How Can We Strengthen The Family Unit?
"All human beings-male & female, are created in the image of god. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of Heavenly Parents, and as such, each has a Divine nature and destiny.
One of the reasons we were sent here, is to build an eternal family.
In these last days-there are many forces against keeping the eternal family together.
The greatest help we will have in strengthening families is to know and follow the doctrines of Christ."
Sister Barbara Thompson; a councilor in the Relief Society General Presidency, also works as a social worker for families. In a general conference talk she quoted the following:
What Is Happening to Families?
"Satan is working overtime to attack the family. He tells us that marriage is not important, that children do not need a father and a mother, and that strong families are not important. He tells us that moral values are old-fashioned and silly. When challenges come, Satan tells us to abandon our beliefs and go with the ways of the world. He entices us with fame and fortune and tells us where to find the easy life. He attacks our faith in God and tries to discourage even the strongest and most loving families. Satan is delighted when we give in-even just a little."
Neal A. Maxwell, said in one of his talks on the family-
"As latter day Saints, we need to do better in our families-much better! There should be less wringing of hands and more loving arms around our families.
Of all the work of "perfecting the Saints" none compares to that done in healthy families. President David O. McKay taught, "The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place, nor fulfill its essential functions."
Instructively, after the resurrected Jesus taught the Nephites, He said, "Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said," and pray and prepare "for the morrow" (3 Ne. 17:3) Jesus did not say go to your civic clubs, town meetings, or even stake centers!" He said "Go ye unto your homes."
Attending to all family duties includes really teaching our children "to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God" (D&C 68:25). What a different view of parenting from that of the world.
When parents fail to transmit testimony and theology along with decency, those families are only one generation from serious spiritual decline, having lost their savor.
In addition to our having loving family "sociality, " which, one day, will be "coupled with eternal glory," we stress again and again the available remedies of family prayers, family home evenings, and family scripture study (D&C 130:2). Moreover, personal revelation regarding parenting can provide customized guidance and reassurance!
Applying basic remedies will take some time and will not fix everything immediately. What could be more basic, however, than "Love at Home,"
In the face of such challenges, we need more mothers who know the truth, whose children do not doubt their mothers know it. We need more kind and thoughtful fathers who also carry the authority of example.
In the healthy family, first and best, we can learn to listen, forgive, praise, and to rejoice in the achievements of others. There also we can learn to tame our egos, work, repent, and love. In the families with spiritual perspective, yesterday need not hold tomorrow hostage. If we sometimes act the fool, loving families know this is not our last act; the curtain is not rung down."
"What Are Some Simple Things That Will Help Families?"
Sister Thompson quoted:
"Remember, children are precious. They are spirit children of God."
"Dear sisters, love and nurture your children. Tell them you love them. Put your arms around them. Appropriate affection will accomplish miracles. Express kind words. Show them by example how to work. Teach them to pray. President James E. Faust said, "Praying together as a family is a bonding experience. Younger children can learn how to pray as they hear the prayers of their parents and older sibling. Individual prayer and family prayer are indispensable to personal and family happiness."
"Read to your children. Read from the scriptures. Help them learn that the scriptures will guide them throughout their entire lives. Have family home evening with them. Let them know that family time together is very important to you."
In our little family, since the time my oldest was a newborn (7 1/2 years), we have had a tradition every night, to hold a night devotional. Rarely do we miss a night. My husband reads a story, then we all kneel in a circle & hold hands to have a family prayer. Then we read from the scriptures together, and then we give hugs and tuck the little ones in to bed.
Sometimes this can be done in as quick as 15 minutes, but more often than not, it can take us over an hour, from just enjoying our time together and talking.
I didn't mention the following in my talk on Sunday, but wish I had-
[I remember Elder Oaks saying in one of his talks, that they didn't have to have "Family Home Evening", because everyday was "Family Day".
I feel like this is how we are at my home too. We hold our Family Home Evening's, but they aren't much different from what we do at night devotional. We add a lesson and some songs, and a planned activity. In our nightly devotionals, and all throughout the day, we keep a spirit of teaching the gospel too, and we play, and laugh, and we try to make sure that our kids understand that family is the most important thing we have.
When ever there is quarreling, (and yes we have our fair share of that too, we are not perfect by any means), we remind each other, that "we are loving and sharing", and "we are best friends, and always will be", to help regain harmony. We make sure to teach our kids an eternal perspective of things, and why family is important that way.]
