Tag Archives: family

Notes from Elder Hales’s talk from Oct. 2016 — teaching, watching, serving

From his talk, “Come, Follow Me” by Practicing Christian Love and Service

We should not worry that we are not professionally trained gospel teachers. No training class or manual is as helpful as personally studying our scriptures, praying, pondering, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will lead you along. I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children. Remember, God’s power to influence us righteously is His love. “We love him, because he first loved us.”

The scriptures tell us that when some of Heavenly Father’s spirit children chose not to follow His plan, the heavens wept. Some parents who have loved and taught their children also weep when their grown children choose not to follow the Lord’s plan. What can parents do? We cannot pray away another’s agency. Remember the father of the prodigal son, who patiently waited for his son to “[come] to himself,” all the while watching for him. And “when he was yet a great way off,” he ran to him. We can pray for guidance about when to speak, what to say, and yes, on some occasions, when to be still. Remember, our children and family members already chose to follow the Savior in their premortal realm. Sometimes it is only by their own life’s experiences that those sacred feelings are awakened again. Ultimately, the choice to love and follow the Lord has to be their own.

There is another special way disciples show their love for the Savior. Today I pay tribute to all who serve the Lord as caregivers. How the Lord loves you! In your quiet, unheralded service, you are following Him who promised, “Thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.”

Also, this quote from Eliza:

Eliza R. Snow:

“Don’t you see that our sphere is increasing? Our sphere of action will continually widen, and no woman in Zion need[s] to mourn because her sphere is too narrow.

“God bless you, my sisters, and encourage you, that you may be filled with light, and realize that you have no interests but in the welfare of Zion. Let your first business be to perform your duties at home. But, inasmuch as you are wise stewards, you will find time for social duties, because these are incumbent upon us as daughters and mothers in Zion. By seeking to perform every duty you will find that your capacity will increase, and you will be astonished at what you can accomplish.”

More passages on teaching in family

My friend Kylie and I have been looking at D&C 68:25 and its warning to parents about not teaching children. We are playing with how the word “not” is being used. Is it a warning to those not teaching to believe, or to those teaching to not believe?

If it is the latter, then it would line up with 4th Nephi’s account of those who purposefully taught their families to not believe: 38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle. 39 And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning.

This is similar to 2 Nephi 4:5-6: But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it. Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.

And reminds us of Jacob 3:9-10: Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.

These passages seem to suggest that what D&C 68:25 might be warning against are just those parents who are purposefully raising up kids who won’t believe. This may give some relief to parents who are trying to teach but are always unsure that they are doing a good enough job. But, it also seems fair to say that there are parents who aren’t trying to teach either, and it would be reasonable to suggest that D&C 68:25 should be read as warning them (so, the first of the two readings of “not.”)

We noticed that Jacob 2 has this passage: 2:35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.

And also Jacob 3:10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.

While these parents were not purposefully teaching their children to not believe, the fathers were acting in such a way that they lost of the confidence of their children, which may perhaps amount to any chance to teach them to believe. In addition, Jacob himself says that because of their actions, they might bring their children unto destruction, and their sins would be on their heads.

Another, on-the-ground way this could be interpreted (though not quite what I think Jacob is describing) is that if a parent is saying one thing but doing another (teaching honesty but being dishonest) then what the child is taught is that no one really believes that honesty is important.

I have one more scripture that may point in this direction. D&C 68:31 says: Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness.

There are two ways to read this, I think. First, that because some adults are idlers, their children are ending up full of greediness. Second, that because some adults are idlers, their children are growing up in wickedness and the adults are not earnestly seeking the riches of eternity and the adults’ eyes are full of greediness. In this case, the children’s behavior is undecided. They are simply “growing up” in wickedness, which isn’t a good start to life.

In either reading, there is a connection between the idleness of parents and the wickedness of the children.


I’ve been thinking about this passage as well, which seems odd now in comparison with the ones above. See that there was a question about the sins of parents being on the heads of children:

Moses 6:53-54: And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden. Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.

I hadn’t thought about that question for a while so it seemed jarring after all this talk of sins of children being on heads of parents (or sins of a people being on heads of priests). But, also, now see how this conversation about the sins of the parents not being on the heads of children flows into a conversation about a parent being condemned for not teaching his children:

D&C 93:38-43: Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. 39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth. 41 But verily I say unto you, my servant Frederick G. Williams, you have continued under this condemnation; 42 You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction. 43 And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house.

Interesting, right?

Family is the site of expansion of self, an experience of solidarity between individuals

It’s very philosophical, but I really really love this idea:

“The disciplinary instance of education then becomes the decision of emancipation that renders the father or mother capable of taking the place of ‘ignorant schoolmaster’ for their child, a place that embodies the unconditional requirement of the will: the son will verify the equality of intelligence in his self-apprenticeship to the extent that the father or mother verify the thoroughness of his effort to learn. The family is thus the site of an awareness in the form of an expansion of self, an expansion of each person’s ‘own business’ to the point at which this becomes a full exercise of common reason.

