Parents and Leaders: Working Together to Forge Faith

    By Jess Larsen

    Being a parent can be downright daunting. On top of keeping tiny humans alive and teaching them how to be functioning adults, the task of helping them build a shield of faith to protect from the “the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16) sounds overwhelming.

    As President Boyd K. Packer said, “That shield of faith is not produced in a factory but at home.”1

    No pressure, right? Thank goodness our children also have a perfect Heavenly Father. And when it comes to prepping those very big shields for our very tiny humans, He has given us a crucial advantage: Church leaders. Your children’s coaches, teachers, and other mentors can and should play a huge and wonderful role in helping your children grow. But Church leaders differ from these adults in your child’s life for one simple reason: Church leaders are called by revelation. Although parents have the primary right to revelation for their children, Church leaders can receive revelation to help children learn and grow as well!

    Provide Role Models

    Church leaders can influence and inspire your children by example. One young woman’s leaders included a stay-at-home mother, a doctor who balanced working in a clinic with raising her family, and a teacher reentering the workforce now that her children were teens. These leaders—all faithful but different—helped the young woman think about possibilities for her own life goals.

    Asking for Help—It’s Allowed

    The new guidebook for parents and leaders instructs leaders that their primary role is to “assist parents.”2 That means parents can ask leaders for help. So, what would you like help with? How could Church leaders better support your children? What do you want your children to experience and learn in classes and activities?

    Once more for the people in the back: Your children’s Church leaders are there to assist you. You can and should reach out to them. There are many ways parents and leaders can work together. Here are just three examples.

    Counseling: One young man was struggling to decide between working or going to school. His father talked with him about the dilemma but also encouraged him to talk to a trusted leader. The young man counseled with his leader, which helped him to make his decision.

    Teaching a skill: One young woman wanted to learn to bake bread, a skill her mother didn’t have. Together, they talked to a leader who could bake bread, and the girl learned from her. Is there a leader who can help your child achieve a goal or learn a new skill? This can have the added benefit of helping your child turn to other trusted adults, gaining autonomy and resilience as he or she moves toward adulthood.

    Encouragement: When a young woman was struggling with self-worth, her mother asked her leaders to send messages of encouragement. These messages buoyed up the girl at a time when she felt very alone. Leaders can see qualities in your child and share the strengths they notice with you.

    Counsel Together

    “Come now, and let us reason together,” Isaiah said (Isaiah 1:18). Reasoning, or counseling, together can be the key to a vibrant, synergistic relationship between parents and Church leaders. Take the initiative to counsel with your child’s leaders and teachers. Be careful not to break any confidences or embarrass your children, but talk to them—in the hall, over text, or however you feel comfortable. They can be powerful resources.

    As parents and leaders work together, we can help our children forge a shield of faith they will carry with them each day of their lives.

    Notes

    1. Boyd K. Packer, “The Shield of Faith,” Ensign, May 1995, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

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