Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when children receive protection. In normal circumstances, the safest place for children is with their parents. There are numerous ways that children can be harmed if adults are not attentive in protecting them. School shootings have been much in the news in recent months, but there are other situations that can harm children. As I searched the news and studied on my own, I found the following three areas today where children need to be protected.
There is much in the news about the Trump administration and its treatment of children brought into the United States by their parents illegally. When a family crosses the southern U.S. border illegally, the children and the parents are put into separate areas. As I understand the situation, the children receive care but not from their parents. It must be a very frightening experience for the children and heartbreaking for the parents. This is a terrible situation, but it is caused by the parents breaking the immigration laws of the nation. These are not the only laws that separate children from parents. When a parent sells drugs or breaks other laws, they are sent to prison - and are separated from their children. The situation at the border is no different: If the law is broken and the parent is taken away, the children will suffer – no matter what the law is. Parental obedience to law will protect children in most cases.
A second area where parents must protect children is in and around water. Summer usually means water activities – swimming, boating, fishing, etc. Children are attracted to water, so parents must be vigilant in caring for their children. My family was walking along a river when our toddler fell into the water. Because we were right beside him, my husband was able to reach down and pull him out almost before he hit water.
I have seventeen grandchildren who all enjoy the water. Two families have boats, and one has a swimming pool. The parents teach their children water safety. They provide swimming lessons starting at young ages, and the children are like fish in the water in that they know how to swim and are comfortable in the water. Parents make sure that their children wear life vests whenever they are on boats, and the smallest children wear life vests all day long – even on shore. Vigilance around water is a must every day of the year in that drownings can take place in a bathtub or even an inch of water in a bucket. Parents must insure that their children learn to swim, but they must remain aware and close by whenever there is water.
The third area where parents must protect their children is preparing their family for eternity. Because there is life after death, Heavenly Father prepared a way for parents and children to be together for all eternity. However, the parents – or someone else - must take actions during this life if families are to be together in the next one; otherwise, children may be permanently separated from their parents at death.
In his April 2010 General Conference address, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the importance sealing families together for eternity as he spoke about linking generations together in love.
We teach that God’s love for His children is infinite. Regardless of race, nationality, or gender, He loves all of them. He has done so from the beginning and will continue to do so. He invites all to gain eternal exaltation for their family. His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life – the exaltation – of His children. (See Moses 1:39)….
The Atonement of His Beloved Son enabled both of the Father’s objectives to be fulfilled. Without the Atonement, there would be no immortality. Without the Atonement, there would be no return to the presence of the Father and no continuation of the family beyond the grave.
Because of the Atonement, these consummate blessings can be realized by each of God’s children who obey His eternal laws. Through the ages, many of His children had had access to the blessings of the gospel, but many more have not. Before the foundation of the world, our Heavenly Father instituted the ordinance of baptism for those who die without a knowledge of the gospel. He loves those children also.
He also provided a way for them to be part of an eternal family. Every human being who comes to this earth is the product of generations of parents. We have a natural yearning to connect with our ancestors. This desire dwells in our hearts, regardless of age.
…Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple.
Because of the importance of this work, [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] has built temples closer to the people, and family history research is being facilitated as never before….
Parents and children are meant to be together in this life as well as the next one. It is not right to separate children from their parents by law or by death. However, it happens too often if parents are not vigilant in protecting life, obedient to the laws of the land and of God, or do not make the necessary covenants to insure that their family will be together forever. Protecting children and keeping them with their parents will strengthen families, communities, and nations.