As the second in four lessons having to do with family, wonderful material for this chapter can be found in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:... (the old Priesthood/Relief Society manuals). This material is in Joseph Smith, chapter 42; for Brigham Young, chapters 24 and 46; in John Taylor, chapter 21; For Wilford Woodruff, chapter 16; for Joseph F. Smith, chapters 4, 33, 39, and 43; for Heber J. Grant, chapter 22; for David O. McKay, chapter 16; for Harold B. Lee 12, 13, 14 and 15; and for Spencer W. Kimball, chapters 19 and 20. These can all be found by going to the new “lds.org” then click on “Go to Classic LDS.org” (lower left corner), then click on “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society.” The manuals are all found at the bottom of this page.
The new website “lds.org” is also wonderful. On the first page, there is a link in the upper right-hand corner, “Search all LDS.org” which, if you type in “family” leads to great material.
1 - - Responsibilities of the Parents
The following quote puts in perspective exactly how important parents are to the Lord:
Brigham Young said of Joseph Smith: “It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eye upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was foreordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation” (Church History and the Fulness of Times, 26-7)
Remember, all of the institute manuals are available online at “institute.lds.org” by clicking on “Course Catalog” bar (along the top).
Concerning the need for parents to take responsibility, President McKay instructed:
A newborn babe is the most helpless creature in the world. The protecting care of parenthood is essential to its survival, as well as its growth. … Our most precious possessions, our treasures of eternity, are our children. These merit and should receive our greatest and our most constant care and guidance (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 154).
Brigham Young added:
We see the infant in its mother’s arms. What is this infant here for? What is the design in the creation of this little infant child? … You see this foundation, the starting point, the germ of intelligence embodied in this infant, calculated to grow and expand into manhood [or womanhood], then to the capacity of an angel, and so onward to eternal exaltation. But here is the foundation. … Here is the first place where we learn, this is the foot of the hill (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 171-2).
In the second paragraph of this section the “sacred responsibilities of parenthood” are mentioned (p. 213). President McKay elaborated:
Parenthood … should be held as a sacred obligation. There is something in the depths of the human soul which revolts against neglectful parenthood. God has implanted deep in the souls of parents the truth that they cannot with impunity shirk the responsibility to protect childhood and youth.
There seems to be a growing tendency to shift this responsibility from the home to outside influences, such as the school and the church. Important as these outward influences are, they never can take the place of the influence of the mother and the father. Constant training, constant vigilance, companionship, being watchmen of our own children are necessary in order to keep our homes intact.
Three groups carry the responsibility of training children: First, the family; second, the Church; third, the state. The most important of these is the family. By divine edict the Lord has placed upon parents the responsibility, first to teach the doctrine of repentance; second, faith in Christ, the Son of the living God; third, baptism and confirmation; fourth, to teach children to pray; fifth, to teach children to walk uprightly before the Lord [see D&C 68:25-28]. Parents who shirk this responsibility will have to answer for the sin of neglect.
The greatest trust that can come to a man and woman is the placing in their keeping the life of a little child (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 154-5).
In the second paragraph is also mentioned the tremendously important concept from the Family Proclamation that, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (p. 213). It cannot be overly stressed that good parenting begins with good relationships between parents. President Kimball proclaimed:
The place of woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him. In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel … was devised by the Lord for men and women alike (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 215).
Here is one of our all-time favorite quotes. It beautifully and succinctly spells out the steps to equality in marriage. In a First Presidency Message by President Marion G. Romney (talk is terrific):
They [husbands and wives] should be one in harmony, respect, and mutual consideration. Neither should plan or follow an independent course of action. They should consult, pray, and decide together (Ensign, March 1978, 2).
President Kimball helps us understand this crucial concept further:
When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 315).
My wife and I really love the following explanation by Patricia Holland, wife of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
Much of the time I act autonomously and independently. In fact, Jeff will agree that I am about the most independent woman he knows But when we make major moves, and even some minor ones, and when I’m concerned about the children or my church assignments, or when I experience weakness and pain, I listen to and obey his counsel because I know he obeys our Father’s counsel. I know that is the order of heaven (On Earth As It Is in Heaven, 60).
My wife and I have found that most of what makes a happy home begins with how righteously a husband and wife are united in their marriage. President Kimball expressed this:
Fathers and mothers, your foremost responsibility is your family. By working together you can have the kind of home the Lord expects you to have. By showing love and consideration for one another and for your children, you can build a reservoir of spiritual strength that will never run dry (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 208).
Along with the ideas expressed above, the third paragraph in this section begins, “Some responsibilities must be shared by the husband and the wife” (p. 213). President McKay warned:
The father who, because of business or political or social responsibilities, fails to share with his wife the responsibilities of rearing his sons and daughters is untrue to his marital obligations, is a negative element in what might and should be a joyous home atmosphere, and is a possible contributor to discord and delinquency (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 156).
In every aspect of parenting, unity of parents is a crucial concept. If parents are not both striving for righteousness, children suffer. President Lee affirmed:
At the marriage altar you are pledged to each other from that day to pull the load together in double harness. The Apostle Paul with reference to marriage counseled: “Be ye not unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14) While his counsel has to do more particularly with matters that pertain to an equality of religious interests and spiritual desires, yet the figure his statement suggests should not be overlooked. Like a yoke of oxen pulling a load along the highway, if one falters, becomes lazy and indolent or mean and stubborn, the load is wrecked and destruction follows. For similar reasons, some marriages fail when either or both who are parties thereto fail in carrying their responsibilities with each other.
But even more important than that you be ‘yoked equally’ in physical matters, is that you be yoked equally in spiritual matters. … Certain it is that any home and family established with the object of building them even into eternity and where children are welcomed as ‘a heritage from the Lord’ [see Psalm 127:3] have a much greater chance of survival because of the sacredness that thus attaches to the home and the family (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 109-10).
