Parents have the responsibility to teach the importance of family unity. Parents must rear their children in light and truth in order for them to withstand the evils all around them. This is best accomplished when all family members are in spiritual agreement as to the importance of certain activities. The strength of communities and nations is based on the security of the foundation of the home.
The following quote was in the family home evening manual for 1970-71: “The importance of family unity – love and consideration for one another in the family – cannot be overemphasized. Spiritual solidarity in family relationships is the sure foundation upon which the Church and society itself will flourish. This fact is well known and appreciated by the adversary, and as never before, he is using every clever device, influence, and power within his control to undermine and destroy this eternal institution. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ applied in family relationships will thwart this devilish destructiveness” (as quoted in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church – Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 205-206).
President Smith warned us at that time of the importance of teaching our children correct principles in order to avoid being deceived by Satan. We can see - nearly forty-five years later – that President Smith was wise in warning parents.
A year or more prior to the above warning (1969), President Smith taught, “There are many great and real dangers to be reckoned with, and those which concern us more than all others combined have to do with our children. The only real protection or adequate defense can be afforded by the home and its influences.” (See “Our Children -`The Loveliest Flowers From God’s Own Garden,’” Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1969, 5; as quoted in Teachings of the Presidents, p. 206.)
President Smith not only warned us of the importance of teaching our children, but he also told us what we should teach them. This quote comes from 1916! “Our children will have to be taught to discern between good and evil, otherwise in many respects they will not be able to understand why they are not permitted to indulge in practices that are common with their neighbors. Unless they are instructed in the doctrines of the Church, they will not, perhaps, understand why there is any harm in the Sunday concert, a Sunday theatre, picture show, ball game, or something of that kind, when their playmates, without restraint and with encouragement, indulge in these things forbidden of the Lord on his holy day. The parents are responsible for the proper teaching of their children, [and] the Lord will condemn the parents if their children grow up outside of the influence of the principles of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Conference Report, Oct. 1916, 71-72; as quoted in Teachings of the Presidents, p. 206).
In 1965 President Smith again warned parents of the importance of teaching their children and quoted scripture in doing so: “The Lord has commanded us, one and all, to bring our children up in light and truth. Where this spirit exists, disharmony, disobedience, and neglect of sacred duties will not, cannot, succeed.” (See Conference Report, 1965, p. 11; as quoted in Teachings of the Prophets, p. 206.)
I am grateful to have had the guidance of living prophet of God to help me rear my children. Nothing pleases me more than to see my son or son-in-law call his family around him to teach them a gospel principle or to study the scriptures together. Of course, their wives are right beside them, supporting them in this great responsibility. I can see in the behavior of my grandchildren that they are learning to love their siblings and to show consideration and kindness to them. As their grandmother, this makes me very happy to see!