Childhood is a season of joyful firsts. The first time riding a bicycle, attending school, or trying a new food are a few of the exciting adventures that shape a child’s life. As adults we have the opportunity to help children along that path of discovery. As adults in the Church, we also have the opportunity to help them grow in the gospel (see D&C 68:25). What can we do to make sure a child’s baptism—the first covenant a person makes with our loving Heavenly Father—is a beautiful and meaningful event?
“It is the basic purpose of this Church to teach the youth: first in the home and then in church,” taught President Boyd K. Packer.1
In the following examples, parents share how they have prepared their children for the sacred ordinances and covenants of baptism and confirmation.
“The year each child turns seven is a time to celebrate,” says Lori, a mother of four. She and her husband teach their children about baptism from the day they are born. However, when each child turns seven, their family begins more specific preparation. They hold a family home evening lesson each month about different topics related to baptism, such as covenants and Jesus’s example.
Lori says the lessons during the month of the children’s eighth birthdays are especially tender. She shows the children the clothes they wore when they received a name and a blessing, and she talks about the day that ordinance was performed.
“It is the perfect time to focus on the blessings of temple covenants,” Lori points out. “We always make a point of teaching that the choice to be baptized is the first step in preparing for the blessings of the temple.”
Monica, a mother of four, recommends getting older children involved in helping younger siblings prepare whenever possible. “Hearing their teenage brother or sister testify and share his or her experience really adds power,” she says. Lori adds that sometimes they ask the children preparing for baptism to teach what they have learned to younger siblings.
When Daniel’s daughter turned eight, he knew she would want to share her baptism day with friends who were not members of the Church. So their family decided to extend invitations for Allison’s baptism to friends from school and the neighborhood. These friends were asked to bring favorite Bible verses to the baptism. After the baptism, Allison underlined the verses in her new set of scriptures and wrote her friends’ names in the margins.
“Of course, as her family, we were very involved in that day. But we also let her just be with friends a while afterward and talk to them about what she felt,” Daniel said. “It was a really tender moment to see our child set an example.”
Kimberly, a mother of children approaching baptism age, remembers walking into the bishop’s office for her baptismal interview when she was eight years old. “I was so nervous!” Kimberly says.
Now she tries to ensure that her children don’t face feelings of panic. She and her husband talk to their children about bishop interviews and ask them questions about baptism in an interview-like setting. These interviews do more than familiarize children with the interview process—they also encourage the children to think deeply about what the covenant of baptism means to them.
These parents are quick to point out that they haven’t done anything excessive in preparing their children for baptism and confirmation, but many of them did use words like “thorough” and “consistent” to describe the lessons they have taught over the years. “We made sure our kids understood that this was an important step in their lives, and that it was a big deal,” Kimberly says. “We always made sure we were the ones preparing them, and not just hoping their Primary teachers were teaching them.”
What a wonderful opportunity we have been given to help prepare the children we love for baptism and confirmation! As we prayerfully do so, the Lord will be with us to shape this first covenant-making experience into a powerful foundation for future spiritual growth.