“The family deployed in this way does not withdraw into itself; it becomes the point of departure for a different sociability from that of collective fictions and institutional monopolies, the site where an individual is formed for whom being emancipated and emancipating are one in the same thing, experiencing in themselves the powers of reason and life and feeling these as principles of solidarity between individuals.”

Ranciere, in his book Staging the People, pg 49-50)

Here’s my interpretation of what this means:

“The disciplinary instance of education

[Homeschooling is a sort of discipline in our home. We assign things and they are expected to do them. If they don’t, there are consequences. I used to say (when Emma was doing her Kindergarten year) that school became the “front lines” that took the major hits in behavior issues. When we worked out the behavior with regard to school assignments, Emma was a happier kid during play time and family time.]

then becomes the decision of emancipation that renders the father or mother capable of taking the place of ‘ignorant schoolmaster’ for their child,

[“Emancipation” for Ranciere means showing someone that they are as equally capable to think as anyone else is. When a mother or father believes that they are equal to their child, then that empowers them to be a schoolmaster, and it also allows them to push their child to learn and become aware of their ability to learn.]

a place that embodies the unconditional requirement of the will:

[A parent, hypothetically, has a strong enough place of authority that the child can’t get away. They can’t just get a D or say they aren’t smart enough or just can’t do math, etc. They can’t get away from school. 🙂 Their “will” – or “work” – is required of them without the possibility for excuses.]

the son will verify the equality of intelligence in his self-apprenticeship to the extent that the father or mother verify the thoroughness of his effort to learn.

[When the parent(s) verify that the child is seeking, working, thinking, then what the child verifies is that the book in front of her or him was actually trying to communicate something. They harder we work to pay attention to a book, the more we realize how hard the author was trying to communicate with us.]

The family is thus the site of an awareness in the form of an expansion of self, an expansion of each person’s ‘own business’ to the point at which this becomes a full exercise of common reason.

[We realize that others out there are working hard to communicate to me! And that I can communicate with others.]

“The family deployed in this way does not withdraw into itself; it becomes the point of departure

[This doesn’t lead the child to believe he or she is smarter than other children, or a parent, but that he or she is equal to them and to other human beings. Emancipation means that a sincere conversation could happen with any person, or book, or painting, or theatrical performance, etc.]

for a different sociability from that of collective fictions and institutional monopolies,

[There’s a lot more going on here than I care to figure out right now, or than you probably care to read. 🙂 The idea, though, is that in society in general, people are looking to judge people as better or worse, smarter or dumber, crafty or clueless, and so forth. These are to some degree fictions invented to take advantage of others.]

the site where an individual is formed for whom being emancipated and emancipating are one in the same thing,

[When someone recognizes their equality with others, they also treat others as equal to them]

experiencing in themselves the powers of reason and life and feeling these as principles of solidarity between individuals.”

[Solidarity between individuals hopefully means greater peace, patience, charity, creativity, and so forth.]


Study of the Family Proclamation

Something sparked my interest, and I’ve decided to work through the Family Proclamation over and over again and see what I can learn. I want to be as familiar with it as I am with some of my favorite scriptural passages. I think that it’s too easily read over on just a surface level. It is meant for the “world” to be able to read it and access its ideas, so I understand why it’s surface appearance is the most likely one to be seen, read, and used. I want, however, to look past that surface level. What are the scriptures behind these ideas? How are they being summarized here? What is being implied but not stated outright? What information here is based on doctrine taught by Joseph Smith? What here would seem radical to someone outside of the Church? What information here would sound surprising to a feminist who is used to the doctrines of the Catholic Church or various protestant religions being the only Christian options? All of these questions have already helped me see the Proclamation in a new way, and I’m hoping to learn a great deal still.

Relief Society magazine: Mothers In Israel

All the time, I realize there are resources out there for increasing my knowledge of the scriptures and the gospel. This morning I found out that the old Relief Society magazine published an article called “Mothers in Israel.” I would love to understand that phrase better! (It appears that maybe there is a whole series dedicated just to that? I’m still figuring that out.) While searching for it online I also found an old Relief Society manual lesson that quotes a lot from that magazine article. That lesson is what I’ve read so far this morning. It talks a lot about Heavenly Mother. I really appreciate things said by Sis. Holland about how Eve had the title of mother before she ever bore children. That the point of the Abrahamic Covenant is that we can become like Abraham and Sarah, which means the promise of being a father eternally and a mother eternally. Those promises come ahead of the realization of bearing children, just like Eve’s promise did. Anyway, there are some good things to think about in here:




Ah ha! Found this database through BYU’s library, where I just read Joseph Fielding Smith’s article called Mothers in Israel:


“Bringing Up Children in Light and Truth” from The Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith (Chapter 16)


I’ve been really impressed by this lesson this morning. I’ve read it through several times before but for some reason things in almost every paragraph were sticking out to me. I wish I had thought of a better way to transfer my notes in a share-able form, but here are the things I underlined:

From the Life of Joseph Fielding Smith:

the hours I have spent by his side discussing

She used to teach me and put in my hands, when I was old enough to read, things that I could understand.

