Tag Archives: teaching children

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.”

Quote from Sis. Oscarson

“I worry that we live in such an atmosphere of avoiding offense that we sometimes altogether avoid teaching correct principles. We fail to teach our young women that preparing to be a mother is of utmost importance because we don’t want to offend those who aren’t married or those who can’t have children, or to be seen as stifling future choices. On the other hand, we may also fail to emphasize the importance of education because we don’t want to send the message that it is more important than marriage. We avoid declaring that our Heavenly Father defines marriage as being between a man and woman because we don’t want to offend those who experience same-sex attraction. And we may find it uncomfortable to discuss gender issues or healthy sexuality.

Certainly, sisters, we need to use sensitivity, but let us also use our common sense and our understanding of the plan of salvation to be bold and straightforward when it comes to teaching our children and youth the essential gospel principles they must understand to navigate the world in which they live.”

“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.)