Current social and moral conditions in the world may lead some to believe that the family as an institution is in serious decline. Although it is under attack, the family can prosper, even in times as challenging as ours, if parents follow the counsel from Church leaders to nurture habits of righteousness in their families.
From Proverbs comes this observation: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). President Gordon B. Hinckley commented: “Children are like trees. When they are young, their lives can be shaped and directed, usually with ever so little effort. … That training finds its roots in the home” (“Four Simple Things to Help Our Families and Our Nations,” Ensign, Sept. 1996, 7).
Example is one of the most effective ways to teach righteous principles. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, recalls: “My own father, a printer, worked long and hard practically every day of his life. I’m certain that on the Sabbath he would have enjoyed just being at home. Rather, he visited elderly family members and brought cheer into their lives.
“One was his uncle, who was crippled by arthritis so severe that he could not walk or care for himself. On a Sunday afternoon Dad would say to me, ‘Come along, Tommy; let’s take Uncle Elias for a short drive.’ Boarding the old 1928 Oldsmobile, we would proceed to Eighth West, where, at the home of Uncle Elias, I would wait in the car while Dad went inside. Soon he would emerge from the house, carrying in his arms like a china doll his crippled uncle. I then would open the door and watch how tenderly and with such affection my father would place Uncle Elias in the front seat so he would have a fine view while I occupied the rear seat.
“The drive was brief and the conversation limited, but oh, what a legacy of love! Father never read to me from the Bible about the good Samaritan. Rather, he took me with him and Uncle Elias in that old 1928 Oldsmobile along the road to Jericho” (“Hallmarks of a Happy Home,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 71).
In addition to living gospel principles ourselves, there are many ways we can nurture habits of righteousness in our families. President Hinckley identified four: “Let parents and children (1) teach and learn goodness together, (2) work together, (3) read good books together, and (4) pray together” (Ensign, Sept. 1996, 7).
Following are some complementary suggestions:
Hold regular family home evenings.
Read the scriptures together regularly.
Locate your nearest library and check out other good books to read as a family.
Worship together at church each Sunday.
As a family, set righteous goals, such as being together forever, loving and serving others, and following the prophet. Write these goals down and review them regularly.
Participate in wholesome family entertainment.
Discuss gospel principles while working together.
Enjoy positive experiences together, such as listening to good music and participating in family history activities.
Establishing family traditions such as these will help parents “bring [their children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).