Families Are Forever—Beginning Today, Say Primary Leaders

Contributed By Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Sister Jean A. Stevens, and Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, Primary general presidency

  • 9 December 2014

The Meneses family on Temple Square during the morning session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of the Church on October 6, 2013.  Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Have open conversations with your children and create experiences that will foster a vision of eternity.

“Our quest to become an eternal family is strengthened when we talk about how we can make it happen—one step at a time.” —Primary general presidency  ©Busath.com

In 2014, Primary children all over the world have spoken and sung about families. It has been thrilling to observe.

When we sing the words “Families can be together forever,” we often imagine ourselves with our families after this life, reunited in the spirit world.

But wait a minute. We can unite here on earth and begin the “together” part right now! Forever really begins today.

We know of a family who had recently joined the Church. They were drawn to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, which taught the truth that their family could be together forever, and they were ready do whatever it took to make that happen. They could hardly wait to make temple covenants, and they applied the practices of daily family prayer and scripture study. Monday nights could not come often enough for this family to have family home evening. The promise of eternal families was literally written upon the walls of their home. There were Post-it notes on their mirrors and doors that read, “We can be an eternal family” and “Our family is forever.” They had a vision for their family’s future while they were living the gospel each day. That priority was reflected in their actions.

As parents, we sometimes have an unspoken vision for our family. We see a future of testimonies of Christ, baptisms, missions, education, temple marriages, and so on. We assume our children’s daily choices will reflect our vision. However, we need to speak more about that vision. If families are to be together forever, we need to spend more time together here on earth having open conversations and creating experiences that will foster a vision of eternity.

Our quest to become an eternal family is strengthened when we talk about how we can make it happen—one step at a time. We ask ourselves, “What will our family look like in five, ten, twenty years from now?” And then we ask, “What can we do now to help us get there?” Everything we do together as a family paves the way for eternity. Elder L. Tom Perry said it is “one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time” (“Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” April 2010 general conference). The secret is doing it together.

Include your children in defining family rules and setting family goals to become an eternal family.

• Why should we involve our children in creating family rules? When they are a part of defining the “why,” living by those rules has purpose. Their desire to follow those rules increases.

• Why involve children in setting family goals? Children become invested in those goals when they participate in the conversation to create them.

Jeffrey and Jolene Ackerman stand on the grounds of the Twin Falls Idaho Temple with their family, from left: Kyle, Cade, Haley and Alexandria. The family is from Filer, Idaho. Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.

The Lord spoke to Emma Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 25:10 with the following instruction: “Thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.”

Emma’s instruction pertains to us. Do our daily activities reflect what matters most to our family? One family counseled together and decided to simplify their schedules for one year. From that experience, they discovered there was less stress in their family and more time to do things together. They found courage to make the changes in their schedules to better match their family priorities. Counsel together as a family. There is strength in focusing on what matters most and seeking for the things of a better world.

Discuss with your family the standards in For the Strength of Youth. Take time to role-play with your children so they can learn how to defend these standards in everyday situations. For example, what if:

• Friends suggest watching an inappropriate movie. What would you say? What would you do?

• You are taking a test at school. This test is critical to your final grade. The teacher leaves the room. Some students begin to share answers. What would you do?

Anticipating future choices enables children to arm themselves to stand alone, if necessary, with confidence in their decisions. Be real and open to all discussion within your family. In your conversation you might say to your child, “None of us gets through this life without facing temptations and challenges. Let’s talk about it. We can help each other.”

Speak often as a family about making and keeping temple covenants.

Do your children know how you feel about the temple? What does the making and keeping of temple covenants look like? Let them ask you questions about the temple, and then answer sincerely and appropriately. Make the temple a family experience. Research together as a family to find names for temple ordinances. Do proxy baptisms. Temple covenants can remain in our minds and hearts every day as we celebrate their roles in making it possible for families to be united eternally.

As the Primary presidency, we know eternal families are a work in progress. No family is perfect here on earth. Yet through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, someday they will be. Meanwhile, we can gather our families around us and talk about achieving that eternal vision. Families are forever, and forever really does begin today.