Over the years, apostles, general auxiliary leaders, and general authorities have shared countless stories and examples of valuable lessons they've learned from their parents or taught to their own children. Here are a few of our favorite stories and the inspiring parental advice each of them share.
Presidents Henry B. Eyring, Boyd K. Packer
First Counselor in the First Presidency and the former President of the Quorum of the Twelve
Remember You’re Raising a Child of God
Unity is necessary for us to have the Spirit in our class and in our family. But you know from experience, as I do, that such loving unity is hard to maintain. It takes having the Holy Ghost as a companion to open our eyes and temper our feelings.
I remember once a 7- or 8-year-old son of ours jumping on his bed hard enough that I thought it might break. I felt a flash of frustration, and I moved quickly to set my house in order. I grabbed my son by his little shoulders and lifted him up to where our eyes met.
The Spirit put words into my mind. It seemed a quiet voice, but it pierced to my heart: “You are holding a great person.” I gently set him back on the bed and apologized.
Now he has become the great man the Holy Ghost let me see 40 years ago. I am eternally grateful that the Lord rescued me from my unkind feelings by sending the Holy Ghost to let me see a child of God as He saw him.
From the talk “My Peace I Leave With You”
I learned from a little boy the identity and value of a human soul. Some years ago, two of our little boys were wrestling on the rug. They had reached that pitch where laughter turns to tears. I worked a foot gently between them and lifted the older boy (then just 4) to a sitting position on the rug, saying, “Hey, there, you monkeys, you’d better settle down.”
He folded his little arms and looked at me with surprising seriousness. His little boy feelings had been hurt, and he protested, “I not a monkey, Daddy, I a person.”
I was overwhelmed with love for him. I realized he was a child of God. How much I wanted him to be “a person”—one of eternal worth. From such ordinary experiences, I have learned to understand doctrine. “Children,” truly, “are an heritage of the Lord.”
From the talk “The Father and the Family”
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson
Young Women General President
Teach Your Children the Value of Parenthood
Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father? I would hope that as we encourage our children to reach for the very best in this life that we also teach them to honor and exalt the roles that mothers and fathers play in Heavenly Father’s plan.
Our youngest daughter, Abby, saw a unique opportunity to stand as a defender of the role of mother. One day she got a notice from her children’s school that they were having Career Day presentations at the school. Parents were invited to send in an application if they wanted to come to school to teach the children about their jobs, and Abby felt impressed to apply to come and speak about motherhood. She didn’t hear back from the school, and when Career Day was getting close, she finally called the school, thinking they may have lost her application. The organizers scrambled around and found two teachers who agreed to have Abby come talk to their classes at the end of Career Day.
In her very fun presentation to the children, Abby taught them, among other things, that as a mother she needed to be somewhat of an expert in medicine, psychology, religion, teaching, music, literature, art, finance, decorating, hair styling, chauffeuring, sports, culinary arts, and so much more. The children were impressed. She finished by having the children remember their mothers by writing thank-you notes expressing gratitude for the many loving acts of service they received daily. Abby felt that the children saw their mothers in a whole new light and that being a mother or father was something of great worth. She applied to share again this year at Career Day and was invited to present to six classes.
Abby has said of her experience: “I feel like it could be easy in this world for a child to get the sense that being a parent is a secondary job or even sometimes a necessary inconvenience. I want every child to feel like they are the most important priority to their parent, and maybe telling them how important being a parent is to me will help them realize all that their parents do for them and why.”
From the talk “Defenders of the Family Proclamation”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
15th Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Give Your Children a Strong Foundation
Not long after we were married, we built our first home. We had very little money. I did much of the work myself. It would be called “sweat equity” today. The landscaping was entirely my responsibility. The first of many trees that I planted was a thornless honey locust. Envisioning the day when its filtered shade would assist in cooling the house in the summertime, I put it in a place at the corner where the wind from the canyon to the east blew the hardest. I dug a hole, put in the bare root, put soil around it, poured on water, and largely forgot it. It was only a wisp of a tree, perhaps three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It was so supple that I could bend it with ease in any direction. I paid little attention to it as the years passed.
Then one winter day, when the tree was barren of leaves, I chanced to look out the window at it. I noticed that it was leaning to the west, misshapen and out of balance. I could scarcely believe it. I went out and braced myself against it as if to push it upright. But the trunk was now nearly a foot in diameter. My strength was as nothing against it. I took from my tool shed a block and tackle.
Attaching one end to the tree and another to a well-set post, I pulled the rope. The pulleys moved a little, and the trunk of the tree trembled slightly. But that was all. It seemed to say, “You can’t straighten me. It’s too late. I’ve grown this way because of your neglect, and I will not bend.”
Finally, in desperation, I took my saw and cut off the great heavy branch on the west side. The saw left an ugly scar, more than eight inches across. I stepped back and surveyed what I had done. I had cut off the major part of the tree, leaving only one branch growing skyward.
More than half a century has passed since I planted that tree. My daughter and her family live there now. The other day I looked again at the tree. It is large. Its shape is better. It is a great asset to the home. But how serious was the trauma of its youth and how brutal the treatment I used to straighten it.
When it was first planted, a piece of string would have held it in place against the forces of the wind. I could have and should have supplied that string with ever so little effort. But I did not, and it bent to the forces that came against it.
I have seen a similar thing, many times, in children whose lives I have observed. The parents who brought them into the world seem almost to have abdicated their responsibility. The results have been tragic. A few simple anchors would have given them the strength to withstand the forces that have shaped their lives. Now it appears it is too late.
Every individual in the world is a child of a mother and a father. Neither can ever escape the consequences of their parenthood. Inherent in the very act of creation is responsibility for the child who is created. None can with impunity run from that responsibility.
From the talk “Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go”