While we are reading & praying, rarely is it completely reverent, and I feel like I am always trying to get the kids to be "respectful and reverent", and some of miss out on the doctrine part of it quite a bit- but what counts, is that we are doing it! I remember a general conference talk, that mentioned they did this too, and that it often felt like no one was listening to the scriptures, or the lessons, but when the children grew up, they talked about how they loved it! That sort of time spent together as a family, was important to them. They will now teach and apply that principle with their own little families.
Our kids will grow up knowing that family time, scripture study & praying are important values that our family keeps.
The traditions of doing wholesome things together, can train the children for when they get older and can make more choices for themselves.
They will have a foundation of values to fall back on, when difficult life circumstances come upon them.
"No better advice can be found than that given in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." Read it. Study it. Adopt it as your family standard. Make it the topic in several family home evening lessons so no one in the family has any misunderstanding about how your family operates."
John H. Groberg said:
Our Father in Heaven wants us to have strong, loving families. One of the great helps he has given us to achieve this is family prayer.
All of us, single or married, are eternally part of some family-someway, somehow-and much of our joy in life comes as we correctly recognize and properly develop those family relationships. We come to this earth charged with a mission: to learn to love and serve one another. To best help us accomplish this, God has placed us in families, for he knows that is where we can best learn to overcome selfishness and pride and to sacrifice for others and to make happiness and helpfulness and humility and love the very essence of our character.
We learn that friends and neighbors come and go but family is forever, and as we learn this, we find that we are eternally our brother's keeper and we begin to realize how much help we need. How we should thank God for the opportunity of family prayer!
Third Nephi: "Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and children may be blessed."
Can you detect that if we do not pray in our families always they may not be blessed-or at least not so fully? If we truly love our families we will constantly pray for them and with them. I know of no single activity that has more potential for unifying our families and bringing more love and divine direction into our homes than consistent, fervent family prayer."
This was from my husband's talk he gave, but I wanted to share it in my words, because when he brought it up, it struck a memory in me of the experience, and how precious it was.
[ When my 3 year old little girl was just a couple weeks old, she gave us all quite a scare.
I had just nursed her for the morning, it was about 6:30 a.m. and my husband would be getting up soon to go to work. As I was burping her, she spit up a whole bunch. When she tried to catch her breath from it, she started coughing and gasping. Her spit up was caught in her throat, and blocking her airway. I tried everything I could think of. She would cry out, and then go silent, and wouldn't take a breath in. Her skin, after a few minutes, was turning purple from not breathing very much at all, and she was getting tired. My husband, hearing the panic in my voice was awake by now, and trying to help. He gave her a priesthood blessing (I am soooo thankful to have the priesthood in our home), and we tried to figure out what we should do. I wanted to take her to the E.R., but I was hoping she would overcome it before we had to do that. I also, wondered if she would even make it to the E.R. In my mind I was preparing myself, if we lost her. Even though it was very scary, everything was so calm at the same time. Our older daughters heard their baby sister crying, and my worried voice, and woke up and came in to join us. They were very concerned about her as well. They were 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 years of age at the time. I remember my 4 year old asking about what was happening. I told them they should pray for their little sister. I remember my 4 year old saying "o.k.", and then kneeling on the bed with her 2 year old sister, next to us, to say a prayer. At this time, I thought, "is this it?", are we going to lose this sweet baby right now, while we are all together?" I was strangely comforted, in knowing that we were all together, in that time of worry and unknowing and helplessness. I had an eternal perspective of our family being together forever no matter what, so the thought of losing our little girl, was sad, and scary, but not hard. I am sure I also had the sense that it would all be o.k. too though, and that she would be fine. I know that angels are always helping out in these sort of circumstances, and comforting us too. It seemed like her gasping for air lasted for so long! It was probably all about 10 minutes of trying to help her, hold her and comfort her, and we then decided we had to get her to a hospital. When we took her outside though, my husband had a feeling to put her in the sun. Somehow, the sun settled what ever she was choking on, and she started breathing normally. Her cheeks returned to a normal color, and she was o.k.! I was still worried about her after that, so I did take her in to her pediatrician a little later, but she was fine. It's incredible to think back about how comforting it was to have all of my family in the room, during this time, and how that was all that mattered to me, (besides getting my daughter to breath normally again) my family and our opportunity to be together eternally. ]
"We all want more love and unity in our families. We all need more help with some who may be wayward or in special need. We all desire more assurance of divine guidance and direction.
I promise you that as you consistently and fervently pray as a family, and as each member takes his or her turn and sincerely prays for others, impressions will come as to what you individually should do to help others. Thus, you can, in a family prayer, receive personal and family revelation as to how to love and serve one another."
In our daily prayers, I see my 7 & 5 year old even doing this.