Much heart ache and pain, both to spouses as well as children accompany the failure to equally yoke in righteousness, both in marriage and in parenting. President Lee declares:
That determination for the welfare of each other must be mutual and not one-sided or selfish. Husband and wife must feel equal responsibilities and obligations to teach each other (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 112).
Also in this third paragraph is taught the core concept - - indeed perhaps the most seminal principle taught in this lesson, D&C 68:25, 28 - - the Lord’s commandment that parents to teach their children. Brigham Young declared:
…when instructing them [your children] in the principles of the Gospel, teach them that they are true, truth sent down from heaven for our salvation, and that the Gospel incorporates every truth whether in heaven, in earth, or in hell; and teach them, too, that we hold the keys of eternal life, and that they must obey and observe the ordinances and laws pertaining to this holy Priesthood, which God has revealed and restored for the exaltation of the children of men.
If we do not take the pains to train our children, to teach and instruct them concerning these revealed truths, the condemnation will be upon us, as parents, or at least in a measure.
We are the guardians of our children; their training and education are committed to our care, and if we do not ourselves pursue a course which will save them from the influence of evil, when we are weighed in the balance we shall be found wanting.
Let parents treat their children as they themselves would wish to be treated, and set an example before them that is worthy of you as Saints of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 172, 337, 338).
President Joseph F. Smith, after quoting the above scripture, declared:
My children must not and will not turn away with my consent. If they do turn away, it must be over my protest, and against my example. I will plead with my children; I will endeavor with all the power I possess to have them as true and faithful to this Gospel as it is possible for me to be; because without all of them in the kingdom of God I would feel that my household was not perfect.
My dear brothers and sisters, take care of your children; teach them in their childhood the principles of truth; teach them to live pure lives, to have faith in God, and to call upon the Lord in faith that they may obtain full fellowship with the Lord and become heirs of salvation in His kingdom (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 349-50).
Concerning this same idea, President Grant declared:
We receive a testimony of the Gospel by obeying the laws and ordinances thereof; and our children will receive that knowledge exactly the same way; and if we do not teach them, and they do not walk in the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life, they will never receive this knowledge. I have heard people say that their children were born heirs to all the promises of the new and everlasting covenant, and that they would grow up in spite of themselves, with a knowledge of the Gospel. I want to say to you that this is not a true doctrine, and it is in direct opposition to the commandment of our Heavenly Father. We find that it is laid down to the Latter-day Saints, not as an entreaty, but as a law, that they should teach their children [then he quotes the above scripture] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 201).
President Lee expands upon the concept taught above and adds some great scriptural references:
Upon the parents in the home and upon the Church there is placed a great responsibility to so teach the truths of the gospel that an anchor will be provided for each soul. Without such an anchor, man would be as the “waves of the sea driven by the winds and tossed,” driven by every wind of doctrine of uncertain origin that would muddle his thinking as to that which is wrong in the sight of God [see Ephesians 4:14; James 1:6]. We should be the best-educated people on the face of the earth if we heed the injunctions of the Lord (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 121).
President Lee added:
We, the fathers, the teachers, the mothers, we have [a] great [task] in building human souls. True, Satan cannot tempt little children before they come to the age of accountability; but Satan gets in his licks by trying to make those of us who are entrusted with their care and their training to be negligent and careless and allow them to develop those little tendencies that will lead them away, and will [make them] unfit for the great responsibilities in meeting the contest with Satan, and fail to put on that armor by the time they come to the age of accountability.
Oh, you mothers, you fathers, I plead for the return to a sense of the complete responsibility for those treasured souls. Except you prepare them for this day that is coming, who is going to?
That day when [the Lord] shall come as a thief in the night, are you preparing them to stand in His presence? When they are out there on the battlefield, when they are faced with danger, and faced with temptation, is your motherly love going to extend over those thousands of miles and hold that son or daughter steadfast? (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 122-3).
In case parents do not clearly understand the line between where the Lord holds parents responsible for their children and where He then holds children responsible, here is a delightful story related by Elder Paul H. Dunn of the Seventies (the whole article is great):
I recall as a young man when I first heard our text quoted from the Doctrine and Covenants, I went to my own mother and exclaimed, “Well, Mom, how does it feel to have all my sins on your head?” Then she taught me the lesson of that passage. She said, “Ah, Paul, you forgot to read carefully what the Lord said. He said that the sin be upon the head of parents if they do not teach their children the principles of the gospel. And you’ve been taught!” (Ensign, May 1974, 14).
In the fourth paragraph of this section parents are encouraged to “treat their children with love and respect” (p. 213). Of course, this must have its beginnings with how parents treat each other. President John Taylor stated:
Would you not like, when you get through, to be able to say, Mary, Jane, Ann, or whatever the name may be, I never injured you in my life. And if you are wives, would you not like to be able to say, Thomas, or William, I never injured you in all my life. And, then, to spend an eternity together hereafter.
Husbands, do you love your wives and treat them right, or do you think that you yourselves are some great moguls who have a right to crowd upon them? … You ought to treat them with all kindness, with mercy and long suffering, and not be harsh and bitter, or in any way desirous to display your authority. Then, you wives, treat your husbands right, and try to make them happy and comfortable. Endeavor to make your homes a little heaven, and try to cherish the good Spirit of God. Then let us as parents train up our children in the fear of God and teach them the laws of life. If you do, we will have peace in our bosoms, peace in our families, and peace in our surroundings.
Parents, treat your children aright; train them up in the fear of the Lord; they are of more importance to you than many things that you give your attention to (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 196, 198).
