Latter-day Saint Life

18 Valuable Parenting Tips and Stories from Church Leaders


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.

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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.”

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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

Sister Patricia T. Holland 

Former First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency

Cut the Apron Strings

My daughter is a musically talented young woman. For many years I felt that this talent would not be developed unless I loomed over her at the piano and insistently supervised her practice like a Simon Legree. One day, sometime in her early teens, I realized that my attitude, probably once useful, was now visibly affecting our relationship. Torn between a fear that she would not fully develop a God-given talent and the reality of an increasingly strained relationship over that very issue, I did what I had seen my own mother do when faced with a serious challenge. I sequestered myself in my secret place and poured out my soul in prayer, seeking the only wisdom that could help me keep that communication open—the kind of wisdom and help that comes from the tongues of angels. Upon arising from my knees, I knew what action I must take.

Because it was just three days before Christmas, I gave to Mary as a personal gift an apron from which I had conspicuously cut the apron strings. There was a tiny pocket on the apron in which I tucked a note. It read: “Dear Mary, I’m sorry for the conflict I have caused by acting like a federal marshall at the piano. I must have looked foolish there—just you and me and my six-shooters. Forgive me. You are becoming a young woman in your own right. I have only worried that you would not feel as fully confident and fulfilled as a woman if you left your talent unfinished. I love you. Mom.”

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Later that day she sought me out, and in a quiet corner of our home, she said: “Mother, I know you want what is best for me, and I have known that all my life. But if I’m ever going to play the piano well, I’m the one who has to do the practicing, not you!” Then she threw her arms around me and with tears in her eyes she said, “I’ve been wondering how to teach you that—and somehow you figured it out on your own.” Now, by her own choice, she has gone on to even more disciplined musical development. And I am always nearby to encourage her.

As Mary and I reminisced about this experience a few years later, she confided in me that my willingness to say “I’m sorry, I’ve made a mistake, please forgive me” gave to her a great sense of self-worth, because it said to her that she was worthy enough for a parental apology, that sometimes children can be right. I wonder if personal revelation ever comes without counting ourselves as fools before God? I wonder if reaching and teaching our children requires becoming more childlike ourselves? Shouldn’t we share our deepest fears and pain with them, as well as our highest hopes and joys, instead of simply trying to lecture and dominate and reprove them again and again?

From the fireside talk “Parenting: Everything to do with Heart

Elder Robert D. Hales

Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Teach by Example and Testimony

As I think about these relationships with my own family, I cannot help but return to the example I received from my own parents. Our children will remember us by our example. From my earliest childhood, I remember experiences which taught me about the priesthood which I hold and to respect and love the relationship my father and mother had with one another.

Father was a commercial artist for a large advertising agency in New York City. On one occasion he was under tremendous stress to produce an advertising campaign. He had come home on a Friday evening and worked most of the night. Saturday morning, after a few hours working in the yard, he retired to his studio to create an advertising campaign for a new product. My sister and I found great delight in chasing each other round and round the dining room table, which was situated in a room directly over his head. He had told us to please stop at least twice, but to no avail. This time he came bounding up the steps and collared me. He sat me down and taught a great lesson. He did not yell or strike me even though he was very annoyed.

He explained the creative process, the spiritual process if you will, and the need for quiet pondering and getting close to the Spirit for his creativity to function. Because he took time to explain and help me understand, I learned a lesson that has been put to use almost daily in my life.

My point in telling these stories is that we, as parents, have the privilege and the responsibility of teaching gospel principles by our example and testimony to our loved ones.

My father has been gone for seven years, but I remember him with love and respect. Examples become memories that guide our lives:

Memories of Mother and her tiny, slippered feet on top of Father’s feet as they danced around the kitchen and their expressions of love for each other.

Memories as a young boy sitting on the floor by Mother and Father’s bedside while they took turns reading aloud from the scriptures.

Memories in later years of going to the Salt Lake Temple and watching Mother and Father participate in the presentation of the endowment ceremony.

It helps children to see that good parents can have differing opinions and that these differences can be worked out without striking, yelling, or throwing things. They need to see and feel calm communication with respect for each other’s viewpoints so they themselves will know how to work through differences in their own lives.

