Dear Marilyn

Advice to My Younger Self


Marilyn holding a picture of herself from several years ago.

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Dear Marilyn,

As you find out about your sons’ addictions, you will feel confusion, frustration, anger, and guilt. You will wonder what you did wrong when you tried to be a good parent and teach them the gospel. Because of your pain, you may want to lash out in anger against your husband, but you can’t blame each other for what is happening. It is vital that you work together. Right now you don’t feel like you have the ability to work with this, but you will gain the skills you need and be able to share those skills with others. Seek the Lord first. Be meek and humble; you don’t know what your children think or feel, but the Lord does. Pray every time you talk to these children so that the Lord can give you the thoughts and words that will touch their hearts.

They were God’s children before they were yours. Remember that love never fails. Focus and appreciate the good in your children. Look for what makes them unique in a good way. To love like this will strengthen them. Next, remember that agency is a gift of God; you cannot recover for someone else. The most important thing you can do is pay attention, be respectful, ask questions, and listen to the answers.

If your sons make mistakes, allow them to solve their own problems. Let them experience for themselves the consequences of their decisions. You cannot pay the price for someone else’s mistakes, and you can’t gain the growth from someone else’s successes. You have to learn for yourself and respect them while they learn for themselves. I now realize that when they didn’t do or act like I thought they should, I withdrew my love. That was the wrong thing to do. As they struggle, your love must be stable and secure for them. Be patient because this is a learning process for everyone.

The third thing to remember is that you must hold firm to the truths of the gospel. Eternal progress is based on those truths. You don’t want to get to heaven and have your sons say to you, “Mom, you knew this; why didn’t you tell me?” To speak your truths in a positive way, you simply own your own beliefs. Say, “How I see this is …” or, “For me, I believe …” And this way you keep your own integrity towards what you believe and they can choose to listen or not.

As you interact with your children, you are better served if, rather than scold or contend, you do the kind thing. Contention comes from Satan, as does force mode. Rely solely on the Lord Jesus Christ; daily prayer, scripture study, meditation, and service support you to hear the Lord’s words for your sons. The only way to handle all the pain and negative emotions you will experience is to lay them at Christ’s feet. The Atonement will take on a new meaning. Christ is the only way you and your family will survive the pain of your refiner’s fire, your crucible of purification.

You will learn to be more Christlike as you serve His sons and yours. It is His path to wisdom and love; God’s gift to you will be His peace.

In gratitude and love,

Marilyn

Dear Marilyn