We have made it a habit, whenever we drive any where, to have a prayer first, for safe traveling. My kids usually take turns saying the prayer. In the morning when we would take my oldest to school, my 5 year old would often say "Please bless Adria, to have a happy day at school." It's a really wonderful feeling to hear your children pray for their siblings or parents, or friends.
" Now, Satan will do everything he can to keep us from family prayer, or at least to see that our prayers are only intermittent and mechanical and without sincerity. In Daniel's day, Satan influenced evil men to pass laws against praying. In our day, Satan's efforts seem a little more subtle (although he is trying a little of that law business, too).
But remember, the greatest schools on earth are individual homes. Yet how many homes voluntarily give up family prayer by allowing other less important things to take priority.
Satan doesn't care how he stops us-just so he stops us. Ask yourself: How many times did you have family prayer this last week? Who is winning in your home? What's the score? Don't let the evil one win. You can overcome him with God's help.
The greatest help we will have in strengthening families is to know and follow the doctrines of Christ and rely on Him to help us.
Christ has suffered everything we could possibly imagine. He knows how we feel. He understands. He will help.
Sister Thompson shared some of her favorite examples of how Christ has helped and will help.
- "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
- "Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day."
- "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers."
- As often as thou hast inquired thou has received instruction of my Spirit."
- "Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love."
Remember the great love of our savior. He said in Isaiah 41:10, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee." Then in verse 13 He says again, "I will help thee." And once more in verse 14 He says, "I will help thee."
Elder Robert D. Hales said, "Strengthening families is our sacred duty as parents, children, extended family members, leaders, teachers, and individual members of the Church."
M. Russell Ballard also says-
"I believe the mission statement for mortality might be "to build an eternal family." Here on this earth we strive to become part of extended families with the ability to create and form our own part of those families. That is one of the reasons our Heavenly Father sent us here. Not everyone will find a companion and have a family in mortality, but everyone, regardless of individual circumstances, is a precious member of God's family.
As members of God's family, we have a responsibility to strengthen our neighbors, family & friends. To be examples, and to show service & unconditional love.
In "The Family: A Proclamation to the world," the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declare that "successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, work, and wholesome recreational activities"
The principles that we choose to incorporate into our lives will determine the spirit that we contribute to our relationships with others. It is especially important for our children to feel the influence of these principles.
Moroni 7:28 it says-
Claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing."
That faith comes from hearing the word of God, the word of God is heard more powerfully in the home, with family home evening lessons & scripture study.
There is no better place to build faith than in the home, where the lessons and practical applications are realized and lived day to day.
"The person who obtains meekness and lowliness of heart and who enjoys the company of the Holy Ghost will have no desire to offend or hurt others, nor will he feel affected by any offenses received from others. He will treat his spouse and children with love and respect and will have good relationships with everyone he associates with."
I encourage us all to evaluate how we are doing in our homes. Do we have unity in our faith. Are we taking the time to build our family relationships, and centering them around our eternal family?
Are we having family councils, and one on one interviews with our loved ones, to see where their faith can be increased? Or even just to inquire about what is important to them at this time in their lives?
Are we allowing our busy schedules to run the home, or the addicting distractions of the world? Or are we allowing the precious moments we have together, to bring extra joy & closer relationships between us.
Do we judge each other in our home, or allow selfish feelings to dwell, or are we understanding & supportive of each other, and continually forgiving?
As parents are we being living examples to our children & spouses, of the kind of people we hope for them to be?
I am learning more and more, that if I want my family to learn to love something & embrace it & set it as their own standard,.... that I must first love it, embrace it, and set it as my standard & be an example of it, in a loving, and patient, and non forcing way.
Do we have our own personal relationship with our savior and Father in Heaven, and what kind of relationship is it? Do we trust them, and go about our work diligently & joyfully? Or do we complain and murmur through it?
Do we keep our marriages sacred, and strive to show our children the importance of eternal marriage, so we can all be together in the life hereafter?
Do we show them the joy a marriage can have, by being patient and understanding to our spouses.
How do we handle situations that need to be worked out, between a couple? Our children watch, so we should be especially careful of this!
Do we show them the close relationship that is possible between a Mother and Father?
Although Circumstances are different for everyone, we can still make our goals, and standards clear by the way we live our daily lives, especially in the Home.
Let us make our Homes, a place where our families love to be, a place where the Savior can dwell.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
What are some ideas, that you use in your home to help strengthen your family? Please share in the comments below! Thanks!
What are some ideas, that you use in your home to help strengthen your family? Please share in the comments below! Thanks!
Don't forget to vote on my poll, on the right side of this page, for your favorite virtue from Proverbs 31!