Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Elder Robert D. Hales on the roles of parents

Elder Robert D. Hales (born August 24, 1932) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"The calling of father or mother is sacred and carries with it great significance. One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities given to us is that of being a parent—helping to bring to earth a child of God and having the sacred responsibility to love, care, and guide children back to our Heavenly Father. In many ways earthly parents represent their Heavenly Father in the process of nurturing, loving, caring, and teaching children. Children naturally look to their parents to learn of the characteristics of their Heavenly Father. After they come to love, respect, and have confidence in their earthly parents, they often unknowingly develop the same feelings towards their Heavenly Father.
"No parent on earth is perfect. In fact, children are very understanding when they sense and feel that parents truly care and are attempting to be the best they can be.
"It helps children to see that good parents can have differing opinions, and that these differences can be worked out without striking, yelling, or throwing things. They need to see and feel calm communication with respect for each other's viewpoints so they themselves will know how to work through differences in their own lives.
"Parents are counseled to teach their children by precept and example."
- Robert D. Hales, "How Will Our Children Remember Us?", Ensign, November 1993, pp. 8-10
Click here to read or listen to the full article

Most parents realize that the opportunity to act in that role is, as Elder Hales teaches, "One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities given to us" because it involves "the sacred responsibility to love, care, and guide children back to our Heavenly Father." Providing appropriate teaching and setting the right example is critical:

Just to raise children in today's world is very challenging; but that added need to do all possible to guide them back to Heavenly Father makes the task seem almost overwhelming, if we consider only our personal knowledge and ability. It is comforting to be reminded that no parent is perfect—we all fall short in our efforts to be ideal parents. But miracles happen when we attempt to do the best we know how.

I like Elder Hales' suggestion that among the example parents set for children is how to work through disagreements and differences in appropriate ways. When children observe "calm communication with respect for each other's viewpoints" they are taught a critical life lesson that will help in many settings, not just in their own future family.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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