A Firm Foundation: Teaching Children the Family Proclamation
April 2024

“A Firm Foundation: Teaching Children the Family Proclamation,” Liahona, Apr. 2024.

A Firm Foundation: Teaching Children the Family Proclamation

In a world that teaches so many different philosophies and even untruths about the family, we must teach children the doctrine of the family in Heavenly Father’s eternal plan.

family gathered at a table

Over 25 years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in which the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles boldly stated clear truths regarding the family being central to God’s plan for His sons and daughters.1

At the time, it seemed that the majority of the world agreed with what he said. Today, many of the principles that were so clear then are now being challenged. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, explained, “As is evident in our family proclamation, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are blessed with unique doctrine and different ways of viewing the world.”2

Understanding and believing in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation and the central role that the family plays in that plan provides us with a solid foundation. The Primary song cautions, “The foolish man built his house upon the sand, and the rains came tumbling down”3 … and the house on the sand went splat! Many of the world’s philosophies regarding the family are built upon sand or even untruths, so it’s important to be aware.

One critical thing we can do to help our children withstand the challenges of the last days is to help them be firmly grounded in the truths clearly stated in the proclamation. Having a solid understanding of those principles and a testimony of their truth will help our children hold on to their core beliefs. In a talk titled “Defenders of the Family Proclamation,” Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, former Young Women General President, boldly challenged us: “Everyone … can be defenders of the Lord’s plan described in the family proclamation. If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!”4

Here are some ideas that may help as you teach your children the importance of the family in Heavenly Father’s eternal plan.


A great way to have these truths become cemented in our children’s minds is to have them memorized. I was inspired by the Primary children in my ward in California who memorized the proclamation together. Each month they would stand and recite sections of the proclamation until they had memorized it all.

We can encourage our children and grandchildren to memorize the proclamation. There might even be a reward! If you have not memorized it yourself, it’s fun to do it together!

As we raised our children in Southern California through all of the political turmoil challenging traditional marriage, they learned well the words, “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” And they repeated those words many times when asked about their beliefs.

Having these words firmly rooted in our children’s minds will help them as they face situations where they may have questions themselves or be asked about their beliefs. The phrase with the truth will come to their minds more easily (see John 14:26).

family studying together


At home our children can learn truth and learn how to explain their values and principles. Having these discussions will solidify their testimonies of the family and will allow the Spirit to testify of the truths they’re hearing.

As we have these discussions, it’s critical that we state the truths from the proclamation clearly and unapologetically. For example, we teach that chastity before marriage and fidelity after are uncompromising standards: “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” We teach that sexual purity will protect them.

It’s helpful to have the children ask questions and offer their opinions as we have these discussions. Ask them, “What do you think the prophet and apostles meant when they said, ‘We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan’? Why do you think that is important?”

Our family was very involved in community and political efforts in support of the family, so we talked about these things often and had many robust conversations where opinions were shared and debated. As a result, each of our children grew confident in their own beliefs and their ability to express them.

For example, my youngest son took a biology class from a teacher who had been openly hostile to our beliefs. The teacher challenged him, “Does your mother know you’re in my class?”

“Yes, sir,” he responded.

About a month later I asked my son, “How is your biology class going?”

“Mom, the teacher challenges me every day,” he responded.

I was upset. “We can pull you out of that class immediately!” I said.

“No way, Mom,” he replied. “Every day he challenges my beliefs, and every day I repeat what I believe in,” he explained. “And almost every day someone comes up to me after class and thanks me. They say they believe like I do but are too afraid to say anything.”

I was so proud of him for being strong in the face of such direct challenges and questions.

At the end of the semester, the teacher approached him. “Well, I have to give you credit,” he said. “You have done a great job of standing up for what you believe.”

Having all of those family discussions had prepared him well.


In today’s world, the doctrine of the family is being challenged and questioned daily. Role-playing can help our children become stronger in their faith and understanding.

You could have a home evening where you role-play conversations about specific questions. For example, your son may play the role of a friend asking, “Does your church approve of same-sex marriage?” Your daughter could be the one explaining, “Our leaders have said, ‘The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.’ This is what I believe, but I understand that others may believe differently.”

You could ask, “Do you feel dads are important?” Because they are familiar with the family proclamation, your children are thinking, “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” One child could respond by saying, “Dads are very important to take care of their families and keep us safe. My dad is a great dad—I’m so grateful for him!”

These role-plays may be challenging at first, but as your children continue to practice, the answers will come more easily. Children who have practiced a response will be more confident and clear in their answers and not be rattled and unsure of how to say what they believe.

parents studying with their children

Developing Firm Testimonies

As we help our children study and incorporate the principles found in the proclamation, they will develop firm testimonies of the importance of families, marriage, parents, and life.

In the October 2017 general conference, President Oaks testified:

“The proclamation on the family is a statement of eternal truth, the will of the Lord for His children who seek eternal life. It has been the basis of Church teaching and practice for the last 22 years and will continue so for the future. Consider it as such, teach it, live by it, and you will be blessed as you press forward toward eternal life.

“Forty years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson taught that ‘every generation has its tests and its chance to stand and prove itself.’ I believe our attitude toward and use of the family proclamation is one of those tests for this generation. I pray for all Latter-day Saints to stand firm in that test.”5

As the Primary song says, “The wise man built his house upon the rock. … And the house on the rock stood still.”6 We can help our children become firm in their understanding of the family and the truths of the plan of salvation. This will be a great blessing to them and strengthen their faith as they live through these challenging last days.

The author lives in Utah, USA.