Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents rear uncommon children. The rising generation of today tends to feel they are entitled to whatever they want whenever they want it. If they see something they desire, they will just take it at whatever cost. Uncommon children are taught to love God and to respect other people and their property. Uncommon children can be the answer to our prayers.
Elder Legrand Richards (1886-1983) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared two true stories about uncommon young men. Both experiences involve members of the Armed Services. The first experience took place in California when a women’s club set an extra plate at the luncheon table. The place was reserved for the first soldier that came long. Well the soldier happened to be a Mormon boy, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The women passed coffee around, and the soldier politely refused it. They offered him some tea, and he refused it. After lunch was over, they offered him a cigarette, and he refused it. The women wanted to know more about him, including how he was reared. One woman at the luncheon made the decision: “If the Mormon elders ever call at my home, I will let them in. I want to know more about a people who can raise a boy like that boy who sat at our table today.”
The second incident took place at an officers’ training school. A new commanding officer was assigned to the school, and a banquet was held in his honor. A cocktail glass was beside every plate. When the proper time came, every cocktail glass was raised in a toast to the new commanding officer – except one. One young man raised a glass of milk. The commanding officer noticed the glass of milk and went right over to ask the potential officer why he had used milk to toast him.
“Well, officer,” he said, “I’ve never touched liquor in my life. I don’t want to touch it; my parents wouldn’t want me to touch it; and I didn’t think you would want me to either. And I wanted to toast you, so I thought you would be satisfied if I toasted you with what I am accustomed to drinking.”
The officer said, “You report at headquarters in the morning,” and told him what time.
The young man probably got little sleep but reported to headquarters the next morning. The officer assigned him to his staff and gave this explanation: “I want to surround myself with men who have the courage to do what they think is right regardless of what anybody else thinks about it.”
These two young men were far from home, but they remembered the teachings of their parents and their Church. They maintained their principles and did not seem to care what anyone else thought about it. They were uncommon young men. (See Elder LeGrand Richards, “Uncommon Boys,” Ensign, September 2014, p. 80.)
My children are “uncommon” and have been since they were young. I was always pleased to hear good things from their teachers. Their teachers would tell me how wonderful they were, but I thought they said those nice things to every parent. Then I worked as a teacher’s aide at the local school district for a couple of years and became a true believer. I realized that my children were part of the “cream of the crop” just as their teachers had been telling me.
Not only are my children uncommon, but their spouses are uncommon also. They are rearing their children to be uncommon also. I recently received an email message that included a statement by a teacher of one of my grandsons from an email chain. My daughter had thanked the teacher for making history interesting, and the teacher wrote back: “I am so glad he learned from it (a history lesson). If I may, I would like to tell you that E_____ is a young man of stellar character. I’ve been blessed to be a teacher for a long time, and I can assure you that young people of his maturity and leadership potential come through all too seldom. I am excited to see what the future holds for E____, and more excited to see what he will do with his gifts! Thank you for sharing him with me for a season!”
I remember interviewing an uncommon young man for graduation from Primary, the Church organization for children. He was twelve years old and ready to join the Young Men’s organization. I remember congratulating him and then telling him that I would keep my eyes on him. I lost touch with his family when they moved out of Alaska, and years later I read that he was married to the daughter of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I have seen his picture in the Ensign along with Elder Holland and his recently returned missionary daughter. He is an uncommon man who reared uncommon children.