From the talk “How Will Our Children Remember Us

Pay Attention

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I remember as a young man asking permission to play baseball through dinnertime. “Just put my meal in the oven,” I said to my mother. She responded, “Robert, I really want you to take a break, come home, be with the family for dinner, and then you can go out and play baseball until dark.” She taught all of us that where family meals are concerned, it’s not the food but the family interaction that nourishes the soul. My mother taught that the greatest love we give is within our homes.

For our interactions with youth to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen—yes, listen and listen some more—even hearken with spiritual ears! Several years ago I was reading the newspaper when one of my young grandsons snuggled up to me. As I read, I was delighted to hear his sweet voice chattering on in the background. Imagine my surprise when, a few moments later, he pushed himself between me and the paper. Taking my face in his hands and pressing his nose up to mine, he asked, “Grandpa! Are you in there?”

Mother, Father, are you in there? Grandpa, Grandma, are you there? Being there means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too.

From the talk “Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation

Sister Cheryl A. Esplin

Former Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency

Teach in the Moment

I’m reminded of a phone call I received several years ago from our daughter, Michelle. With tender emotion she said, “Mom, I just had the most incredible experience with Ashley.” Ashley is her daughter who was 5 years old at the time. Michelle described the morning as being one of constant squabbling between Ashley and 3-year-old Andrew—one wouldn’t share and the other would hit. After helping them work things out, Michelle went to check the baby.
Soon, Ashley came running in, angry that Andrew wasn’t sharing. Michelle reminded Ashley of the commitment they had made in home evening to be more kind to each other.

She asked Ashley if she wanted to pray and ask for Heavenly Father’s help, but Ashley, still very angry, responded, “No.” When asked if she believed Heavenly Father would answer her prayer, Ashley said she didn’t know. Her mother asked her to try and gently took her hands and knelt down with her.

Michelle suggested that Ashley could ask Heavenly Father to help Andrew share—and help her be kind. The thought of Heavenly Father helping her little brother share must have piqued Ashley’s interest, and she began to pray, first asking Heavenly Father to help Andrew share. As she asked Him to help her be kind, she began to cry. Ashley ended her prayer and buried her head on her mother’s shoulder. Michelle held her and asked why she was crying. Ashley said she didn’t know.

Her mother said, “I think I know why you’re crying. Do you feel good inside?” Ashley nodded, and her mother continued, “This is the Spirit helping you feel this way. It’s Heavenly Father’s way of telling you He loves you and will help you.”

She asked Ashley if she believed this, if she believed Heavenly Father could help her. With her little eyes full of tears, Ashley said she did.

Sometimes the most powerful way to teach our children to understand a doctrine is to teach in the context of what they are experiencing right at that moment. These moments are spontaneous and unplanned and happen in the normal flow of family life. They come and go quickly, so we need to be alert and recognize a teaching moment when our children come to us with a question or worry, when they have problems getting along with siblings or friends, when they need to control their anger, when they make a mistake, or when they need to make a decision. (See Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching [1999], 140–41; Marriage and Family Relations Instructor’s Manual [2000], 61.)

From the talk “Teaching Our Children to Understand

Elder L. Tom Perry

Former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Be Present at Home

My children taught me a great lesson one day. We had moved from California to New York where I had accepted an employment opportunity and we were in the process of finding a new home. We started close to the city, but each day that passed we would move further out to find a home more suited to our needs. In Connecticut, we found just the one. It was a beautiful home nestled in New England’s radiant forests. We were all pleased with the selection. The final test before making an offer for purchase was to ride the train into New York to check out the commuting time. I made the trip and returned very discouraged. The trip required an hour and a half each way. I returned to the motel where my family was waiting for me and gave them the choice of having a father or this new home. Much to my surprise, they said, “We will take the home. You are not around much anyway.”

The shock of that statement was overwhelming to me. If that statement was true, I needed to repent fast. My children deserved a father. Is it not our obligation as fathers to spend as much time as possible with our children, to teach them honesty, industry, and morality?

From the talk “Father—Your Role, Your Responsibility

Create a Strong Family Culture

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In our remarkable parental stewardship, there are many ways that goodly parents can access the help and support they need to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children. Let me suggest five things parents can do to create stronger family cultures:

First, parents can pray in earnest, asking our Eternal Father to help them love, understand, and guide the children He has sent to them.

Second, they can hold family prayer, scripture study, and family home evenings and eat together as often as possible, making dinner a time of communication and the teaching of values.

Third, parents can fully avail themselves of the Church’s support network, communicating with their children’s Primary teachers, youth leaders, and class and quorum presidencies. By communicating with those who are called and set apart to work with their children, parents can provide essential understanding of a child’s special and specific needs.

