With Fathers Day right around the corner, I thought I’d share this. A few months ago in Elders Quorum (Mens Group), we had an excellent lesson on the roles of fathers to their children. Part of the lesson included a list of ways fathers should give spiritual guidance to their children. This list comes from the talk given in 1987 by Ezra Taft Benson (the LDS prophet at the time) entitled “To the Fathers in Israel“. I’ll share the list with my comments to each point.
1.) Give Fathers Blessings to your Children
In the LDS church, Elders receive what is called the Melchizedek Priesthood. Fathers who are Elders and hold this priesthood can give blessings to their children under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and say the words that God prompts them to say. For those who are not LDS, saying a prayer under the guidance of the Spirit with your children is another way to do this.
Personally, I saw the value of fathers blessings while growing up. I remember when I needed some extra help with school work or I was sick that I could always come to my father for a blessing. It brought peace to me knowing I could do that and helped me on many occasions.
2.) Personally Direct Family Prayers, Scripture Study, and Family Home Evening (Family Night)
I think it is interesting that he doesn’t just say “have family prayer,etc.” but he makes a point to say “personally direct” family prayer. I think it is important for children to see their father take initiative in spiritual matters. I feel it is important mainly because children are used to seeing the “soft side” or “spiritual” side from mothers, but it can be more impactful coming from the father.
3.) Whenever Possible, Attend Church Services Together as a Family
It makes a big difference having the whole family at a church service. It is important for children to see their fathers eager to learn and gain spiritual knowledge. Also from a practical standpoint it is much easier to help teach children the importance of worship when the father is there to help the mother.
4.) Go on Daddy Daughter Dates and Father-Son Outings
During the lesson, this was the greatest thing that stood out to me. Those of you who read regularly know I have a cute little 2 1/2 year old girl. As I reflected on this message, I realized I didn’t set aside a specific and special time for us to go out. I’ve only done it 3 times now, but what I did was schedule monthly daddy-daughter dates with her. I’m sure that as long as I keep it in my schedule that we’ll be able to make it a habit. I only worry about what we’ll do later on when she may not think I’m as cool as she does now (those of you with any older daughters, please share your advice!)
5.) Build Traditions of Family Vacations
One of my most charished memories as a child was a trip we all took to Yellowstone. I remember floating with my family in a canoe in the river. Although the water was totally cold, my parents seemed to have fun with each other and we all bonded as a family when a water fight broke out!
6.) Have Regular One-on-One Visits with Children
As a young kid my one-on-one visits with my father saved me spiritually on some occasions. It seemed that my Dad was always inspired and had answers that could help me with decisions. The one-on-one visits weren’t usually scheduled “interviews”, rather they were held usually as we were working on the farm together.
7.) Teach Children to Work
Work is something that my father definitely taught me. As alluded to in the previous section, I feel it is important for fathers to work along side their kids. Not only will it show them a good example and teach them how to work, but they will bond with you through conversation as well.
8.) Encourage Good Music, Art and Literature in Home
Right now, it is very easy to have good music with a 2 year old and a supportive wife. Where I would be interested in hearing from readers are from those of you with older kids who want to listen to pop music that may not be the best. How do you go about encouraging good music, literature, etc. in the home?
9.) Regularly Attend the Temple with your Wife
My wife and I used to work in the temple. I notice that the more time we spend in the temple, the more patient, kind, and loving we are with each other. I think it is crucial for parents to love each other if they want their kids to have the best chance against temptations out there.
10.) Serve in the Church
I feel that church service is something that is good, but that shouldn’t take precidence over the other items mentioned previously. I have seen people who focus too much on the church and their families are neglected. I have seen where this causes animosity between the kids and the church because they feel it is taking too much time away from their Dad. I have also seen personal relationships damaged because the father is building relationships with other people they serve in the church, while neglecting their own family.
What are your thoughts about this list? Do you have any other suggestions or experiences with this?
Thanks for the feedback!