Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when mothers and fathers fulfill their God-given responsibilities in families. Men and women are much the same in some ways even though they are created differently in body and capacities. These differences in men and women are to enable them to be two halves of a whole, perfecting and completing each other.
In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” God spoke to the people of the world through His duly authorized servants, the prophets and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This document describes the ideal family and teaches principles and practices that help us bring our individual families as close to the ideal as possible. The proclamation teaches that husband and wife are to “love and care for each other and their children.” It specifically outlines the duties of fathers and mothers as follow.
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.
The world would have us believe that equality means the same and that men and women must be the same if they are to be equal. This belief is wrong. If God wanted us to be the same, He would have created us the same. That would result in the same effect as having an orchestra made up of only violins or only harps. The varieties are what make life rich and interesting. Equality means that both genders stand on equal ground – one is not above or in front of the other. They stand side by side as husband and wife, father and mother, patriarch and matriarch.
Latter-day Saints have long believed that it is important for mothers to be in the home while rearing a family if at all possible. This belief comes from the words of living prophets as well as scriptures denoting the importance of teaching and training children. President Spencer W. Kimball made the following prophetic statement in 1978.
To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times.
The most important influence that a righteous woman can ever hope to have is in nurturing, teaching, and training her own children, working hand in hand with her righteous husband. In a time when the role of motherhood is devalued or seriously questioned and when women are delaying or declining the opportunity to become mothers, it is good to hear the clarion call of prophets. The prophetic counsel is supported by scientific evidence that demonstrates the importance of a mother’s care in the life of her children.
The role of fathers is equally important in the lives of their children. To be a father means more than simply a biological act; it is a divine calling that will continue throughout eternity. President Ezra Taft Benson said that the position of a father “is an eternal calling from he is] never released.” President Howard W. Hunter taught that a father’s “leadership of the family is [his] most important and sacred responsibility” and the “family is the most important unit in time and in eternity and, as such, transcends every other interest in life.”
According to the proclamation, a father is to preside (be the spiritual leader) in his family. He is to love, teach, and direct his children. His is the power to bless generations. A father is to provide food, shelter, and clothing as well as to manage resources, time, and energy. He is to provide for both physical and spiritual needs of his family. A father is to protect his children by keeping them safe but also by preparing them to take the responsibilities of adulthood. Scientific evidence shows that there are two other requirements for fathers. The first is that they be a partner with the mother whether or not they are married. The second is that they need to be present in body, mind, and spirit in the life of the child.
Children need both a father and a mother in their life because men and women are different and have God-given responsibilities along with the capacities to fulfill those roles. When fathers and mothers act as equal partners and fulfill their God-given roles, families, communities, and nations are stronger.