For those of you who don't speak Spanish...this picture I saw on Facebook says,
"Son, be careful where you walk. Father, you be careful. Remember that I follow your steps."
That is so powerful. Our children really do watch our footsteps and see what we do, how we do it, what we say, our attitude, our devotion and where our heart really is. Once we become parents, we are no longer responsible just for our own salvation, but to teach and lead our little ones to know the truth and the word of the Lord. Our children should be able to feel the love of our Heavenly Father through our love for them.
With the announcement that the age of young men to go on a mission has been lowered to 18, I felt an electric shock go through me. What??? I already was afraid I wouldn't be able to teach my son all he needed to go out into the world as it is and now I'm losing an entire year with him? He is 16, getting close to 17 and I am not ready. I've been thinking and making lists of all the things I want to teach him and that I wish he can have in his heart, not just in his head. I know he knows a lot of the gospel and has a desire to do what is right, but we are all learning and growing as we go.
Have I done my part? Even with family home evening, church attendance, scripture reading, and all the normal stuff, there is so much more we can do with our children to "inoculate them from the evils in the world", as one of the speakers today said Elder Packer said in a meeting yesterday.
Right after President Monson's announcement, the first talk of the October 2012 conference talked about families, along with other subjects.
"How we treat those closest to us is of fundamental importance. Violence, abuse, lack of civility, and disrespect in the home are not acceptable—not acceptable for adults and not acceptable for the rising generation. My father was not active in the Church but was a remarkably good example, especially in his treatment of my mother. He used to say, 'God will hold men responsible for every tear they cause their wives to shed.' This same concept is emphasized in “'Family: A Proclamation to the World.' It reads, '[Those] who abuse spouse or offspring … will one day stand accountable before God'14 Regardless of the culture in which we are raised, and whether our parents did or did not abuse us, we must not physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse anyone else.15
The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes. It is not surprising that our public discourse has declined in equal measure with the breakdown of the family. The family is the foundation for love and for maintaining spirituality. The family promotes an atmosphere where religious observance can flourish. There is indeed 'beauty all around when there’s love at home'16"
Then the following really hit me, as it is what we’ve been told and what I’ve been thinking about, but was such a strong reminder of our duties.
“Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before the Lord. With President Monson’s announcement this morning, it is essential that this be faithfully accomplished in homes which are places of refuge where kindness, forgiveness, truth, and righteousness prevail. Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music. Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in the family. Bishops and priesthood and auxiliary leaders need to support families and make sure that spiritual principles are taught. Home and visiting teachers can assist, especially with children of single parents.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook, Can Ye Feel So Now?, October 2012
Brother Winkle, a counselor in our stake presidency who also happens to be my daughter's friend's dad, said that he's been thinking about Elder Bednar's talk (which you can watch below) from October 2009 called "More Diligent & Concerned at Home". Brother Winkle also spoke of a boss he had who was a very hard worker, spending countless hours at the office and expecting the same of others and accomplishing much in the business world. This man found out he had cancer and was dying. What do you think his advice from his hospital bed was to Brother Winkle? "Spend time with your family. Love your family. Work on building lasting relationships with those you love."
A bishop from another ward was asked to give his impromptu thoughts for 3 minutes. Of all the things he could have spoken about, he chose to speak about families. He said that one of his biggest fears is that the may say or do something that may have a negative effect on his grandchildren's testimony or future. It reminded me of the picture above.
Then an Elder's Quorum President from another ward was asked to speak (sorry I didn't write his name down) said that he asks himself, "Am I the type of father my children can look up to as an example to show them what to do out in enemy's territory and that they can come to for spiritual guidance?" (Well, that's my version of what he said since he spoke faster than I could take notes.)
I feel an increased need to make sure that the MTC is a review, not a revelation for Alex, but also to prepare all my children to be strong, good adults who love their Heavenly Father and follow his commandments, and to be loving spouses and parents, which is the most important thing we can do on this earth. That's all. So I better keep working at it since that job that is easy to explain takes so much time and energy and guidance from the Spirit to accomplish.