“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” describes principles that parents should teach their children. This lesson will discuss the responsibility of parents to teach children about “respect, … compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” It will also discuss parents’ duty to teach children “to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Teaching these principles helps parents create successful families.
Prepare students for this lesson by displaying the following statement from President David O. McKay (1873–1970):
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (quoted from J. E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization , 42; in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116).
Considering what you have learned in this course, what are some principles that contribute to creating a successful family?
To help address this question, display and read aloud the following statement from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”:
“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
Explain to students that most of the principles in this statement have been discussed in previous lessons. To focus on the qualities that have not been discussed, write the following on the board:
Divide the class into small groups and assign one of these qualities to each group. Ask groups to discuss the following questions:
What are some of the good things that occur in families when parents show respect to their children? When children show respect to their parents? When parents show respect to each other?
What examples of showing respect can you share from your family’s experiences?
What are some ways in which parents can teach children to feel compassion for other family members?
What examples of teaching compassion can you share from your family or from families you have known?
Why is work part of a successful family?
How can parents help their children to find pleasure and satisfaction in work?
What examples of teaching children to work can you share from your family or from families you have known?
Tell this group that when families have limited time to spend together in family activities, it is wise to choose those activities that are most valuable. Ask this group to read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and discuss the questions that follow:
“As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. …
“Some of our most important choices concern family activities. … In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best. A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. ‘The thing I liked best this summer,’ the boy replied, ‘was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked.’ Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent” (“Good, Better, Best,” Ensign, Nov. 2007, 104–5).
How can the experience of this father and son help us understand the value of “wholesome recreational activities” in a family?
How could a family work together to make recreational activities more meaningful?
After sufficient time, ask groups to share summaries of their discussions with the entire class.
Conclude this portion of the lesson by displaying the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency and asking a student to read it aloud:
“Since ‘no other success can compensate for failure’ [in our families], we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 21–22).
Can you share an experience you have had when a parent or other family member spent meaningful time with you?
Ask students if any of them would like to share their thoughts or testimonies about how any of the qualities listed on the board can bless families.
Ask students to search the sixth paragraph of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” looking for the specific things that parents have a sacred duty to teach to their children. As students respond write the following on the board:
Emphasize the following principle: Parents are commanded to teach their children to love and serve each other, to keep the commandments of God, and to be law-abiding citizens.
Ask students to turn to Deuteronomy 6. Explain that this chapter records Moses’s instructions to the children of Israel about how to keep the commandments. Invite students to silently read Deuteronomy 6:4–7 and liken the message to themselves by substituting their own name every time the scripture says “thee,” “thou,” “thine,” or “thy.”
How does substituting your own name affect your understanding of these verses?
According to verse 7, how often should parents teach their children?
Point out the phrase “to love and serve one another” on the board. Discuss the meaning of this phrase by reading the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency and asking the questions that follow:
“Almost every day brings opportunities to perform unselfish acts for others. Such acts are unlimited and can be as simple as a kind word, a helping hand, or a gracious smile” (“What’s in It for Me?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 21–22).
How many opportunities do you have each day to love and serve members of your family?
What could you do to make serving your family members a higher priority in your life?
Give students a moment to ponder what they could do to better serve family members and show love to them.
Point out the phrase “to observe the commandments of God” on the board, and ask:
Why should parents be the ones who are primarily responsible to teach their children the commandments of God?
Share the following statement by Sister Susan W. Tanner, former Young Women general president. Explain that in this talk, Sister Tanner recalled counsel she gave to one of her daughters who had recently married and begun creating her own home:
“Look to the example of your grandparents’ homes. Both sets of grandparents brought up their ‘children in light and truth’ (D&C 93:40). [The home in which your father grew up] was a house of learning. He said at his father’s funeral that he had never learned a gospel principle at a Church meeting that he hadn’t already learned in his own home. The Church was a supplement to his home” (“Did I Tell You … ?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 73).
How can you prepare to create a house of learning—like the ones Sister Tanner describes—for your family? What thoughts might you have if your future children were to say this about the home in which they grew up?
Point out the phrase “to be law-abiding citizens” on the board. Tell students that Doctrine and Covenants 134 records a “declaration of belief regarding governments and laws” (heading to section 134). Help students understand the context of this section by having a student read the section heading aloud. Then invite one student to read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 134:5–6 and another to read the twelfth article of faith. Ask the class to look for what the Lord teaches about the laws of the land.
What teachings about governments and the laws of the land stand out to you? (For additional instruction, consider inviting students to read and cross-reference Doctrine and Covenants 58:21 and 98:4–6.)
Why do you think it is important that the home be the primary place for children to learn to obey the laws of the land?
Consider sharing the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“As parenting declines, the need for policing increases. There will always be a shortage of police if there is a shortage of effective parents! Likewise, there will not be enough prisons if there are not enough good homes” (“Take Especial Care of Your Family,” Ensign, May 1994, 89).
How do you think parents could teach children to obey the laws of the land?
Do you know someone who conscientiously obeys and shows respect for the laws of the land and for government officials? What effect do you think this behavior would have on that person’s children?
Encourage students to take some time in the coming days to ponder the principles that parents must teach to create a successful family. Ask them to make plans for how they might follow these principles in their lives now and incorporate them into their future families.