Do you realize that there are many opportunities for learning and teaching in our homes? Many parents take the opportunity to teach their children in their homes and use various ways of doing so.
As part of His plan for the happiness of His children, Heavenly Father planned for us to be born into families. It is within the family circle that we can gain our most happiness; the loving atmosphere of the family circle is also the best place for us to learn and teach correct principles and help children prepare for eternal life.
Heavenly Father has charged parents with the vital responsibility of helping their children to prepare to return to His presence. Parents who teach their children to follow Jesus Christ and live His gospel fulfill this responsibility.
In the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, we read instructions to parents: “And 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).
The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith, “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.
“For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.
“And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.
“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:25-28).
Because of this charge from the Lord Jesus Christ, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always placed great emphasis on the importance of gospel learning in the home; many years ago the Church instituted what is called family home evening.
“The home is the most important place for gospel learning. No other organization can take the place of the family. Latter-day prophets have repeatedly called on parents to nurture their children with love and gospel teaching.
“In 1915 President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency began a Churchwide effort to strengthen the family. They called on parents in the Church to gather their children once each week for a “Home Evening.” Families were to take time to pray and sing together, read the scriptures, teach the gospel to one another, and participate in other activities that would build family unity.
“In 1970 President Joseph Fielding Smith joined with his counselors in the First Presidency to designate Monday night as the time for family home evening. Since that announcement, the Church has kept Monday evenings free from Church activities so families can have this time together.
“Latter-day prophets continue to urge Church members to give highest priority to family home evening. They have promised that our dedication to this program will help protect our families against the evils of our time and will bring us abundant joy now and throughout the eternities.
“All members of the Church should make Monday evening a sacred time, reserved for family home evening. If you are married, have weekly family home evening with your spouse. As you have children, include them in family home evening. Adapt the program to their needs and interests, and let them participate. After your children grow up and move away, continue to hold family home evening with your spouse.
“If you are single, consider asking your bishop or branch president to organize a home evening group for you and other single members of your ward or branch. He may call a home evening leader, who is responsible to organize the program and see that home evenings are held regularly.” (See “Family Home Evening,” True to the Faith, pp. 65-66.)
The Church suggests the following outline for family home evenings: opening song, opening prayer, scripture reading, lesson, activity, closing son, closing prayer, and refreshments. Family home evening lessons should be based on the scriptures, the teachings of latter-day prophets, personal experiences, and personal testimony. The Church provides many resources to help parents in teaching their children; these resources include True to the Faith, Family Home Evening Resource Book, Gospel Principles, The Family Guidebook, and Church magazines.
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following counsel about the stewardship of parents: “In our remarkable parental stewardship, there are many ways that goodly parents can access the help and support they need to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children. Let me suggest five things parents can do to create stronger family cultures:
“First, parents can pray in earnest, asking our Eternal Father to help them love, understand, and guide the children He has sent to them.
“Second, they can hold family prayer, scripture study, and family home evenings and eat together as often as possible, making dinner a time of communication and the teaching of values.
“Third, parents can fully avail themselves of the Church’s support network, communicating with their children’s Primary teachers, youth leaders, and class and quorum presidencies. By communicating with those who are called and set apart to work with their children, parents can provide essential understanding of a child’s special and specific needs.
“Fourth, parents can share their testimonies often with their children, commit them to keep the commandments of God, and promise the blessings that our Heavenly Father promises His faithful children.
“Fifth, we can organize our families based on clear, simple family rules and expectations, wholesome family traditions and rituals, and `family economics,’ where children have household responsibilities and can earn allowances so that they can learn to budget, save, and pay tithing on the money they earn.
“These suggestions for creating stronger family cultures work in tandem with the culture of the Church. Our strengthened family cultures will be a protection for our children from `the fiery darts of the adversary’ (1 Nephi 15:24) embedded in their peer culture, the entertainment and celebrity cultures, the credit and entitlement cultures, and the Internet and media cultures to which they are constantly exposed. Strong family cultures will help our children live in the world and not become `of the world’ (John 15:19).” (See “Becoming Goodly Parents,” (Ensign,Nov. 2012, 26-28.)
The Church and the home are to help and strengthen each other. The Church provides the doctrines and priesthood ordinances needed for eternal life. Righteous families serve to make the Church a strong and vital organization.
Many blessings come to those who participate in gospel learning with their families through prayer, scripture study, family home evening, or wholesome recreational activities. I know there are many opportunities for us to learn and teach correct principles in our homes, and I know our families will be blessed for following the teachings of the prophets.