Female: This program was just the perfect timing, along with the Come, Follow Me program of the Church. The Lord really knows what is the perfect program for the family and how to help our children immerse in the gospel.
Male: So this program now is an initiative of the Church wherein our children should first be taught in our homes and then followed by what they learn in the Church. So it’s really a home-centered and Church-supported program.
Female: I’d been wondering how to help my children build their testimonies, and I felt like this was an answer.
Male: One of the things we like to do as a family is to be able to sit down and talk about things that we should improve and change.
Female: Each one has their attributes; each one has their own ways of giving. What I love is that you unify home with church and seminary.
Female: Youth and children need a lot of parental support. We have to be encouraging in teaching the importance of this.
Male: When the youth begin to see the trust the leaders have for them, they will be willing to do more and be able to show that Heavenly Father loves them and cares for them.
Female: Are they learning how to ask? Do they know how the Spirit speaks to them? It’s constantly moving, we hope, in an upward direction, building one experience upon another. You know, this is the pattern of heaven. This is the celestial pattern of learning, and this is meant to help you figure out how that works.
Female: I mean, you want your children to develop their talents and to try new things to see what those talents are. You also want them to be able to listen to the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Male: That’s how we learn about ourselves and how we can learn about our divine identity, or who we really are, is by listening and acting according to what the Holy Ghost brings to our minds.
President Russell M. Nelson: Now a word to the parents: your role is essential. Please build strong relationships with your children and youth. Leaders at church can help, but these are your children. No one can have a greater influence on their success than you. Give them love and encouragement and counsel.
President Jean B. Bingham: Parents, as you saw in that video, you are critical in helping your children and youth build faith in Jesus Christ and become more like Him. As a parent and grandparent myself, I am grateful that the Lord inspired home-centered programs like Children and Youth right when we needed them.
President Mark L. Pace: I agree, President Bingham. As things begin to return to normal in some parts of the world, we hope your home-centered efforts will continue. Your children’s experiences with the gospel in your homes will prepare them for the future better than anything else.
President Bingham: Today we want to share a few ideas and resources that can help you support your children in following Jesus Christ. Of course, these are just suggestions. You know your children best, and together you and your children can receive revelation on what they need most.
Now, the work of helping your children follow the Savior is part of every aspect of life. The Children and Youth program helps us focus on a few key areas where we can offer support: gospel learning, service and activities, and personal development. We’ll spend a little time talking about each one.
President Pace: To begin, let’s start with gospel learning. I think this past year and a half has shown us how powerful home-centered gospel learning can be and at times how challenging it can be. Here are a few ideas of things you can do right now.
President Bingham: Keep gathering your family for gospel study regularly. The scriptures should be your main resource. Come, Follow Me can help make the most of your scripture study, and other resources like Church magazines, the Gospel Living app, and the Gospel for Kids app (available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese) can also help. Many of you are already studying the gospel as a family—keep going! Even when it seems no one is listening, or children complain or argue, and it feels more like a war zone than a place of peace and learning, keep going! Your children are listening and watching, and the peace and blessings will come. The main thing is that you keep trying.
Reading the scriptures daily with my own children was not always easy, and sometimes we wondered if it was worth it. But years later, it was clear that it did make a difference. One of our daughters was asked to speak in stake conference just before she left for her mission. We were quite surprised but grateful to hear her say, “I learned the gospel in our daily family scripture study. I may have acted less than enthusiastic sometimes, but those short reading and discussion times taught me principles of the gospel, which gave me a foundation for making righteous choices that have brought me where I am today.”
President Pace: Also, gospel learning doesn’t always have to be a formal, sit-down lesson. Everyday life provides many opportunities for informal teaching moments. Whether it’s spilt milk or an act of kindness, help your children apply the Savior’s Atonement and gospel to their experiences at home, school, and work, or in other activities.
They will also find answers to life’s questions and great power in studying the word of God personally—especially as they read the Book of Mormon. Help them make this a priority in their lives.
President Bingham: And finally, support your children in attending Church classes, including seminary, and in fulfilling Church callings. Some will have opportunities to serve in a class or quorum presidency. If they do, help them be aware of the many resources available to them on the Children and Youth website and the Gospel Library app.
President Bingham: Next is service and activities. Sometimes we think of service and activities as something that only happens at church, but the most impactful activities are often family-based. Don’t wait for your ward to plan something. You know what will bless your children and draw them closer to the Savior.
