10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.
The Lord taught Joseph Smith that if parents who are disciples of Christ fail to teach their children about faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, “the sin be upon the heads of the parents” (D&C 68:25). Similarly, in the passage above, Jacob emphasizes to parents that their poor examples will not only bring sorrow to their children but may also negatively influence their children’s behavior. As Jacob testifies, parents bear some of the blame for the sins their children commit because of their own bad examples.
I realize that it’s possible to think of this verse legalistically, as an explanation of how accountability will be assigned for wrongdoing. But I also think of it in practical and empathetic terms: Doesn’t a parent naturally suffer when their child is suffering? And if a child suffers because of poor decisions which were influenced by the parent’s behavior, isn’t the parent likely to feel even worse?
As Robert D. Hales taught:
We, as parents, have the privilege and the responsibility of teaching gospel principles by our example and testimony to our loved ones….
Now I find myself asking the question, “How will my children remember me?” How will your children remember you?
No parent on earth is perfect. In fact, children are very understanding when they sense and feel that parents truly care and are attempting to be the best they can be….
Certainly parents will make mistakes in their parenting process, but through humility, faith, prayer, and study, each person can learn a better way and in so doing bless the lives of family members now and teach correct traditions for the generations that follow (“How Will Our Children Remember Us?” General Conference, October 1993).
Today, I will remember the influence my behavior can have on my children. I will strive to set the best possible example for them. I will remember that the choices I make today can affect not only my own happiness but also the happiness of the people I love the most.