. And the Parent in me will probably cry like every parent before me who has watched their child choose differently. But for now I will take comfort in having a son who is willing to faithfully question and seek out the answer that he can believe in.