“I have never accepted the principle of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’…Children don’t need beating. They need love and encouragement.”
~President Gordon B. Hinkley
There are so. many. different ways to parent your child. In my last post, I talked about the three main types of parenting. However, many times, while a parent may generally fit into one of those categories, they will also do things that fall into other categories as well. There is so much advice on the “right” way to parent that it can be so confusing. Luckily though, we have the gospel of Jesus Christ to help guide and direct our paths!
Whether you like it or not, parents have influence on their children. You were influenced by your parents, and you will influence your children. But this is the way it is supposed to be! My mother taught me the importance of scripture study, General Conference, visiting teaching and so much more. But she also taught me sarcasm. My dad taught me to cook, be generous, be kind to others, be open to new ideas, and the importance of praying for guidance. However, I also learned from him how to argue and the tendency to not stay quiet when I am angry!
In Chapter 11 of “Successful Marriages and Families,” David A. Nelson teaches:
“The family proclamation makes clear that Heavenly Father expects parents to have significant influence in the lives of their children. God’s plan for His children may be ideally characterized as the placement of children into home where parents are committed to their development and proclamation principles are practiced” (p. 118).
A key part to being successful at doing this is positive interaction. Children need love. Love is central to God’s plan. While it is important to teach and discipline your children, it is most important to love them. You are only going to be a successful parent if love and kindness are the primary feelings found in your home.
David A. Nelson also taught that, “Parents must realize that they have the opportunity to proactively help their children develop positive traits or overcome undesirable tendencies. Children will be most open to instruction when they feel loved and accepted by their parents” (p. 120). Like I said, love is the key.
So, how do we make sure that we have love at home? Well, there are some main principles that Latter-day Saints are taught to do that will help create a home filled with love and the Spirit. In fact, Elder Robert D. Hales has taught that, “The key to strengthening our families if having the Spirit of the Lord come into our homes.”
Here are four things that you can do to help not only teach your children, but bring the Spirit into your home and helped your children know that they are loved.
- FAMILY HOME EVENING
Family home evening was started in 1915 when President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors sent out a letter saying, “We advise and urge the inauguration of a ‘Home Evening’ throughout the church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord.” Then, in 1970, Monday nights became the designated night to hold family home evening (https://www.lds.org/church/news/2015-marks-two-milestones-for-family-home-evening?lang=eng).
Family home evening is not only a time to share the gospel with your children, but also just to have fun and spend uninterrupted time together.
Growing up, we had family home evening every Monday night. Sometimes it was fun, and sometimes there was lots of yelling and little learning. However, no matter what, we had it! Because of this, our family was strengthened and we were able to, over the years, learn so much.
- SCRIPTURE STUDY
David A. Nelson wrote that scripture study “is most essential to promoting understanding and internalization of important values that will guide behavior” (p. 126).
Something that my family does, is read a chapter of the Book of Mormon each night. We each take turns reading a verse so everyone is listening and following along. This is just one way to study the scriptures together, but do whatever works best for you!
Praying together as family helps unite a family in whatever causes they are concerned about as well as gives children and parents an opportunity to thank the Lord for all of their blessings. Nelson also taught that, “prayer encourages a child’s sense of accountability to their Heavenly Father for their lives and actions” (p. 126).
Saying family prayer will likely also remind a child to say their personal prayers as well.
- EATING DINNER TOGETHER AS A FAMILY
It has been shown that children are more successful and less likely to participate in risky behaviors when their family eats together at the table each night. This doesn’t have to be a time for structured teaching and lessons, rather a good time for casual conversation and learning about one another’s days. Doing this will help everyone stay connected and feel valued and important.
These are just some of the ways to use the gospel of Jesus Christ to help you become a better parent. As you study the scriptures and the words of the prophets and apostles, I promise you that you will find so much more guidance in what you can do to help lead your family and parent your children.