“Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion...they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:25,28)
As parents, and especially mothers, we can so often feel overwhelmed with the expectations we might feel to be the very best that we can for our children. Sometimes we can feel we aren’t doing enough. If we fail to teach our children to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, the concluding words of Doctrine and Covenants 68:25,“the sin be upon the heads of the parents,” might seem like a condemnation rather than an encouragement. If we are feeling that way, maybe it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate how we are doing.
Teaching Gospel Doctrine to Children
Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, taught: “To begin, having a vision of the importance of this responsibility is essential. We must understand our—and their—divine identity and purpose before we can help our children see who they are and why they are here” (“A Sin Resistant Generation,” Ensign, May 2017).
So, take a step back and evaluate whether we are doing the simple things that we are instructed to teach our children “to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, when eight years old” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:25).
Taught by Faithful Mothers
Consider Helaman’s “two thousand stripling soldiers” (Alma 53:22). They fought valiantly and did not fear death. Their confidence and faith was strong because “they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them...we do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:47-48).
I had a profound experience when I was a missionary in the Missionary Training Center (MTC). Each week we were told to prepare a talk for sacrament meeting, and the speaker would be announced at the beginning of the meeting that Sunday morning. One particular week our topic was prayer. As I began to prepare my talk, I thought of the song “Love Is Spoken Here” (Children’s Songbook, 190-191), and I knew at that moment that my mom was kneeling and praying with my family at home. I also knew that she would always be praying for me and for each family member no matter where we were in the world or what was happening in our lives. I knew this because of her example. She had taught me, like the mothers of the “stripling warriors” had taught their children, that Heavenly Father was there and watching over each and every one of us.
Not only did we pray often together as a family, but I had frequently walked into my mother’s room to find her kneeling in prayer during my childhood.
This, more than anything else, was how my mom taught me the importance of prayer. Her pleas to our Father in Heaven truly did quiet all my fears. As we strive to live the gospel, our children will see our example, and they will learn to follow in our footsteps. Our own “stripling warriors” will remember the example we have set, and they will be better because of it.
Christ’s Spirit Will Guide during a Pandemic
In October 2014 Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President, gave a general conference talk entitled “Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children” (Ensign, Nov. 2014). At that time, I don’t think anyone could have imagined that we would, in many cases, be the only teachers of our children for most of 2020 and even into 2021. How blessed we are to have the divine inspiration of leaders that receive revelation from God for the world. President Callister concluded: “As parents, we can proceed with the assurance God will never leave us alone. God never gives us a responsibility without offering divine aid” (“Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers”). How reassuring it is, that whether we are in the midst of a pandemic or just trying to get through the struggles of our busy family life, God will never leave us alone. Christ’s Spirit will guide us and direct us and help us through the day, week, month, and year.
Teaching the Gospel of Repentance
I love that we are to teach the gospel of repentance. I love that it is listed first of all the things we are to teach, because we can all live the gospel of repentance daily. We don’t have to be perfect. In fact, we can’t be perfect in this life! We daily need repentance. As we try and fail and try again, this is living repentance and such a great example to our children.
That is what I love about the Come, Follow Me resources. There really isn’t a beginning and an end. This week we focus on the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” and “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening” outlined for June 21-27, 2021. Nowhere does it say that if we missed a week or a month or a year, we have to start at the beginning and catch up. Nope, if we missed a week, we may still study the lesson scheduled for this week or a different lesson better suited to our personal and family needs. Maybe we talk about why we missed it and what we could do better next time, then move on. That is living the gospel of repentance: we fall, we get back up again. Our children will learn more from how we react to mistakes that we make than they will from the words we say.
Eternal Parental Titles
Perhaps, some of the most profound words from President Callister remind us of the importance of our sacred roles as parents: “In the life to come, I do not know if titles such as bishop or Relief Society president will survive, but I do know that the titles of husband and wife, father and mother, will continue and be revered, worlds without end. That is one reason it is so important to honor our responsibilities as parents here on earth so we can prepare for those even greater, but similar, responsibilities in the life to come” (“Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers”).
While our callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today are temporary, our calling as a husband and wife, father and mother are eternal. Let us never forget the importance of these family callings and the impact we can have in our homes each week as we lead and guide our children in the pathway home.