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As parents, we spend countless hours, days, and years teaching, sacrificing, and loving our children. We kneel by their bedsides as we teach them to pray. We take them to church and hope with all our hearts they will feel the Spirit there and want to always go. We bear our testimonies to them at family home evenings and any time the opportunity arises. We read the scriptures with them, hoping they will cherish them as we do. In endless ways we do our best to help them love the Lord and live righteous lives.

We wear out our knees in prayer in their behalf. We worry when they’re late coming home. We miss precious sleep in our effort to be there for them when they do walk through the door. We exhaust our brain power as we try to keep up with their educational needs. We work ourselves to the bone, sometimes way into the night, to provide a roof over their heads and food on the table. And we are glad to do it. Because we love them.

Now that they are grown and making their own way in life, it’s payback time. So to all you grown-up kids out there, here’s what you can do to show gratitude for all your parents did, and continue to do, for you.

1. Live an honorable life.

You know the commandment well: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Ex. 20:12) Here’s how you honor your parents as adult children: you live an honorable life.

The Lord made it perfectly clear how He wanted His children to honor and show their love for Him. He said, “If ye love me keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) That pretty much says it all. You can best show your love and gratitude to your earthly parents by keeping God’s commandments. Nothing will bring more praise and honor to them than that. Nothing else will fill their hearts with happiness quite like this will.

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “If we truly honor [our parents], we will seek to emulate their best characteristics and to fulfill their highest aspirations for us. No gift purchased from a store can begin to match in value to parents some simple, sincere words of appreciation. Nothing we could give them would be more prized than righteous living for each youngster.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 348.)

The Apostle John spoke the words that every parent feels deep inside. He said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 1:4) That’s how you honor and pay back your parents.

2. Give them the joy of hearing your testimony.

Throughout your life you have probably heard your parents bear their testimony of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the Church. Because of this you may think they don’t need to hear your testimony. The truth is, they long to hear you bear it. It is a witness that their testimony was treasured by you, so much so that you wanted to have your own.

This need to hear an adult child’s testimony was evident when Alma gave his final testimony and counsel to his sons. To Helaman, who would lead the Church when he was gone, he said, “Believest thou in Jesus Christ, who shall come? And he said, Yea, I believe all the words which thou hast spoken.” (Alma 44:3-4)

Alma needed to hear this testimony of his son. Your parents need to hear yours. Some time when you’re visiting or calling your parents, add your testimony. Even if all you say is, “Mom, I want you to know that I know the Church is true. I love the Savior. And I love you.”  Every parent will rejoice in hearing a message like this.

Sometimes your testimony can be shared in other ways. Our son and his wife, whose son is serving a mission in Mexico, often bear their testimonies to him in their weekly email letters. Here’s the fun part for us: they forward those letters on to us. And we love it! Like we said, there is “no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” The fun little bonus is that we also write this young missionary with our testimonies and he writes his back to us. We could call it generational testimony bearing. Pure happiness.

We remember some special visits from one of our college-student granddaughters. Since we lived fairly close to her student apartment, she would visit us often to have quiet time using our computer, away from the bustle of other students. On many of those occasions she would share her happy times and sad times. The times we remember most were when she would open up and share her deepest thoughts with us.

On one such visit she told of a difficult time she was having and felt all alone. She said, “Then I remembered that I always have the Savior with me. Sometimes I feel Him right by me, helping me feel loved.” She said, “I even carry on conversations with Him, sometimes out loud and sometime silently. I feel His answers. I know He loves me.” This sharing touched our hearts. Now she is sharing that same feeling as she serves a mission in a far away land. What a blessing her testimony continues to be in our lives.

Remember to share you testimony with your parents and grandparents. It will make their day.

3. Share your spiritual experiences with them.

Recently a brother-in-law told us about something his BYU-student granddaughter did. He said she is taking a religion class and is writing a few of her thoughts about it to them. He said, “We are discovering how much she loves studying the gospel, and it makes us so happy. We love that she shares this with us.”  He said she also sends this to her parents. We know this can’t help but make their day, as well.

One of our sons is currently teaching his elder quorum. Sometimes he is so excited about the subject he can’t resist calling and sharing his enthusiasm with us—especially when he has prepared a PowerPoint presentation to go with it. We love hearing all about it. To have him be that excited about teaching the gospel brings happiness to our hearts every time.

A few weeks ago when we were visiting another son and his wife we had some time alone when the kids were gone. The discussion made its way to spiritual matters. He shared with us a sacred experience he had when he attended the Nauvoo Temple a few years ago. We hadn’t heard it until that night. His sweet testimony regarding the Prophet Joseph Smith brought tears to our eyes. His sharing that experience with us will be a treasure forever.

Alma felt this same kind of joy with his son Shiblon, which was evident when he said, “I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering…” (Alma 38:3)

Parents yearn to feel that “great joy” that only children who are striving to keep the commandments can give. Be sure to share your spiritual experiences with your parents. Not only does it bring them happiness, but it strengthens their faith along with your own.

4. Listen to them.

Along with their testimonies, parents want to share with you the things they’ve learned in life that may be helpful to you. When you ask for their counsel they feel honored. Listening to what they have to say is respectful and caring. It’s another way you can honor them. You don’t have to do what they say, just listen and seriously consider whether or not it may be helpful to you. The Holy Ghost will guide you in knowing what is best for you.

Thank your parents for sharing their wisdom with you. If you found their suggestions helpful, let them know. You can’t imagine how happy it makes them feel to have you care enough to just listen and then to thank them for their counsel.

These are a few of the ways you can bring happiness to your parents. Of course, there are many other ways, but seriously consider these as being vitally important. Your faithfulness to the Lord will bring them the greatest joy possible. It is a witness that, even though they made their share of mistakes in parenting, they got the important part at least somewhat right. Comfort them with that realization.

When their hearts ache over other family members who have chosen a different path—and we know how that feels—your faithfulness sustains them more than you know. Lift them with the gift of your testimony and desire to live a righteous life.

[To find out about books on marriage and parenting by Gary and Joy Lundberg visit their website here]