Day 208: Profile of a Father, Prince Albert

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When and where did he live? Prince Albert was born 26th of August 1819 in modern-day Germany, and lived until the 14th of December in the United Kingdom.

 What is he the father of? Why is he famous? He was the husband of the famous English queen Queen Victoria, who was his first cousin. As the royal consort, he did not have much official power, he eventually took up many causes that helped his subjects such reforming the educational system, strengthening the welfare system, modernizing the manufacturing industry, and advocating for the abolition of slavery. His influence grew over time and he was eventually considered a enlightened ruler. He started the tradition that the British royal family should be above partisan politics.

How many children did he have?  Did they follow in their father’s footsteps? He and Queen Victoria had nine children, all of whom lived into adulthood, which was uncommon for that era. He was known as a kind and patient father, who played a larger role in his children’s lives than did most of the aristocracy. He also expected high standards from his children, especially where their education was concerned. His family line has gone on to produce many nobles throughout the ruling classes of Europe.

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Day 178: Just a Box? Never!

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Every time we move, or after every Christmas, we have a plethora of boxes. We can’t keep them all in our house, but we do not simply throw them all away or recycle them. Some of the most fascinating playthings I’ve given my children have been constructed out of simple cardboard boxes. This is much to my chagrin of having bought so many other more expensive things with lights, batteries, sound and brightly colored plastic.

One good thing boxes can be used for is to make forts. You usually have different sizes and shapes of boxes after moving or celebrating Christmas, which can be used to construct different types of buildings. Using a box cutter, you can cut out flaps for doors and windows even let your kids color the outside with markers or crayons.

A la “Calvin and Hobbes”, cardboard boxes also make excellent spaceships. Just use a big box with the flaps out for wings and then push your kids around the house. They love to do this so much, that my arms usually give out before their desire to continue does.

The grand prize, however, is one of those tall refrigerator boxes. They work equally as well as skyscrapers and bobsleds.

Day 159: Alma the Younger

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Alma the Younger was a missionary talked about in the Book of Mormon. In his youth, he went about trying to destroy the Church of God, but changed his ways and instead devoted himself to missionary work. He brought his three own sons along with him as he traveled about preaching.

The Book of Mormon records the time when he sat down with each of his sons to give them counsel and each son received a very different set of advice.

For two of his sons, he had generally positive words of encouragement and praise. For his third son, however, he has a few stronger words of rebuke. This son had abandoned his missionary labors and instead had wasted his time pursuing an evil woman. The son had set such a bad example that it reflected poorly on the rest of his family so that the people who heard his father preach would not believe his words.

Alma the Younger had been a wayward child himself, so he understood that sometimes patience is required with wayward children. He also knew that it was his responsibility as a father to do all that he could in order to teach his wayward child. Though Alma the Younger did have some hard words for his son, he also expresses his love and concern for him and told him that he would not dwell on these things if it were not for his son’s well being.

Day 158: Putting Off Childish Things

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Becoming a father is not something that you can really go back from. Once you cross that threshold, it means you are a different person. It is a special and even sacred responsibility to care for those you help bring into the world. This will necessarily mean that you need to change your lifestyle and your habits, putting away childish things so that you change from being the child to being the parent.

For example, before I became a father, I spent a lot of time on evenings and weekends playing video games. When I became a father, I simply just had the choice between continuing playing the same amount of videogames and neglecting my child, or putting aside video games and being a father to my child. I chose the latter and though I haven’t completely put off playing video games once in a while, I make it the first priority to make sure that my family’s needs are met and that I spend quality time with my children. Luckily, my sons like videogames too, so sometimes will simply play together.

Day 152: Alma the Elder

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Alma the Elder is a man spoken of in the Book of Mormon. He is first described as one of the wicked priests of an evil king. God sent a messenger to call them to repentance and though the king eventually killed this messenger, Alma the Elder believed the words that he heard. Alma repented and began to teach God’s words to other people. Eventually, he had to flee the kingdom with those who believed him, and set up a righteous land in which to live.

Alma the Elder eventually had a son of his own, who he named after himself, calling him Alma the Younger. To his dismay, Alma the Younger started following the path of wickedness, going so far as to urging others to join him in his unbelief. He mocked those who believed in God and generally caused trouble throughout the kingdom.

The account records that his father prayed for a long time for his son’s heart to be softened.

One day, as Alma the Younger was walking about, an angel appeared to him and called him with a voice like thunder to repentance. Alma the Younger was so struck by this experience that he fainted and slept for three days without awakening. When he awoke, he was a changed man, and devoted himself instead to missionary work.

Alma the Elder had Faith both in God and his son. He knew what the journey from wickedness to righteousness looked like and that it likely would take time. He knew that it was possible to have a change of heart, but he also knew that sometimes the change of heart can only come with God’s help. He did whatever he could, and then trusted in the Lord to make up the difference.

Day 151: Credits Cards vs. Mom and Dad

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“Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards.”

