Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lesson: Family Responsibilities

Gospel Principles 37 Family Responsibilities
Taught by Sarah Kinghorn

Each person has an important place in his or her family. 
Through prophets the Lord has explained how fathers, mothers, and children should behave and feel toward one another. As husbands, wives, and children, we need to learn what the Lord expects us to do to fulfill our purpose as a family. If we all do our part, we will be united eternally.

In the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity, February 9, 2008
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, in Patterns and Replicas says,
Now, I hope this helps you understand why we talk about the pattern, the ideal, of marriage and family when we know full well that not everyone now lives in that ideal circumstance. It is precisely because many don’t have, or perhaps have never even seen, that ideal and because some cultural forces steadily move us away from that ideal, that we speak about what our Father in Heaven wishes for us in His eternal plan for His children.

Individual adaptations have to be made as marital status and family circumstances differ. But all of us can agree on the pattern as it comes from God, and we can strive for its realization the best way we can.
In the sacred responsibilities of parenthood, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). They should work together to provide for the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of the family.
Some responsibilities must be shared by the husband and the wife. Parents should teach their children the gospel.

How can we teach our children the gospel?

Watch with All Perseverance
Elder Bednar, April 2010 Watching with All Perseverance:
This early warning system applies to children of all ages and contains three basic components: (1) reading and talking about the Book of Mormon with your children, (2) bearing testimony of gospel truths spontaneously with your children, and (3) inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon. Parents who do these things faithfully will be blessed to recognize early signals of spiritual growth in or challenges with their children and be better prepared to receive inspiration to strengthen and help those children.  
Parents should be vigilant and spiritually attentive to spontaneously occurring opportunities to bear testimony to their children. Such occasions need not be programmed, scheduled, or scripted. In fact, the less regimented such testimony sharing is, the greater the likelihood for edification and lasting impact.

For example, a naturally occurring family conversation at dinner may be the perfect setting for a parent to recount and testify of specific blessings he or she received during the course of relatively routine activities that day. And a testimony need not always begin with the phrase “I bear you my testimony.” Our witness can be declared as simply as “I know I was blessed with inspiration at work today” or “The truth in this scripture always has been a powerful source of direction for me.” Similar opportunities to bear testimony also can arise while traveling together in a car or bus or in a multitude of other settings.
One of the best ways parents can teach their children is by example. 
Husbands and wives should show love and respect for each other and for their children by both actions and words. It is important to remember that each member of the family is a child of God. Parents should treat their children with love and respect, being firm but kind to them.

Parents should understand that sometimes children will make wrong choices even after they have been taught the truth. When this happens, parents should not give up. They should continue to teach their children, to express love for them, to be good examples to them, and to fast and pray for them.

President Boyd K. Packer, Our Moral Environment, May 1992:
The measure of our success as parents…will not rest solely on how our children turn out. That judgment would be just only if we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment. And that now is not possible. …When parents keep covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them.
How can husbands and wives support each other in their roles?

Single parenting
I contacted a few of my friends who are single parents or who have been in the past and the response to the question “where can single parents turn for support” was tremendous. I would like to share some of their thoughts with you.

Single parents can turn to the sisters in the ward, visiting teachers and home teachers for support.

“As far as support as a single parent, it was mainly through the sisters in the ward/branch. My family wasn’t supportive, and my friends were few and far between. My visiting teachers made sure I was well informed of activities and socials that brought me closer to the kind of environment that I needed to have…I tried to attend as much of that as I could so that I could talk with other mothers and see what child-rearing techniques were useful, what daycares were the best, etc.”

How can we support single parents?

1. Be understanding

“The hardest thing for me to do was to go to church on Sunday. I would walk in and feel like the whole congregation turned and scoffed. To me, that was the biggest slap in the face I could have received. I thought, if these people are living the gospel like they are supposed to, they would not make a big deal out of it. Instead of being self-righteous, maybe they could have been more open to being more understanding and supportive?”

2. Offer specific help

“When it comes to single parents, no matter why they are single – never married, divorced, widowed, a deployment, whatever – they want you to show them that you care.”

It is best to offer specific help or ask specifically what you can do. For one of my friends the young men came over and mowed her lawn the first summer after her divorce. She said it was a nice thought but something she had been doing and didn’t need help with. “When they are mowing my lawn every week I feel bad asking for other things that I really do need.”

