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Like many others who are nearing the end of their mortal life, World War II veteran, George Allen Gundry, reminisced shortly before his death about what was most important and what his greatest blessings were. He wrote, “…I must admit that at times I wished I could have provided more abundantly (financially) for my family and especially wife. Yet, I’ve learned this from looking at some of my wealthy friends — that all that glitters does not necessarily make one happy…I wouldn’t trade other’s lands and gold for my children and grandchildren who have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball said, “Since immortality and eternal life constitute the sole purpose of life, all other interests and activities are but incidental there unto.” This simple, yet profound, understanding of the purpose of life puts our daily activities into focus. How often do we spend our greatest amounts of energy and time chasing money and trying to impress others while the greatest of life’s accomplishments, the salvation and spiritual success of our family members and ourselves, become after thoughts or quick ‘check-offs’ before bedtime?
In 1959, when George Allen Gundry was a young father struggling to provide for his growing family and meeting financial setbacks around every corner he got a surprising letter from the land of his forefathers, England. This letter told George that he was heir to a great estate including a royal title in England if he came to England to manage the estate.
Most of George’s humble ancestors left their English lands and possessions and crossed the vast American plains to come to Zion. They left all they had to raise their families among others of their faith. This heritage likely had a profound impact on the decision George and his wife made as they refused the wealth and titles. As they pondered the consequences of their choices, they saw that staying near their family and the people of their faith was important for raising a strong and faithful family. Family trumped royalty and wealth. They gave up the glitter of prosperity to preserve their family and their faith.
50 Years Later
In modern times parents struggle to put family first as social voices in favor of doing more, going more, viewing more, chatting more, playing more, and having more, push families toward disconnection from each other.
The new gold that glitters is called more; more friends, more fun times, more digital, more stuff, more worldly success.
This gold has replaced time with family, both quality of time and quantity of time. In order to have a truly quality relationship it actually requires a quantity of time. People are always bonded tightest to those they are around the most.
Nowadays time-deprived business executives, service professionals, and parents have recognized this imbalance and often say, “time is money.” They hope for time to do what they want to do, and time to cuddle and play as a family while simultaneously gathering all the glitter up by doing more and getting more day after day.
Why do we deprive ourselves of what we know is best? Well, habits are hard to change.
3 Steps for Putting First Things First
Day after day I meet parents who ask me how to stop their children from sneaking their cell phones and how to help them play less video games. Throughout these discussions with parents they quickly see that their children aren’t the only ones turning to devices for playtime. Parents are oftentimes setting the device dependency example without realizing it.
In order to deliberately turn parent and child bad habits around, it is important to take a closer look at how much time each person really has each week. First, determine how many hours would be best for parent and child to spend together each week.
Second, factor how many hours are in each week, minus hours for sleep, school, housework, eating, employment, computer or digital entertainment, television and music entertainment, doing hobbies or activities, hours with friends, church, personal grooming, exercise, and hygiene. It should be surprising how many hours are spent on each thing. It’s also eye opening to rank each area in order of importance. Put first things first and see if your time calculations show you that you are putting first things first.
Finally, there should hopefully still be a positive number. If the number is a negative number, it is time to see where to cut. If the number is positive but low then examine how much time is spent on activities, entertainment and unnecessary things and deliberately cut time out to improve family relationships. If you find that your positive number is larger than you thought it would be, but that time isn’t being spent with family, but in other wasteful ways, then choose to more deliberately adjust hours to improve bonding and memory making. Watching a movie or TV program isn’t usually quality bonding time.
It’s important to note that just being at the same place together doesn’t count as relationship building or family strengthening time. Some children and adults think that being at home is family time; it isn’t. Family time or relationship building time is when the people in the relationship talk, work, play and associate with each other. This time adjustment doesn’t require more money or more running around.
A classic blunder for modern parents is to think up a cool activity and then take their good friends along to make it twice the fun. Even though this is fun, it doesn’t create good relationship building/bonding time for parent and child. Let the social scene go long enough to really get to know each other. Children who are over scheduled are often whiny and not motivated.
George Allen Gundry, and countless others from past generations left a legacy of sacrifice. They sacrificed comfort to preserve freedoms in the war, and they sacrificed financial gains to secure united families and strong testimonies. They lived with a spirit of gratitude for the most important blessings they had. Let us be grateful for our families and gospel knowledge too, and let go of the glitter of distraction and business for the truly golden prize, family unity that can last forever.
I love you grandpa! Thank you for teaching all of us by example what was most important. Your sacrifices have left a legacy of wisdom.
To strengthen your family relationships and improve communication visit Nicholeen’s website.