Touching Advice and Stories Apostles Have Shared About Fatherhood

by | Jun. 12, 2019

Mormon Life

President Russell M. Nelson

President Nelson's family. Photo from Insights From a Prophet's Life: Russell M. Nelson.

President Russell M. Nelson had an intensely busy life as a surgeon whose expertise was in demand around the world. He also served in demanding leadership roles in the Church—stake president, general auxiliary president, and regional representative, to name a few. And yet somehow his large family did not feel deprived of his attention. In fact, they felt they were his first priority. Much of the credit goes to Dantzel.

President M. Russell Ballard, who was five years behind Russell Nelson through high school and college, later reflected: “How he was able to do everything he did with the heavy schedule he carried in his surgical and medical practice is a miracle. He is a miracle man when it comes to getting things done” (Church News/KSL Interview, January 9, 2018).

Years later, when she was a mother, fifth daughter Sylvia would explain: “I think my father’s secret was that when he’s at work, he’s 100 percent at work. When he’s home, he’s 100 percent at home. When he’s at church, he’s 100 percent there. I think that’s how he balanced things. I don’t know—he seemed to do it effortlessly” (Church News/KSL Interview, January 10, 2018).

President Nelson taught his nine daughters and his son to ski and also water-ski, balancing them between his legs on those first runs down the mountain or on the lake. He read to them when they were young, and he taught them to ride bicycles and drive a car. During the more than 20 years there were only daughters in the family, he showed his girls how to mow the lawn and shovel snow from the sidewalks. . . .

It was a team effort. For twenty years, Dantzel sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which meant she was gone from home every Sunday morning. “Daddy would take over and try to curl our hair and get everybody dressed,” said Sylvia. “He’s very prompt, though. He is never, ever late. He’d be out in the car waiting for us to go to church. If we weren’t there when he had to go, we’d have to walk. We only needed to learn that lesson one time. He kept the home fires burning when Mother was gone. That’s the kind of relationship they had. It was very sweet and very giving to each other.

Adapted from Insights From a Prophet's Life: Russell M. Nelson.

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