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FHE: Family Councils

Shauna Gibby - August 27, 2012

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Use resources from a newly revised book by Elder M. Russell Ballard to find out how family councils can be conducted and used to benefit all family members.

Ensign Article:
For more information on this topic read “Blessed by Councils,” by M. Russell Ballard,
Ensign, June 2011.

Thought:
There never was a time when the family was under heavier attack from worldly antagonists bent on extinguishing a powerful source of light against adversarial darkness. In these perilous times, successful families are built with a wide assortment of tools. And one of the most useful tools in the tool box is the family council, both as a regularly scheduled meeting and as special needs arise. It is in our family councils that we plan family activities, share in one another’s burdens and joys, and counsel together toward keeping each family member on the right track spiritually.

(M. Russell Ballard, Counseling with Our Councils (Revised Edition), [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012], p. 162.)

Song:
“The Family,” Children’s Songbook, p. 194.

Scripture:
Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.

(“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102)

Lesson:
Like other councils, the family council can be a positive, causative force in the lives of Church members. It can help bring order to the home, provide a forum for soothing hurt feelings, give parents an important tool with which to combat outside influences, and create an opportunity to teach profound gospel truths. But like other councils, the family council will be effective only to the extent that it is properly formed and implemented. Indeed, the principles that govern family councils are basically the same as the principles that govern Church councils. Their overall objective is identical. We want for our families the same thing Heavenly Father desires for His family: “immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39). We want to develop loving relationships that will extend beyond this life. . . .

. . . Parents are missing valuable insight and inspiration if they choose not to give due consideration to the ideas their children bring to the family council. Remember, although children never have the right to be disrespectful to their parents, they are entitled to be heard. They need a calm setting where discussion can take place on rules or principles they do not understand—a place where they know they are loved and at which their voice will at least be heard. Family councils are ideal forums for effective communication to take place. Family rules and procedures are more likely to be accepted and followed if all family members have been given the opportunity to participate in the discussions and agree to the rules.

(M. Russell Ballard, Counseling with Our Councils (Revised Edition), [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012], p. 157, 164–65.)

Story:
One couple was troubled when one of their teenage daughters seemed to be going out of her way to choose friends whose values and standards were different from the values and standards of the family and the Church. They were particularly distressed to see a relationship developing between their daughter and a young man with a questionable reputation. They tried to battle the adversarial influence that was coming into their daughter’s life by imposing a series of new family rules, threats, and disciplinary measures. But these only served to heighten the tension and contention in the home.

At last the parents decided to form a special family council that consisted of them and their oldest daughter, who was a year older than the young woman who was struggling. “Tears flowed from all of us as we shared our love for each other and our fears about the direction in which our second daughter was heading,” the father said. “Our oldest daughter gently suggested that we needed to stop criticizing her sister’s friendships, thereby driving them—and her—away from our home. She recommended that we create a friendly environment in our home that would encourage our daughter to bring her friends there, where perhaps we could have a positive influence on them.”

After much thought, fasting, and prayer, the special family council came up with a plan: they would try to be as positive as they could be and try to find the good in their daughter’s friends. “We wanted to become friends with her friends so that they would not be quite so inclined to encourage her to resist us,” the father said. “We also encouraged her to invite her friends to visit at our home often so that we could keep an eye on things while her need to socialize with them was satisfied.”

The special family council also decided to invite the full-time missionaries over for dinner more often. “As our daughter came to know and trust the missionaries, it was a natural and logical thing for us to suggest that she invite her friends to take the missionary discussions,” the father said. “We complimented her, telling her that she was the only active missionary in our family because she was the only one who had non-LDS friends to whom we could introduce the gospel.”

The resulting missionary experiences were mixed. When the missionaries taught the best friend of the couple’s daughter, they said it was one of the most spiritual lessons they had ever given. When the missionaries taught the young man, however, the discussions were not well received. But even that had a silver lining as far as the family was concerned. “Within two or three weeks we noticed that this young man stopped coming around and calling,” the father said. “Later we found out that he was telling people that our family was too ‘Mormon’ for him.”

These good parents credit their oldest daughter’s counsel in that special family council with keeping their family together. “For whatever reason, her input made all the difference,” the father said. “How grateful we are that the Spirit of the Lord was able to work through her for the betterment of our family.”

And how wise those parents were to pay careful attention to the thoughts and feelings expressed by their daughter in that special family council.

(M. Russell Ballard, Counseling with Our Councils (Revised Edition), [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012], p. 165–6.)

Activity:
Unscramble the following words. They all have something to do with the family.

1. reefovr 
2. eolv
3. yenoj
4. peercts 
5. derhicln 
6. apertns

Answers 
1. forever 
2. love
3. enjoy
4. respect 
5. children 
6. parents
Refreshment
Dump Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained 1 (20-ounce) can pie filling (any flavor)
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dump all ingredients, in the order listed, into a 9x13-inch glass baking dish and bake until the top is browned nicely, approximately 1 hour. This tastes good when served with ice cream or whipped cream.
Serves 12.

(Clark L. & Kathryn H. Kid, 52 Weeks of Recipes for Students, Missionaries, and Nervous Cooks, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2007], p. 16.)

Read more about Elder Ballard's newly revised book, Counseling with our Councils.

Get the PDF version of "FHE: Family Councils."

© LDS Living, 2012.
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