Yesterday, Marianne had a little friend over to play after school. While they were playing, I heard Marianne use the Lord's name in vain. You know the one...the one kids hear EVERYWHERE; "Oh my".....yeah, that one. Well, the first time I heard it, I wasn't positive that that is what had come out of her mouth, so I put it to the back of my mind. Well, the girls were cleaning up the playroom before her friend was about to leave and she said it again. This time there was no mistaking it. So, I quietly told her that we don't say that. Then, after her friend left, I told her that we only talk about Heavenly Father in a nice way and we only use his name when we are talking to Him or about Him in a nice way. I told her that we don't use Heavenly Father's name when we are angry or frustrated, the way other people do. She seemed genuinely sorry that she had said it and said she was sorry. I told her that if I ever heard her saying it again she would get her mouth washed out with soap. So, tonight, we were brushing teeth before bedtime and she said it again. The thing that bothers me, is that it almost seemed like a habit. She just said it so flippantly. How long have I been missing this? Anyway, I took her downstairs to the only bathroom in our house that has a BAR of soap and Justin helped me wash her little mouth out with it. She wouldn't open her mouth, so I basically ended up making her bite it. Yuck! She was crying and crying and my heart was breaking! When we were done, I had Justin try to explain to her why we don't use that phrase; why we don't use our Father's name like that. She continued to sob all the way to her bed. Well, when she got to her bed, she didn't want to say her prayers. I told her that she needed to tell Heavenly Father that she was sorry for using His name the way she did. She just cried and cried and didn't want to have to say her prayers. I was really struggling to keep it together at this point. I told her that she would feel much better after saying she was sorry. I told her that Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and that if we choose the right, we will be. But, using His name the way she did was not something he wants us to do, so she needs to tell Him that she is sorry. How do you explain forgiveness to a four-year-old? Well, after about five minutes of coaxing, I finally got her to say a prayer. She asked Him for the things she needed; to be safe, to have fun, to sleep well etc. Then, I helped her to tell Him that she was sorry for using His name "mean." When she got to this part she could barely speak through her sobbing. I could completely tell that she felt sorry for what she had done. She asked Him to help her to not do it again then closed her prayer. It took everything I had to not break down into tears. I never want to see her hurt like that again! What am I going to do if and when she makes worse choices and makes bigger mistakes? How will I help her to understand the beauty of the Atonement? How will I help her to understand that Heavenly Father loves her no matter what she does? Tonight, I had a very eye-opening experience. It made me realize that no matter what I teach my children, in the end, they will make their own choices and all I can do is love them and try to help them understand that our Father in Heaven loves them as well. It made me realize that repentance is not easy. Sometimes it is difficult to tell our Father in Heaven that we are sorry. But, if we can do it, we will be happy.
After Marianne finished her prayer, I laid by her for a few minutes. I told her that sometimes she does things that make me angry or upset, but that I will ALWAYS love her. No matter what! I think if I can help her understand that, I have begun to be a good parent. If I can help her to understand that whatever she does, that just like me, our Heavenly Father will love her unconditionally, I am doing even better. I pray every day for the strength to be a better parent and for my children to know that I love them and that our Father loves them. I only pray, now, that that is enough to carry them through and help them to overcome those trials, large and small, because right now, that's all I can do.