I had a mother who saw to it that I did read, and I loved to read

encouraged us to learn on our own

The suspense I felt wondering if Pharaoh’s soldiers would find the gold cup in Benjamin’s sack of grain is real even today.

If Father had time to walk to school with us, the stories continued

He taught us by the things he prayed for in our family prayers

Section 1: 

The importance of family unity—love and consideration for one another in the family—cannot be overemphasized. Spiritual solidarity…

Only the gospel of Jesus Christ applied in family relationships will thwart this devilish destructiveness

There are many great and real dangers to be reckoned with, and those which concern us more than all others combined have to do with our children.

Our children will have to be taught to discern between good and evil, otherwise in many respects they will not be able to understand (this reminds me of Chapter 14, where he talks about how if we don’t learn to listen to the Spirit we will miss out on the understanding and light it gives us, and we won’t be able to discern correctly. In some ways, this whole lesson about bringing up our children in light and truth could be connected to that lesson on the Spirit, which gives light and truth. Could we say that if we follow the directions for being companions with the Spirit, and we teach our children to be companions with the Spirit, the result will be that our children will be brought up in light and truth?)

bring our children up in light and truth. Where this spirit exists, disharmony,disobedience, and neglect of sacred duties will not, cannot, succeed.

Section 2

parents…that teach them not to understand the doctrine of…

the sin be upon the heads of the parents (like Priests in Book of Mormon)

example and by precept.

sin will be upon the children (If parents do teach, which is also like Priests in Book of Mormon)

Section 3

The chief responsibility…rests with each individual…The next responsibility for our salvation rests with our families…The Church and its agencies constitute in effect a service organization to help the family and the individual.

Section 4

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.

shelter [children] from the sins and evils of the world (But we also must teach them right from wrong. So, does shelter here mean that they don’t experience them, even though they are taught about them? Don’t lie to your kids? Don’t let others lie to them? Let nothing unholy be a part of your home, but teach that unholiness exists and the consequences of it? Is this sort of like Jaredite plates – the Nephites were supposed to teach about the wickedness and consequences for the Jaredites but not get into details about how they did it?)

Set a righteous example

It is impossible for you to be an example of what you are not (and yet, you are responsible to set that example? So, repent?)

Teach children to pray

spirit of prayer

Introduce children to the scriptures

read and study the principles of the gospel for themselves (also from above quotations, I think it’s clear that we also have the great chance to discuss scripture together. Not just read it together, but think about it together. But we can’t have a real conversation unless each side is thinking for themselves)

Hold family home evenings

family home evenings, where love and unity abound 

Well-planned family home evenings can be a source of long-lasting joy and influence. These evenings are times for group activity, for organizing, for the expressions of love, for the bearing of testimony, for learning gospel principles, for family fun and recreation, and of all things, for family unity and solidarity. 

Fathers and mothers who faithfully hold family home evenings and who build family unity in every way possible, fulfill with honor the greatest of all responsibilities—that of parenthood.

Fathers can provide no greater leadership in the kingdom of God than to lead their families in holding family home evenings.

there builds up a unity and family respect which influence each person toward increased righteousness and happiness (this reminds me of Elder Scott’s talk from April 2014 about trust, love and respect leading to righteous choices)

Parents who ignore the great help of this program [family home evening] are gambling with the future of their children.

Teach virtue, chastity, morality

counsel with their children in all such things

We believe in their fundamental goodness and expect them to become pillars of righteousness and to carry on the work of the Church with increasing faith and effectiveness

Prepare children to be witnesses of the truth and to serve missions

the Lord needs valiant servants to carry on his great latter-day work

Help children to prepare to have eternal families of their own

Are you teaching them so that they will want to receive the great endowment which the Lord has in store for them?

Have you impressed upon them the fact that they can be sealed as husbands and wives and have bestowed upon them every gift and every blessing that pertains to the celestial kingdom?

We must so guide and lead [children] that they will choose proper companions and marry in the house of the Lord and thus become inheritors of all the great blessings of which we have been talking (not just happy little families that last forever but all the blessings of God! Do my kids know that?)

keep them under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord (That’s not an easy task. You can’t be assured a child will be under the influence of the Spirit by telling them what they can or can’t do, or where they can and can’t go. In order for a child to be under the influence of the Spirit, they need to be humble, know how to listen to the Spirit, be worthy of it, and so forth. And then to help “keep” them under the Spirit’s influence seems to mean watching their concerns, emotions, questions, selfish tendencies, etc. to see when they need guidance to be humble again. That’s a big job but I really like the picture it’s giving me. Being a parent isn’t 1) controlling or 2) just giving them information and walking away. It’s some other way of doing things where we are attentively helping them be attentive to something besides us.)