Twelfth-Birthday Tradition Brings Peace and Family Closeness

“Twelfth-Birthday Tradition Brings Peace and Family Closeness,” Ensign, March 2017

Turning Hearts

Twelfth-Birthday Tradition Brings Peace and Family Closeness

The author lives in New York, USA.

Our family learned firsthand about the peace and closeness that come from attending the temple together.

Palmyra New York Temple

Photograph of Palmyra New York Temple by Marit Welker

Years ago, my son Aaron was being bullied at school. “It was awful, made me feel worthless, and made me feel as if I couldn’t be happy,” he remembers. Thankfully, when tough times came, he already knew a place of deliverance from the torment: the temple. He used to ask us to drive him to the temple, “even if just to sit in the parking lot to feel the Spirit. … It was my escape,” he says. “I felt close to the Lord and far from the world when I was at the temple.”

When our oldest daughter, Rachel, turned 12, my husband, Eric, and I felt impressed to start a family tradition of introducing our four children to the blessings of temple attendance: a special trip to the temple for each child’s 12th birthday to perform vicarious baptisms for our ancestors. For this occasion we attended a temple of their choice, within a reasonable distance from our home, and sometimes stayed the night at a hotel near the temple.

Over the years, we have held family home evening lessons on the temple, prepared family names to take to the temple, reviewed the process of the baptismal ordinance, and taught our children how to prepare to enter the temple.

We learned that the time and the extra expense to take each child at 12 years of age to the temple were all worth it when they felt the Spirit there. They now know where to turn for peace. Our son Jakob says, “I still remember feeling the peace and love in the temple and the wonderful experience I had. I remember feeling a longing to return to the temple.”

The tradition encouraged our children to attend the temple often and brought our family closer together. Our daughter Rebecca says, “The tradition has helped me see that we are a forever family. We are linked to each other and need to help each other make our way back to Heavenly Father.”

As they grew older, our children started attending the temple together whenever possible. “I loved this. It was a special time with my older siblings,” Aaron says. “I have a firm testimony that regular temple attendance can bring you closer to those you love and help you see a new appreciation for the things they do.”

When we began the tradition, we couldn’t have predicted how the peace of the temple would bless all our lives. I often felt the quiet effects throughout our home. As we prepare to attend the temple, we are happier and our family has a different feeling—a more reverent attitude that can be felt in our home.