Anger is possibly the biggest barrier to treating each other “with love and respect.” Joseph Smith gave terrific counsel concerning this:
When a man is borne down with trouble, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty, if he can meet a smile instead of an argument or a murmur—if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings; when the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace of affection and kindness. … When you go home, never give a cross or unkind word to your husbands, but let kindness, charity and love crown your works henceforward (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 482).
Brigham Young added:
Anger should never be permitted to rise in our bosoms, and words suggested by angry feelings should never be permitted to pass our lips (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 174).
President Gordon B. Hinckley also instructed:
Anger is not an expression of strength. It is an indication of one’s inability to control his thoughts, words, his emotions. Of course it is easy to get angry. When the weakness of anger takes over, the strength of reason leaves. Cultivate within yourselves the mighty power of self-discipline (Ensign, Nov. 1991, 49)
Brigham Young further stressed the importance of self-discipline:
In passing through the world I see that the most of parents are very anxious to govern and control their children. As far as my observations have gone I have seen more parents who were unable to control themselves than I ever saw who were unable to control their children. If a mother wishes to control her child, in the first place let her learn to control herself, then she may be successful in bringing the child into perfect subjection to her will. But if she does not control herself how can she expect a child,—an infant in understanding—to be more wise, prudent and better than one of grown age and matured? (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 338-9).
Also in the fourth paragraph of this section parents are encouraged to be “firm” (p. 213). President McKay gave excellent counsel concerning this:
Obedience is heaven’s first law, and it is the law of the home. There can be no true happiness in the home without obedience—obedience obtained, not through physical force, but through the divine element of love. There is no home without love. You may have a palace and yet not have a home, and you may live in a log house with a dirt roof, and a dirt floor, and have there the most glorious home in all the world, if within those four log walls there permeates the divine principle of love, [which creates] that blessed obedience and compliance that makes life worth while.
… The child should learn that there are limits to his actions, that there are certain bounds beyond which he cannot pass with impunity. This conformity to home conditions can be easily obtained with kindness, but with firmness (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 158-9).
Also in the fourth paragraph, parents are encouraged to be “kind” to their children (p. 213).
President Woodruff explained about this principle in teaching children:
When I was a boy and went to school, the schoolmaster used to come with a bundle of sticks about eight feet long, and one of the first things we expected was to get a whipping. For anything that was not pleasing to him we would get a terrible thrashing. What whipping I got then did not do me any good. … Kindness, gentleness and mercy are better every way. I would like this principle instilled into the minds of our young men, that they may carry it out in all their acts in life. Tyranny is not good, whether it be exercised by kings, by presidents, or by the servants of God. Kind words are far better than harsh words. If, when we have difficulties one with another, we would be kind and affable to each other, we would save ourselves a great deal of trouble (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 168).
In the fifth paragraph of this section parents are encouraged to “be good examples” to their children (p. 214). This may be a good time to repeat a quote from Albert Schweitzer found in this blog, from chapter 32:
Adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, the third is by example.
Brigham Young clearly understood this principle:
We should never allow ourselves to teach our children one thing and practice another.
We should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do.
We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate. Do we realize this? How often we see parents demand obedience, good behavior, kind words, pleasant looks, a sweet voice and a bright eye from a child or children when they themselves are full of bitterness and scolding! How inconsistent and unreasonable this is!
If parents will continually set before their children examples worthy of their imitation and the approval of our Father in Heaven, they will turn the current, and the tide of feelings of their children, and they, eventually, will desire righteousness more than evil (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 173).
President Taylor taught the Saints the importance of parents setting a good example for their children. His son Frank Y. Taylor once spoke of the great influence for good that the example of his father had been in his life: “When I think of the careful training that I had, of the wonderful example that was set before me, in my youth, I feel that it would be inexcusable for me to do that which was not right in my life, because I feel that I had a perfect example to follow (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 193).
President Taylor also instructed:
You should never say a word or do an act which you would not want your children to copy after. The idea of men who profess to fear God, and some of them Elders in Israel, being addicted to swearing, … is a shame and a disgrace to high heaven, and this is sometimes done before their families; it is a shame. And then some men give way and say they have a bad temper: I would sell it for nothing, and give something to boot to get rid of it. I would be careful that all my acts and doings were right (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 196).
President Woodruff also agreed, referring to a scripture from “Additional Scriptures” (p. 217):
Let us try and bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord [see Ephesians 6:4]. Let us set them good examples and teach them good principles while they are young. They are given to us by our heavenly Father; they are our kingdom, they are the foundation of our exaltation and glory…
It is … a great blessing to children to have parents who pray and teach their children good principles, and set a good example before them. Parents cannot properly reprove children for doing things which they practice themselves.
If we set a good example before our children, and try to instruct them from their childhood to maturity; teach them to pray and to honor the Almighty; teach them those principles that will sustain them in the midst of all trials, that the Spirit of the Lord may rest upon them, … then they will not easily be led astray (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 166).
In harmony with this idea, President Joseph F. Smith added:
Let them [your children] see that you are earnest, and practice what you preach…teach them by your own precept and example (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 346).
President McKay also encouraged:
There is a responsibility upon all, and especially upon fathers and mothers, to set examples to children and young people worthy of imitation. Parents must be sincere in upholding law and upholding the priesthood in their homes, that children may see a proper example.
It is the duty of parents and of the Church not only to teach but also to demonstrate to young people that living a life of truth and moral purity brings joy and happiness, while violations of moral and social laws result only in dissatisfaction, sorrow, and, when carried to extreme, in degradation.
It is our duty as adults and [our children’s] parents to set them a proper example in the home and in society. It is our responsibility to impress our children with our sincerity in our belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Never should parents teach one thing about the gospel and do another. Children are very susceptible to insincerity (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 159-60).
