“If our society is coming apart at the seams, it is because the tailor and the seamstress in the home are not producing the kind of stitching that will hold under stress. In the name of giving advantages, we have too often bartered away the real opportunities of our children.” (1981, Be Thou an Example, Gordon B. Hinckley)
In these modern times, Hinckley’s statement might be seen as too blunt or even not understanding of some parents who are trying their best to raise good children in these hard times. To focus on what this statement is not, however, misses the mark completely.
This honest assessment by Hinckley is a call to action for parents. He was saying that parents are creating something in their homes. They are producers of a product, just as tailors and seamstresses are producers of clothing. The valuable products parents potentially produce are good adults who strengthen society and live a life of true happiness.
Hinckley prefaced the above quote with this counsel: “Fathers and mothers are needed who will rise and stand upon their feet to make of their homes sanctuaries in which children will grow in a spirit of obedience, industry, and fidelity to tested standards of conduct.”
Stand Upon Your Feet
Parents regularly share concerns with me about the direction society is going and the affect it’s having on their families. However, in an effort to protect the feelings of some parents, I’ve also noticed a modern trend of not giving parents any responsibility for how their children turn out.
To produce good adults, parents must claim the right and responsibility of stitching the kinds of family seams “that will hold under stress.”
Undoubtedly, society has created a more stressful child-rearing environment than in some previous generations. Why? Because there’s an overabundance of social input on child raising. Plus, parents’ busy schedules means they need more help with daily tasks associated with raising their children than ever before. Instead of deflating parents, however, this recognition of a socially imposed, stressful environment should empower us with fervent diligence to assume our roles as the tailors and seamstresses of a powerful generation of future adults.
The happiest, most effective families that produce good adults have something in common. At some point along their parenting journey, they created a vision of what they wanted to produce in their homes — much like a tailor plans the garment he’ll sew before creating the pattern.
These deliberate parents recognize the principles they want to instill in their children are likely not going to be taught by society and schools. Instead, they “stand upon their feet” and declare they’ll do the extra work that’s required to raise the extraordinary adults they envision.
But these parents are only successful in their visions if they also “stitch” themselves into the family life. They must be the examples of industrious, happy living people — the antithesis of a military commander, micro-manager, or event/party manager.
Stitching That Holds
After acknowledging their role as creator of the effective child rearing environment and establishing a vision for the potential products the family culture will create, parents needs to define their pattern to achieve their goal.
If a sleeve isn’t measured and cut correctly, then no stitching will hold against the imminent tear from an arm too large for the opening created. Measuring and cutting is the most important part of the sewing. It also oftentimes takes more time than people want to dedicate.
I still remember the swimsuit I made for myself in my youth. I laid the pattern pieces out quickly on the cloth and cut before realizing I didn’t calculate the way the swimsuit would need to stretch to fit properly. Never did I wear such a suffocating swimsuit in my life. Unfortunately, because of my hasty planning, I only wore it twice because I almost burst the carefully sewed seams.
After carefully planning the home environment — including preparing the family culture with skills, planned meetings, and creating an atmosphere where open dialog can happily occur — then it’s time to actually stitch the family into a garment sufficiently strong to withstand the stresses of life.
The stitches are the minutes parents dedicate to child development and interacting with each child.
For stitching to be strong it must not be placed too close to the edge. When the pressures of wear are placed upon the garment, any stitching too close to the edge won’t hold, and a hole will result. There’s nothing so frustrating as a hole appearing shortly after the completed garment is worn.
Parents who create secure stitching don’t go to the social/cultural edge with their parenting. They don’t concern themselves with what other families are doing, watching or valuing. Instead, they happily choose for their family based on the principles they know will create strong family bonds and confident adults.
The motto “different is good” is true 50% of the time. However, deliberate parents can confidently trust in their differences if family time if focused on wise priorities.
Goodness is freedom, gives focus, heals conflicts, and empowers leaders. Goodness is created in the home first. True goodness is deliberately stitched into our lives and families by loving parents.
Hinckley also identified that “real opportunities” for things like character development, family bonding and personal growth are often devalued and replaced with recreation and social constructs when he said, “In the name of giving advantages, we have too often bartered away the real opportunities of our children.”
Ways to Stitch Your Family Together Better This Year
1. Hold regular family and couple council meetings.
2. Teach your children daily.
3. Have family activity nights.
4. Prayerfully consider each child individually.
5. Establish family priorities and put “first things first” daily.
6. Love being a parent/grandparent. Your love of these roles will create a lasting legacy of love of family.
These resources and classes can help strengthen the stitching that holds your family together.