Sometimes we fail to use the proper tool because a lesser tool is more convenient. It’s like trying to screw in a stubborn screw with the wrong size screwdriver simply because it’s right there in the “everything” drawer. Rather than taking the extra steps to the workshop to retrieve the proper tool, we just plug away and become frustrated. We may even pick up a hammer and try to force the screw into place. It just doesn’t work.
Using the proper tool for any job can make a big difference. So it is with teaching eternal principles to our children. We can become frustrated over the way the world is screwing up the minds of our own children and at times may wonder what we can do to stop the madness.
We see TV ads promoting shows that are filled with blatant immorality, and these ads seem to pop up right in the middle of what may have been a fairly decent show. We think we can count on a certain channel to be “clean” and suddenly, there’s a scene that alludes to illicit sex as though it were as acceptable as enjoying an ice cream sundae. The news reporters talk about celebrities having babies out of wedlock as though marriage isn’t at all necessary for parenthood. And it’s all made to look enticing and glamorous.
What are parents to do? Instead of hammering away with our own little lectures on the evils of the world we can take advantage of one of the most powerful tools the Lord has given us: The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Some of us have it hanging in plain sight on our family room wall and yet fail to even notice it, or use it as the powerful teaching tool it can be.
Let’s examine the possibilities. Purchase a copy of the Proclamation at Church Distribution or print it off the Internet.
We suggest you discuss the nine paragraphs in the Proclamation at your next nine family home evenings, only one per evening since each has so much rich information to discuss.
In preparation for the discussion pay attention to the headlines in the newspaper, or articles in magazines, or a popular song, TV show, or movie. Be aware of what your children are being made aware of by friends and the media. In other words, prepare yourself with knowledge of what the enemy is doing.
Begin by telling your children that you are going to help them know how to find the greatest happiness possible in this life and throughout eternity. Tell them that the Lord gave a revelation to the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles of the Church that is specifically for our time, to protect and guide them and your family. Explain that you are going to arm them with knowledge that will give them power over Satan.
Show the Proclamation and let them know that you all are about to discover the gems hidden within its paragraphs. Begin each discussion with two questions. Allow them to freely express their opinions without any condemnation. The Proclamation will clear up misconceptions they may have. Of course, you will need to adjust the discussion to the ages of your children. This discussion is geared to junior high and high school age children. Be sensitive to what they are ready to absorb. When you ask the questions be sure to let them come up with the answers first, then augment with yours. We have given suggested answers to assist the discussion.
What does the world teach about marriage? That marriage isn’t important, that couples can live together without being married, that same-sex marriage is okay.
What does the Lord teach about marriage? Have them read the first paragraph, and allow them to discover that the Lord said marriage is ordained of God, marriage is His plan, that it is between a man and a woman.
To enhance your discussion you can bring in social studies that show the wisdom of the Lord’s teachings. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family shows that premarital sex weakens marriage.
Bear your testimony about the importance of marriage and how much your own marriage means to you. If you are a single parent, let them know that you believe in marriage and want them to have a happy married life with their future spouses.
What does the world teach about gender identity? That after we are born we can change that identity if we want to, psychologically and even physically through surgeries.
What does the Lord teach about gender identity? Read this paragraph and discuss what the Lord said, that we were male or female in the pre-mortal life, that we maintain that identity in mortal life, and throughout eternity. That each of us is a son or daughter of God with a divine nature and destiny.
Talk about the importance of being a boy or a girl, how each is vital to God’s plan of happiness, and by honoring who we are we can experience the greatest joy in this life. It can be fun and interesting to discuss the differences between males and females. The Lord did not create two men or two women to start the world, he created a man and a woman, Adam and Eve, because they would be complementary to each other, each having a special role to fulfill in the development of His plan.
Talk about your roles as parents, how it takes both together to make things work out for the family. Reaffirm that the greatest happiness comes in families when we respect and honor our differences. (Interesting information: “How Male and Female Brains Differ“)
What does the world teach about life after death? That it is uncertain, some claiming there is no life after a person dies. Others guess, hoping there is life beyond mortal existence. Some religions claim there will be no family relationships in the next life. Some have stated they “believe that life with God persists even after death. No description of what that life may be like is possible.”
What does the Lord teach about life after death? Read this paragraph and discover the plan of salvation explained simply, emphasizing that “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave.” To enhance the concepts in this paragraph we suggest you use the beautifully illustrated missionary pamphlet “The Plan of Salvation” available at Church Distribution. This clearly shows that the Lord has revealed a basic plan of what happens after death. We do know what lies ahead.
What does the world teach about having children, and about sexual activity? (1) That couples don’t need to have children, or that one or two is enough.
Focus more on your own career and enjoyment. (2) That sexual activity outside of marriage is normal and acceptable.