In the last paragraph of this section it states that parents should “guide their children with love” (p. 214). President McKay taught:
Whenever possible they [parents] should give encouragement rather than remonstrance or reproof (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 159).
Brigham Young added:
We cannot chastise a child for doing that which is contrary to our wills, if he knows no better; but when our children are taught better and know what is required of them, if they then rebel, of course, they expect to be chastised, and it is perfectly right that they should be.
I will here say to parents, that kind words and loving actions towards children, will subdue their uneducated nature a great deal better than the rod, or, in other words, than physical punishment (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 339).
Brigham Young also gave excellent counsel for the power of example:
You ought always to take the lead of your children in their minds and affections. Instead of being behind with the whip, always be in advance, then you can say, “Come along,” and you will have no use for the rod. They will delight to follow you, and will like your words and ways, because you are always comforting them and giving them pleasure and enjoyment (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 340).
Under the sectional title, “A successful marriage requires continued courtship, effort, and commitment” President McKay taught:
I should like to urge continued courtship, and apply this to grown people. Too many couples have come to the altar of marriage looking upon the marriage ceremony as the end of courtship instead of the beginning of an eternal courtship. Let us not forget that during the burdens of home life—and they come—that tender words of appreciation, courteous acts are even more appreciated than during those sweet days and months of courtship. It is after the ceremony and during the trials that daily arise in the home that a word of “thank you,” or “pardon me,” “if you please,” on the part of husband or wife contributes to that love which brought you to the altar. It is well to keep in mind that love can be starved to death as literally as the body that receives no sustenance. Love feeds upon kindness and courtesy. It is significant that the first sentence of what is now known throughout the Christian world as the Psalm of Love, is, “Love suffereth long, and is kind.” [See 1 Corinthians 13:4.] The wedding ring gives no man the right to be cruel or inconsiderate, and no woman the right to be slovenly, cross, or disagreeable (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 149).
Barriers to a good marital relationship include a husband “marrying” his job, as well as a wife “marrying” her children. President McKay’s advice could be summed up in “date weekly” (as opposed to the bad spelling as well as bad idea of “date weakly”).
As each section heading begins with “Responsibilities…” and the last also includes “Accepting Responsibilities…,” it is important that the concept of teaching children to make their own decisions be included. President Grant’s daughter shared the following concerning this idea:
In matters of small importance, father seldom said ‘No’ to us. Consequently, when he did say ‘No,’ we knew he meant it. His training allowed us to make our own decisions whenever possible. He always explained very patiently just why he thought a certain procedure was unwise and then he would say, ‘That’s the way I feel about it; but of course, you must decide for yourself.’ As a result, our decision was usually the same as his. He was able somehow to motivate us to want to do the right thing rather than to be forced to do it (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 200).
President John Taylor’s son said of him:
I have never heard him enter into any argument with any of his family; I have never heard him and my mother contend or disagree in the presence of the children. When talking about our duties in the church, it was always in the spirit of counsel and he would frequently say, ‘It would please me if you are a faithful Latter-day Saint.’ He was held in such high esteem by his children that to please him seemed to be their greatest desire (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 191).
President Kimball and his wife echoed this in how they practiced this principle:
President Kimball and his wife, Camilla, strengthened their children by teaching and encouraging them and then letting them take responsibility for their own choices. Their daughter, Olive Beth, recalled that they “guided rather than pushed us into the paths that they wanted us to go (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 203).
Joseph Smith gave us a powerful principle for parenting:
Teach them correct principles and they govern themselves (John Taylor quoting Joseph Smith in Millennial Star, 13:339).
Brigham Young understood this idea:
Parents should never drive their children, but lead them along, giving them knowledge as their minds are prepared to receive it (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 174).
President Taylor, who quoted Joseph Smith above, also believed in eternally correct principles:
…as man is an eternal being, and all his actions have a relevancy to eternity, it is necessary that he understand his position well, and thus fulfil the measure of his creation: for as he and his offspring are destined to live eternally, he is not only responsible for his own acts, but, in a great measure, for those of his children; in training their minds, regulating their morals, setting them a correct example, and teaching them correct principles, but more especially in preserving the purity of his own body (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 195).
2 - - Responsibilities of the Father
President Joseph F. Smith set the tone for this section:
Every father should rise to the dignity of his holy office as head of his family (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 381).
President Smith continues with how long and how important is this appointment:
There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher Priesthood, than that of the father. The authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the prophets who were inspired of God. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity.
There is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 383).
This concept of the father being the “head of his family” is a crucially important one, often misunderstood. It centers on the word “preside” from the Family Proclamation (first paragraph of this section). God the Father introduced this idea in the Garden in Genesis 3:16 and Moses 4:22.
Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said...thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee (Moses 4:22).
Interestingly, we find the completion of this phrase “rule over thee…” in the temple. This command to rule is given to be only “…in righteousness.” President Kimball echoes the temple concerning this most important principle:
I have a question about the word rule. It gives the wrong impression. I would prefer to use the word preside because that’s what he does. A righteous husband presides over his wife and family (Ensign, Mar. 1976, 72). In Ephesians 5:22-31 and Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-46 the Lord gave clear instructions on how husbands should preside (Pearl of Great Price Institute Manual, 14).
Again, all of the institute manuals are available online at “institute.lds.org” by clicking on “Course Catalog” bar (along the top).
Brigham Young declared:
…I never counselled a woman to follow her husband to the Devil (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 167).
