Challenges, joys of children

The rearing of children presents some of life's greatest joys - and greatest challenges. And, while rearing children of any age has its ups and downs, rearing teenagers, somehow, seems to provide the greatest opportunities.

Despite the challenges, our responsibility as parents is perhaps the most important of life. President Harold B. Lee said, "The greatest of the Lord's work you . . . will ever do . . . will be within the walls of your own home." (General Conference, April 7, 1973.) And President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "When all is said and done, the primary place in building a value system is in the homes of the people." (General Conference, Oct. 3, 1993.)While parental responsibilities are far too numerous to list, the overriding goal is to create an atmosphere in which children will grow up to love the Lord and respond to His Spirit.

The Church, fulfilling its charge to perfect the saints, has given parents several "tools" to help them fulfill their charge. Though perhaps not exhaustive, the following checklist of resources might be very helpful to parents.

"For The Strength Of Youth" pamphlet: Written at the request of, and endorsed by, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, this pamphlet offers inspired counsel on such things as dating, dress, friends, honesty, language, the media, health, music and dancing, morality, Sabbath behavior, and repentance. Every parent and every youth should review this often. (An abbreviated wallet- and purse-size copy that summarizes the standards is also available.)

Family home evening: The older children get, the more difficult - and the more important - it is to hold weekly family home evenings. Doing so, however, is more than worth the effort.

Daily personal and family prayer: Parents and youth should talk privately each day with their Father in Heaven. Ensuring that family prayer is part of a family's busy schedule is difficult - but absolutely essential. With come-and-go schedules, it might be necessary to have several family prayers each day.

Daily personal and family scripture study: President Ezra Taft Benson said: "May I admonish you to participate in a program of daily reading and pondering of the scriptures. . . . The Book of Mormon . . . will fortify you against the evils of our day."

Consistent one-on-one interaction: Youth and parents must communicate - formally and informally. Parents should strive to be available virtually anytime to be a listening ear. A regular father-child personal interview is also helpful.

Service: Few things allow a youth to more quickly look beyond himself and better understand how the Savior lived His life.

Fasting: Like service, fasting helps youth to overcome the natural man. Fasting is a privilege and provides a special opportunity to draw nearer to the Lord.

Sacrament, priesthood and other meetings: Sacrament meetings offer a place for youth to renew sacred covenants, worship the Lord and learn eternal truths. Other meetings provide fellowship with, and instruction by, inspired leaders whose goal is to reinforce parental guidance.

Seminary: In the day-in-day-out, hustle-and-hurry grind of academic life, the soul needs repose, rejuvenation and strength. A daily dose of the Lord's word, taught by friendly and inspired instructors, is essential.

Patriarchal blessing: Received at the appropriate time, a patriarchal blessing is a wonderful guide to one's life. Use the time preceding the blessing to teach proper spiritual preparation.

Home teaching, fast offering collection: For young men, these things, as well as other priesthood service, are of great worth now and constitute excellent preparation for future full-time missionary service.

Personal Progress and Scouting: The principles that one learns while working to earn his/her Young Women Medallion, Duty to God Award, and Eagle Scout award are some of the most important life has to offer. These inspired programs are of immeasurable worth in keeping youth moving along correct paths.

Leadership training: In only a few years, our youth will be leading the Church. Excellent leadership training is available through the Young Women and Aaronic Priesthood programs.

Temple: Parents can take their teens to the temple for baptisms for the dead. These visits provide excellent opportunities to teach youth to understand why Latter-day Saints build temples and what important work in carried on therein.

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