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Teaching Children Really Does Make a Difference

A talk from stake conference today reminded me of the testimony I gave in September and meant to post here. Here's the gist of it.

Sometimes I wonder if teaching the gospel to my children is really making a difference, especially because I don't see the results right away. Scripture study and family home evening require a lot of effort, and most of the time is spent getting them to sit and pay attention and not fight with each other. It reminds me of when Elder Bednar shared similar thoughts in a past conference:
Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected. 
Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent. 
Sister Bednar and I thought helping our sons understand the content of a particular lesson or a specific scripture was the ultimate outcome. But such a result does not occur each time we study or pray or learn together. The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time.
Recently I had a couple experiences that confirmed that my kids are learning even if it doesn't seem like it. My youngest, now three, likes music I'm not too thrilled he likes, especially at this young age, such as rap. Whenever a car drives by blasting music, he used to say, "I love that song!" even if he hadn't heard it before and would start dancing. One time when we were sitting outside when he was two, a car drove by pounding with bass, and I explained how that music drives the Spirit away. Then a few weeks ago as the boys and I walked back from the library, another car drove by blasting inappropriate music. On his own, my son said to me, "Bad song! Spirit go away. Only listen good music." I was shocked and grateful that my two-year-old remembered that little lesson!

With my oldest (five years old at the time), twice during his Primary class the last few weeks, he recognized the story his teacher was telling as the same one we were reading in scripture study! (Moroni and Zarahemnah, and the Title of Liberty) He then recounted the stories to his teacher. He had been paying attention after all!

In another conference, Elder Bednar reminded us that even if children don't understand our words, they understand the Spirit: "Youth of all ages, even infants, can and do respond to the distinctive spirit of the Book of Mormon. Children may not understand all of the words and stories, but they certainly can feel the “familiar spirit” described by Isaiah (Isaiah 29:4; see also 2 Nephi 26:16)."

I know that it's worth the time and effort teaching our children the gospel and establishing righteous habits they hopefully will continue for the rest of their lives.

Sharing Time: When have your kids surprised you with gospel knowledge and understanding?


DAD said…
Anonymous said…
Yes, both of you are doing a great job. It has always been important that we teach the gospel to our children -- but it is more so now. The world in which they will be adults will have wickedness presented as normal and acceptable. They have to be strong and secure in their testimonies and in knowledge of the scriptures to withstand the evils in their mists.


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