Treating your children as equals-parenting tips from Elder Busche

“Sister Busche says that her husband has an unusual ability to respond to people, especially to his children. “The most important thing is that he has a good feeling for people—that he can love them and understand them and help them.” She tells of a time when one son faced the difficult choice of marriage or a mission. The Busches were in the mission home in Munich at the time, and their son and his girlfriend came to visit them. Elder Busche told his son, “We love you, and you are totally free. If you feel you should marry, we will still love you. But before you decide, go in your room and ask Heavenly Father.” The son came from his room with tears in his eyes and the commitment that he would go on a mission.

“Elder Busche explains that he and his wife had seen that the traditional way of raising children in Germany caused a tremendous rift between generations. “We did not want to have children who mocked their parents, who obeyed just because their parents fed them. We did not want to force our children to go to church and have them rebel against us.”

“Elder Busche feels it was the Spirit that taught them to regard their children, from the earliest years, as equals. Even when the children were three or four years old, the Busches tried to respect their opinions. “We were surprised and touched by how much we could learn from them,” says Elder Busche. “When children are raised in an unintimidating environment, they are so pure and innocent, so loving and sensitive that it is embarrassing to adults.”

“Daughter Maja (Mrs. Paul Wensel) remembers that her father’s approach to discipline was always to reason with her, never to threaten. He would often say, ‘Jesus would do something different.’

“’Once when I broke a window, he came out and calmly said, ‘You’ve done something wrong, and you need to do something so that you can understand that you can’t do this.’ Then he asked what kind of penalty I thought would be fair. As a result, I never felt rebellious.’ In fact, the Busches found that the children would usually assign themselves stricter penalties than their parents would have.

“The youngest son, Daniel, who returned last April from a mission in Argentina, describes his father as a loving teacher. “One night we had won a baseball game, and I didn’t get home until two in the morning. As I drove up and saw Dad waiting for me outside, I was really scared. I was thinking up all kinds of excuses. But instead of accusing me, he said, ‘I’m glad you’re home. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.’ I knew I had done wrong, but I also knew that he was concerned about me and wanted to help me.”

“The children felt a good atmosphere in the home partly because of their parents’ love for classical music. Sister Busche comes from a family of musicians and loves the music of Bach and Rachmaninoff. Elder and Sister Busche always felt that beautiful music would foster a good spirit in their home. Maja says this helped her keep her mind clean and made the excesses of the world a clear contrast.

“Matthias (married to Patricia Clay) recalls his father not only as a great teacher—always prepared with a lesson for family home evening—but also as a great companion. Elder Busche is an active man whose interests include skiing, running, hiking, and sailing. “Some of the experiences we had sailing together on the Baltic Sea—critical moments when we were in danger—brought us really close. Those are times I’ll never forget,” says Matthias. Some of his favorite times have been the relaxed, playful moments, and also the long, thoughtful talks while driving to and from church meetings.”

Elder F. Enzio Busche: To the Ends of the Earth, Ensign, February 1985

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