Friday, May 11, 2018

President David O. McKay on the profound influence of mothers

President David O. McKay (1873-1970) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1906.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency to Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith beginning in 1945, then then as the president of the Church from 1951 to his death in 1970 at age 96.
"Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world. True, there comes a time when Father takes his place as exemplar and hero of the growing boy; and in the latter's budding ambition to develop manly traits, he outwardly seems to turn from the more gentle and tender virtues engendered by his mother. Yet that ever-directing and restraining influence implanted during the first years of his childhood linger with him and permeate his thoughts and memory as distinctively as perfume clings to each particular flower."
- David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 452; True to the Faith, pp. 167–68

President McKay spoke on various occasions about this theme. He felt profoundly the blessing of a mother in his own life, and watched his beloved Emma care for their children. He had some of the best examples possible.

It's hard to quantify how important early impressions are on a child, and how deeply formative they must be. To have an image of kindness and gentleness "stamped" on the developing mind truly must make a difference:

President McKay suggests that in many cases, the father's influence is not felt as profoundly in the beginning but comes into play later. But yet the foundation set by a mother's love is something that influences the rest of life. How fortunate a child is to feel that sacred gift!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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