As conditions in the world get progressively worse, it is crucial that the family draw closer together in righteousness and that family solidarity be established.

—President Ezra Taft Benson

The family unit is the most important organization in time, or in eternity.

—Elder Bruce R. McConkie

The family is the great plan of life as conceived and organized by our Father in Heaven.

—President Spencer W. Kimball

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

—Sir John Bowring

Satan’s ultimate goal is to destroy the family, because if he would destroy the family, he will not just have won the battle; he will have won the war.

—Elder Victor L. Brown

Single Zone: When You’re Your Own Family

Did it ever occur to you that you might not get married before you finish school or right after you come home from your mission? Chances are you’ll spend some time in the single zone, and there are some things you can do now to help make that time happy and productive. They’ll also help you be a better spouse and parent when that time comes.

  • Choose to be happy. Don’t wait for circumstances or those around you to make you happy. Find out what brings you true joy in your life, and take the responsibility for pursuing it. Set worthwhile goals you can achieve through your own efforts.

  • Start to learn about the joy of service. Before you start your own family, you’ll have more time than ever to get involved in community and Church service projects. Take advantage of that time and see how good it makes you feel.

  • Fill your spiritual tank now. Find out for yourself that the gospel is true. Get to know your Heavenly Father well, so when it comes time for you to make your own decisions, you’ll know what he would have you do.

  • Learn how to handle money. Realize that, no matter what credit card companies tell you, you can’t have everything you want exactly when you want it. Learn how to budget, and don’t expect others to bail you out financially.

  • Get as much education as you can. It’s easier when you’re single and will benefit you in countless ways for the rest of your life.

  • Prepare yourself for a job you really like—one in which you feel you are truly using your talents and making a contribution. Although it’s better to have any job than be idle, too many people involve themselves daily in jobs they can’t stand because they think things will change when they get married and so fail to prepare themselves for something more fulfilling.

  • Don’t base your self-concept on your current romantic relationship. Heavenly Father always loves you, whether or not you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Realize that you don’t have to be romantically involved with someone to be a good, worthy person.

  • Start being the kind of person you want to be now. Don’t say to yourself, “When I get married, I’ll pay more attention to my neighbors,” or “When I have a spouse, I’ll be more active in my ward.” You’ll miss out on a lot of personal growth if you wait.

  • Master basic living skills like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, car maintenance, doing laundry, making repairs, sewing, using tools, etc. You gain a sense of satisfaction after having done something for yourself, and you feel more helpful to others.

  • Sharpen your friendship skills. Practice being a good friend. When you’re single and living away from your family, your friendships will be some of your most valued possessions. You’ll want to do everything you can to keep them intact.

  • Learn to be grateful for what you have. You don’t need to have and be everything all at once. Enjoy the good things in your life now, and don’t let longing for what’s not there spoil it.

Finding the Grand in Grandparents

Do you have any close friends who are older than you are? We mean a lot older than you are, say 50, 60 years? What about your grandparents? They can make some of the best friends of all. You can get to know them better and develop strong bonds by doing fun things together. In case you’re short of ideas, here are some suggestions.

  • Go through their mementoes with them—Have they saved old clothes, pictures, etc.? They can be fascinating to see.

  • Rent the video of an old movie they’ve seen and loved, and watch it together.

  • Plan celebrations for the special occasions in their lives—birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

  • Have them teach you their special skills—like tatting, embroidering, fly tying, stamp collecting.

  • Have them show you how to make those wonderful old family recipes.

  • Ask them for advice.

  • Give them hugs. Hold their hands. Help them feel loved and appreciated through your gestures.

  • Go for a walk in the old neighborhoods they used to live in and ask them to tell you about life there.

  • Invite them to your activities and programs—games, concerts, etc. Make sure they have a way to get there and someone to sit with when they arrive.

  • Play games with them—Rook, Scrabble, word games, whatever you both like.

  • If they live far away, make a tape or a video for them, or just write a letter. Enclose pictures.

  • Find out about their favorite scriptures and memorize them. They’ll be pleased and surprised when you recite them.

  • Ask them to tell you stories about life when they were teenagers. Ask them about your parents when they were teenagers.

  • Share some of your favorite things with them—books, magazines, music, food, etc. Explain what you like about them.

  • Interview them and do a “This Is Your Life” presentation sometime for family home evening.

  • Go fishing with them.

  • Go shopping with them.

  • Make a tape or write a letter with them to send to some other relative who lives far away.

  • Ask your parents to invite them to come on your family vacations with you.

  • Go to a museum together.

  • Make them breakfast or take them out to eat on Saturday morning.

  • Trade books, read them, and discuss them together.

  • Help them with their garden.

  • Have them teach you how to bottle and can fruits and vegetables.

  • If you play the piano, get a book of old songs and play and sing with them.

  • Go over your family history records with them and make sure everything is accurate.

Getting through Family Crises in One Piece

by Mary Ellen Robertson

Every family faces a crisis sooner or later, but these earth-shattering events don’t need to be family shattering. With a positive attitude, you can turn crises into family-strengthening experiences. For example:

  • Births are welcome events, but they put a lot of strain on families. You and your brothers and sisters may feel a little left out as a result of the cute newborn, so pay extra attention to each other for a while. Helping more around the house will ease the strain on mom and dad.

  • Death is never easy to deal with, but there are ways to help alleviate the pain. Talk to your family about your feelings, write in your journal, or talk to your bishop. Don’t mourn alone; sharing your feelings with others is an important step in the healing process.

  • Marriages celebrate the expansion of the family. You may feel you’re losing a sibling, but you can actually gain one if you treat the new spouse as a member of the family. It’s important to try extra hard to keep relations close when you’re living under different roofs.

  • Divorce is one of the most difficult things a family can survive. Once again, it’s important to talk about your feelings—especially with your parents. Spend time with each parent so you won’t grow apart, and be assured that they both still love you, even though they no longer live together.

  • Moving means that one of the few things left over from your old life is your family. By sticking together during and after a move, you can help each other adjust better to the new location. And moving can also give you a clean slate, where you can start being the kind of person you always wanted to be.

  • Missionaries leaving cause gaps in the family, but remember, the situation is only temporary. Taking pictures, writing letters, and filling care packages with treats can all be fun family activities.

  • Losing a job can put a family on unstable ground financially, so your extra love and support are desperately needed. Try not to blame the person who lost the job and not to complain about the situation—it will only make things worse. Be willing to make sacrifices until the crisis is over.

Photography by John Luke