Of all the tasks on earth, nothing is so difficult yet rewarding as raising a child. Our joy surely is in our posterity. The trials seem almost overwhelming and the joys simply exhilarating. The question is, what can we do to help our children grow without so many crises? What can we do to help prevent things that need not occur? What can we do to help them become truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and have a desire to live it throughout their lives? What can we do to help them be prepared to share the gospel and keep the sacred covenants of the temple? What can we do to help them become mature young adults who are responsible and accountable? What can we do to help prepare them for marriage and their future family? As parents, raising children is the most important thing we will ever do. These are our eternal roles that will go on through all eternity as we become worthy of exaltation.
The Bible offers guidance to parents who want to raise good children.
Proverbs 22:6—Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Early teaching and training is imperative in raising a child. This proverb has with it a promise—a promise of lasting value. Make a plan to teach your children in their early years. They can then better understand the things of the Kingdom.
Isaiah 54:13—And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children
The knowledge of the Lord brings peace to one’s soul. Your children find peace in righteousness as they live the doctrines and principles you teach them.
Matthew 18:6—But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Never, no never hurt, belittle, abuse, and in any way offend a child. Children are pure and seek love and learning from their parents and other adults. If we fail in this stewardship, or if we lapse into abuse, the consequence is severe. On the other hand, the joy of success is boundless.
One leader gave this advice to mothers on raising children:
“Truly Love Your Children. . . , mothers, take the time to truly love your children. A mother’s unqualified love approaches Christlike love.
Here is a beautiful tribute by a son to his mother: “I don’t remember much about her views of voting nor her social prestige; and what her ideas on child training, diet, and eugenics were, I cannot recall. The main thing that sifts back to me now through the thick undergrowth of years is that she loved me. She liked to lie on the grass with me and tell stories, or to run and hide with us children. She was always hugging me. And I liked it. She had a sunny face. To me it was like God, and all the beatitudes saints tell of Him. And sing! Of all the sensations pleasurable to my life nothing can compare with the rapture of crawling up into her lap and going to sleep while she swung to and fro in her rocking chair and sang. Thinking of this, I wonder if the woman of today, with all her tremendous notions and plans, realizes what an almighty factor she is in shaping of her child for weal or woe. I wonder if she realizes how much sheer love and attention count for in a child’s life.”
Mothers, your teenage children also need that same kind of love and attention. It seems easier for many mothers and fathers to express and show their love to their children when they are young, but more difficult when they are older. Work at this prayerfully. There need be no generation gap. And the key is love. Our young people need love and attention, not indulgence. They need empathy and understanding, not indifference from mothers and fathers. They need the parents’ time. A mother’s kindly teachings and her love for and confidence in a teenage son or daughter can literally save them from a wicked world.
(Ezra Taft Benson, Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 35-36.)
(Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen, excerpted from a forthcoming book called, “What We Need to Know and Do.)