Thursday, March 7, 2019

Elder Robert D. Hales on the influence of parents on youth

Elder Robert D. Hales (August 24, 1932-October 1, 2017) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"It is impossible to overestimate the influence of parents who understand the hearts of their children. Research shows that during the most important transitions of life—including those periods when youth are most likely to drift away from the Church—the greatest influence does not come from an interview with the bishop or some other leader but from the regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction with parents....
"For our interactions with youth to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen—yes, listen and listen some more—even hearken with spiritual ears!"
- Robert D. Hales, "Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation," General Conference April 2010
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This message from Elder Hales is filled with warm, personal examples and stories that illustrate his counsel. Parents and church leaders have separate but very critical roles in the guidance and encouragement of young people. But the role of the parent is so critical:

It becomes so critical that parents cultivate a relationship with their children that is loving and trusting. A child needs to know that his or her parent truly cares. That is often demonstrated by the time a parent is able or willing to devote in personal interaction with the child, and by the respect we show for their thoughts and challenges. Sometimes parents need to be creative in finding that time; Elder Hales suggests we take better advantage of times such as driving in the car or meal times. But clearly, all parents should be sure they have set this as a very high priority in their life!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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