I wrote this post for Latter-Day Homeschooling today, but wanted to share the message here as well because families are so important to me, and this is about strengthening our families. The world grows louder and more distracting by the moment. The background noise of the popular culture is closer to the sound of a rock concert than a lullaby. Amid all this, we are raising children from God. In our childhood and our parents and grandparents childhood Satan’s distractions were present but not so overpoweringly public and accepted. Don’t take my word for it, an apostle of God warned us in last April’s General conference:
“Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family.” – Elder L. Tom Perry
That sounds serious, doesn’t it? The phrase “he is attacking” paints such a word picture. Satan is not complacently waiting around for us and our children to wander off the path into temptation. He is not setting traps and stepping back to see if we step into them. Satan has launched a full frontal assault on the family. He no longer needs to work behind closed doors. He is on the offensive and our families are his target.
What can we do to protect and arm ourselves and our children for battle? Prophets and apostles have given us counsel repeatedly about the importance of teaching our children truth, of preparing them to rely on the Spirit’s guidance. In the same talk Elder Perry gives us specific direction:
“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 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 it’s people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home.” (emphasis mine)
It sounds so simple, but the advice is profound. The best soldiers are those who make the daily effort to prepare for the enemy. What are our daily efforts?
One family prayer at a time – Prayer is intimate communication with the God of the Universe. Our Father in Heaven is real, and he loves his children. Praying as a family draws us closer to one another, and to Him, as we share our thanks and seek His blessings and direction each day.
One scripture study session at a time – If God sent you a personal letter would you read it? Of course you would! The scriptures, coupled with the influence of the Spirit, become a daily, personal letter from God to us as we read, study, and ponder them. Children can feel the spirit of the words long before they can read them on their own. Read the scriptures as a family. Find a time and make it work. Nothing is more important for that short 15 minutes or half hour. If there is not a single time when your entire family is together each day then something needs to change. Make the time.
One Family Home Evening at a time – FHE can be done in so many different ways, it truly adapts to the needs of each family. What we do changes as our children grow, but the important thing is we do it. You can read a wonderful talk on the subject by President Gordon B. Hinckley here.
One book read aloud at a time – Are you surprised to see this? I’m not. Reading aloud good books together with our children builds a family culture. We’ve all read and lived the same stories together. We’ve talked about the characters and their choices, imagined what it would have been like to be in their place. It may be something as simple as a picture book even. Read aloud to your children, and when they are old enough, let them do some of the reading aloud to the family!
One song at a time – I love music. Not only do we remember things more easily when they are set to music, but it can be fun or even inspiring. The First Presidency Preface to our hymnbook says the following:
“Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion to the gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music… We hope the hymnbook will take a prominent place among the scriptures and other religious books in our homes. The hymns can bring families a spirit of beauty and peace and can inspire love and unity among family members.”
“Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in [family] home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones.” (Hymns, x.)
Do we follow this counsel? My church offers an entire website of hymns and Primary songs for free to listen to and download to make it easy for us.
One family meal at a time – Eating together as a family can be very interesting at my house. We’re all working on manners right now, but with 6 young children it is quite an experience! I love this Ensign article about eating meals together as a family. I can’t say it better, so I’m not going to try.
As homeschooling parents we are blessed with a greater opportunity to follow the counsel Elder Perry offered. We are with our children so much more each day. We are able to read aloud, pray, eat together, sing together, and spend more time together each day. Satan is waging a full frontal assault on our families. Let us not grow complacent about arming our children and ourselves for battle - one action at a time.