Fourth, parents can share their testimonies often with their children, commit them to keep the commandments of God, and promise the blessings that our Heavenly Father promises His faithful children.

Fifth, we can organize our families based on clear, simple family rules and expectations, wholesome family traditions and rituals, and “family economics,” where children have household responsibilities and can earn allowances so that they can learn to budget, save, and pay tithing on the money they earn.

From the talk “Becoming Goodly Parents

Sister Carole M. Stephens

Former First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

Take Time to Explain

When our oldest daughter, Jen, brought her third daughter home from the hospital, I went to her home to help. After getting her oldest daughter off to school, we decided that what Jen needed most was rest. So the best help I could give was to take her daughter Chloe home with me so her mom and new baby sister could have some quiet time.

I buckled Chloe into her car seat, secured my own seat belt, and drove out of their driveway. However, before we reached the end of the street, Chloe had unbuckled her seat belt and was standing up, looking over my shoulder, and talking to me! I pulled the car over to the side of the road, got out, and buckled her back into her seat.We started again but had gone only a short distance when she was out of her seat again. I repeated the same steps, but this time before I could even get back into the car and fasten my own seat belt, Chloe was already standing up!

I found myself sitting in a car, parked on the side of the road, having a power struggle with a 3-year-old. And she was winning!

I used every idea I could think of to convince her that remaining fastened in her car seat was a good idea. She was not convinced! I finally decided to try the if/then approach.

I said, “Chloe, if you will stay buckled in your car seat, then as soon as we get to Grandma’s house, we can play with play dough.”

No response.

“Chloe, if you will stay buckled in your seat, then we can make bread when we get to Grandma’s house.”

No response.

I tried again. “Chloe, if you will stay buckled in your seat, then we can stop at the market for a treat!”
After three attempts, I realized this was a futile exercise. She was determined, and no amount of if/then was enough to convince her to remain fastened in her seat.

We couldn’t spend the day sitting on the edge of the road, but I wanted to be obedient to the law, and it wasn’t safe to drive with Chloe standing up. I offered a silent prayer and heard the Spirit whisper, “Teach her.”

I turned to face her and pulled my seat belt away from my body so she could see it. I said, “Chloe, I am wearing this seat belt because it will protect me. But you aren’t wearing your seat belt, and you won’t be safe. And I will be so sad if you get hurt.”

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She looked at me; I could almost see the wheels turning in her little mind as I waited anxiously for her response. Finally, her big blue eyes brightened, and she said, “Grandma, you want me to wear my seat belt because you love me!”

The Spirit filled the car as I expressed my love for this precious little girl. I didn’t want to lose that feeling, but I knew I had an opportunity, so I got out and secured her in her car seat. Then I asked, “Chloe, will you please stay in your car seat?” And she did—all the way to the market for a treat! And she stayed buckled all the way from the market to my home, where we made bread and played with play dough because Chloe did not forget!

From the talk “If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments

Elder Richard G. Scott

Former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Share Your Testimony

When I was a young child, my father was not a member of the Church and my mother had become less active. We lived in Washington, D.C., and my mother’s parents lived 2,500 miles (4,000 km) away in the state of Washington. Some months after my eighth birthday, Grandmother Whittle came across the country to visit us. Grandmother was concerned that neither I nor my older brother had been baptized. I don’t know what she said to my parents about this, but I do know that one morning she took my brother and me to the park and shared with us her feelings about the importance of being baptized and attending Church meetings regularly. I don’t remember the specifics of what she said, but her words stirred something in my heart, and soon my brother and I were baptized.

Grandmother continued to support us. I remember that anytime my brother or I was assigned to give a talk in church, we would call her on the telephone for some suggestions. Within a few days a handwritten talk would arrive by mail. After some time her suggestions changed to an outline requiring more effort on our part. Grandmother used just the right amount of courage and respect to help our father recognize the importance of his driving us to the church for our meetings. In every appropriate way, she helped us to feel a need for the gospel in our lives.

Most importantly, we knew Grandmother loved us and that she loved the gospel. She was a marvelous example! How grateful I am for the testimony she shared with me when I was very young. Her influence changed the direction of my life for eternal good.

