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Relief Society Lesson Prep: #16 - Bringing Up Children in Light and Truth

Finding ways to teach our children to be good and to love all that is good is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s world. Satan knows that if the family is spiritually solid then the family and the Church will flourish. This is why he likes to attack anything that would help us come together as family members and individuals. As long as he can keep us apart from each other, he wins. President Smith says,
Only the gospel of Jesus Christ applied in family relationships will thwart this devilish destructiveness."
The only “real protection or adequate defense” we have to protect society from the destruction that is building lies in the home and its influences. We have an opportunity, while the children are still young, to teach them sound principles of Christ-like behavior. In the home is where we give them the foundation of what is right and what is wrong, of thinking, “What would Jesus do?” It is in the home where we can play out the scenarios of helping, forgiving, work ethics, and learning to be charitable with our things and our time.

Outside Sources

How many times have you had the discussion with your children, or did you hear from your own parents, that if you are not willing to make a decision there are plenty of others out there who will gladly tell you what to do? Sometimes, even as parents, we get caught in this trap. We are so glad to send our children off to school. How often do we even question what they are being taught by the attitudes of the teachers and the curriculum? Were you surprised the last time you wanted to exempt your child from something that was being taught and they told you it was basically none of your business, and that you didn’t have the right to exempt them from what was being taught? I’ll tell you, I was plenty shocked the first time someone told me I had no right to control what was being taught to my child. We send our children to daycare, to the movies, to places of entertainment, to other people’s houses. How often have we really checked to see what our children were being exposed to in those places? Again with the adage that if we are not willing to take responsibility for what our children are being taught, someone else will. Here is a quote from the lesson that hit a little too close to my home.
The parents are responsible for the proper teaching of their children, [and] the Lord will condemn the parents if their children grow up outside of the influence of the principles of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This same principle applies to those of us who, for whatever reason, have relinquished our responsibilities to teach our own children by letting the Church do all the teaching. I hope you can understand me when I claim that no matter what your current understanding of the gospel, to let someone else take over the teaching of your children is still a second rate education for the child. These are God’s children, on loan to us as their parents. He fully expects and demands that we teach them His gospel while they are in our homes. He will hold us accountable for our efforts.
Parents will be responsible for the actions of their children, if they have failed to teach their children by example and by precept."
If we have done all in our power to teach our children to live righteously, and they still choose poorly then the Lord will not hold us accountable for their sins. But note that the Lord will only hold us free of accountability if we have done all in our power to teach them correct principles. That does not mean send them to Church and hope someone else teaches what needs to be taught. That means that we personally take responsibility for the instruction of our children. This requires time and commitment on our part, and it will take up the better part of 20 years for each and every child. This is a serious commitment. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the Church is not doing an admirable job in teaching our youth. What I am saying is that it is not the Church’s responsibility to raise my child, it is our responsibility as a couple to raise our children and to teach them what the Lord would have them know. The Church is an external resource to assist us, as a family, in the teaching of our children. At no time should we transfer the responsibility for their education in spiritual matters to anyone else, including the Lord’s Church. Here is a quote that will be difficult for some. There are those who are philosophically opposed to sheltering our children from the evils of the world. This is what President Smith has to say on the matter.
Individual, personal testimony is and always will be the strength of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A testimony is best nurtured in the family setting. ... The gaining and the keeping of testimonies should be a family project. Do not neglect anything that will help to strengthen the testimony of any member of your family. We must shelter [children] from the sins and evils of the world as much as we can so they will not be led away from paths of truth and righteousness."
Some parents say, “I will not teach my children about any god or any set of moral standards so that when they grow up they can choose for themselves which god they want to worship and which set of morals they want to follow.” This is, in effect what we are saying if we do not actively teach our children the difference between right and wrong, and about the Holy Ghost, and how to follow Christ when they are young. If we want them to do these things when they are older we have to start when they are very young and help them to see that this is an essential part of their lives.

Conclusion

No family has it easy when it comes to teaching children how to be God-fearing people. It takes great amounts of time, work, commitment, love, and patience. But what are the alternatives? To refer back to the quote from the first part of this article, “If we are not willing to teach our children what to believe and how to behave, there are plenty of others who would love the privilege of shaping their future using our children to do it. Our children are our future. This is a great blessing from the Lord that He allows us to shape a future generation of Saints. How strong they are in the gospel as adults, will in large measure be a result of the efforts we put into teaching them day in and day out in our homes.
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