President Kimball agreed wholeheartedly:
The wife follows the husband only as he follows Christ. No woman has ever been asked by the Church authorities to follow her husband into an evil pit. She is to follow him as he follows the Savior of the world, but in deciding this, she should always be sure she is fair (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 316).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks discusses the false concept practiced by those who do not understand the sacred nature of this appointment:
…we had a neighbor who dominated and sometimes abused his wife. He roared like a lion, and she cowered like a lamb. When they walked to church, she always walked a few steps behind him. That made my mother mad. She was a strong woman who would not accept such domination, and she was angry to see another woman abused in that way. I think of her reaction whenever I see men misusing their authority to gratify their pride or exercise control or compulsion upon their wives in any degree of unrighteousness (see D&C 121:37). (Ensign, Nov. 2005, 24)
The scripture quoted by Elder Oaks is crucial to correct understanding of the principles discussed here. When fathers preside without righteousness, the Lord says “amen” to their priesthood (D&C 121:37).
President Kimball further emphasized this idea:
We have heard of men who have said to their wives, “I hold the priesthood and you’ve got to do what I say.” Such a man should be tried for his membership. Certainly he should not be honored in his priesthood. We rule in love and understanding (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 316).
President Hinckley spoke strongly about this problem:
Any man who is a tyrant in his own home is unworthy of the priesthood. He cannot be a fit instrument in the hands of the Lord when he does not show respect and kindness and love toward the companion of his choice.
Likewise, any man who is a bad example for his children, who cannot control his temper, or who is involved in dishonest or immoral practices will find the power of his priesthood nullified (Ensign, Nov 2001, 52).
Joseph Smith helped us further understand the principles taught by the Lord in D&C 121:
It is the duty of a husband to love, cherish, and nourish his wife, and cleave unto her and none else [see D&C 42:22]; he ought to honor her as himself, and he ought to regard her feelings with tenderness, for she is his flesh, and his bone, designed to be an help unto him, both in temporal, and spiritual things; one into whose bosom he can pour all his complaints without reserve, who is willing (being designed) to take part of his burden, to soothe and encourage his feelings by her gentle voice.
It is the place of the man, to stand at the head of his family, … not to rule over his wife as a tyrant, neither as one who is fearful or jealous that his wife will get out of her place, and prevent him from exercising his authority. It is his duty to be a man of God (for a man of God is a man of wisdom,) ready at all times to obtain from the scriptures, the revelations, and from on high, such instructions as are necessary for the edification, and salvation of his household (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 482).
Brigham Young added:
I do not believe in making my authority as a husband or a father known by brute force; but by a superior intelligence—by showing them that I am capable of teaching them. … If the Lord has placed me to be the head of a family, let me be so in all humility and patience, not as a tyrannical ruler, but as a faithful companion, an indulgent and affectionate father, a thoughtful and unassuming superior; let me be honored in my station through faithful diligence, and be fully capable, by the aid of God’s Spirit, of filling my office in a way to effect the salvation of all who are committed to my charge (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 339-40).
President Kimball continued:
Sometimes we hear disturbing reports about how sisters are treated. Perhaps when this happens, it is a result of insensitivity and thoughtlessness, but it should not be, brethren. The women of this Church have work to do which, though different, is equally as important as the work that we do. Their work is, in fact, the same basic work that we are asked to do—even though our roles and assignments differ. …
Our sisters do not wish to be indulged or to be treated condescendingly; they desire to be respected and revered as our sisters and our equals. I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 216-7).
Some have wondered why man is the head of the home. As stated earlier, the answer was given in the Garden and is “God said.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained:
We know so little about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. We are accustomed to focusing on the men of God because theirs is the priesthood and leadership line. But paralleling that authority line is a stream of righteous influence reflecting the remarkable women of God who have existed in all ages and dispensations, including our own (The Women of God, 94).
President Kimball discussed this “equal but different” concerning men and women:
We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God’s perfected love for each of us.
Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood—but the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord (see 1 Cor. 11:11) (Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102).
In the third paragraph of this section it states that the father should “talk with them [his children] about their problems and concerns” (p. 215). President McKay gave a wonderful illustration about “being on the same page” in these talks:
One evening, about five o’clock, four brethren were riding down Main Street [in Salt Lake City, Utah] in an automobile. Just as they passed First South Street, they heard a little plaintive cry, “Papa! Papa! Papa! wait.” The father was the driver, and his ready ear recognized his son’s voice. He brought the machine instantly to a standstill. As the men looked out, they saw coming out of that bustling, jostling crowd of humanity, a little nine-year-old boy, out of breath, panting, crying, because of his effort to overtake the machine. …
The father said, “Why, where have you been, my son?”
“I have been looking for you.”
“Well, did you leave the place where we agreed to meet?”
“Yes, I went up to see where you were.”
The boy understood that they were to meet in front of the Tabernacle. The father evidently meant to meet the child farther down the street. Through this misunderstanding the son had become separated from his parent, and the little child was thrown into that vast throng, unprotected.
I believe that illustrates the keynote of warning that has been sounded frequently. Fathers, is there a misunderstanding between you and your sons? Is there one wandering amidst the throngs of life, surrounded by all kinds of temptations, and you expecting to meet him at an appointed place which he does not know? He may not come out from that throng and cry,
“Father, Father!” and if he should, your ears might be deaf to that call, because of the concentration of your mind upon the affairs of life. So you might speed by him and leave him in the midst of evil, to find his own way home. Take your sons with you along this road of life, that you may have them with you in that eternal home where there is everlasting peace and contentment (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 156-7).
Brigham Young taught about the necessity of taking time for understanding:
In my experience I have learned that the greatest difficulty that exists in the little bickerings and strifes of man with man, woman with woman, children with children, parents with children, brothers with sisters, and sisters with brothers, arises from the want of rightly understanding each other (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 175).
President Joseph F. Smith taught how fathers can have help in presiding in righteousness:
If [fathers] have the Spirit of the Lord with them in the performance of their temporal duties, they will never neglect the mothers of their children, nor their children. They will not fail to teach them the principles of life and set before them a proper example (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 384).