– Robert Orben

The culture that you create in your family does not necessarily have to be in line with the rest of popular culture. I think what this quote is lamenting is that wealth and possessions have become more revered and influential in the lives of our children than have their own mothers and fathers.

A lot of this comes down to what you show them is most important. What do you do to show your children that you love them? Do you spend more money or more time with them? If the answer is always to reach for the credit card, it may be that your priorities are out of whack. It’s certainly not a bad thing to give thoughtful presents to children. But this is no substitute for the time that your presence can give them.

The more meaningful time you spend with your children, the more likely they are to honor you, no matter what the rest of the world may say about the importance of fathers and mothers.

Day 150: Keeping a Diary…Journal…Thing

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No, you don’t have to call it your diary. You don’t even have to call at your journal, if you don’t want to. Choose whatever name you like. If you want to sound really dramatic, you can even call it your chronicles. Whatever you call it, it could be a valuable thing to your family for you to keep a record.

My parents gave me a journal when I was eight years old and I still have all of those eight-year-old entries. The record continues up through my teenage years into adulthood up to the present day. In order to facilitate ease of reading for others’ enjoyment, I later went back and typed up all of my handwritten entries. They are now safely backed up in several places on my computer and Internet storage.

My father never really kept a journal with any regularity, and so there are many things that I don’t know about his childhood that I would like to. His parents unfortunately died when he was only 16 years old so I never got to know them. How valuable a journal would be for me today in order to learn more about those grandparents I never met.

Journal entries don’t need to be long. We don’t need to talk about every single thing you ever did during the week or day. I only compose about one typed page for an entire week. It’s one of my favorite Sunday activities to the chronicle the week, hitting the high points and some of my reactions to them—the most interesting details that people might want to read about you later. It’s not so important what you had for breakfast, but it might be important how you feel about some important events the day. Then again, it is your journal. Write whatever you like whatever you do make sure to back it up.

Day 149: Developing Green Thumbs

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These days, during the reign of supermarkets, it’s likely your kids have never tried fresh produce from the garden. Have good tasting, nutritious food is not only benefit of having a garden. Like taking care of a pet, tending a garden is an exercise in teaching responsibility. The garden needs to be watered, weeded, tended and harvested. Neglecting any of these steps can cause your garden to fail.

Growing up, when we finally had a house with a large enough yard, we planted a small garden in the backyard. My parents researched what kinds of vegetables grow best in our climate and we planted a variety of things from zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, to watermelon.

One nice thing about having a big family is that there were many hands do the work. During the growing season, we would take turns tending the garden, everyone pitching in how they could. The younger children could even contribute by pulling weeds. This brought our family together in a common cause and we all looked forward to the fruits of our labors. When we were done, my mom would make the most incredible homemade salsa with fresh cilantro that made all the hours of weeding and watering worth it.

Here are a few resources on starting a garden it might be helpful to you:

http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/gardening/outdoor/garden-starting-checklist-00000000002180/index.html

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/how-to-start-a-garden.htm

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/planning-your-first-vegetable-garden/

Day 145: Enos and His Father

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Enos is a man who was spoken of in the Book of Mormon. We know very little about his father, but in early in the Book of Enos, tells us something important about him.

Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

Enos 1:3

It appears that his father had been teaching him correct principles and that over time these words sunk deep into the son’s heart so that they finally reached the center. His son then proceeded to test his father’s words for himself and instead of hunting that day, prayed all day long. This led to the confirmation of his faith, as he heard the voice of God speak to him.

Though we know little more about Enos, it seems that perhaps his father had to teach him for a long time before his words finally sunk into the son’s heart. If your teachings do not sink into your children’s hearts right away, do not be discouraged. Instead, be patient and continue to teach, not shoving things down their throats, but be patient and persistent with a loving attitude.

Then, one day, your sons or daughters just might make the attempt to find out for themselves.

Day 144: Truth from Truman

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I have found the very best way to advise your children is to find out what they want to do and advise them to do it. – President Harry Truman

This quote from President Truman rings true to me. Not all of the things that interest us will be of interest to our children. It is therefore our job to find out what does interest them. It is only then that we can use our position for good and advise them to follow whatever it is they’re passionate about.

When I was young, I took a great interest in music. Now my mother comes from a very musical family and is a gifted pianist and director. My father, however, is simply a great patron of the arts as it were. But he enjoyed music, though it just wasn’t his personal passion.

He, however, saw my interest in music and made sure to help foster it from a young age. Though he was a pilot for the US Air Force and thus gone out of state or out of the country often, he always made a point to try to be around for my concerts and recitals.

When my mother felt like she had taught me all that she could by yourself as a piano teacher, my father encouraged me to take outside piano lessons and provided the financial support necessary for me to do so. He found out what I wanted to do and he advised me to do it.

It is going to the same for your children. They will only be more excited to pursue the things that they are passionate about if they know you have your full support.