From the Church

What’s it like having President Nelson as a father? His children share delightful stories and insights

nelson swing.png
A family photo of President Russell M. Nelson on a swing.
Photo taken from “Insights from a Prophet’s Life” | Deseret Book

After five years as prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson still often astounds Church members with his enthusiasm and energy, especially for a man who is 98 years old. But the people who have known him the longest and the most personally—his children—say this is nothing new.

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“Nothing that my dad does surprises me. Nothing,“ President Nelson’s daughter Laurie Marsh explains. “Everything amazes me, but nothing surprises me. He doesn’t look for anybody’s approval, but the Lord’s.”

And recently three of President Nelson’s children, Laurie Marsh, Gloria Irion, and Russell M. Nelson Jr. shared personal stories of their growing-up years and family life with their father on the Church News podcast.

When asked about what they remember their father doing in their childhood years, Marsh, who is number seven in the family of ten children, shared, “Daddy kind of had a routine. He’d come in the door. And the first thing he would do was look for, and find, and greet my mother. That was always number one. Number two, he would look around to turn off any electrics, that were extra, you know, like the TV or more lights than he felt should be on. And then number three, we normally would wait for Daddy, to have dinner together as a family. … And the thing about Daddy with this routine is when he was home, he was home. I don’t remember him watching TV. I do remember him changing diapers, and reading books and helping us with homework. And when he was home, it was time for the family.”

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Irion shared fond memories of Sunday mornings with their father during the years their mother sang with the Tabernacle Choir. “I remember vividly baths with Daddy, he would get three or four of us in the tub at a time. And you know, we’d get our hair wet and he’d squirt shampoo on each of our heads and we’d shampoo the person in front of us and he called it ‘The shampoo train.’ And then he’d say, ‘About-face!’ and we turn around and shampoo the person who used to be in back of us is now in front of us. And you know, he just made it fun.”

Today his children are amazed at the qualities he still exhibits, even in his older years.

“He’s very driven, and very bright, and catches on fast, but loves to be up on the latest technology,” Irion shared. “He knew decades before I did that there was such a thing as AirDropping photos, and he taught our daughter and we didn’t even know there was such a thing. It was probably 10 years ago that he taught Katie how to AirDrop photos. So yeah, we know that he’s curious. He loves to learn. So, I thought that was a good example to always be a learner, a lifelong learner.”

Russell M. Nelson Jr. shared, “One quality I always think of about our dad is ‘active.’ He always is going and doing things,… [if] we’re freshly landed from an airplane, rather than sitting in the hotel room, or sit, he likes to go out and walk, or do the dishes after a meal, or what have you. So always active, always doing something, always engaged.”

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“The way he’s leading the Church is exactly an example of the way we were raised,“ Marsh said. “I feel like there was a high level of love in our home. And there was a high expectation that we would be an eternal family. And we were going to be working together to see how we could get that goal accomplished. And enjoy all the blessings that Heavenly Father wants to give each and every one of us.”

You can listen to the entire Church News podcast episode—including heart-warming stories about skiing, family road trips, tangled fishing lines, playing piano, and FaceTiming with young family members from all over the world—in the player below.

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Insights from a Prophet's Life

Insights from a Prophet's Life offers a candid view of President Russell M. Nelson, the seventeenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from childhood to the current day. More than a biography, this landmark volume invites readers to experience President Nelson's life through dozens of brief vignettes and hundreds of photographs. Each episode highlights an important lesson; taken together, they weave a captivating story of a man prepared in a unique way to lead the Church in our day.

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