President Pace: And family activities don’t have to be large-scale or elaborate. The important thing is that you’re building strong relationships with each other and with the Savior. Consider involving your children in the planning process. If you need ideas, you can find some on the Children and Youth website and, in some areas, on JustServe.org or in the JustServe app.
President Bingham: Here’s one example of that. We heard about a young man whose birthday was coming up. Instead of a traditional birthday party, he wanted to invite his friends to do a service project. His parents helped him find the right project on JustServe. On the day of his party, this young man, his friends, and his family had a great time putting together hygiene kits and eating pizza.
President Pace: The final aspect of the Children and Youth program is personal development. Based on Luke 2:52, youth and children set goals to increase, as the Savior did, spiritually, physically, socially, and intellectually. But it is also important to remember that personal development is much more than just youth and children setting goals to fulfill a requirement. It is the process of them seeking revelation and striving to become more like the Savior in all parts of their lives.
President Bingham: Revelation is key to this process of growth. President Nelson said, “I promise you that if you will sincerely and persistently do the spiritual work needed to develop the crucial, spiritual skill of learning how to hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, you will have all the direction you will ever need in your life.”1
President Pace: I encourage you parents to help your children recognize the unique ways the Holy Ghost speaks to them. Most often revelation comes through inspiring thoughts to our minds and peaceful feelings to our hearts. The impressions we receive may be small, but they are more likely to come when we are making the daily effort to seek the Lord in prayer and scripture study.
President Bingham: I’ve noticed that strong impressions don’t always come before I make a decision, but often they come after. Sometimes the Lord expects us to act in faith first, and He confirms our decision afterward. I’d encourage your children to act and press forward. The crucial skill of hearing the Spirit will help them have confidence that they are becoming who the Lord wants them to become.
President Pace: That confidence can only come if these are your children’s goals and not your goals. Your children will need a guiding hand and support, but allow them the agency to improve, learn, and grow in ways they feel are best. When it is something they choose, they will be more motivated to do it. Then support and cheer them on!
President Bingham: Let’s watch a short video showing how families are working on personal development together.
Male: People are super busy. So it was kind of a tricky transition to get to the point where it was like, okay, what are we supposed to do here, or how can we make this happen? What do we need to do? But once we started figuring it out, and realizing it was simpler than we were worried that it should be, things went a lot better.
Female: Whenever we are going to do something, the first thing we do is pray to know what God wants to change as a family.
Female: So when I had this prayer in my heart of what can I do, and I asked, I just got that prompting and literally the vision board in my head, this will work. So I would say, you know, have that prayer in your heart, search and look, and then take it to the Lord and see what personal revelation comes to you and your family. Because there’s a way for everyone to do this program. It’ll look a little bit different for everyone, and that’s okay, because we’re all just trying to make our way back to Christ.
Male: For us as parents, we need to support them 100 percent. So maybe it’s the best time for me to weaken myself and do it with her, so that she would be aware that she is doing it, not only by herself, but she has a parent supporting her all the way.
Female: It’s important for me to listen and to communicate regularly. Trying to remember what’s important to them and what they want to improve upon helps me focus on what questions I’m asking them more. And you’re learning to listen to them, and you get to know them and how they learn and how they grow and what they need and what motivates them.
Male: So this new initiative is teaching kids how to act for themselves and proactively move toward what’s important to them and what’s important to Heavenly Father. So this is what we’re trying to help our kids do, is become more self-directed, more connected to Him, so that they’re making the right kinds of decisions for their lives.
President Pace: That video had some great ideas. President Bingham, what other ideas can we give parents?
President Bingham: Well, it may be helpful to meet with each of your children and discuss how they want to grow and what goals they want to work on. For some, their goal may be to continue or improve in something they’re already doing. That’s great! So many children and youth are already working on wonderful things. Just help them recognize and involve the Lord in that growth process.
President Pace: Now, your children may need a little guidance at making specific, attainable goals. You might need to help them make a plan—your children are much more likely to be successful if they write their goals down. The guidebooks or the Gospel Living app can help.
President Bingham: I heard a parent in the video say that their family follows up with each other. That’s a great way to support your children in their goals. This will provide some accountability and help them know you are there to help.
Some families also set goals to work on together. What a fun way to work and grow together as a family!
President Pace: In conclusion, we just want to extend a huge thank you to all you wonderful parents. You are doing a great job! We trust that these ideas will be helpful to you and your children as you follow the Savior together.
President Bingham: Thank you again, and may the Lord continue to bless you!
In our next segment, President Camille N. Johnson, Primary General President, will lead a similar discussion for Primary leaders.