Lesson 13: Counseling with Family Members

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 93–100


The purpose of this lesson is to help us strengthen our families by counseling with our wives and children.

Introduction

  • Have class members sing “Love at Home” (Hymns, no. 294; or Gospel Principles, 352).

Fathers Should Lead, Guide, and Direct in Righteousness

Our earthly homes are the beginning of heavenly homes. The fathers who know this realize that they have a sacred duty to lead, guide, and direct their families in righteousness. President N. Eldon Tanner said: “Every Latter-day Saint home should be a model home, where the father is the head of the household, but presiding with love, and in complete harmony with the righteous desires of the mother. Together they should be seeking the same goals for the family, and the children should feel the love and harmony that exists” (“Fatherhood,” Ensign, June 1977, 2).

As married priesthood bearers, we have the responsibility of raising a righteous family, but of course we do not do this alone. We have the help of our wives. Together we can build a strong marriage and bring our family back to the presence of the Lord. This means we need to love and counsel with our wives if we are to enjoy the Lord’s Spirit in our homes.

Showing Love and Consideration for Our Wives

The Lord instructs us in these scriptures to establish homes of peace and love. To have such homes, we need to make sure a pattern of sincere loving and sharing is established when our marriage begins. If such a pattern is not now in our homes, we should seek to develop it. This requires praying together regularly, showing love and respect for each other, and studying the scriptures together. Perhaps most importantly, it means keeping the commandments of God and the covenants made at the time of our marriage vows.

A strong priesthood leader is kind to and thoughtful of his wife (see Ephesians 5:25). President J. Reuben Clark Jr. stated that if a family is to become a celestial family, the husband and wife must love, honor, and respect each other. They must be patient with each other and be loyal to their marriage vows. Their faith should “cover the home as a kindly light.” If they do these things, their obedience to God will “guide and cheer them” (see Immortality and Eternal Life, vol. 2 [Melchizedek Priesthood study guide, 1969], 14–15).

  • What are some things we can do to show love and consideration for our wives? How can showing love and consideration for our wives help us establish homes of peace and love?

Counseling with Our Wives

  • Show visual 13-a, “Family leadership is much easier and more effective when a husband counsels with his wife.”

It is important that we communicate with our wives. Most marriage and family problems can be overcome if we counsel with our wives—and seek the help and guidance of the Lord.

  • Read Alma 37:37. How can counseling with the Lord help us?

If we are to be wise priesthood holders, we must prayerfully discuss problems and goals with our wives and include our wives when we make decisions. If we love our wives, we will always seek their ideas and assistance rather than try to solve major family problems on our own. To do this, we should set aside a specific time when we can discuss children, finances, the gospel, family home evenings, and any other individual and family concerns we each have. Only in this way will we be unified in guiding our families.

Both husbands and wives are important in the marriage partnership. Some men feel that because they have the priesthood, they are in a position to make all the decisions, but the scriptures tell us this is wrong.

It is a misuse of the priesthood to “exercise unrighteous dominion.” As priesthood holders, we have a duty to listen to our wives in love and concern. And when we listen, we should not listen as their superiors, for they are partners with us and our equals. The following experience shows how one priesthood holder counseled with his wife.

Brother and Sister Jackson were both wise and well educated. Each could have made many family decisions alone. But instead, they always sat down and discussed problems and possible solutions together. At least once a week, usually on Sunday evening, they sat at the kitchen table and talked over family problems. Sometimes the children were brought into the discussion. By counseling together, this couple nearly always agreed on how their children should be raised. They sometimes expressed differing opinions, but they were always respectful and loving to each other. They were wise in always asking for each other’s valuable advice, and they set a pattern of a near-celestial home that all of their six children now try to follow in their own homes.

  • How can counseling together help a husband and wife avoid arguments and problems in their home? How can it increase love in their marriage?

Counseling with Our Families

  • Show visual 13-b, “Holding family councils helps a father lead his children in righteousness.”

    family council(click to view larger)

    13-b, Holding family councils helps a father lead his children in righteousness.

After a husband and wife have counseled together, they should call their children together and discuss with them their family goals and plans. Holding council with the entire family is valuable. It can improve family life and deepen the love between family members. Children who are made aware of family plans in advance will know what the others are doing, and order and harmony will result. When possible, children should be allowed to share in decision making and should help carry out these decisions.

  • When is a good time to hold family council? (Family home evening is an ideal time, but family council should not replace the lesson.) What are some areas that could be discussed in such a council?

  • Show visual 13-c, “Fathers can strengthen their relationships with their children by counseling with them.”

It is also important that fathers counsel privately with each of their children. “Only good results occur when a father interviews his sons and daughters regularly. He can know their problems and their hopes. He can align himself with them as their unconditional friend” (A. Theodore Tuttle, in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 87; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 67).

  • What are some things you could discuss with your children in such interviews? How could this bring you closer to them? (Encourage the brethren to use interviews to listen to the concerns of their children.)

Counseling with our children does not always need to be a formal situation. We should take every opportunity, whenever and wherever it comes, to listen to their problems. In counseling with them, we should look at their problems from their point of view. We should not laugh at their concerns or think that their problems are unimportant, but should lovingly listen to them and try to understand and help them.

“It is wonderful when a father or a mother will sit down with a son or a daughter and discuss a personal problem (and they have their problems, which, if we are wise, we will not minimize). There are pressures, and enticements, and even unjust accusations against which our sons and daughters need to be fortified. … In such heart-to-heart talks, parents will help to set objectives for their children” (ElRay L. Christiansen, in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 43; or Ensign, July 1972, 55).

  • What things should a young man discuss with his parents? What things should a father discuss with his children? (You may want to remind class members that everyone has different challenges.)

Elder Richard L. Evans, in talking to children about counseling with their parents, said: “You and they together have the privilege, the right, the duty, to sit down and share your thoughts and consider your decisions with one another, that both of you together may be listened to and respected—and work and pray and plan together for the wholeness of your happiness—always and forever” (“As Parents and Children Come to Common Ground,” Improvement Era, May 1956, 342).

Conclusion

We are promised that if we are faithful we will live in harmony and peace in the celestial kingdom. But we must begin now to achieve unity and love, for it does not just happen. President David O. McKay said: “I can imagine few, if any, things more objectionable in the home than the absence of unity and harmony. On the other hand, I know that a home in which unity, mutual helpfulness, and love abide is just a bit of heaven on earth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 7; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1967, 34).

As we counsel with our wives and children, we will strengthen both them and ourselves and increase the love and unity in our families.

Challenges

Pray and counsel regularly with your wife.

Hold a family council.

Establish a time to interview each of your children, remembering to be prayerful and considerate in talking with them.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Read Gospel Principles chapter 37, “Family Responsibilities.”

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.