"The Church is to assist families. Activities in our various branches, wards and stakes are important but they must not replace or consume all the time for parents to teach their children within the walls of their own homes," emphasized Elder M. Russell Ballard.
Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled leaders to "exercise wise judgement" in balancing family and Church activities.
Families should study and follow principles in the Proclamation on the Family, said Elder Ballard. And in Church councils, organization leaders can discuss how they can help families for whom they have responsibility, including helping them implement President Gordon B. Hinckley's instruction on the importance of family home evening.
"We urge, in the strongest terms possible, that fathers and mothers regard most seriously this opportunity and challenge to make of Monday evening a time sacred to the family," said President Hinckley. (October general conference, 2002.)
Church leaders have responsibility to lead their own families and others "through the wilderness of sin in today's world." (See Alma 37:40-41.)
"All of us can lead our family through this mortal journey by following the path marked by the scriptures and the words from our living prophets. We have the duty to show our people, by example and by teaching, how to stay on the gospel path."
He listed 10 simple ways families can return safely to Heavenly Father, principles carrying blessings taught repeatedly by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve:
- Share unselfish love between husband and wife, parents and children.
- Humbly offer frequent and regular daily and family and individual prayers.
- Show simple kindnesses and courtesies to one another.
- Regularly read and ponder the scriptures individually and as a family.
- Use wholesome fun, family activities to help parents and children . . . make lasting memories.
- Keep the Sabbath Day holy.
- Hold family home evening each week.
- Pay an honest tithing, attend tithing settlement.
- Strive for family self-reliance spiritually, physically and temporally.
- Attend the temple as often as you can.
"Bishops, we ask you particularly to teach fathers that each of them has the opportunity and responsibility to lead and bless his family in righteousness," said Elder Ballard. "Show them how to prepare their sons to be stalwart, worthy priesthood holders. If their sons understand the basic doctrines required to become a faithful father, they will surely be ready to serve worthily as full-time missionaries.
Church leaders are resources to the family, but are not a substitute for the inspired teaching, guidance and direction of worthy parents, said Elder Ballard.
Mothers should be examples of modesty and virtue for their daughters to follow, he said. "They have the best opportunity to teach and prepare children in a climate of love and with a simple faith in their Father in Heaven."
Their children will be rearing their precious grandchildren, and "let us not forget the important role grandparents can play in strengthening their families."
Elder Ballard concluded by testifying that Heavenly Father's plan of happiness is centered on the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrines of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that allow families to enjoy the full blessings of the temple and "be able to return to Heavenly Father's kingdom and be together as families."