3. Be inclusive

“I guess I just do feel like I could use more support from the ward, mostly in the socialization area. People actually could still have me and my kids over with their family for dinner or a get together, but it’s like they think we don’t want to be around a family with a dad since we don’t have one.”

“It is hard to explain to someone what it is like to sit at home with your kids during a holiday meal, just the three of you, then later show up at church and hear multiple people tell you how they would have invited you over but they thought someone else had invited you, and in the end no one did.”

4. Help make the priesthood available to the family

“…even if it means sacrificing your husband so he can run an errand or help with a single sister’s to-do list, or just encourage him to be a better home teacher and offer blessings to the family."

“President Hinckley’s words of encouragement and love fill my heart with hope and eyes with tears every time I read this to this day."
For you who are single parents, I say that many hands stand ready to help you. The Lord is not unmindful of you. Neither is His Church.

May He bless you, my beloved sisters who find yourselves in the situation of single parenthood. May you have health, strength, vitality to carry the heavy burden that is yours. May you have loving friends and associates to bear you up in your times of trial.  You know the power of prayer as perhaps few others do. Many of you spend much time on your knees speaking with your Father in Heaven, with tears running down your cheeks.  Please know that we also pray for you.

With all that you have to do, you are also asked to serve in the Church. Your bishop will not ask you to do anything that is beyond your capacity. And as you so serve, a new dimension will be added to your life. You will find new and stimulating associations. You will find friendship and sociality. You will grow in knowledge and understanding and wisdom, and in your capacity to do. You will become a better mother because of the service you give in the work of the Lord.
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.

A worthy father who is a member of the Church has the opportunity to hold the priesthood, making him the priesthood leader of his family.

The father shares the blessings of the priesthood with the members of his family. When a man holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, he can share these blessings by administering to the sick and giving special priesthood blessings. Under the direction of a presiding priesthood leader, he can bless babies, baptize, confirm, and perform priesthood ordinations. He should set a good example for his family by keeping the commandments. He should also make sure the family prays together twice daily and holds family home evening.

The father should spend time with each child individually. He should teach his children correct principles, talk with them about their problems and concerns, and counsel them lovingly.

M. Russell Ballard, Fathers and Sons: A Remarkable Relationship, Ensign, Nov 2009, 47–50:
Find your own best way to connect. Some fathers like to take their sons fishing or to a sporting event. Others like to go on a quiet drive or work side by side in the yard. Some find their sons enjoy conversations at night just before going to bed. Do whatever works best for you. Where or when this happens isn’t nearly as important as the fact that it happens.
What positive examples have you seen of fathers raising their children? 

President David O. McKay said that motherhood is the noblest calling. It is a sacred calling, a partnership with God in bringing His spirit children into the world. Bearing children is one of the greatest of all blessings. If there is no father in the home, the mother presides over the family.

President Boyd K. Packer praised women who were unable to have children of their own yet sought to care for others. He said:
When I speak of mothers, I speak not only of those women who have borne children, but also of those who have fostered children born to others, and of the many women who, without children of their own, have mothered the children of others.

My own mother could not have children of her own for many years. This caused a great deal of heartache. Despite the grief she felt, she was still able to mother the children of others through friends' children and callings in Primary and Young Women. I was adopted after 9 years of infertility and my sister was adopted almost 2 years later.
Latter-day prophets have taught, “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

A mother needs to spend time with her children and teach them the gospel. She should play and work with them so they can discover the world around them. She also needs to help her family know how to make the home a pleasant place to be. If she is warm and loving, she helps her children feel good about themselves.

What positive examples have you seen of mothers raising their children?

Children share with their parents the responsibilities of building a happy home. They should obey the commandments and cooperate with other family members. The Lord is not pleased when children quarrel (see Mosiah 4:14).

What did your parents do that led you to honor and respect them?

What are some traditions and practices that can make home a happy place?

A loving and happy family does not happen by accident. Each person in the family must do his or her part. The Lord has given responsibilities to both parents and children. The scriptures teach that we must be thoughtful, cheerful, and considerate of others. When we speak, pray, sing, or work together, we can enjoy the blessings of harmony in our families. (See Colossians 3.)

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