In the fast-paced life that most of us lead, the simple problem of finding sufficient time to do the things we want to do is often a big problem.
This concern is further accentuated for Latter-day Saint parents when we reflect on our responsibilities to teach and guide our children. As a general rule, all parents want to be good parents. All want to guide and lead their children. But we Latter-day Saint parents feel particularly keen about these things. We are well aware that the home and family provide the best environment for teaching gospel principles and gospel understanding, and it is the best environment for helping mold and guide our youth.
But how do we find the time? Well, first, let’s face it: we always seem to find the time—at least, some time—for the things that matter most in our lives. That’s basic. Then, after we have that attitude, we can soon find little blocks of time here and there that can be used very effectively in building a beautiful relationship with our children.
Here are some suggestions that I’ve discovered:
1. Dinner Table Forum. The entire family can participate in open dialogue; the subject matter can be general or it can be specific, aimed at clearing up some point that has concerned a family member.
2. Short Walks. A parent and a son or daughter can discuss particular matters of spiritual importance to the individual, without the distractions of home and family.
3. Ten-Minute Chat. Anytime, anywhere, a parent can provide an outlet for the expression of things that are troubling him. This is a good time for parents to counsel, to inspire faith in the gospel, to explain how it holds the answers to all problems—not to simply say that it does, but to illustrate by citing examples of how it has worked, how it is working, and how it will work.
4. Working on a Project. Planning and executing a work project together gives parent and child a chance to share their attention in a common objective. No matter how engaging the project may be, there should be time for conversation that may be guided into spiritual matters.
5. Reading the Scriptures. The material in the standard works inspires the exchange of ideas, the sharing of thoughts expressed by great religious leaders.
6. Morning and Evening Family Prayers. Prayers can mean much more than the expression of gratitude for blessings and supplication for continued blessings. In this communion of spiritual thought, concentrating all our attention on the things of the Lord, we open new channels of inspiration, reaffirm old ones, and set the tone for our lives. This is a process that is fundamental in fostering a desire to learn more about the gospel.
7. Vacations. Trips away from home afford many opportunities for one-to-one discussions and for group discussions in a free and easy environment—communication at its best.
It is obvious that more than these seven opportunities can be found. The important thing is to find time to discuss the things of the spirit. Sometimes that interest has to be created, but as William James said, “Any object not interesting in itself may become interesting through becoming associated with an object in which an interest already exists.”
The Savior was explicit when he said, “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.” (D&C 88:77.) The greatest opportunity to do so is within the family. And I think that we parents can find the time if we will look and plan for it. Our children will truly be blessed if we will do so.