“Children, when was the last time you told your parents that you love them?” asks Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He notes that children can help their family “become more diligent and concerned at home” by frequently and sincerely expressing love.
However, after expressing their love, it is important for children to show their love is sincere by their actions.
“We should remember that saying ‘I love you’ is only a beginning,” Elder Bednar continues. “We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.”
Raised in Love
According to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” children are to be raised in love and righteousness. Parents are responsible to teach children to love and serve one another and to obey the commandments. But parents aren’t alone in their efforts to raise righteous children. The Lord has sent prophets and apostles to the earth who continue to teach and counsel children and their parents.
“Little ones, you are just beginning your lifetime,” says President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “You will be tested, perhaps more than any generation that ever lived here.
“[The Son of God] lives. I know that He lives,” President Packer continues. “In His Church there are many thousands who can bear witness of Him, and I bear witness of Him, and tell you again the things you should remember, things you should learn when you are yet a little one.”
Honor Your Parents
Children show their love by honoring and obeying their parents. President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, encourages children to remember the commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Mosiah 13:20).
The Lord presented this commandment with a promise, President Eyring explains, and it is the only one of the Ten Commandments with a promise.
“You may not have parents that are living. In some cases, you may not feel that your parents are worthy of the honor and respect of their children. You may not even have ever known them. But you owe them life,” he says. “And in every case, even if your life is not lengthened, its quality will be improved simply by remembering your parents with honor.”
Read the Scriptures
When children honor their parents, it helps invite the Holy Ghost into the home, which creates an environment where the gospel can be taught. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches that children must come to their own knowledge of the truth of the gospel. He emphasizes the importance of a child’s plea in a Primary song:
Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear,
Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here
(“Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” Children’s Songbook, 57).
Reading the stories of Jesus teaches children of the example He set and of the love He has for them, Elder Andersen says. Each child needs to eventually develop his or her own testimony independent of parents, friends, and Church leaders.
“Live up to your important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities,” Elder Andersen tells children. “Seek to know more about Jesus; open the scriptures. One idea would be to read again the book of John and then discuss it with your parents, teachers, and each other.”
Choose the Right
Reading the scriptures also gives examples of what happens to people when they make a wrong or a right choice. These examples can help children choose the right as they grow up in a world where outside influences can make wrong choices look enticing.
“I hope and pray that you great young people of the Church will have the courage to consistently choose the right!” says Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Moreover, I suggest that each of you find or create reminders to help you and your loved ones choose the right when a choice is placed before you. There is power in a tie tack, a CTR ring, or a white dress hanging in the closet if we associate them with our desires for purity and righteousness. Even more important than physical reminders is to have the conviction deep down in our hearts to live the kind of life that will cause us to make the right choices, not only for peace and happiness in the world right now, but also for peace and happiness eternally.”
Children are promised they will receive eternal happiness if they consistently choose the right.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encourages children to use their agency righteously when making a choice.
“By listening to and accepting the advice and teachings of our parents, Primary and Sunday School teachers, and others who love us, we can be led and guided to do right,” he says. “Although it is not possible for them to actually walk beside us throughout our lives, we can feel their love and prayers. Their only desire is for our happiness. They know through experience that this is not possible unless we live righteously.”
The Lord’s Servants Pray for Children
Latter-day Saints see children as precious spirits entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father. The Savior set a great example when He suffered the little children to come unto Him, and President Packer follows that example.
“My little brothers and sisters, my little children, I know that God lives,” he says. “I know something of how it feels to have his hand put upon you, to call you to his service. I bear witness and share with you the witness that has been given me, that special witness. He is the Christ! He loves us! I pray for you, our little ones, and plead with him to behold our little ones and to bless them.”