How Can I Be a Better Father?

Today is Father’s Day, and I’m thinking about what I can do to be a better father. Here are ten principles the Book of Mormon teaches about being an effective father:

1. Give your children assignments, and trust that they can complete them.

Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.
For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.
Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness (1 Nephi 3:2-4).

I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness (1 Nephi 5:5).

2. Teach your children the things that will help them be successful in life.

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father (1 Nephi 1:1).

Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that hewas a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it (Enos 1:1).

3. Earn your children’s respect by behaving with integrity.

Ye have…lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them (Jacob 2:35).

4. Teach them the gospel, even if they don’t seem to be listening.

Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
And my soul hungered… (Enos 1:3-4).

As I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world (Alma 36:17).

5. Pray for them.

Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith (Mosiah 27:14).

6. Express confidence in them.

My son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end (Alma 38:2).

My son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved;…
And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever (Moroni 9:22, 26).

7. Help them learn to get along with each other.

And ye will not suffer your children that they…fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another (Mosiah 4:14-15).

8. Share spiritual experiences and testimony with them

Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision (1 Nephi 8:2).

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there (Alma 36:21-22).

One of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father… (Alma 19:16).

9. Give them corrective feedback when needed

And now, my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime. I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good….
And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities (Alma 39:7, 12).

10. Help them find answers to their questions.

I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning the resurrection of the dead (Alma 40:1).

And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing. But behold, I will explain it unto thee (Alma 41:1).

And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner….
Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee (Alma 42:1-2).

Today, I will follow the guidance and examples of righteous fathers in the Book of Mormon as I work to become a better father. In particular, I will be more diligent in sharing my testimony of the gospel with my children and expressing my confidence in them.

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