by Tanya Spackman
It is time for me to take upon my role as a childless person instructing parents how to raise their kids. Hopefully my subsequent lynching will be quick and painless. However, this must be done. If it helps, I generally avoid telling parents how to raise their children. Not too long ago I had to teach a Relief Society lesson with a “how to be a better parent” theme, and it was incredibly painful to prepare (happily, it turned out well with a lot class participation from, you know, parents).
One of my greatest pet peeves is when little kids go up to the podium during fast and testimony meeting to say their “testimony” with mom or dad whispering the words to say in their little ears. This drives me nuts. If you are one of these people, please stop.
Aside from seeming like brainwashing, it seems pointless. The child has fun doing what the grown-ups or his or her friends are doing. The child gets attention and hugs. But what is she learning about a testimony? She is reciting words that are meaningless to her and meaningless–because of repetition, if for no other reason–to the congregation. Thus she learns that a “testimony” is saying what mom and dad like to hear and getting attention.
So what is a parent to do when the wee one wants to go up to the podium? At that point (well, after church or the next night), if not earlier, a family home evening lesson on testimonies might be appropriate. You can teach what a testimony really is (as is seen in wards everywhere, older kids and adults can benefit from this as well). You can ask questions to find out what they believe and where their testimony currently is, and then you can teach them how to share it. Then, with the family as the audience, they can practice sharing their sincere testimony. Once they have learned what a testimony is, what their testimony is, and how to share it in front of people, they are then ready to get up in front of the congregation.
Trust me, your ward will love you for it.
Tanya Spackman is single and lives in Dugway, Utah. She served a mission in Chicago, and graduated from BYU in 1998 with a degree in molecular biology. She currently works for a contractor as a technical writer and editor at Dugway Proving Ground. She was recently called as a Mia Maids advisor, and is totally excited to have that calling.
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