Parents are urged: Never abandon hope for a wayward child

Eli, a high priest and judge, was a righteous man who served in the temple at Shiloh. It was to Eli that Hannah delivered her son, Samuel, into the service of the Lord. (1 Sam. 3:1-2.)

In the entry under "Eli," the dictionary in the LDS edition of the King James Bible states: "The only blot on his character was his toleration of the wickedness of his own sons."Eli's sons practiced priestcrafts and seduced women at the door of the tabernacle. (1 Sam. 2:12-17, 22.) Although Eli rebuked his sons, they continued in their wickedness.

Through the ages, many righteous parents have seen their children turn to unrighteousness. In his October 1983 general conference address, Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve noted that parents who have had children who stray are not alone:

"Our first parents knew the pain and suffering of seeing some of their children reject the teachings of eternal life. (See Moses 5:27.) Centuries later, Jacob came to know of the jealousy and ill feelings of his older sons toward his beloved Joseph. (See Gen. 37:1-8.) The great prophet Alma, who had a son named Alma, prayed at length to the Lord regarding the rebellious attitude of his son and no doubt was overwhelmed with concern and worry about the dissension and the wickedness his son was causing among those who were within the Church. (See Mosiah 27:14.) Our Father in Heaven has also lost many of His spirit children to the world; He knows the feelings of your heart."

Elder Hunter reminded parents of the principle of repentance and urged them to never give up on a wayward child. He pointed out that children are influenced by more than just their parents, and sometimes they will make unwise choices.

"We should never let Satan fool us into thinking that all is lost. Let us take pride in the good and right things we have done; reject and cast out of our lives those things that are wrong; look to the Lord for forgiveness, strength, and comfort; and then move onward.

"A successful parent is one who has loved, one who has sacrificed, and one who has cared for, taught, and ministered to the needs of a child. If you have done all of these and your child is still wayward or troublesome or worldly, it could be well that you are, nevertheless, a successful parent. Perhaps there are children who have come into the world that would challenge any set of parents. Likewise, perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any father or mother.

"My concern today is that there are parents who may be pronouncing harsh judgments upon themselves and may be allowing these feelings to destroy their lives, when in fact they have done their best and should continue in faith."

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