Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation, by Elder Robert D. Hales
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I recall being terrified as we were expecting our first child. I felt that the timing was right, but I remained petrified about a couple of things in particular: holding such a tiny little person, and if I would be able to do what was expected of me as a father.

The first fear stayed with me until I held our little (and I mean little) son for the first time and was surprised that I actually felt comfortable. The second fear didn't quite go away, but was addressed as I prepared for fatherhood. You see, I figured that the ultimate role of parents is to be representatives of the parenting that children experienced before coming to earth. A tall order, I know. Despite the gravitas of this realization, I came to think that if such was expected of me—thinking of parenthood as a calling—then I could expect divine help along the way. This expectation gave me courage to not worry as much (though I did still worry—I still do!).

Considering this (that parenthood is a calling), it is natural to wonder, as did Elder Hales, "what is my duty to God in relation to the youth?"

Perhaps not surprisingly, the general answer reminds of the old statement:

There are three ways to be a successful parent: Example, Example, and Example!

Growing up (and still today), every time example and parenthood were discussed in any church capacity, the stripling warriors were cited: "We do not doubt our mothers knew it" (Alma 56:47-48). I love this reference, but I have issue with how many people read it; almost every time I hear it read there is an added pause between doubt and our. It's as if people are saying "We do not doubt [and here's the reason why:] our mothers knew it."

While I don't doubt that the success of the stripling warriors is heavily attributed to their parents' example, I have come to love even more the actual way that this verse is written: that the honorable, brave, and true stripling warriors did not doubt that their mothers [and hopefully fathers, too] knew and lived the gospel.

If parenthood is a calling of which we can expect help (and I think it is), and if our duty to God is (in part) to be examples for our children, and if righteous examples can help our children to be like the stripling warriors, then I want to make sure I show that I know what I say that I know. Also, I want to do the many other things that Elder Hales outlined: walking alongside my children, having "regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction" with them, listening, being there, and looking in their eyes and telling them that I love them and that Heavenly Father loves them.

The greatest love and the greatest teachings should be in our homes.

I love my family, and I want them to know that I love them and that I love the Lord.

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