Hello, for those of you that do not know me, I am Donna. My husband, Roger, and I have raised seven children and have lived in this ward almost 19 years. I am the primary President. When I was called, the Bishop told me to run with my strengths. I feel that this is an area I have had much experience and an area that played a big role in my Master’s studies.
I have been asked to give a talk on Teaching the Gospel in the Home. That is quite a broad subject to cover in 12- 15 minutes. So many ideas came to my mind, such as, scriptures, quotes of the prophets, resources available from the church, and things we have done over the years. Trying to narrow my topic down, I turned to the Family Guide Book published by the church. Under chapter heading of “Teaching the Gospel in the Home” there are 12 sub topics.. That would be sixty seconds a topic. I needed to narrow the talk down further. After much thought and prayerful consideration I have selected the sub topic that I felt most of you might not have thought of readily if we brain stormed a list on how to teach the gospel in the home-- Family Work.
My sister and I were converts to the church, in our late teens, and did not have the benefit of growing up in a home where the Gospel was taught. As a young mother I had to turn to the scriptures, the words of the prophets, other church resources, Relief Society and prayer to help me learn how to teach the Gospel in the home.
I would like to liken teaching the gospel in the home to building a ship, which should not be too much of a stretch for most of us to imagine, due to our bishop’s van having a vinyl decal of “Mothership” on its window.
I Nephi 18
1 And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship.
2 Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.
3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.
There are so many parenting models being promoted and many are taught from the perspective of the world. Many mingle Gospel principles with philosophies of men. I propose that we ought to be building our homes, not after the manner of men, but after a Heavenly pattern, and that we as parents need to go to the mount (or temple) oft, and get instruction from the Lord. Now, I would like to share what the Family Guidebook teaches about Teaching the Gospel in the Home through Working Together”
Many opportunities for teaching the gospel arise as families work together around the home. While cleaning the house or working in the yard or garden, for example, parents should be alert for opportunities to talk about the gospel. A child will often ask questions. Parents should always take time to give simple answers. Comments like “You are a good worker. I’m sure Heavenly Father is proud of you” or “Look at the beautiful clouds Heavenly Father has made” can give children a feeling of gratitude to our Heavenly Father and an assurance that He is real.
After almost a decade of doing individual chores in our family, we began to make the switch back to family work in the fall of 2003, after I read Family Work by Kathleen Bahr. I soon discovered that while teaching children how to do chores teaches them to work, family work offers so much more! Family work provides great opportunities for gospel teaching, building relationships, and character development of our children; greater opportunities than simply teaching children tasks, then assigning chores alone can provide. Of all the ways of teaching the Gospel in the home, I find that family work, working together with our children, is one of the most powerful. Why? Because unlike family prayer, scripture study and family home evening, family work to care for our homes and serving each other is a day to day, moment to moment undertaking. This is really where teaching by precept and by example can very powerfully come together.
Yes, working together can take longer, but family work has a bigger goal than merely completing a task. When we work with our children we are helping build Heavenly Father’s children. There is so much potential as children work with their parents. As they do, children are learning and developing the Gospel character and skills to finish what they begin, to do a quality job, to be self motivated, to take initiative, learning to work with others, to feel valued as they are listened to, what it takes to care for ones blessings from God, they are learning systems (how not to just do a job, but how that job and other jobs relate to each other) and how to develop plans to accomplish tasks, among many things to do. However, if a child is taught to do a job and then does it in isolation then the opportunity for teaching moments and for parents to lead by example, is often lost.
“Canadian scholars Joan Grusec and Lorenzo Cohen, along with Australian Jacqueline Goodnow, compared children who did "self-care tasks" such as cleaning up their own rooms or doing their own laundry, with children who participated in "family-care tasks" such as setting the table or cleaning up a space that is shared with others. They found that it is the work one does "for others" that leads to the development of concern for others, while "work that focuses on what is one's 'own,' " does not. Other studies have also reported a positive link between household work and observed actions of helpfulness toward others. In one international study, African children who did "predominantly family-care tasks [such as] fetching wood or water, looking after siblings, running errands for parents" showed a high degree of helpfulness while "children in the Northeast United States, whose, primary task in the household was to clean their own room, were the least helpful of all the children in the six cultures that were studied.” (from Work in the Home by Kathleen Bahr).
So, in teaching children the Gospel principles to love and serve one another, family work carries a lot of weight.
For those concerned that by choosing to work together as a family will not foster work ethic and independence I suggest the church video, The Christmas Gift. It was based on the classic Christmas Story by Pearl S. Buck, Christmas Day in the Morning. This was once how children grew up. The main character was a boy who arose everyday to milk the cows and do farm chores along side his father. He was 15 years old. He decided he would give his father a gift for Christmas. He woke early, milked the cows and cleaned up, then jumped back into bed before his dad got to his room to wake him for chores. When children have the day in day out habit of working together they can grow close to those with whom they serve and want to follow their example and demonstrate they have grown up. They will eventually show initiative. This is a natural process of maturing, it is a dance. Children grow towards maturity, wanting to be seen as grown up and treated like respect.
Kathleen Bahr, an Associate Professor, School of Family Life; Brigham Young University, stated that:
"The Family: A Proclamation to the World states that caring for a spouse and children is 'a solemn responsibility' (par. 6) and that providing for the physical needs of one's children is 'a sacred duty' (par. 6). The Proclamation also adds 'work' to the list of principles on which 'successful marriages and families are established and maintained' (par. 7), placing it on equal footing with faith, prayer, repentance, and compassion. President Hinckley goes so far as to say that families working together is one of four things that could reverse the serious trends that are weakening families and communities:
'What, you may ask, can be done? The observance of four simple things on the part of parents would in a generation or two turn our societies around in terms of their moral values
They are simply these:
Let parents and children (1) teach and learn goodness together, (2) work together, (3) read good books together, and (4) pray together.' "
This is embodied in the Old Testament Scriptures
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Family work is a great way to liken this scripture unto ourselves. I have a testimony that family work is a true principle and can bless our lives and give us as parents a powerful tool for Teaching the Gospel in the Home.
In the primary, this year’s theme is Choose the Right and we are helping the children develop the habit of journal keeping. Last week Sister Williams shared with the primary that President Kimball taught that if we keep a journal some day the angels may quote from it. Another way parents could teach the Gospel in the home is by helping children with this journal habit. Young children can draw and tell the parents what to write. Older children and some younger children write un-aided. Some children may need to have their parents write what they say, the child can then bring it to primary and glue it into their journals.
In the coming months, I will be writing a series in the Primary section of the Ward Newsletter on different ways to Teach the Gospel in the Home with some creative ideas for application, and links to LDS church resources.
These things I leave with you in Jesus Christ’s name Amen.
P.S. As I write the newsletter articles I will also post them here.