How to help your children stay active in the Church when you have a less-active or non-member spouse

Strengthen your own testimony. Make time to read, study and ponder the scriptures by yourself and with family members who will participate. This brings the Spirit and peace into your home. Thus, your children can feel the Spirit.

Look for and find the good in your spouse. Keep that relationship strong. This brings peace, rather than contention, into the home. And peace is of Christ; contention is of Satan. (See 3 Ne. 11:29.)- Remember, ultimately your children and your spouse have moral agency. The only person you have control to change is yourself.

Make the choice to follow Christ and be an example. How can your children desire to follow Christ if you are not living a Christlike life? Bring Christ into your home. Do not let Church become a contention in the home.

Pray for inspiration to help your family. Ask the Lord to give them the opportunities they need to help them choose to come unto Christ.

These suggestions are meant to help someone with a less-active or non-member spouse. However, it's important to realize that these principles apply regardless of your spouse's membership or activity. - Name withheld, Idaho

Sense of security

My first husband was not a member of the Church, and therefore I was responsible for the spiritual well-being of my children. To prepare for this Forum topic, I talked with my daughter to get her perspectives on the years she was growing up. She told me that wherever we were, we had a sense of security because we sought out the Church. She said that my being active and carrying out my callings and not complaining was a good example.

In addition, she said that holding onto the Church was the hope of blessings to come, that regardless of some instability in the home, the gospel gave us a hope of a better future, and so we held on to each other and to the Church. - Anna Brush, Marietta, Ga.

Seek support

I have six children, and my husband is not only less-active, but he's an alcoholic. This has been trying for our family, but I've tried to do the following to strengthen us in the Church:

Attend Church meetings. I have no other activities on Sunday. I make sure that Church activities are a priority in my life, and this is an example to my children.

Keep my children in organized activities. I make sure they understand that Church activities are a good decision and that they can handle peer pressure.

Realize that my husband and my children have moral agency. I can't force them to be active. I have to allow them to make decisions.

Pray and study the scriptures. This helps strengthen me.

Seek support of others in the ward, especially priesthood holders. - Name withheld, Florida

Lots of love

Use lots of prayer and lots of love. Prayer and parenting go hand in hand.

Be involved with your children; support them in their activities. Talk to them and truly listen.

Be a good example. If your children see that you're actively attending your meetings and serving the Lord, they'll be more apt to remain active and to learn to serve.

Realize family scripture study, family prayer and family home evening are vital.

To help myself be more effective in keeping my children active, I went to the temple and took out my endowments. I strive to pray daily, read scriptures and write in my journal. - Jan Johnson, Page, Ariz.

By example

When I chose to marry a man who could not take me to the temple, I know it deeply hurt my parents. We were taught moral agency, and they stood back and let me make this decision.

I have now been married for 13 1/2 years and now have a family of my own. I was called to be Primary president when my first boy was six months old. We attended sacrament meeting and Primary every week by ourselves. I was often asked why I didn't leave my baby home with his dad so I could do my Primary job easier. I would tell them this was where we needed to be. When I had my second boy, we were still there every week. Yes, there were times when it would have been easier to leave them home, but our Heavenly Father has told us to teach the children and what better way than by example. - Chris Stoker, Kearns, Utah

Be consistent

For 18 years while my children were growing up, my husband was less-active. Looking back, the children and I have tried to identify what helped us remain active. Although there were hard times, the following greatly helped:

We were consistent. We went to Church every Sunday - no matter what. We also attended Church activities on a regular basis.

We tried to never be critical of any Church members or Church leaders. We tried to set a good example in the home.

We talked about the Church a lot. Also, I encouraged the children to read their scriptures and say their prayers.

I tried to teach my children patience and tolerance of others' points of view. We live in an area where Mormons are a small minority. Having patience with others strengthened their own testimonies. - Jeanette Ban, Lumber City, Ga.

Love bonds family

The really important thing is to be prayerful and to have the Spirit of the Lord in your home. Children love that feeling, and they need it. They will try to stay close to it. This may help them in later life as they make important decisions.

In addition, your children need to know you really love them, and that you will always love them regardless of what happens in their lives. This love bonds the family together. - Mona Macriss, St. Joseph, Mich.

Exposed to Church

My wife, for personal reasons, has not been attending Church. Thus, my children and I have been going to Church on our own.

It's important, whether it's the man or woman who is active, to set an example by taking children to Church. This is important because you can't leave that decision up to the children. They need to become familiar with Sunday School lessons and other aspects of the Church. This happens when they're taken to Church. If you leave such spiritual decisions up to the children, you may find that they'll choose to stay home.

Later in life, children will appreciate your example. - Name withheld, Utah

How to checklist:

1 Strengthen your own testimony; invite Spirit into home.

2 Be example; attend Church meetings, fulfill callings.

3 Realize loved ones have moral agency; be patient.

4 Seek support of others, especially priesthood holders.


May 28 "How to avoid contention in daily life."

June 4 "How to make family scripture study fun, interesting."

June 11 "How to help children learn to properly bear testimonies."

June 18 "How to cope when a loved one is suffering from dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease."

June 25 "How to gain an eternal perspective."

July 2 "How to overcome personal weakness and achieve greatness."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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