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How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?

By divine design, Heavenly Father gave men and women different gifts and abilities to help them fulfill complementary roles as husband and wife. “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. … Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

Prepare yourself spiritually

Prayerfully study these scriptures and resources. What scriptures and talks will help the young women understand the complementary roles of husbands and wives?

Proverbs 22:6; D&C 68:25; 121:41–43; Moses 5:1; (Responsibilities of parents)

Alma 53:21; 56:47–48 (The stripling warriors were taught by their mothers)

D&C 25 (Counsel to Emma Smith about supporting her husband)

The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129

M. Russell Ballard, “The Sacred Responsibility of Parenthood,” Ensign or Liahona, Mar. 2006, 26–33

Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 76–78

Video: “The Women in Our Lives”

Individual Worth value experience 4, Personal Progress (2009), 31

Share experiences

At the beginning of each class, invite the young women to share, teach, and testify about the experiences they have had applying what they learned in the previous week’s lesson. This will encourage personal conversion and help the young women see the relevance of the gospel in their daily lives.

Introduce the doctrine

Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this week’s lesson:

  • Share with the young women the title of this lesson. Why do they think this is an important topic to address?
  • Bring two objects that are used together to accomplish a common goal (like a pencil and paper or hammer and nail). Invite the young women to explain the differences between the objects and how they are used together. Explain that men and women are given different responsibilities that complement (or “complete”) each other to bring about God’s purposes. Invite the young women to describe some of the ways men and women complement each other.

Learn together

Each of the activities below can help the young women learn about the complementary roles of men and women in families. Following the guidance of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best in your class:

  • Ask the young women to search “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” or the section titled “Ensuring Happy and Secure Families” in Elder M. Russell Ballard’s article “The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood.” Invite them to share what they learn from these sources about gender and the divine roles of fathers and mothers. How is this different from what the world teaches? Invite them to share ways husbands and wives complement each other in these roles. Ask the young women why they feel it is important for them to understand this.
  • Briefly discuss the role of mothers in the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors (see Alma 53:21; 56:47–48). Divide the talk “Mothers Who Know” into sections based on the headings, and assign each young woman a section. Write the headings on the board, and invite each young woman to write on the board a brief description of what her section teaches. How do these roles complement the roles of fathers? Invite the young women to share how their lives have been influenced by mothers and fathers working together.
  • Identify several scriptures that teach the responsibilities of parents, such as those referred to in this lesson, and divide them up among the young women. Invite each young woman to share her scripture and describe the responsibilities it mentions. Invite them to share how husbands and wives complement each other in fulfilling these responsibilities and examples they have seen of parents fulfilling complementary roles.
  • Ask the young women to think about the meaning of the word duality as they watch the video “The Women in Our Lives.” Ask them to list ways they can be a “help meet” to their future husbands (see Genesis 2:18). Ask the young women to work individually or as a class on Individual Worth value experience 4 in Personal Progress and to write in their journal their feelings about their role as a wife complementing her future husband.
  • Invite the young women to read Doctrine and Covenants 25 and find things Emma Smith was asked to do to support her husband and things the Lord said her husband would do to support and bless her. What examples can you or the young women share of people who follow this counsel in their marriage? Encourage the young women to write about the kind of marriage relationship they would like to have someday and what they can do now to prepare. Invite a few of them to share what they wrote.

Ask the young women to share what they learned today. Do they understand the complementary roles of men and women in families? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be helpful to spend more time on this topic?

Live what we are learning

Invite the young women to consider how they will live by what they have learned today. For example, they could: