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In the book, “Raising a Family to the Lord” by Gene R Cook, he relates a story about a conversation he had on a plane trip with an LDS couple. As they talked, the parents shared how they had raised children, but two of them had gone wayward and were not “active” (for the LDS, active means they do not regularly attend church). The mother then goes on to say the following:
What did we do wrong? [our children] went through the Youth programs, Boy Scouts, and all the Church activities. We made sure they were active in Churche, believeing that would keep them on the right track.
We also believed that if we fulfilled all of our Church callings, which we did, our children would be blessed and protected. Now we’re confused–we don’t know what we could have done differently.”
Later on in the book Cook goes on to state not to “make the Church the cornerstone of your hope for your children” (p.26). He then shares some interesting statistics on what makes children stay “active”. According to the study, the two major factors that lead to children serving missions and marrying in the temple are:
- Personal prayer
- Personal scripture study
No other factors in the study helped an individual with their spiritual growth like those two factors did.
The study goes on to uncover what leads to children to develop a habit of personal prayer and scripture study. According to the study, there were 4 factors that led to children developing these habits which are:
- Family prayer
- Family scripture study
- Family home evening
- Agreement on values
He goes on to say that Church should not be the sole source of spiritual nourishment for our children, rather it should be a supplement.
I think this is excellent advice for both LDS Christians as well as those who are not of the LDS faith. I’ve seen throughout the years people who rely heavily on the Church programs thinking that will be what guides their children, when in reality, the relationships at home and the training that parents do is far more beneficial and necessary to ensure the child has a personal relationship with the Lord.
“The numbers of decisions to be made, judgement reguired, the sensitivty, love, inspiration, diligence, and hard work needed to raise children are beyond anyone’s ability to describe” (Gene R Cook in “Raising up a Family to the Lord“). Also, in this book he gives an example of the proper order for children to learn the gospel. He discusses the importance of parents being the main source of learning the gospel rather than relying solely on the church. In fact, he shares that parents who teach children the gospel in their homes statistically have children who stay strong in the gospel vs. parents who rely too heavily on the church to teach children the gospel.
Later in the book, he outlines 10 principles found in Doctrine and Covenants section 68 verses 25-35 that every parent should teach their children. I found these very helpful in providing a guidline for parents to follow in raising their children. These are:
- Faith in Jesus Christ
- Gift of the Holy Ghost
- Walking uprightly before the Lord
- Observing the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy
- “Laboring” in faithfulness and not being idle
- Preventing children from having eyes full of greediness
- Seeking for the riches of eternity
There are many things that we as parents can become distracted by with raising our children. I thought this outline was very helpful in providing an outline to follow. Obviously, in order to teach our children these principles, we should first be following them ourselves. Particularly interesting to me were the last two points, which focus on removing our hearts from love of worldly things and seeking for riches of eternity. I think it is easy as parents to look around and see neighbors who have bigger and better houses or cars, or clothes, etc. and get caught up in pursuing that. If we aren’t careful, our children will follow suit.
Also, what stood out to me about this list were the proactive things we should do as parents. For example, there are many chances for us to teach examples of repentance, faith, prayer, and walking uprightly before the Lord. I liked the example Gene Cook gave in his book of teaching our children these principles. He said rather than just telling our kids to pray, or “say you’re sorry”, tell them to do so and then give them a reason as it relates to the scriptures.
For example: your child does something wrong and needs to learn the lesson of repenting. You could just tell the child to “go tell so-and-so you’re sorry” and leave it at that, but the better route would be to tell them to go and say they’re sorry and then share with them a scripture that discusses the importance behind repentance.
Being a pretty new parent (only have one 2 year old daughter and a little boy on the way) I appreciated this advice. For you more seasoned parents out there, how have these principles worked for you and what strategies have you used to teach your children? Also, are there some things you see here you wish you would have done better?
Thanks for the feedback!
One of the newest articles on the lds.org website entitled “The Power of Early Preparation” caught my eye so I read it. I thought it had some very good points to consider regarding raising and preparing our children for the future.
As I considered ways to help my own family, I pondered about the effects of Family Home Evening (FHE). For those not familiar with the LDS faith, FHE is a night set aside each week (typically Monday evening) where families get together and have a spiritual lesson, a fun game, sing songs, and my favorite as a kid….make treats! I have fond memories of FHE while growing up and try to make it a good experience for my little family (wife, 2 year old daughter, and one on the way).
As I considered ways I could make FHE better, I decided to do some research on the effects of FHE on children. I came across a very interesting thesis written by a BYU student entitled “The Effect of Weekly Family Home Evening Nutrition Behaviors in LDS Families”. The research was interesting.
They took a sample group of LDS families and had them teach nutrition lessons to their children for 6 weeks and then tested their eating behaviors. Both the parents and children increased in eating healthy. Parents and children almost doubled their intake of healthy foods.
I am not surprised by this study. First, if one focuses on something, the chances are they will start implementing it. I think that the LDS people put heavy emphasis on what not to do in the Word of Wisdom, but not so much on what to do such as eating healthy foods, exersizing, getting enough rest, etc.
I know how hard it is to get kids to eat good food. Especially once they’ve been introduced to sugars found in white bread, cereal, juice, etc. I believe this research is a good start, but only the starting point. First, I believe the parents should be setting the example themselves by exersizing, eating right, etc. Next, they should be talking about it more than once a week. They can teach their kids what foods are healthy and which ones aren’t while they are shopping or eating, etc. I’ve found that it is much easier with our little daughter when she sees us “practicing what we preach” so to speak. Finally, I do think it is important to have formal lessons on it, as this research indicates. I haven’t really put this to the test but think it would be very beneficial.
I’d love to hear your feedback on how to teach your children how to follow the important parts of the Word of Wisdom that include eating, sleeping, and living right. What has been your experience and what advice to you have?
I really liked reading the most recent post over at the Mormantiy blog. The author, Jeff Lindsay, gives a very good analogy of why the Word of Wisdom is important, which is essentially to show commitment to Jesus by giving up things that could be harmful for our spiritual development.
While giving up alcohol, coffee, and tea is something that most people have come to understand about Mormons and the Word of Wisdom, there are many more aspects within the Word of Wisdom that shouldn’t be ignored, and that I feel distance ourselves from our commitment to the Lord.
The Word of Wisdom revelation discusses part of the reason behind it is due to the “evil designs of conspiring men…” who produce the substances. It goes on to discuss the “do nots” such as alcohol, tobacco, etc. but then goes into the parts of the revelation that could be called the “do’s”. This includes: using wholesome herbs, fruits, meat sparingly, grains (and even goes into naming types of grains such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc.).
I believe that if we are committed to Jesus and truly believe our bodies are a temple to house his Holy Spirit, we will naturally want to eliminate all substances that could be addictive substances. However, that is only the first step, we should replace them with good substances. I think too many times, we as LDS people get all proud of ourselves for adhering to the “do nots” but then blow it on the “do’s”. Examples I can think of that I have seen include: over-eating, not exercising, drinking tons of soda, energy drinks, and the list goes on and on.
At the end of the Word of Wisdom, there is a promise that we’ll received renewed spiritual strength as well as physical health. Then a huge promise is that the destroying angel will pass over us. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it definitely implies that one who obeys the word of wisdom will have good things both spiritually and physically happen.
I hope we can all look at ourselves and see what we can do to improve our relationship with the Lord by following the Word of Wisdom more diligently. If you have personal experiences of “stepping up” your adherence with the Word of Wisdom, please share so we can all be uplifted!