Most families have had real struggles with the self-isolation we’ve been urged to maintain during this pandemic. Instagram and Facebook are filled with jokes about going nuts from being around each other, and many feel their patience has been tried to the limit. Kids are quarreling, tempers are flaring, doors are slamming.
Gee, if only the Church leaders could have given us some tips to help us through this difficult time. Oh, wait. They did. What a wonderful, singular blessing we have in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, that our prophets and apostles do indeed foresee coming challenges and give us the tools we need to make wise choices in upcoming times.
Let’s look at some of the parenting advice we were given in the 2019 April Conference. Let’s say you wish there could be one line, one mantra, that could help your children be more obedient.
President Henry B. Eyring said, “Children should invite Christ into their hearts. That is the key to family success.” Bingo. He went on to say, “Don’t just correct symptoms.” That line is filled with wisdom. When all we do is issue directives, and then punish kids who miss the mark, we are missing the mark. How much easier would it be, and how much more peace would our homes have, if we instilled a love of Christ in our children first? Then this would guide and direct their behavior far better than fear of parental punishment.
He also urged us to pray for one another in our families. When children pray for their siblings, hearts soften on both sides.
In the Priesthood session, President Russel M. Nelson spoke about daily repentance. What a great lesson for us all—we make mistakes, but God is merciful and will help us repent and begin anew to “be a little better every day.” This isn’t just for kids to learn, but for parents who struggle not to yell, and to stay in control of their emotions.
Let’s say you wish your kids, now cooped up inside, spent less time watching TV or playing videogames. Elder Quentin L. Cook told us to limit media in the home, “make it a servant, not a distraction or worse, a master.” What a great concept to discuss with the family. Even youngsters can understand the servant/master example.
What if you wish there were some way to get your kids to remember that you’re an eternal family? This would increase joy, service, and courtesy. But how can we give them a daily reminder? President Nelson spoke of exaltation being a family matter. He pointed out that the Celestial Kingdom is the only place where we can be with our families. And here’s the line that could become a magnet on your fridge. He asked, “Why settle for second best?”
Elder David A. Bednar spoke about the very thing we’re doing: Teaching the gospel in our homes. At that time there was no pandemic and church meetings were rolling along. But his talk gave us a perfect template for today. Among other things, he reminded us to take personal responsibility for teaching truths in our homes. “Learning, living, becoming—should be taught at home.” He even said that the ultimate MTC is in our homes, the same as Sunday School classes, Family History, and Temple Prep. And this was more than a year ago!
Elder Ronald A. Rasband said, “Christ-centered homes are fortresses against the evils of the world.” Then President Nelson added that, despite contention in the world, “Our homes can be where study, prayer, and faith can merge with love.”
Truly, our leaders were inspired to direct us, and even give us time to implement their concepts so we’d be ready for this unusual circumstance. By studying General Conference talks—all available online—we’ll find the answers we seek. Nuggets of wisdom will seem to leap off the page, addressing the very concerns of our hearts.
Go back over the Conference talks of October 2019 and April 2020 as well. Search for specific messages that respond to your own family’s situation. You’ll be surprised at how specific the guidance can be, the peace and love it can restore to your home, and the revelation you can receive from the Holy Ghost telling you these things are true.
So often we hear people grumble that parenting doesn’t come with a manual. But it does. Several manuals. The Book of Mormon begins with the story of a dysfunctional family. Conference talks and Church magazine articles often focus upon parenting. There’s actually a wealth of information about this monumental task. Heavenly Father would never have let us embark upon such an important job without any direction. We just have to know where to find it. Let’s take advantage of the great blessing we have, of hearing the words of living Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.