From the talk “I Have Given You an Example

Sister Linda S. Reeves

Former Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

Counsel with Your Children

Many years ago one of our children was noticeably distressed. I stepped into her bedroom, where she opened up her heart and explained to me that she had been at a friend’s home and had accidentally seen startling and disturbing images and actions on the television between a man and a woman without clothing. She began sobbing and expressed how horrible she felt about what she had seen and wished she could get it out of her mind. I was so grateful that she would confide in me, giving me a chance to soothe her innocent and aching heart and help her know how to get relief through our Savior’s Atonement. I remember the sacred feelings I had as we knelt together, as mother and daughter, and petitioned the help of our Heavenly Father.

. . .

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We as parents and leaders need to counsel with our children and youth on an ongoing basis, listening with love and understanding. They need to know the dangers of pornography and how it overtakes lives, causing loss of the Spirit, distorted feelings, deceit, damaged relationships, loss of self-control, and nearly total consumption of time, thought, and energy.

From the talk “Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Don’t Be Neutral About the Gospel

Seeking to be neutral about the gospel is, in reality, to reject the existence of God and His authority. We must, rather, acknowledge Him and His omniscience if we want our children to see life’s choices clearly and be able to think for themselves. They should not have to learn by sad experience that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).

I can share with you a simple example from my own life of what parents can do. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I lived across the street from a small grocery store. One day two other boys invited me to go with them to the store. As we stood coveting the candy for sale there, the older boy grabbed a candy bar and slipped it into his pocket. He urged the other boy and me to do the same, and after some hesitation we did. Then we quickly left the store and ran off in separate directions. I found a hiding place at home and tore off the candy wrapper. My mother discovered me with the chocolate evidence smeared on my face and escorted me back to the grocery store. As we crossed the street, I was sure I was facing life imprisonment. With sobs and tears, I apologized to the owner and paid him for the candy bar with a dime that my mother had loaned me (which I had to earn later). My mother’s love and discipline put an abrupt and early end to my life of crime.

From the talk “Moral Discipline

Give Your Children a Role Model

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I recall that when I was a boy of about 12, my father became a candidate for the city council in our rather small community. He did not mount an extensive election campaign—all I remember was that Dad had my brothers and me distribute copies of a flyer door to door, urging people to vote for Paul Christofferson. There were a number of adults that I handed a flyer to who remarked that Paul was a good and honest man and that they would have no problem voting for him. My young boy heart swelled with pride in my father. It gave me confidence and a desire to follow in his footsteps. He was not perfect—no one is—but he was upright and good and an aspirational example for a son.

Discipline and correction are part of teaching. As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” But in discipline, a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified.

From the talk “Fathers

Elder Tad R. Callister

Sunday School General President

Our Time to Teach Never Stops

I remember my father stretched out by the fireplace, reading the scriptures and other good books, and I would stretch out by his side. I remember the cards he would keep in his shirt pocket with quotes of the scriptures and Shakespeare and new words that he would memorize and learn. I remember the gospel questions and discussions at the dinner table. I remember the many times my father took me to visit the elderly—how we would stop by to pick up ice cream for one or a chicken dinner for another or his final handshake with some money enclosed. I remember the good feeling and the desire to be like him.

I remember my mother, age 90 or so, cooking in her condominium kitchen and then exiting with a tray of food. I asked her where she was going. She replied, “Oh, I am taking some food to the elderly.” I thought to myself, “Mother, you are the elderly.” I can never express enough gratitude for my parents, who were my prime gospel teachers.

Teach Children to Pray for Things of Eternal Consequence

One of the most meaningful things we can do as parents is teach our children the power of prayer, not just the routine of prayer. When I was about 17 years of age, I was kneeling by my bed, saying my evening prayers. Unbeknown to me, my mother was standing in the doorway. When I finished, she said, “Tad, are you asking the Lord to help you find a good wife?”

Her question caught me totally off guard. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I was thinking about basketball and school. And so, I replied, “No,” to which she responded, “Well, you should, Son; it will be the most important decision you will ever make.” Those words sunk deep into my heart, and so for the next six years, I prayed that God would help me find a good wife. And, oh, how He answered that prayer.

As parents, we can teach our children to pray for things of eternal consequence—to pray for the strength to be morally clean in a very challenging world, to be obedient, and to have the courage to stand for the right.

