Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we place proper value on the precious little children around us. Little children have many wonderful qualities and can teach us many things. In fact, we have been commanded to become as little children, "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 3:19).
I recently returned from two weeks with five of my children, spouses, and fourteen grandchildren (varying in age from eleven years to one year). We had a glorious reunion and participated in many activities from temple service to boating to movies to visiting. One day some of my children wanted to take their older children to an amusement park for the day and asked if I would watch their younger children. I suggested that my other two children and their spouses take the opportunity to do some temple service. This left me with five three-year-olds, a two-year-old, and a one-year old - all boys except one three-year-old girl. I was grateful that the youngest napped while his parents were at the temple, but I had a wonderful and fulfilling experience in teaching the children to play nice with each other and to share with each other. I spent an exciting and exhausting ten to twelve hours, but oh how I love those little children!
I have a sound understanding of why our Savior, Jesus Christ, loves little children so much. While the Savior was in
He "called a little child unto him,
and set him in the midst of them, Jerusalem
"And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:2-4).
A little further, Matthew wrote more about little children: "Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
"And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence" (Matthew 19:14-15).
After the Savior was resurrected, He visited the people who lived in the
New World. He spent time healing and blessing the
people, and then He commanded that the little children should be brought to
Him. "They brought their little children and set them down upon the ground
round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till
they had all been brought unto him."
The Savior commanded the people to kneel, and then He knelt in the midst of the children and prayed to Father in Heaven. After He was through praying, the Savior wept, "and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
"And when he had done this he wept again" (See Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 17:7-8).
I am grateful for my knowledge of how precious these little children are in the eyes of God and the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke about little children in his conference address in April 2012. He told several stories about his interactions with little children and then said, "These children of whom I spoke represent all of our Heavenly Father's children….
"The creation of life is a great responsibility for a married couple. It is the challenge of mortality to be a worthy and responsible parent. Neither man nor woman can bear children alone. It was meant that children have two parents - both a father and a mother. No other pattern or process can replace this one….
"The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood. Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling - from which they will never be released - is to one another and then to their children.
"One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about what really matters from our children than we ever did from our parents. We come to recognize the truth in Isaiah's prophecy that `a little child shall lead them' [Isaiah 11:6]" (in Ensign, May 2012, pp. 6-9).
The Psalmist wrote, "Children are an heritage of the Lord: and … happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Psalm 127:3, 5). Families, communities, and nations grow stronger when proper emphasis is placed on the precious little children in our midst.