3. Responsibilities of the Mother
The first paragraph of this section states, “President David O. McKay said that motherhood is the noblest calling (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 156) (p. 215). Following is the context of President McKay’s counsel on this subject:
One of the greatest needs in the world today is intelligent, conscientious motherhood. …
Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother’s image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness the first assurance that there is love in the world.
The noblest calling in the world is motherhood. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece, or who can write a book that will influence millions, deserves the admiration and plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose immortal souls will exert an influence throughout the ages long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have decayed or have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God.
Mothers sow the seeds in childhood that determine to a great extent life’s harvests in adulthood. A mother who instills into the souls of her children respect for one another and love for motherhood and fatherhood, renders a great service to the Church and to humanity in general. Children from such homes go out into the world as good citizens—citizens who will render the service which their parents have rendered, to fight the battles which their fathers and mothers have fought. …
Motherhood is the one thing in all the world which most truly exemplifies the God-given virtues of creating and sacrificing. Though it carries the woman close to the brink of death, motherhood also leads her into the very realm of the fountains of life, and makes her co-partner with the Creator in bestowing upon eternal spirits mortal life.
All through the years of babyhood, childhood, and youth, yes, even after her girls themselves become mothers and her sons become fathers, the mother tenderly, lovingly sacrifices for them her time, her comfort, her pleasures, her needed rest and recreation, and, if necessary, health and life itself. No language can express the power and beauty and heroism of a mother’s love. …
… Among my most precious soul-treasures is the memory of Mother’s prayers by the bedside, of her affectionate touch as she tucked the bed clothes around my brother and me and gave each a loving, goodnight kiss. We were too young and roguish then to appreciate fully such devotion, but not too young to know that Mother loved us.
It was this realization of Mother’s love, with a loyalty to the precepts of an exemplary father, which more than once during fiery youth turned my steps from the precipice of temptation.
No nobler work in this world can be performed by any mother than to rear and love the children with whom God has blessed her. That is her duty (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 156-7).
Brigham Young declared:
The mothers are the moving instruments in the hands of Providence to guide the destinies of nations (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 338).
Wilford Woodruff also stated:
As a rule, we regard the mother as the one who gives shape to the character of the child. I consider that the mother has a greater influence over her posterity than any other person can have…the example of the mother govern and control, in a great measure, that child, and her influence is felt by it through time and eternity.
Upon the shoulders of you mothers rests, in a great measure, the responsibility of correctly developing the mental and moral powers of the rising generation, whether in infancy, childhood, or still riper years. …teach your children…that when you have passed away, and they take your places in bearing off the great work of God, they may have principles instilled into their minds that will sustain them in time and in eternity. I have often said it is the mother who forms the mind of the child (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 169).
President Joseph F. Smith also said:
Motherhood lies at the foundation of happiness in the home, and of prosperity in the nation. God has laid upon men and women very sacred obligations with respect to motherhood…
There is nothing so imperishable as the influence of the mother; that is when she is good and has the spirit of the Gospel in her heart, and she has brought up her children in the way they should go…
In the home the mother is the principal disciplinarian in early child life, and her influence and discipline determine in a great measure the ability of her children to assume in manhood and womanhood the larger governments in church and state (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 33-4).
Along these lines, President Grant added:
Motherhood thus becomes a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit, of those who kept their first estate and who come to this earth for their second estate…
Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels. To you mothers in Israel we say God bless and protect you, and give you the strength and courage, the faith and knowledge, the holy love and consecration to duty, that shall enable you to fill to the fullest measure the sacred calling which is yours. To you mothers and mothers-to-be we say: Be chaste, keep pure, live righteously, that your posterity to the last generation may call you blessed (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 203).
President Kimball clarified with wonderful vision:
To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times. She has been placed here to help to enrich, to protect, and to guard the home—which is society’s basic and most noble institution. Other institutions in society may falter and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife.
Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. … Motherhood is a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s work, a consecration and devotion to the rearing and fostering, the nurturing of body, mind, and spirit of those who kept their first estate and who came to this earth for their second estate to learn and be tested and to work toward godhood.
No greater honor could be given to a woman than to assist in [God’s] divine plan. I wish to say without equivocation that a woman will find no greater satisfaction and joy and peace and make no greater contribution to mankind than in being a wise and worthy woman and raising good children (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 217-8).
President Kimball also spoke of the importance and power of good mothers in the last days:
My dear sisters, may I suggest to you something that has not been said before or at least in quite this way. Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world. … Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 222-3).
I could not run down a good reference for a quote attributed to Brigham Young, but it is worth sharing:
If I had a choice of educating my daughters or my sons because of opportunity constraints, I would choose to educate my daughters. You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation (part of this quote is found in “wikiquote.org” under “Brigham Young”).
At the end of the first paragraph in this section is stated, “If there is no father in the home, the mother presides over the family (p. 215). Two of our prophets were raised by widowed mothers. President Joseph F. Smith was five years old when his father, Hyrum, was martyred at Carthage. His mother died when he was thirteen years old. However, his mother taught him well. He declared:
I can remember my mother in the days of Nauvoo [1839–46]. I remember seeing her and her helpless children hustled into a flat boat with such things as she could carry out of the house at the commencement of the bombardment of the city of Nauvoo by the mob. I remember the hardships of the Church there and on the way to Winter Quarters, on the Missouri river, and how she prayed for her children and family on her wearisome journey. … I can remember all the trials incident to our endeavors to move out with the Camp of Israel, coming to these valleys of the mountains without teams sufficient to draw our wagons; and being without the means to get those teams necessary, she yoked up her cows and calves, and tied two wagons together, and we started to come to Utah in this crude and helpless condition, and my mother said—’The Lord will open the way;’ but how He would open the way no one knew. …
Do you not think that these things make an impression upon the mind? Do you think I can forget the example of my mother? No; her faith and example will ever be bright in my memory. What do I think! Every breath I breathe, every feeling of my soul rises to God in thankfulness to Him that my mother was a Saint, that she was a woman of God, pure and faithful, and that she would suffer death rather than betray the trust committed to her; that she would suffer poverty and distress in the wilderness and try to hold her family together rather than remain in Babylon. That is the spirit which imbued her and her children. Would not her children be unworthy of such a mother did they not hearken to and follow her example? Therefore I say God bless the mothers in Israel (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 31-2).
