What is the most effective way for a parent to instill in his children a desire for church activity?
November 1973

“What is the most effective way for a parent to instill in his children a desire for church activity?” Ensign, Nov. 1973, 13

What is the most effective way for a parent to instill in his children a desire for church activity, and at what age is “forceful persuasion” no longer effective with a child?

Different persuasive techniques are more helpful at some stages of a child’s development than others. Youngsters below the age of eight or ten usually exert little independence in terms of resisting parents’ persuasion to attend church. However, the teen years sometimes present a challenge, especially when a young person’s friends dissuade him from attending his meetings.

In his benevolent wisdom, the Lord has provided several resources to help all family members adhere to gospel principles. Parents should have a heart-to-heart talk to discover the reasons for their child’s unwillingness to attend church regularly. Families who have recently moved may observe that their children are sometimes excluded by certain social groups within the new ward. A talk with the child’s auxiliary or priesthood leaders and home teachers may prove helpful in establishing warm and lasting social relationships.

Parents sometimes simply have to endure in love and patience when a child resists attending church. It is important for parents to avoid a preachy and berating attitude.

Parents may find that the real reason a child skips a meeting is his desire to watch a special television show or engage in some other compelling activity. In this case, a family home evening lesson that covers the basics of keeping the Sabbath day holy and partaking of the sacrament weekly may prove beneficial.

Problems often arise when a family goes on hunting or fishing trips on the Sabbath day or when Sunday School teachers or sacrament meeting speakers are criticized in front of the children. They soon gain the impression that while the gospel may be true, it really isn’t very important.

When traditions of keeping the Sabbath day holy are firmly established in early youth, one need not be too concerned with the matter of forceful persuasion. We, as parents, should always convey by our actions that the Church and the gospel are not just true, but are important as well—a matter of spiritual life and death.

Instill in children a desire for Church activity

  • Spencer J. Condie, president of the Brigham Young University 107th Branch, is associate professor of sociology and chairman of the Department of University studies, Brigham Young University.