Since precious moments like the one were about to share dont happen that often, we hope you will indulge us. As parents, dont we all grab onto any evidence that our long years of parenting are paying off? This was one of those moments for us.
A few days ago we had the sweet opportunity of going to the Ogden Utah Temple open house with our youngest son Paul, his wife Amy, and four of their six children. It was one of those moments of joy that parents and grandparents cherish. Now heres the cherry on the top. As we walked out after the tour their six-year-old son looked up at us and said, “Im going to get married in the temple someday.” Then his eight-year-old sister chimed in, “And so am I!” It opened the door for a conversation with their two older sisters, ages 12 and 14. They too expressed their goal of being married in the temple.
As much as we loved these sweet conversations with the children, the best part of all was that it was their parents who made this sacred event happen. They traveled from Rigby, Idaho and made this the beginning event of a few days vacation, inviting us to meet them there (we live in Provo, UT) to share in the joy of being in this beautiful temple together. We jumped at the chance. How blessed are the children when their parents work together to teach them the truths of the gospel, giving them opportunities to feel the Spirit of the Lord in such a place as this. And how happy we were that they invited us to be in on the joy.
You may ask where their other two children were. The eldest a daughter, married in the temple two years prior, lives out of state. The other, their next eldest, a son, said he couldnt go because he had to work. Hes diligently working to make money to pay for his upcoming mission and felt he couldnt afford to miss work and didnt want to disappoint his boss who was counting on him. Even though they wanted him to come, they both respected his wishes. Another evidence of good parenting.
We rejoice in the fact that Amy grew up in a home where her parents provided their children with dedicated gospel learning. She saw how its done. Though we made a lot of mistakes along the way, we did our best to show our children the same. With all our hearts we want them to pass it on in their families. When they do, we feel as the apostle John felt when he said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (2 John 1:4)
If you happen to be the first member of your family to begin this tradition of faith then count yourself as a blessed modern-day pioneer. Every faithful family has a beginning, and you are yours.
Here are five tips to help lead your children to Christ:
1. Enjoy being with your children. Dr. Juston Coulson said, “Have you ever noticed that your children are happiest when youre really with them? Youre emotionally attuned. Youre right in the moment, not thinking about your to-do list or the mess theyre making. They behave beautifully. And our experiences with them are enriching and meaningful and joyful.
“When were with our kids, we need to turn away from distractions and become attuned to our kids emotional world, focus our energy on them, and live and breathe with themtogether.
“When we invest in the well-being of our children, we not only increase their well-being but also experience greater happiness and meaning ourselves.”
When your children know you enjoy being with them they will be more willing to follow you in spiritual matters as well. Happiness in the small moments will draw them and you to the eternal happiness the Lord promises the faithful.
When you speak of everlasting joy in the Celestial kingdom, they will get it. They will have grown up with enough joy in their lives at home to know they want it to continue forever. When you taste something delicious you always want more. Having joy at home is a great incentive to wanting joy with your family forever. Create a joyful home.
2. Let them see how much you love each other. Marriage is sacred and vital to enjoying all the blessings of the gospel. Kids need to know that Mom and Dad are still in love. Its one of the greatest security blankets you can give them. When marriages are falling apart all around them, they need to know and feel that you are solid in your devotion to each other and to them. It reminds us of the Family Circus cartoon where the mom and dad are in the kitchen kissing and their little children are watching. One of them says, “I get all warm and happy inside when I see Mommy and Daddy kissing.”
In a General Conference talk Elder David A. Bednar said, “We should remember that saying I love you is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.” (This counsel is included in the inspiring video link below.)
If you are a single parent, you can still teach your children of the importance and sacredness of marriage. Your testimony of this can guide them toward their own temple marriage.
3. Tell your children you love them. Just as your spouse cannot assume you love her or him unless you tell them, neither can your children. They need to hear it from both their mom and dad. Say the words. Tell them you love them. When you send them out the door to play or to school, tell them. When you tuck them in bed at night, tell them again. When they perform on a stage or a field, when you congratulate them, tell them you love them. Dont worry about saying it too much. Even when theyre teenagersmaybe especially then. If they act like they dont want to hear it, they do. When they think all the world is against them and nobody out there loves them, they will know their mom and dad do. Your words will come into their minds and they will remember they are loved.
