Our family memorizes a poem and a scripture each week. Every day after family scripture time we say the poem and the scripture three times each. After a week, we usually have them memorized. This brief moment of deliberate daily memorization has created an atmosphere of learning and deep discussion in our home. It’s one of the best practices we ever made into a family tradition.

Some time ago we found an old poem by Anon called “The Family” which we have really enjoyed memorizing and thinking about. The poem actually offers great insight and instruction for families on how to raise good, happy children.

The poem goes:

The Family

The family is like a book –
The children are the leaves,
The parents are the covers
That protecting beauty gives.

At first the pages of the book
Are blank and purely fair,
But Time soon writeth memories
And painteth pictures there.

Love is the little golden clasp
That bindeth up the trust;
Oh, break it not, lest all the leaves
Should scatter and be lost!


I am always surprised at how many simple truths we forget in the day-to-day crazy moments of life and child rearing.

Profound Lessons From This Simple Poem

The first stanza of this simple poem states that children and parents are different. They each have a role in the family culture. The children are to be protected and covered by the parents in order to stay clean and white.

The term “protecting beauty” was a term not heard before by this author and caused much reflection. Protecting was obvious for parents, but coupling the term with beauty was not clear at first. Of course all book covers are intended to be beautiful to the eye, but how did this metaphor relate to the parents. Do parents have to be beautiful?

After consideration our family decided that when parents protect their children from harmful influences there is a beauty in the home. It is a spiritual kind of beauty that creates a light atmosphere. Then, we assessed further, and found that parents are the number one source of light and beauty in the home. The parents not only teach the children to create beauty and order, but the parents themselves create beauty by teaching discipline and order to their children. They cultivate the beautiful light of happiness and purity by protecting their children’s consciences from immoral influences and by promoting order and proper self-government. 

The second stanza of the poem identifies the children as impressionable by using the terms “blank and purely fair”. This thought is followed up by an acknowledgment that throughout a child’s life each image they see or the words they hear mark their pages. These memories and pictures can be positive and healing, or can be broken and negative. They can cause insecurity and stress or peace and purpose for life.

It is vital that parents protect their children from images and conversations that would pollute the pages of their lives. This diligent and deliberate protection by the parents will insulate children properly to stay unstained and pure in a world where many polluting images and words can be found. 

The third stanza gives an image of a clasp further protecting the book from being opened by the wrong person, and keeping the contents secure, so that they won’t be “scattered” or “lost”. This clasp, described as golden, is a symbol of love. 

After the author observed the parents as the protectors of conscience and the children as pure in the hands of the parents, the author adds love as the strongest form of protection the family has. The love keeps the book closed to the influences of the world and is fastened tightly between the two parents. This symbol is deep, as it shows the parents as the source of love for the family. Children have love for their parents of course, but this example clearly suggests that when parents act with love for each other and hold that love firmly, the love will also protect the pages of the book from becoming lost. 

It is every parent’s fear that their child will fall away from their family and the safety the family provides. Indeed there is no greater heart ache than the loss of a child’s love. This is where the poem leaves us.

It tells families that if the family wants to stay united and not be scattered from each other they need to remember the roles of parents to cover and protect and the children to allow the protection of parents. It also reminds us that the family is an author or publisher of memories and pictures and that the family is like a trust that is bound with love.

The noun form of the word trust means, “confidence… veracity, justice, friendship; that which is the ground of confidence; care; management; charge received in confidence…” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) 

There are many functions of a family, but one of the most apparent is being a source of confidence in the life of a person. When family relationships are filled with love, respect, protection, teaching, and proper understanding of roles, then the result for the parents and child is confidence.

The definition of trust also illustrates that a trust includes justice, friendship, care and management which are also key components in creating a united family atmosphere.

The family is like a book! This is an image that will impact our family forever!


We build confidence and a loving family atmosphere by learning self-government. Here is a free self-government movie that will explain more.