10. Fill your home with inspiring and fun music.
Your little ones will not care whether or not you have a great voice. They’ll simply love that you are singing to them. It’s comforting and is a great way to teach them about Christ, His love for them, and the beautiful things he has created for His children.
Let them know who they are by singing songs like I Am a Child of God. When children grow up knowing where they came from and that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them they can make it safely through the trials of life. A Child’s Prayer is another song that helps them know where to turn as they walk their own journey.
Sing I Love to See the Temple and show them pictures of the temples, very early. It will lead them to that holy place. When the blossoms are bursting on the fruit trees sing Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree. Have fun with music. Keep the Primary Children’s Songbook close by and sing from it often. If you play the piano or other instruments put your baby near you as you play. They will be comforted by it and will develop a love for music.
Play CDs that teach values and bring the light of the gospel into your home. Keep in mind that whatever music a child hears most at home is the music they will remember and seek after when they are older. Exposure to many different kinds of uplifting music will be a blessing to them. A young woman told about how she was helped to make wiser choices because of the music she heard as a child in her home. It’s a great way to protect your children.
11. Teach them to pray.
It’s amazing how quickly children can learn to pray and to fold their arms in reverence when prayers are said. Teach them early. They can join in the blessing on the food at the dinner table, and very early in their high chair before they even learn to talk. Include them in family prayer and teach them to say their own private prayers. Don’t just send them off to their rooms with a “Don’t forget to say your prayers.” Kneel by them and teach them to say their nightly prayers. Bedtime is a choice time to teach and show your love as you tuck them into bed.
At times let them see you kneeling and saying your own private prayers. A good example works wonders. It’s especially comforting when your child hears you praying for them.
“Think of it,” said Elder Richard G. Scott, “the absolute Supreme Being, the most all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Personage, encourages you and me, as insignificant as we are, to converse with Him as our Father. Actually . . . He commands: ‘thou shalt pray.” (Ensign May 2007)
A short video on youtube gives a visual accompaniment to the powerful message on prayer that Elder David R. Bednar gave at General Conference October 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfUgVWnTA34
12. Teach them early that their bodies are sacred
If a child is taught early to be modest, that her body is like a temple, holy and sacred, she will be more willing to follow gospel standards when they are teenagers. She will be less likely to wear immodest clothes or do other things that would be harmful to her body. You cannot start too early teaching this important principle to your son or daughter.
At General Conference Sister Mary N. Cook of the Young Women’s General Presidency said,”Parents, obtain a personal copy of [For the Strength of Youth] and read it often. Live the standards yourself. . . . We also model that which is virtuous and lovely by our dress and appearance. As a covenant people we have the responsibility to care for, protect, and properly clothe our bodies. We must help our children and youth understand that we respect our bodies as temples and as gifts from God. We set the example by refusing to purchase or wear immodest clothing that is too tight, too sheer, or revealing in any other manner.” (Gen. Conf. October 2010)
The sooner our little ones learn and live these principles the better equipped they will be to live pure and chaste as they grow older. Make it easy for them by teaching them when they are young and innocent. The very young catch on quickly. Their fresh-from-heaven spirits grasp readily to truths they are taught.
13. Teach them to play.
Play is vital to healthy development in a child. It’s their job. And it really does not require much on your part. They love simple toys, like empty boxes, egg cartons, balls, blocks, your stash of Tupperware, a pan and wooden spoon—simple things around the house. Play with them some of the time, but let them play alone, too. That way they’ll grow up knowing they don’t always need to be entertained. As they grow give them toys that foster their creativity.
A little boy needs some rough-and-tumble play time with his daddy. Sometimes mommies don’t realize how important this is for the child and his dad. They gasp as rambunctious Daddy tosses their precious offspring into the air (which needs to be done with great caution), then catches the laughing child who says, “A’gin, Dada, a’gin!” He wants more. Then the wresting and tickling on the floor begins. This interchange between the two of them is an important part of a boy’s development and their bonding as father and son. Girls can join in some of it, too, but a gentler version. Their nerve endings are closer to the surface and can feel pain more readily than a boy. Still, they love the interaction, too.
A little girl needs to be held and told by her daddy that she is beautiful and that he loves her, that her hair is pretty, her smile makes him happy, etc. Girls joyfully giggle inside at adoring names like “my little princess”. Never give a nickname that carries an insult with it. Never tell a child that she’s fat or chubby. You’ll plant the seed for anorexia or other eating disorders later in her life.
It’s good for mothers to arrange for play dates with other mothers of children the age of yours to give them opportunities to share and enjoy other children. Even babies enjoy this. Watch their eyes light up when they see another baby. And it’s good for the mommies, too, to be with other mothers and share ideas and frustrations.
14. Teach them to work
As soon as possible teach them simple daily tasks. Too many parents pamper their child by dong everything for them, and they end up being incapable of doing even small things, like tying their shoes, making their bed, setting the table, hanging a shirt on a hanger (not just on a hook or stuffed into a drawer)—you get the picture. Work with them and make it as fun as you can.
If something’s a little difficult, it’s tempting to just do it yourself to save time. If you do that on a regular basis you’ll be doing your child a great disservice.
Be patient while they learn. Teach them to work, and it will bless their lives ever after.
Elder James E . Faust said, “For me, work became a joy when I first worked alongside my father, grandfather, uncles, and brothers. I am sure that I was often more of an aggravation than a help, but the memories are sweet and the lessons learned are valuable. Children need to learn responsibility and independence” (Ensign, Nov. 1990, 34).
15. Don’t expect perfection.
Your child will not be a perfect child, nor will you be the perfect parent. You will make mistakes. Cut a little slack for yourself, learn from your mistakes and move forward. Don’t beat yourself up for being human. Forgive yourself when you’re less than you want to be as a parent, repent and work at doing better.
Seek the Lord’s help in overcoming your weaknesses. Moroni taught: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27). This is the pattern to overcoming weaknesses and becoming a better, stronger, more patient parent.
Have couple counsel times where you review the goals you have for your family. Talk about the struggles you are having and the eternal goals you are reaching for. Work on achieving these goals together, without blaming each other for mistakes. Just ask the question, “What do we need to do that we aren’t doing now?” Then listen to each other and make a plan.
16. Last of all, we are here for you
When you need a listening ear, call us. There will be times when you may need us to tend your baby. Sometimes we will say yes and sometimes we’ll have to say no. Some young parents rely too much on their parents to babysit. While we want to help, we don’t think it’s wise to be constantly called upon to babysit. Some grandparents end up being more like the baby’s parents than the grandparents. We don’t want that to happen because it will ruin the sweet relationship of being grandparents. Besides that, we aren’t as young as we used to be and we have responsibilities that may not always allow it. Still, we want to help when we can. We’ll cherish those times when we hold your baby in our arms.
We’ll be continually praying for the Lord to guide you and us. And we will do our best to be the loving grandparents you want your baby to have. Please be open with us, letting us know if we ever step over the line and do something you don’t want us to do, We’re here to help you achieve your goals for your child. We’re in this together, and we’re happy beyond words for this opportunity to have your precious child in our lives. Thank you for giving us such a treasured blessing. You are going to be wonderful parents.
Gary Lundberg is a marriage and family therapist, his wife, Joy, is an author and song writer; they present marriage retreats, firesides and seminars, and write books on creating happy family relationship. https://www.garyjoylundberg.com.