A talk by Elder David A. Bednar gives specific instructions to parents regarding this principle. We suggest you take a few minutes and watch this video of his talk, even just the first 3 minutes will inspire you.
When children are firm in the knowledge that their parents love them, its easy for them to understand that Heavenly Father loves them, too.
Its a natural flow of His divine love and will bring them closer to Him.
4. Give your children priesthood blessings. Priesthood blessings are a joint effort involving both parents, not just the father. Dad is certainly the one who lays hands on the childs head and pronounces the blessing, but a mother can be a vital part of this process through prayer and thoughtful preparation. Many couples discuss blessings before they are given. Often it is the wife who may suggest her husband give a child a blessing. Parenting is a united effort. A wifes faith and prayers can be a significant contribution to her husbands use of the priesthood.
Regarding this sacred partnership, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent partners or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner.” (Quotes by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Gen. Conf. April, 2014)
Being a full partner means supporting each other in loving ways as priesthood duties are performed in the home. Many fathers give their children priesthood blessings in preparation for starting back to school. This can give your children much needed guidance and comfort. As mentioned, this can be discussed by the parents privately before a blessing is given. You can pray together for the Spirit to guide you to say what each child needs specifically. Priesthood power is doubled when both husband and wife share in the process.
5. Create experiences that will deepen your childrens testimonies. Some of the most important experiences will be those that take place right in your own home. Weve heard about how vital they are for years. Still, it seems we can get off track if were not continually reminded. Consistently having family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture time can cement your childrens testimonies and bring rewards that are eternal in nature.
Long ago when President Joseph F. Smith first introduced the idea of family home evening he made this promise to faithful parents, and it has been reiterated by living prophets since that time. He promised, “If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them.” (“Family Home Evening Turns 40”, Deseret News, Oct. 19, 2010)
The same is true of family prayer and family scripture time.
President Thomas S. Monson shared the following: “A prominent American judge was asked what we as citizens of the countries of the world could do to reduce crime and disobedience to law and to bring peace and contentment into our lives and into our nations. He carefully replied, I would suggest a return to the old-fashioned practice of family prayer.
“As a people, arent we grateful that family prayer is not an out-of-date practice with us? There is no more beautiful sight in all this world than to see a family praying together. There is real meaning behind the oft-quoted The family that prays together stays together.” (President Thomas S. Monson, “Come unto Him in Prayer and Faith,” Ensign, Mar. 2009, 5.)
Now to the importance of reading the scriptures as a family. When we speak of drawing close to the Savior we realize that reading the scriptures together as a family is one of the most powerful ways to make that happen. When reading the scriptures we open the door for the Spirit to bear witness of truth. Taking just a few minutes each morning or evening to read and discuss the scriptures is one of the most effective ways to lead your children to Christ. They come to know Him and His works by reading about Him. The Book of Mormon is filled with the words of Christ. Your children will find comfort and peace in participating in this family tradition.
A speaker in Church recently said that to create a loving relationship with Christ takes “righteous routines” and “holy habits”. Family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study definitely qualify.
Other experiences you can create to lead your children to the Savior include:
Take them to Church every Sunday, even when youre on vacation. Visiting another ward away from home can not only show them how important attending church meetings is to you, but that the Church is the same wherever you go. It can be very reassuring to them.
Taking your family to a temple open house when one is close enough. If you are far away from a temple you may want to go to this site and look at the many temples that have been dedicated and are in use, finding the one that is closest to you.
To learn more and enjoy a virtual tour of the inside of temples, click here.
Visit grandparents and ask them to share their faith-promoting experiences.
Visit familysearch.org and find your ancestors. Let them see on this site how your family connects with your progenitors.
6. Bear your testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ to your children. When the world is teaching there is not God or Christ, they will remember your testimony. Let them know how fervently you love the Savior. Testify of His divine mission, that He lived and died for them, that He suffered in Gethsemane that they may repent and live again with Him and your family eternally.
Do this and your children will realize the promise given in Isaiah 54:13, “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” What a blessing for us and our children to be able to enjoy that peace in this troubled world. As parents, we can make that happen.
[Visit the Lundbergs website . Learn about their new e-book Wake-up Call: What Every Husband Needs to Know.]