“Parents Counseled in Fireside,” Ensign, Apr. 1985, 75–76
President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, gave parents at a January 27 satellite fireside four guidelines for building a strong, happy home environment: “Let your children grow in a home where there is (1) a spirit of service, (2) an atmosphere of growth, (3) the discipline of love, and (4) the practice of prayer.”
The Sunday evening fireside, themed “Teach Me to Walk in the Light,” was broadcast via satellite from the Salt Lake Tabernacle to more than nine hundred locations throughout the United States and Canada. Speakers included President Hinckley, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve, and Sister Patricia T. Holland, first counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. The Maynard Sorenson family performed three musical numbers. A special video presentation was also part of the program.
Complete texts of the fireside talks will be printed in the June issue of the Ensign.
Elaborating on his four guidelines, President Hinckley said, “Selfishness is a destructive, gnawing, corrosive element in the lives of most of us. It lies at the root of much of the tension between parents and children. … The antidote of selfishness is service, a reaching out to those about us, those in the home, and those beyond the walls of the home.”
He spoke of the power of parents’ examples in teaching their children: “A child who sees his father and mother forgo comforts for themselves as they reach out to those in distress will likely follow the same pattern when he or she grows to maturity. … Would you have your children grow in a spirit of unselfishness? Indulgence of selfish desires will not do it. Rather, let them come to see in their own homes, and in their most intimate family associations, the truth of the great principle set forth by the Lord: ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.’” (Mark 8:35.)
President Hinckley cited his own parents’ example in providing their children with good books and magazines, and counseled parents to create an atmosphere of growth in their homes. “Let your children be exposed to great minds, great ideas, everlasting truth, and those things which will build and motivate for good,” he said.
Of discipline, he commented, “Discipline with severity, discipline with cruelty, inevitably leads not to correction, but rather to resentment and bitterness. It cures nothing. It only aggravates the problem. It is self-defeating. … There is no discipline in all the world like the discipline of love.”
He encouraged parents to pray with their children. “I know of no better way to develop a spirit of appreciation in children than for all of the members of the family to kneel together in prayer to thank the Lord for His blessings. Let prayer, night and morning, as a family and as individuals, become a practice in which children grow while yet young. It will bless their lives forever. No parent in this Church can afford to neglect it.”
Elder Oaks spoke of parental leadership in the family. “Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents,” he said. “We may truly say that the gospel plan originated in the council of an eternal family, it is implemented through our earthly families, and it has its destiny in our eternal families.”
“Families unite when they do meaningful things together,” he said. He encouraged parents to hold family home evenings and other family activities, and to “turn their family on” by turning their television sets off. “The family circle,” he said, “is the ideal place to demonstrate and learn kindness, forgiveness, faith in God, and every other practicing virtue of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Oaks also told parents that they should make use of the Family Home Evening Resource Book in planning their family home evening activities. “It is not a book just to own or to store on a shelf,” he said. “It is a book to be used. Make sure you have it in your home. Use it. It will bless your lives and the lives of your children.”
Sister Holland discussed the growth needed in parenthood. “For parents to take a newborn infant, who is then only a bundle of potentialities, and love and guide and develop that child until a fully functional human being emerges, is the grandest miracle of science and the greatest of all arts!”
Relating lessons she had learned from her own children, Sister Holland acknowledged that both parents and children make mistakes. “Every child has to practice on his mother, and, in a more important way, every mother has to practice on her child.”