In the Book of Mormon we read what fathers like Lehi and Alma taught their children. We also read about men and women—including Enos, Alma, and Abish—benefitting from things they had learned years before from their parents.
Today, I pondered some instructions from a prophet about what parents should teach their children.
After the people of King Benjamin received a remission of their sins, he gave the following guidance to the parents in the congregation:
Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and 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).
Benjamin wanted parents to provide for their children, to establish peace in their homes, and to teach two key attributes: wisdom and love.
- Wisdom: “To walk in the ways of truth and soberness” implies more than obeying instructions. It implies to me a person who can recognize truth, who has developed self-discipline, and who can make wise decisions in unfamiliar circumstances. So children need to be taught true principles, and they need opportunities to put those principles into practice. They need to experience the consequences of good and bad decisions, and they need to understand how to overcome mistakes. In the September 2019 Ensign, Elder Lynn G. Robbins paraphrased Joseph Smith in this way: “We teach them correct principles because whether we like it or not, they will govern themselves” (“Resilience—Spiritual Armor for Today’s Youth“).
- Love: How do you teach your children to love one another? You do it by helping them to serve one another. You might think that we serve the people we love, but we actually learn to love the people we serve. “How knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13). As our children think about one another’s happiness and perform acts of kindness toward one another, their love for one another will grow.
Today, I will help my children grow in wisdom and love. I will teach wisdom by helping them make choices and learn from their decisions. I will teach love by creating opportunities for them to serve one another.