By Dina Alexander, MS
Teaching our kids to hear, understand, and act on promptings is one of the most important things we will do as parents.
Now it can be fairly simple to teach our kids to follow promptings that are comfortable or expected—like saying “thank you,” holding a door open for someone, or helping out with chores.
But what about those promptings that are out of the ordinary or downright uncomfortable?
I’ve been prompted to comfort a stranger, share gospel principles with seemingly random people next to me at the gym, pay for a stranger’s groceries, give money to panhandlers who I “knew” were not going to use the money for “needs,” open up about my personal struggle with depression to a group that didn’t feel all that sympathetic, and many other uncomfortable nudgings.
But I’ve also shared these experiences with my children. I want them to learn this principle and do I’ll do what it takes, including embarrassing myself, to teach them.
Here are four ways you can do teach this too:
Lead by example. Show your kids that following promptings can and should be part of our DAILY lives. As often as you feel it’s right, let your kids know about those promptings you’ve followed (and maybe the mistakes you’ve made in not following a prompting), how you felt about following through, and how they can do the same in their lives.
Lead with charity. Let your kids know that we don’t need to overthink whether something is prompting or just from our own random thoughts. If it “enticeth” us to do good, it’s from God and we should do it. As Michelle D. Craig, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency said, ”Sometimes when I have an impression to do something for someone, I wonder if it was a prompting or just my own thoughts. But I am reminded that “that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Whether they are direct promptings or just impulses to help, a good deed is never wasted, for “charity never faileth”—and is never the wrong response.”
Remind your children—many times—that’s it’s okay to feel nervous about doing something out of the ordinary. But more importantly, teach them that getting out of our comfort zones is how we grow spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially.
Bear testimony of your positive experiences with following promptings. I’ve even let my kids know on a number of occasions that I have felt “silly” or awkward speaking up or sharing something in a class that I felted strongly prompted to share. But I also tell them how good it feels to be true to that Spirit and to know that I’ve done what I knew to be right.
Remember, it’s important our children know that hearing and acting on promptings is an ongoing process and takes practice! None of us do this perfectly, but we really can get so much better at hearing the voice of the Spirit and His promptings and inspiration.
Teach Your Children:
“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” –Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President 2007-2012