I so enjoy learning from your letters, but I have something I need help with. Kids, who are not members of the Mormon Church, Kids that are angry, and insist that one daughter, born of us, is more important than the nephew we raised as a son since he was a baby. Their ages are 24 and 27, but their feelings remain. I want to help the new mom and not make the son angry. What should I do?
Often in our anxiety to do what is right and provide for our loved ones, we tend to feel responsible for their behavior. Indeed we are responsible when they are very young, but as they grow to adulthood they gradually assume more and more of the responsibility for their own behavior. When they reach adulthood they are as responsible for their own behavior as you feel that your are responsible for yours. Their characters are pretty well formed. No doubt characters can and do change, but seldom from the advice of others.
It is sometimes impossible to please all parties with conflicting interests. What then should we do? First, it would be well to let go, in the sense of feeling responsible for their responses to our inputs. Next, in our interactions with them, we must do what in our judgement is for their best good. If we do this without responding with anger when put upon for our actions, but with a smile and a soft answer, the example of our Christ-like behavior will preach the most powerful sermons. Some may be alienated, but if we have behaved properly that is their business. And if we demonstrate when we are treated poorly that we hold no animosity and that we indeed have love and compassion for the person who perceives us as being against them, they will have the best chance of coming to an understanding of our motives and a desire for reconciliation. There is a scripture that says,
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile–” (D&C 121:41-42).
The application of the principles of persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and kindness represent the best ways of exerting power and influence with or without the priesthood.