A couple weeks ago I was asked to give a talk in church on the topic of strengthening families. Such an important topic in today's world. I covered 4 points that will help us in strengthening and bonding our families together. Here are just a few of my notes.
1. Establish gospel habits - Such as family prayer, reading the scriptures together, and attending church together.
We had a recent Stake Conference and a visiting church leader discussed teaching the "why" of the gospel. Why do we pray? Why do we read the scriptures? Why do we got to church?
He said that the answer to all of these "why's" is so that we may have the presence of the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost falls upon us it is a cleansing & sanctifying power in our lives and our natures are changed. That is why we read the scriptures, so that the Holy Ghost may fall upon us and change us.
We can agree that we need the help & power and guidance that the spirit provides to effectively lead a family. So let's do the things that will bring the Holy Ghost into our lives and homes.
"Perhaps there has never been a time when we had greater need to pray and to teach our family members to pray . . . . It is through earnest and heartfelt prayer that we can receive the needed blessings and support required to make our way in this sometimes difficult and challenging journey we call mortality." - Thomas S. Monson
2. Teach the gospel in the home. We should work to weave gospel teaching into our routines and our everyday lives. So that it becomes a part of who we are and what we do.
. . . . watching general conference together & discussing it, visiting temple grounds, a family fast, father's blessings, family testimony meetings, doing service together, memorizing scriptures while doing the dishes (something L. Tom Perry's mother did) . . . . these are all little ways to plant spiritual seeds.
L. Tom Perry said, "Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home."
3. Create a family identity.
M. Russell Ballard: “Create meaningful family bonds that give your children an identity stronger than what they can find with their peer group or at school or anyplace else. This can be done through family traditions for birthdays, for holidays, for dinnertime, and for Sundays. It can also be done through family policies and rules with natural and well-understood consequences.” He goes on to discuss having a family economy, chores, teach them about avoiding debt, saving, and learning self-reliance.
I recently attended a Women's Conference and one of the workshops was all about building a family culture through traditions, routines, and goals. And it will be completely different for everyone. The point is to create a family identity with things that will bond you together and that the kids will think of when they look back on their childhood, "Oh ya, my family always did . . . "
A lot of the time, the more unusual or unique the better. In our family we like to celebrate half-birthdays with half a birthday cake and sing half of the birthday song. After the kids go trick-or-treating on Halloween Scott gives them a lesson on taxes and they lose some of their hard-earned candy. (There were tears the first few years but now they’re used to it). In Scott's family Tuesday was always Pirate Day which meant you were allowed (and encouraged) to say "Arrghhh" as much as you wanted/needed to.
Just have fun together. Build a family that is uniquely you. Not what your neighbors are doing. Definitely not what the Browns are doing.
4. Preserve time for family.
Being a mother, a wife, or rather just an adult . . . time management is one of the biggest lessons I’ve been forced to learn. And continue to learn. There are so many good things to choose from and I feel it is important to constantly assess our time and make sure we are choosing the best. Sometimes we have to say no to some things so that we can say yes to more important things.
Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “How we preserve time for family is one of the most significant issues we face in most cultures.”
It is important to take a step back and assess how we are spending our time (including the things our children are participating in). Are the activities and commitments we are involved in leaving us spread too thin to nurture our families? Are you "so busy that the Spirit of the Lord cannot be recognized or felt in giving you the promised guidance for yourself and your family." (quote M. Russell Ballard)
Also important to consider our marriages. The time that we give to our marriages is worth it. Strong marriages create strong families.
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This video is great. Check it out: