'Church cannot be substitute for parental responsibility'

Start early

Enthrone love, unity- Establish house of God

"We cannot overemphasize the importance of parenthood and the family," said Elder Ben B. Banks of the Seventy on Saturday afternoon.

"Some Latter-day Saint families are what we refer to as the `traditional family,' " consisting of parents and children all together in a permanent relationship, with both mother and father sharing in the care of the children," Elder Banks explained. "Others have witnessed the loss of one of the parents and become one of the many single-parent families. Even in single-parent families, the family continues on, for families are forever.

"Perhaps few human challenge are greater than that of being good parents. Even with the best intentions, conscientious, good parents sometimes experience feelings of despair, failure and hurt when children do not make right choices and turn out the way we would like. Even in those circumstances it is so important for parents to love, pray for and never give up hope for a son or daughter who may have strayed or brought disappointment."

Elder Banks explained that parents should be the master teachers of their children. "The Church will assist parents in the teaching and training, but only assist. The Church cannot be a substitute for parental responsibility."

He then offered the following suggestions to strengthen families:

Start early. "This may not be encouraging advice to those with problem teenagers, but to those just starting on the journey of parenthood, it may serve as a reminder that love and training cannot be postponed."

Develop effective communication. "Parents should spend a great deal of time listening, not just telling. When children feel they can talk freely about their feelings, problems and successes, wonderful relationships develop between parents and children."

Enthrone love and unity. "It is important to make your children aware of your love and feelings."

Do things together. "Vacations and recreational activities, also family work projects, give parents a good opportunity to teach the development of good work ethics."

Provide opportunities to learn how to be independent and responsible. "Teach children how to make their own decisions, even if it involves their failing once in a while."

Discipline with love. " Discipline' andpunishment' are not synonymous. Discipline implies an action directed toward a goal of helping the recipient to improve himself."

Offer service. "There are few rewards in life that bring greater feelings of satisfaction, joy and peace when one gives meaningful service to a fellow being standing in need."

Establish a house of God. "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." (D&C 88:119.)

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