Both taken from the talk “Parents, the Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children

Elder Richard J. Maynes

Former member of the Presidency of the Seventy

Persevere in Christ-Centered Family Gatherings

Sister Maynes and I learned some important principles as we began the process of establishing a Christ-centered home early in our marriage. We started by following the counsel of our Church leaders. We brought our children together and held weekly family home evenings as well as daily prayer and scripture study. It was not always easy, convenient, or successful, but over time these simple gatherings became treasured family traditions.

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We learned that our children might not remember everything about the family home evening lesson later in the week, but they would remember that we held it. We learned that later in the day at school they would probably not remember the exact words of the scriptures or the prayer, but they would remember that we did read scriptures and we did have prayer. Brothers and sisters, there is great power and protection for us and our youth in establishing celestial traditions in the home.

Learning, teaching, and practicing the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes helps create a culture where the Spirit can dwell. Through establishing these celestial traditions in our homes, we will be able to overcome the false traditions of the world and learn to put the needs and concerns of others first.

It is difficult to overstate the importance parents have in teaching their children celestial traditions through word and example.

From the talk “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home

Elder H. Burke Peterson

Former general authority and member of the Presiding Bishopric

Teach the Power of Daily Scripture Study

May I relate a personal experience from the Peterson family. Several years ago after wrestling with the problem for some time, my wife and I, sensing the urgency of our parental charge, devised a new battle plan. You see, up to that point, Satan had been winning the battle of “Should we or should we not read the scriptures together in the Peterson home?” We had tried off and on for years with no sustained success. Our big problem was that someone or something always interrupted our schedule. With a 17-year spread in our children’s ages, we felt we had a special challenge.
As we studied and prayed over it, we concluded that the best time for our family of girls to read would be when no one else wanted our time. Since the older girls had to be in seminary by 7:00 A.M., our controllable time had to be early. We decided on 6:15 in the morning. We knew it would be a challenge to get teenage support. The idea was good, but its implementation was most difficult and it still is. Our family is still struggling.

Our great new plan had its birth one hot August day in Phoenix, Arizona. My wife suggested we give them a whole month to think about it and prepare for it. We went about their mental preparation in a very positive way. The plan was to start the first day of school in early September. To their protests that it was impossible to have their heads all filled with rollers in time, or that it was not likely they would feel happy so early in the morning, or that they might be late to seminary, or not have time to eat breakfast either, we replied very cheerfully that we knew they were clever enough to cope with any minor problems that might arise.

At its announcement, we also told the girls we had been praying for guidance in this family problem. This made it easier, because they had been schooled in prayer and had been taught not to question its results.

The historic first morning finally came. My wife and I got up a little early so we would be sure to be wide awake and happy. Our initial approach must meet with success. We entered each bedroom singing and happy at the thought of the prospects before us. Purposely we went to one special bedroom first. Here slept a daughter who would be able to get up early but who couldn’t wake up before noon. We sat her up in bed and then went to the others and started them all into the family room. Some stumbled, some fell, some had to be carried in, some slept through that first morning—and I might say through subsequent mornings too.

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Little by little, we have learned over the years what reading the scriptures 15 minutes each morning can do for our family. You should know that we don’t try to discuss and understand each point we read. We try to pick out only a couple of thoughts each morning to digest. You should also know we still have to struggle with the plan’s performance, even though we now have only two children at our home.

Can you imagine how a parent would feel to ask a little girl, “What did King Benjamin mean when he said, ‘When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God’?” (Mosiah 2:17.) And she would respond, “I suppose he means that I shouldn’t be selfish and should do little things for my sisters because it makes Heavenly Father happy—and Daddy, I want him to be happy with me, so I’m going to try harder.” Innumerable are the blessings that will accrue to the family that persists in this noble effort of reading the scriptures together daily.

From the talk “Help for Parents


Elder Larry R. Lawrence

Member of the Seventy

Support Each Other in the Yeses and the Nos

It’s so important for husbands and wives to be united when making parenting decisions. If either parent doesn’t feel good about something, then permission should not be granted. If either feels uncomfortable about a movie, a television show, a video game, a party, a dress, a swimsuit, or an Internet activity, have the courage to support each other and say no.

. . .

Courageous parenting does not always involve saying no. Parents also need courage to say yes to the counsel of modern-day prophets. Our Church leaders have counseled us to establish righteous patterns in our homes. Consider five fundamental practices that have the power to fortify our youth: family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family dinner together, and regular one-on-one interviews with each child.

From the talk “Courageous Parenting

Lead image and all other images from Shutterstock


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