President Heber J. Grant paid tribute to his widowed mother who raised him:
I, of course, owe everything to my mother, because my father died when I was only nine days of age; and the marvelous teachings, the faith, the integrity of my mother have been an inspiration to me (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 199).
In the third paragraph of this section, it states, “A mother needs to spend time with her children and teach them the gospel. She should play and work with them so they can discover the world around them” (p. 215).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks talked about being raised by his mother:
I know it was a blessing to be raised by a widowed mother whose children had to learn how to work, early and hard. As promised in the scriptures, the Lord consecrated her affliction for her gain and for the blessing of her children (BYU Speeches, 17 January 1995).
Elder Oaks also shared tremendous counsel for mothers who raise their families alone concerning the presiding idea mentioned above:
My father died when I was seven. I was the oldest of three small children our widowed mother struggled to raise. When I was ordained a deacon, she said how pleased she was to have a priesthood holder in the home. But Mother continued to direct the family, including calling on which one of us would pray when we knelt together each morning. I was puzzled. I had been taught that the priesthood presided in the family. There must be something I didn't know about how that principle worked…
Our widowed mother wisely saw that Church activities would provide her sons with experiences she could not provide because we had no male role model in the home. I remember her urging me to watch and try to be like the good men in our ward. She pushed me to participate in Scouting and other Church activities that would provide this opportunity…
When my father died, my mother presided over our family. She had no priesthood office, but as the surviving parent in her marriage she had become the governing officer in her family. At the same time, she was always totally respectful of the priesthood authority of our bishop and other Church leaders. She presided over her family, but they presided over the Church…
…the authority that presides in the family—whether father or single-parent mother—functions in family matters without the need to get authorization from anyone holding priesthood keys. This family authority includes directing the activities of the family, family meetings like family home evenings, family prayer, teaching the gospel, and counseling and disciplining family members.
The faithful widowed mother who raised us had no confusion about the eternal nature of the family. She always honored the position of our deceased father. She made him a presence in our home. She spoke of the eternal duration of their temple marriage. She often reminded us of what our father would like us to do so we could realize the Savior's promise that we could be a family forever.
I recall an experience that shows the effect of her teachings. Just before Christmas one year, our bishop asked me, as a deacon, to help him deliver Christmas baskets to the widows of the ward. I carried a basket to each door with his greetings. When he drove me home, there was one basket remaining. He handed it to me and said it was for my mother. As he drove away, I stood in the falling snow wondering why there was a basket for my mother. She never referred to herself as a widow, and it had never occurred to me that she was. To a 12-year-old boy, she wasn't a widow. She had a husband, and we had a father. He was just away for a while (Ensign, Nov. 2005, 24).
Whether or not a mother must raise her family alone, President Joseph F. Smith declared:
I believe that every mother has the right to … know what to do in her family and in her sphere, over her children, in their guidance and direction; and that mother and every mother possessing that spirit has the gift of revelation, the gift of inspiration and the gift of knowledge, which is the spirit of prophecy, the spirit of discernment, a gift of God to them, to govern their households and lead their children in the path of righteousness and truth (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 37).
While the word “love” appears throughout other sections of this lesson, it is not found in this section. However, it really does belong here. President Joseph F. Smith stated:
No love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother. … I have felt sometimes, how could even the Father love his children more than my mother loved her children? It was life to me; it was strength; it was encouragement; it was love that begat love or liking in myself. I knew she loved me with all her heart. She loved her children with all her soul. She would toil and labor and sacrifice herself day and night, for the temporal comforts and blessings that she could meagerly give, through the results of her own labors, to her children. There was no sacrifice of self—of her own time, of her leisure or pleasure, or opportunities for rest—that was considered for a moment, when it was compared with her duty and her love to her children.
The true mother, the mother who has the fear of God and the love of truth in her soul, would never hide from danger or evil and leave her child exposed to it. But as natural as it is for the sparks to fly upward, as natural as it is to breathe the breath of life, if there were danger coming to her child, she would step between the child and that danger; she would defend her child to the uttermost. Her life would be nothing in the balance, in comparison with the life of her child. That is the love of true motherhood for children.
I have learned to place a high estimate upon the love of mother. I have often said, and will repeat it, that the love of a true mother comes nearer being like the love of God than any other kind of love (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 35).
President Lee gave wonderful counsel to mothers:
Mothers, stay at the crossroads of the home. Some time ago, I was attending a quarterly stake conference. … I said to the president of the stake, … “Have you some mother here, an older mother, who had a large family and had the joy of seeing every one of her family married in the temple?”
He looked out over the audience and he said, “Well, there is Sister (I shall call her Sister Jones), she has had a family of eleven, and they all have been married in the temple.” …
And as this lovely white-haired mother stood beside me at the microphone, I said, “Would you take a lesson out of your book and tell us, what have you done to reach this most marvelous achievement?”
And she replied, … “I might give you two suggestions. In the first place, when our family was growing up, I always was there at the crossroads of the home, when my children were coming to or going from the home. And second: whatever we did we did together as a family. We played together, we prayed together, we worked together, we did everything together. I guess that’s all I can think of.”
