Sunday, September 26, 2010

When I’m Grateful for Bad Choices

One morning during our first full year of homeschooling, 8 year old Cindy Lynn came and confessed to me.  She had been lying to me, she said, telling me that she had finished school work and chores that were not done. 

I do not remember how I responded to that confession, but I am sure I didn’t handle it well.  I was young and overwhelmed, trying to balance her school needs with the care of a difficult one year old and another child as well.  I was probably frustrated, annoyed, and angry.


Recently I got a chance to try again, and all I can say is that I am grateful for the years that have passed and all that I have learned.


When I went up to bed that night, a sobbing Jared met me at the stop of the stairs.

I was surprised and a little alarmed.  It was 9:30, and he had gone to bed just after 8:00.  What had happened that he was awake so much later, and so upset?  I pulled him into my room with me and held him on the couch.

“Mom,” he cried, “I think you are going to be mad at me!”  And then he sobbed harder.

What a good opening line from him—what a blessing to me that he started that way!  It reminded me that I have been trying so hard to love my children unconditionally—no matter what they do or say.  How nice of him to remind me in that first moment that what I wanted to do was LOVE HIM.  So that what he remembered was that he was loved, even when he had done something wrong.

“Oh Jared,” I said, “I don’t think I will be mad at you.  I just love you too much to be mad at you!”  And then I held him for another minute.

Finally it all tumbled out.  I had made a comment just as he had gone up to bed about being honest in his piano practicing, and it had gone straight to his tender little heart.  He confessed with such anguish, “I lied to you all week, Mom.  I haven’t even practiced the piano at all!”  And then he cried again.

I hugged him more and told him again how much I love him, and that I love him even if he lied and didn’t practice the piano.

We sat for a few minutes, me hugging and him sobbing.

When he started calming down he told me through hiccups and sobs that it has been so hard to start practicing again, and about his frustration with how much he had forgotten over the summer.

I thought about how I was actually happy that Jared had made these bad choices right now, when he could learn some vital life lessons without it being too painful.

I sympathized and told him that I’m having a hard time getting back into the routine of things too. 

And then I did it—part two of handling this the right way.  I said, “Jared, I’ll bet you’ve felt awful this week!”

He agreed right away.  It had been a terrible week for him.

I explained, “That’s the Holy Ghost, telling you that what you were doing was wrong.  And that is so awesome that you heard the Holy Ghost, and you listened, and you made the right choice to come and talk to me about it!”

I hugged him some more, patting his back and thinking of how much I love this youngest child.  From the moment I first saw him the morning after he was born, I have loved his gentle, easy going spirit that is so much like his father’s. 

As he calmed down, I reassured him that in his piano lesson the next day we would review all of the things he couldn’t remember, and that he could always ask me for help when he was ready to practice.  I asked him if he thought it was better to do the work of practicing or feel so bad, and he said that it would be much easier to practice rather than to have to feel so guilty. 

Before he went back to his bed, we said a prayer together.  I asked Heavenly Father to help Jared know how much his dad and I love him.  And to help him make good choices, and keep listening to the spirit.  Last I asked that Heavenly Father would help Jared be excited about being able to serve Him by playing the piano, especially by being able play the piano when he is a missionary. 

We closed our prayer, hugged some more, and then my sweet boy went calmly to back to bed, while I thanked Heavenly Father for all that he has taught me in the last 14 years.


  1. What a beautiful, tender moment! Thank you for sharing it here.

  2. It's nice to feel, even if it's only occasionally, that we've handled something, whatever it is, like Heavenly Father would. It's a little bit of heaven, I think! :)

  3. I see again and again the differences in how I handle situations with my older children, vs. my younger ones. I sure hope I didn't ruin the older ones with my harsh expectations and quick punishments.
    I sure hope I do not ruin my younger ones with my laid back attitude and hugs and kisses.

  4. I remember the first time I lied to my mom...I told her I'd eaten my peanut butter and jelly sandwich when really I'd just thrown it in the garbage. The guilt got to me while I was trying to sleep that night and, just like Jared, ended up going tearfully down to my mom hours after I was to be asleep. I don't remember exactly how she handled it - - - only that it was calm and controlled - - - and I still remember the lesson today. I think you've given Jared a great gift. He'll probably tell this story throughout his whole life....and he'll remember how wonderful you were.

  5. I love the innocence and honesty of a child. Especially this child.