Good morning. I have been asked to speak about parenting and grand-parenting and how that relates to the gospel. This talk was an especially difficult one for me to prepare, because, as you can probably tell, I am not a parent. And I am certainly not a grandparent.
So I guess I will start out by introducing myself and talking a little bit about my family. My name is Kelly, and I’m from Maryland. I am the oldest of 7 children, and one of them goes to BYU with me and is here today. The rest still live at home. I was born into the church, and I have two wonderful and active LDS parents, who I will be talking about quite a bit in this talk. My mom was born into the church, and my dad converted when he was 25 and later served a mission in Guatemala. They were married in the DC temple and just celebrated their 21st anniversary. I love my parents and I have always known that they love me. I wanna talk about a few things that they have done that I think exemplify some of the most important things in parenting.
One of the first things I thought of when I was given this assignment was how grateful I am that I was raised in a home with the Priesthood. Every time we began a new school year we were each given a blessing. I have always known that I can ask my dad for a blessing and he will be perfectly happy to give me one. Sometimes, he has even sensed my need for a blessing when I didn’t even think of it myself.
One example I can think of happened this summer. I went home for the summer to work as a floating bank teller, so I would go to whatever branch needed me. Sometimes I really loved where I was stationed, and sometimes I didn’t like it so much. So one Friday I was at a branch that was not as fun as some of the others, and it seemed like everyone was picking on me all day, whether it be the customers or the other tellers, and these tellers were now all older than me because the one guy who had been my age who I would usually talk to there had just left that branch. Fridays are very busy, so on top of all that I was very stressed, especially because when I would go to help a branch out, the other tellers usually took that as an opportunity to do less and let me do most of the teller work while they went off and did other things in the bank. When I finally got home, I was feeling very taken advantage of and underappreciated, so I did what any respectable college girl who had a hard day would do: I started to cry.
I’m usually a very cheerful girl, and my dad absolutely hates to see me cry, which I’m sure a lot of you girls can relate to, so he instantly went to work trying to help me to feel better. He kept asking what he could do, if I wanted him to go order out from whatever restaurant I wanted, if he could go talk to the people at my work, if I wanted to go do something, anything, and I just wasn’t very interested in any of his offers. He eventually left, and came back a few minutes later, and said, “Well there is one thing I can do for you.” I waited for the punch line, not expecting it to be something that would actually make me feel better, but I was very wrong. He said, “I could give you a blessing.” It caught me off – guard, but I was surprised to realize that that was exactly what I wanted and needed. So I accepted his offer, and I felt better almost immediately after the blessing. I am so grateful to have a dad who holds the priesthood and who uses it worthily to better the lives of the members of his family.
The church has always been an incredibly important influence in my home. We learned to read, as probably many of you did, from the scriptures. We had family scripture study almost every night.
President Benson said, “Increased love and harmony in the home, greater respect between the parent and child, increased spirituality and righteousness are not idle promises, but exactly what the prophet Joseph Smith meant when he said the Book of Mormon will help us draw nearer to God.”
The scriptures really did come alive for us, and we learned to apply them in our lives. One time, my little brother Joseph, who was 4, got in trouble and had to sit in time out. My dad felt sorry afterwards and asked my mom if they should just let him off the hook. My little sister Julie then looked at him very seriously and said, “Dad, mercy cannot rob justice.” She was 6 years old.
We also said family prayer together every night. It used to drive me crazy because we didn’t just have one prayer, but nine prayers, because every single person in our family had to pray. It would usually take about a half hour. Now we all are assigned a day on which we pray, and that has considerably shortened things, but we definitely learned to pray, and I have often heard my parents pray for me and my other siblings. We also learned “prayer defense”.
My dad told me a story about how one night, in a scene that was actually very common in my home, my sister Heather and I were having a hard time getting to sleep. We were and still are the best of friends, and since we were in the same room we would often talk late into the night. This particular night we were being especially loud, so my dad came downstairs a few times to quiet us down, but it didn’t work. Finally he jumped downstairs and said in his most threatening-but-not-really angry dad voice “Here comes the mean dad with the iron hand!” When he got into our room we were both kneeling down on your beds and Heather was praying with her bottom stuck up in the air – “Please help daddy not to spank our bottoms because our bottoms are so precious.” I’m pretty sure we got away with that one.
Another thing my parents did was take us to the temple often. I live about a half hour away from the Washington DC temple, so we would go to take pictures there, and to see various displays, and I always knew that the temple was important to my parents. I knew that that was where I wanted to be married someday, because that is where families can be sealed together forever. I was taught to love my family through the example of my parents.
I think that part good parenting is loving each other, and making that very clear to the children in the family.
President Hunter said to fathers, “You should express regularly to your wife and children your reverence and respect for her. Indeed, one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
I have always known that my parents love each other. Sometimes my dad will come into the kitchen when my mom is busy cooking and turn on the music and start dancing with her. They still act like teenagers a lot of the time, and I honestly find it adorable. Sometimes I’ll be standing there and my dad will run into the room and grab her around the waist and tell me, “I just love your mom, I’m so glad I’m married to her!” I have heard both of them express love for each other on numerous occasions, and it is important to me to see how happily married they are.
They also showed us that they loved us. There was never a time I could not ask my parents for help with school work or virtually anything else we were struggling with. I remember that middle school, mostly the beginning of it, was especially difficult for me. My mom would pick me up from school every day and talk to me about my day and just be my friend. I have noticed her doing this with all of the children since, and she told me that she just wanted to be with her kids because she knows that middle school can be a hard time. She always packed lunches for us, even up to high school, and sometimes when I was home for the summer too. Many times they had notes that she would write expressing love and telling us to have a good day. Whenever we came home from school, she would fling open the door with an ecstatic “Welcome home!” She was always sad when the summers ended and she couldn’t have us at home all the time anymore.
This helped foster a lot of love in our home between siblings. Although we have our occasional fights, I have a great relationship with each of my siblings. I believe that a lot of this is because my parents taught us that loving each other is so important. My sister here at college is honestly my best friend in the whole world.
The world has a view on parenthood that ranks it below many other good things in life, such as a successful career. Many times motherhood especially is attacked. President James E. Faust contradicted this notion. He said, “While few human challenges are greater than that of being good parents, few opportunities offer greater potential for joy. Surely no more important work is to be done in this world than preparing our children to be God-fearing, happy, honorable, and productive. Parents will find no more fulfilling happiness than to have their children honor them and their teachings. It is the glory of parenthood. John testified, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 Jn. 1:4.)”
God knows this and wants us to experience it because out of all the jobs he has, the most important is being a professional dad to each of us. He has said that “this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” His children are what bring him the greatest joy, and he wants us to experience that as well.
I bear my testimony that I know that parenthood is an important goal for all of us, no matter how far away it seems right now, and as we live righteously and prepare for it we will be blessed and later our families will be blessed as well. I know that part of God’s eternal plan is for us to be married in the temple and raise eternal families in love and righteousness and that raising children in the church is the best and only way to do that because it is the only true church. I know that he loves each of us and is anxious for our happiness and growth, and that is why he gave us a Savior. I know that through his perfect atonement we can become perfect someday as well and return to live with Him and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.