What does the Lord teach about having children? God commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth, and makes it clear that this commandment is still in force for married couples today.
Explain how some countries are severely diminishing in population because too many couples are selfish or afraid to bring babies into the world. Nations need children in order to grow and function. Overpopulation is not the problem in the world today, underpopulation is. See The World’s Underpopulation, by David E. Smith, Illinois Family Institute.
What does the Lord teach about sexual activity? Discuss the meaning of “the sacred powers of procreation” and that this function is to take place only between “man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” Talk about how saving sex for marriage is a protection for their future marriage (marriages are happier and more successful when partners remain sexually pure before marriage). Sexual purity is a significant health safeguard.. For more information read the standard “Sexual Purity” in For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, available from your bishop or branch president.
Also there is interesting information about the damaging effects on the brains of adolescents involved in sexual activity. See “The Teenage Brain: Under Construction” from American College of Pediatricians – March 2011.
What does the world teach about the sanctity of life? We can choose to destroy a baby in the womb if we want to. We should have the choice. Also we should be able to assist in ending a life that is, in our opinion, no longer of worth. (Some states and countries have laws allowing this.)
What does the Lord teach about the sanctity of life? Each life is valuable and has divine purpose, and is important to God’s eternal plan. For information on the Church’s position on abortion see www.mormon.org.
For information on the Church’s view regarding assisted suicide see this Church News article at www.ldschurchnews.com
Engaging your children in these discussions can help them see how important each life is, pre-born and throughout the lifetime of an individual, even one who is seriously disabled. Caring for these individuals is an important part of our learning compassion in this life.
What does the world teach about the responsibility of parents? Take care of your own needs and wants. Some believe that baby sitters, day-care centers, or a nanny should do the major portion of raising the kids. Their thinking is that quantity time doesn’t matter, a little quality time will make up for it.
What does the Lord teach about the responsibility of parents? “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God, and to be law abiding citizens wherever they live.” No one will love your child like you do. No one will care more deeply about teaching gospel principles to your child than you will.
The Lord says that fathers and mothers will be held accountable for the upbringing of their children.
What does the world teach about what children are entitled to? Children don’t need to be born to married parents. As long as the parents provide food and shelter they’ll be okay. Church attendance is no longer necessary, just teach them to be kind and good, that’s enough. They should be able to choose whatever path they want without moral consequences.
What does the Lord teach about what children are entitled to? “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” That happiness is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
What does the world teach about the roles of father and mother? They are interchangeable, there is no difference. It also accepts as normal a child being born to an unwed mother without the father ever being present in the child’s life.
What does the Lord teach about the roles of father and mother? That “fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” Parents are to be equal partners in rearing their children. There are times when these roles may change because of disability, death or other circumstances.
Share with your children the love and concern you have for them and pledge to always be there to love, support, and nurture them, even during very tough times.
What is the Lord’s warning to those who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or fail in family responsibilities? Simply stated, they will one day stand accountable before God. Contemplate what that means. What it will be like to stand before God and report what you have done to bless your family. Help your children see their responsibility in helping the family grow strong.
Read and discuss the last sentence in this paragraph that tells what will happen when these family responsibilities are ignored. Parents and children need to understand the seriousness of keeping their families together, under the umbrella of the Church and within the loving arms of the Savior.
Explain to your children that this is why you have family home evenings, why you have scripture time and family prayer. All of this is to protect and prepare them for the greatest happiness possible in their future lives.
What does the Lord say is the duty of citizens and government officials? This paragraph is a call to action. Talk about what your family can do to stand up for the family. Discuss what you can do promote laws that protect families. Discuss some laws that are currently being considered that will affect the family, such as the definition of what marriage is, abortion laws, gambling laws, etc.
Discuss laws that effect freedom of religion and freedom of speech. These are two laws under serious attack right now. These must be preserved. To understand more about these issues see “People of Faith Should Defend Freedom of Religion” by Elder Dallen H Oaks.
The Lord plainly states here that we must do something about these issues that we must help maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Why do we have this proclamation on the family now? Because the family is under attack.
All across the world families are falling apart. The place to begin to improve society is in the home. Children do, for the most part, what they are taught. We are trying to make the world better by making the family stronger.” (Ensign, Aug. 1997, 5)
With prayer and a little preparation you can have success in using this powerful tool in helping your children understand and be prepared to stand strong for family values and principles. There is great parenting power in the Family Proclamation. After these family home evening discussions, when your family sees it hanging on your wall they will have new respect for it, and may turn to it for answers as they face the issues of their day.
Gary and Joy Lundberg invite you to join them on a Western Caribbean Cruise in February, and learn more about strengthening your marriage and family. To learn more about the cruise go to www.cruiselady.com
Gary and Joy are authors of books on creating happy family relationships. For more information visit their website