Church News Viewpoint: Teaching in the home

Plastic little children

made of Heaven’s clay

Oh Father, give us vision

To mold them right this day.

Potential gods in miniature,

We must have help from Thee,

For how they’re fashioned here today,

will endure through all eternity.

President Boyd K. Packer, the late president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared this poem by an unknown author in his book Teach Ye Diligently.

The lesson of the poem is profound. Parents and other adults can have a lasting influence on children; a teacher’s actions may mold a child into something that can “endure through all eternity.”

“Children learn through gentle direction and persuasive teaching,” said President Thomas S. Monson during his October 1997 general conference address. “They search for models to imitate, knowledge to acquire, things to do, and teachers to please.”

President Monson said parents and grandparents fill the role of teacher. He offered four suggestions to help them be more effective: teach prayer, inspire faith, live truth and honor God.

Church leaders have long taught that it is a responsibility of parents to teach their children in the home.

“We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church,” stated a Feb. 11, 1999, First Presidency letter – which was read in sacrament meetings across the globe and delivered to members through their home teachers. “The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility.

“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”

The sacred responsibility to teach children in the home is also emphasized in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting on Sept. 23, 1995.

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”

Teaching children in the home has never been more important than it is today, the day when the Lord is hastening His work.

Today, the youth of the Church are serving missions at a younger age than in the past, have been asked to participate at an increased level in their Sunday instruction and are playing an important role in family history work. Parents must help them prepare for and accept their increased responsibilities.

“The new MTC is the home. The new family history center is the home,” Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy said during a December 2012 Church News interview.

In July 19 issue of the Church News, Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, wrote that everyone in the Church can become a “teacher come from God” (John 3:2). This can be accomplished in the home as parents teach by the Spirit, align their life with their words and study the scriptures, he said.

Parents will be most effective if they help their children learn from the ultimate teacher — the Holy Ghost.

During the 2015 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, held June 24 through June 28 at the Church’s Provo Missionary Training Center, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles led large group interactive sessions. The Brethren invited participation by asking questions, encouraged responses and turned to examples in the scriptures.

The pattern, which the youth are learning through “Come Follow Me,” can be modeled in the home. As parents ask questions and allow their children to participate in gospel discussions in the home, children will learn to recognize and act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost and can rely on the Holy Ghost to help them find answers to their gospel questions.

The Lord gives us the pattern in Doctrine and Covenants 88:122: “Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.”

It is one way to mold the “plastic children made of Heaven’s clay” into something that will “endure through all eternity.”

During his October 1998 general conference address President Packer said that parenthood stands among the most important activities to which Latter-day Saints may devote themselves.

But perhaps the best lessons we teach our children in the home are lessons taught through example.

“As the world grows ever more threatening, the powers of heaven draw ever closer to families and parents,” said President Packer. “I have studied much in the scriptures and have taught from them. I have read much from what the prophets and apostles have spoken. They have had a profound influence upon me as a man and as a father.

“But most of what I know about how our Father in Heaven really feels about us, His children, I have learned from the way I feel about my wife and my children and their children. This I have learned at home. I have learned it from my parents and from my wife’s parents, from my beloved wife and from my children, and can therefore testify of a loving Heavenly Father and of a redeeming Lord.”

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