I said to her, “Now you have preached two great sermons” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 139).
4 - - Responsibilities of the Children
In this section, Exodus 20:12 is quoted concerning honoring parents. Then a definition is given, “To honor parents means to love and respect them” (p. 216). President Joseph F. Smith (remember his father died when he was five and his mother died when he was thirteen) expressed the following love for his parents:
I cannot express the joy I feel at the thought of meeting my father, and my precious mother, who gave me birth in the midst of persecution and poverty, who bore me in her arms and was patient, forbearing, tender and true during all my helpless moments in the world. The thought of meeting her, who can express the joy? (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 36).
5 - - Accepting Responsibilities Brings Blessings
President Woodruff discussed these blessings:
When parents teach their children these [moral law] principles in early youth they make an impression upon their minds, and as quick as children arrive at years of accountability, early impressions will have an influence upon their actions, and throughout the rest of their lives (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 166).
Part of the following is repeated from section 1 in this lesson. Herein President Woodruff promised a powerful blessing:
If we set a good example before our children, and try to instruct them from their childhood to maturity; teach them to pray and to honor the Almighty; teach them those principles that will sustain them in the midst of all trials, that the Spirit of the Lord may rest upon them, … then they will not easily be led astray. Good impressions will follow them through life, and whatever principles may be presented, those good impressions will never leave them (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 166).
President Woodruff added:
We want to save our children, and to have them partake of all the blessings that encircle the sanctified, to have them receive the blessings of their parents who have been faithful to the fulness of the gospel.
When all the family are united together, they enjoy a heavenly spirit here on the earth. This is how it should be… In the morning of the first resurrection he expects to have that wife and his children with him in a family organization, to remain in that condition forever and forever. What a glorious thought that is! (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 168, 170).
President Lee also promised:
Our homes must not only be sanctuaries but also places of preparation from which our youth can go forth confidently to lead and to face a turbulent world. We all know that what is learned at home has an amazing persistence; what is seen and experienced at home either helps or haunts our youth for years to come. Our homes could be models for all of mankind, but we will have to take much more seriously the counsel of Church leaders on this topic than we have done heretofore. This has always been a special challenge, but is made more so now because of the general decay in the homes of our time. Children can “feel and see” the gospel in action at home. They can see its rightness and power firsthand; they can see how it meets the needs of the individual.
Again and again has been repeated the statement that the home is the basis of a righteous life. … Both the revelations of God and the learning of men tell us how crucial the home is in shaping the individual’s total life experience (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 120).
President Lee added:
If our youth are thus fortified, they will not be disturbed in their religious faith when they come in contact with false educational ideas that contradict the truths of the gospel. They are armed against the poison darts of slander and hypocrisy (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 122).
President Kimball stated:
The child will carry into his own life much that he sees in his family home life. If he sees his parents going to the temple frequently, he will begin to plan a temple life. If he is taught to pray for the missionaries, he will gradually gravitate toward the missionary program. Now, this is very simple, but it is the way of life. And we promise you that your children will bring you honor and glory as you give them proper example and training.
I have sometimes seen children of good families rebel, resist, stray, sin, and even actually fight God. In this they bring sorrow to their parents, who have done their best … to teach and live as examples. But I have repeatedly seen many of these same children, after years of wandering, mellow, realize what they have been missing, repent, and make great contribution to the spiritual life of their community. The reason I believe this can take place is that, despite all the adverse winds to which these people have been subjected, they have been influenced still more, and much more than they realized, by the current of life in the homes in which they were reared. When, in later years, they feel a longing to recreate in their own families the same atmosphere they enjoyed as children, they are likely to turn to the faith that gave meaning to their parents’ lives (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 207).
President Kimball states well the blessings that come from applying the principles in this lesson:
Some years ago we visited a country where strange ideologies were taught and “pernicious doctrines” were promulgated every day in the schools and in the captive press. Every day the children listened to the doctrines, philosophies, and ideals their teachers related.
Someone said that “constant dripping will wear away the hardest stone.” This I knew, so I asked about the children: “Do they retain their faith? Are they not overcome by the constant pressure of their teachers? How can you be sure they will not leave the simple faith in God?”
The answer amounted to saying “We mend the damaged reservoir each night. We teach our children positive righteousness so that the false philosophies do not take hold. Our children are growing up in faith and righteousness in spite of the almost overwhelming pressures from outside.”
Even cracked dams can be mended and saved, and sandbags can hold back the flood. And reiterated truth, renewed prayer, gospel teachings, expression of love, and parental interest can save the child and keep him on the right path (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 210).
President Kimball gives a wonderful summary of the content of this lesson:
The Lord organized the whole program in the beginning with a father who procreates, provides, and loves and directs, and a mother who conceives and bears and nurtures and feeds and trains. The Lord could have organized it otherwise but chose to have a unit with responsibility and purposeful associations where children train and discipline each other and come to love, honor, and appreciate each other. The family is the great plan of life as conceived and organized by our Father in heaven (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 204).
To this could be added Brigham Young’s wise counsel:
If every person who professes to be a Latter-day Saint, was actually a Saint, our home would be a paradise, there would be nothing heard, nothing felt, nothing realized, but praise to the name of our God, doing our duty, and keeping his commandments.
Let us live so that the spirit of our religion will live within us, then we have peace, joy, happiness and contentment, which makes such pleasant fathers, pleasant mothers, pleasant children, pleasant households, neighbors, communities and cities. That is worth living for, and I do think that the Latter-day Saints ought to strive for this (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 171).
As well as this by President Joseph F. Smith:
A man and woman who have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ and who have begun life together, should be able by their power, example and influence to cause their children to emulate them in lives of virtue, honor, and in integrity to the kingdom of God which will redound to their own interest and salvation (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 347).