Friend to Friend: The Teachings of Parents

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“Friend to Friend: The Teachings of Parents,” Friend, July 1975, 6

Friend to Friend:

The Teachings of Parents

President Ezra Taft Benson

Our Heavenly Father loves all of His children of all nations everywhere. Because He loves us so much, He has given us loving parents who care for us and teach us. Our mothers and fathers are our first and best teachers, and what they teach us can help us to grow up to be good and useful men and women. The tremendous influence for good of responsible parents throughout history is impossible to measure.

One little boy, whose parents’ teachings helped him, later became a truly great man and president of the United States, where he was loved and respected by almost everyone who knew him. Many books have been written about this man, but they only tell of his life when he was an adult. Almost nothing has been mentioned about his boyhood.

Then a retired army general and patriot by the name of William H. Wilbur decided to find out if something in the famous man’s childhood was responsible for his greatness. Mr. Wilbur spent years searching for such information. He discovered that the boy came from a good home where he was taught and guided carefully by his parents. They taught the boy to have faith in the Lord and how to pray. They gave him certain rules to memorize and keep so that he could live a wholesome and righteous life of service.

The rules helped the boy to develop character, consideration, modesty, compassion, respect, proper conduct and manners, and he tried hard to live by them. When he was older, the boy added some rules of his own, making 110 in all. Here are just a few of them:

  • Keep company only with good people.

  • Accept corrections thankfully.

  • Speak not evil of the absent.

  • When you speak of God, do so reverently.

  • Honor and obey your parents.

  • Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.

  • Do not reprove or correct another when you are angry.

  • Do not swear or revile anyone.

  • Speak not injurious words even in fun.

  • Be attentive when others speak.

  • Be modest in your apparel (clothes).

  • Do not try to show off.

  • Do not fuss with your clothing in public.

  • Do not brag about your accomplishments.

  • Laugh not loudly or at all without occasion.

  • When a person does the best he can, yet doesn’t succeed, do not blame him.

  • Do not express joy before one who is sick or in pain.

  • Do not show yourself glad at another’s misfortune.

  • If anyone comes to speak to you while you are sitting, stand up.

  • When your superiors or older people are talking, do not speak or laugh.

  • Do not laugh at your own jokes.

  • Do not give advice unless you are asked.

  • Do not eat in the streets.

  • Point not with thy finger.

  • Serve guests first.

  • Do not eat with your knife.

  • Sit up straight while eating.

  • Do not put too much in your mouth at one time.

  • Do not talk with food in the mouth.

As he became a man, this boy’s letters and deeds showed that he followed these rules all his life. From the New England Primer he was once asked to learn the following by heart:

  • I will fear God. …

  • I will honour my Father and Mother.

  • I will obey my superiors.

  • I will submit to my elders.

  • I will love my friends.

  • I will hate no man.

  • I will forgive my enemies and pray to God for them.

  • I will … keep all [of] God’s Holy commandments.

Have you guessed the name of this great man? It is George Washington, the first president of the United States, who some call “the father of his country.” He was a big man—physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. He was a modest man, a humble man, a man always considerate of others. General Wilbur, who wrote the book, The Making of George Washington—which I hope all of you will read some day—said Washington “had an almost Godlike capacity for leadership.” He was also a man of courage and stood for whatever was right.

I pray that all of our boys and girls will follow the example of George Washington and other noble men and women of all nations.

Illustrated by Richard Hull