From the first phrase in the Book of Mormon, the importance of parents is emphasized (1 Nephi 1:1). What can we learn from the Book of Mormon about how to be a good parent?
1. “With all the feeling of a tender parent”
Lehi and Sariah loved their children. Even though some of their children failed to live up to their expectations, they never gave up on them.
After Lehi experienced a spiritual dream which caused him to worry about two of his sons, he met with his family to discuss the experience. Then, he “exhorted” the two sons “with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words” (1 Nephi 8:37).
Effective parents lovingly give their children guidance to help them succeed.
2. “The words which I had often heard my father speak”
Enos tells us that his father, Jacob, taught him “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Enos 1:1). His father had been constant in teaching principles which Enos was not yet prepared to understand but which would one day become important to him. Enos had to hear those principles many times before they became meaningful to him: “The words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart” (Enos 1:3).
Effective parents persistently teach true principles.
3. “Ye will teach them to love one another and to serve one another”
King Benjamin told his people that their duty as parents included not only providing for the physical needs of their children but also helping them to be spiritually healthy. In particular, parents need to teach their children to overcome the temptation to “fight and quarrel one with another.” Instead, they should teach them “to love one another and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:14-15).
Effective parents teach their children patterns of behavior which will help them stay close to God.
4. “He has prayed with much faith concerning thee”
Alma the Younger was a rebel. His father, who was the high priest over all the churches in the land of Zarahemla, worried deeply about his son. When an angel appeared to Alma, speaking “with a voice of thunder,” he said that God had heard the prayers of Alma’s father, “for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth” (Mosiah 27:14). The angel came in response to those prayers of faith.
Effective parents pray for their children.
5. “I trust that I shall have great joy in you”
Later in life, Alma met with each of his sons to give them words of counsel. Even though each of them was in a different place spiritually, he expressed confidence in each one of them. To Shiblon, he said, “I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God” (Alma 38:2). To Corianton, who had committed a serious sin, he provided answers to several doctrinal questions. He seemed to be saying, I believe that if you really understand these true principles, you will act appropriately. (See Alma Teaches Corianton – Alma 39-42.)
Effective parents express confidence in their children.
6. “We do not doubt our mothers knew it”
Helaman recruited 2,000 young men to fight with the Nephite armies. These young men had never before fought, but they entered there first battle without a hint of fear. Their mothers had taught them that, if they didn’t doubt, God would deliver them. They said to Helaman, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:47-48). Not one of those young men died in that battle.
Some time later, as they fought in a second battle, Helaman observed that these young men were “firm and undaunted,” even as more seasoned soldiers began to falter. He said, “I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them” (Alma 57:20-21). Once again, every one of them survived the battle.
Effective parents share their testimonies with their children.
7. “I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved”
Near the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni quotes a sermon and two letters by his father, Mormon. The second letter is particularly grim: Mormon’s armies have sustained heavy losses, and prospects do not look good. Furthermore, the people have lost all sense of dignity. “They are without order and without mercy” (Moroni 9:18). Mormon is horrified at their brutality, and says, “I cannot recommend them unto God.” But he adds, “I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved” (Moroni 9:21-22).
He ends the letter with a heartfelt statement of hope: “May the grace of God the Father…, and our Lord Jesus Christ…, be, and abide with you forever. Amen” (Moroni 9:26).
Effective parents lead their children closer to the Savior.
Today, I will strive to be a better parent. I will teach my children, provide guidance, bear testimony to them, pray for them, and express confidence in them. Above all, I will strive to lead them to the ultimate source of deliverance: the Savior, Jesus Christ.