“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Parents help accomplish this duty as they express their love and testimony in word and action and establish regular habits of holding family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study.
Share the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When our youngest daughter was about four years of age, I came home from hospital duties quite late one evening. I found my dear wife to be very weary. … So I offered to get our four-year-old ready for bed. I began to give the orders: ‘Take off your clothes, hang them up; put on your pajamas; brush your teeth; say your prayers’ and so on, commanding in a manner befitting a tough sergeant in the army. Suddenly she cocked her head to one side, looked at me with a wistful eye, and said, ‘Daddy, do you own me?’
“She taught me an important lesson. … No, we don’t own our children. Our parental privilege is to love them, to lead them, and to let them go” (“Listen to Learn,” Ensign, May 1991, 22).
What principle did Elder Nelson teach with this experience? (Parents have the privilege of loving and leading their children.)
Read or display the following from the family proclamation, and ask students to identify key words and phrases: “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. … Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Ask students what key words stand out to them and why. If needed, ask:
Why do you think that the words “solemn” and “sacred” are used to describe the responsibilities and duties of parents?
Tell students that the Savior taught a parable that shows how a child who is raised with love can continue to trust in his or her family relationships. Invite students to silently read Luke 15:11–20, looking for evidence that the prodigal son knew he was loved by his father. After sufficient time, invite students to share what they found.
To help students understand the father in the parable, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“In the parable of the prodigal son, we find a powerful lesson for families and especially parents. After the younger son ‘came to himself’ [Luke 15:17], he decided to go home.
“How did he know his father wouldn’t reject him? Because he knew his father. Through the inevitable misunderstandings, conflicts, and follies of the son’s youth, I can visualize his father being there with an understanding and compassionate heart, a soft answer, a listening ear, and a forgiving embrace. I can also imagine his son knowing he could come home because he knew the kind of home that was awaiting him” (“With All the Feeling of a Tender Parent: A Message of Hope to Families,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 90).
What expressions of love from the father did Elder Hales identify? What other parental actions lead to a loving, caring home environment? (Consider using Ephesians 6:4 to supplement the class discussion for this question.)
What examples have you seen of parents who demonstrate love for their children?
What are you doing now to prepare to love and care for your own children someday?
Show students a picture of a young child, perhaps your own child.
What are essential teachings that a child needs in order to develop spiritually?
Ask students to consider this question as they study and compare the teachings found in Doctrine and Covenants 93:36–40 and 68:25–28. (Note: “A passage of scripture or a doctrine or principle is often clarified when it is compared” with another passage of scripture [Gospel Teaching and Learning (2012), 22].)
What principle concerning the responsibilities of parents can we learn from these verses? (Though they may use different words, students should understand the following principle: Parents obey the Lord’s command when they bring up their children in light and truth. Explain that in the context of these verses, “light” refers to spiritual knowledge and understanding of righteous principles.)
Why is it essential for parents to teach children the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the home?
To help answer this question, share the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The scriptures speak of ‘the shield of faith wherewith,’ the Lord said, ‘ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked’ (D&C 27:17).
“This shield of faith is best fabricated in a cottage industry [in the home]. While the shield can be polished in classes in the Church and in activities, it is meant to be handcrafted in the home and fitted to each individual” (“Do Not Fear,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 79).
How have you seen parents effectively teach their children righteous principles that lead them to light and truth?
What consequence is mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 68:25 for parents who know the gospel of Jesus Christ but fail to teach their children gospel principles? (Help students understand the following principle: Parents who know the gospel of Jesus Christ will be accountable to God if they fail to teach their children the principles of the gospel.)
Explain that Church leaders have repeatedly identified righteous practices that parents should implement in the home in order to teach their children the principles of the gospel.
Distribute the handout found at the end of the lesson to each student, and read the instructions on the handout. After sufficient time and as prompted by the Holy Ghost, ask questions like the following:
How have you benefited from these three family practices?
Why do you think it is important to develop habits of praying, studying the scriptures, and holding family home evenings before you marry and begin having children?
To help students understand that there are other settings in which parents can teach gospel principles to their children, share the following statements by Elders David A. Bednar and Jeffrey R. Holland:
“Parents should be vigilant and spiritually attentive to spontaneously occurring opportunities to bear testimony to their children. Such occasions need not be programmed, scheduled, or scripted. In fact, the less regimented such testimony sharing is, the greater the likelihood for edification and lasting impact. …
“For example, a naturally occurring family conversation at dinner may be the perfect setting for a parent to recount and testify of specific blessings he or she received during the course of relatively routine activities that day” (David A. Bednar, “Watching with All Perseverance,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 42).
“Live the gospel as conspicuously as you can. Keep the covenants your children know you have made. Give priesthood blessings. And bear your testimony! Don’t just assume your children will somehow get the drift of your beliefs on their own. …
“… Do our children know that we love the scriptures? Do they see us reading them and marking them and clinging to them in daily life? Have our children ever unexpectedly opened a closed door and found us on our knees in prayer? Have they heard us not only pray with them but also pray for them out of nothing more than sheer parental love? Do our children know we believe in fasting … ? Do they know we love being in the temple … ? Do they know we love and sustain local and general leaders, imperfect as they are … ? Do those children know that we love God with all our heart and that we long to see the face—and fall at the feet—of His Only Begotten Son? I pray that they may know this” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Prayer for the Children,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 86–87).
How have your parents or other parents you have seen taken advantage of spontaneous opportunities to teach gospel principles?
Why it is important for parents to live the gospel conspicuously?
What are you doing now to deepen your knowledge of the gospel so that you will be able to teach your children light and truth?
Testify that parents can “rear their children in love and righteousness” by guiding them back to their Heavenly Father through loving them, teaching them gospel principles, and setting a good example.