A Spanish proverb states that the husband and the wife do the last bit of “bringing up.” Each of us depends on those around us to teach us how to be better people, whether by trying our willingness to act as Jesus Christ would, or by being an example to us. In the Mormon Church, marrying and having children are important parts of life, especially since those family relationships are the ones that will help us learn the most. Elder Groberg said it eloquently:
We come to this earth charged with a mission: to learn to love and serve one another. To best help us accomplish this, God has placed us in families, for he knows that is where we can best learn to overcome selfishness and pride and to sacrifice for others and to make happiness and helpfulness and humility and love the very essence of our character. (John H. Groberg, “The Power of Family Prayer,” Ensign, May 1982, 50)
Sometimes we learn humility and gratitude when spouses or children give selflessly, but it seems that we are more often required to meet the needs of others. Mormons are encouraged to accept family responsibilities. While there are trials to family life, there is also great and deep joy. Our Heavenly Father knows each of us, and he gave us families not only because he knew that they would be the best for helping us grow up, but also because he knew that we could help these family members in ways nobody else can.
Like a math textbook, families are full of problems-and none of them are easy. Some problems seem tedious, some require knowledge of difficult concepts, and others seem out of our hands. But family problems, like math problems, are designed to help us learn. By reading the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, we learn ways to be more like Christ; we then turn to the “homework pages”: our families. The knowledge of how to act is crucial, but not as crucial as the actions themselves in our learning and growth.