Sometimes the responsibility of parenting these children feels really heavy and I wonder if I am teaching them everything they need to know. Well, on Friday night, Mike and I attended a special meeting just for parents, held here in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband were in attendance, as well as other general authorities from our church. It was a casual, candid setting and I really enjoyed learning from these men. I promised to share my notes here. I hope you find them as helpful as I did.
On overcoming spiritual apathy: Elder Ballard suggested making prayer, scripture study, family home evening, and family councils a priority. Never allow our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to be secondary to other things. Don't give ourselves or our children time to become apathetic. Be anxiously engaged in the gospel together.
On social media: Elder Rasband said that we need to strategize. We need to be prayerful and come up with a plan to protect our children from the negative effects of social media. We need to create an environment where our children can come to us with questions. As we answer their questions, we should try to use the Savior's words. We need to set boundaries together on internet/social media use as a family council.
Elder Robbins talked about how unfortunately our children sometimes seek their self worth in the internet. They compare themselves to the perfection they see portrayed there and can feel diminished. He says youth are looking for their identity on the internet, so point them toward family history work. This will help them find their true identity. The more time they spend on the internet, the lower their self worth will be. As parents, we need to help them to not be idle, and to retire early and arise early. Revelation comes best in the early morning hours. Also, Heavenly Father often publicly praised His Son. How often do we do that? We need to catch our children doing good and praise them for it. If we observe them, we can give them a true reflection of who they really are. Make a conscious effort to notice the good. We are their best mirror and can help them recognize their worth. Also, use For the Strength of Youth to plan family home evening lessons.
On pornography: Elder Costa made four good points. 1- Assume they have been exposed to it already. 2- Hold frequent father interviews. Guided by the spirit, ask questions to determine if it is a pattern or just a single incident. 3- Turn on our devices only once our intention is clear. Once you have accomplished your purpose, turn them off again. Don't idly scroll. 4- Have hope. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, anything can be overcome, including pornography.
On preparing for missions: Elder Ballard had some great advice. He said preparation should start early. Make sure our children know our expectations. Know your child's friends. Help them get a job and earn some money so that they know how to work. Help them be responsible for their own things. Teach them to pick up after themselves. Help them to read the Book of Mormon on their own and gain a testimony of it. Sit with your children and have them bear their testimony of Jesus Christ to you. If they can't, or aren't sure of His role in their life, help them to learn about Him. Read Preach My Gospel together. Teach them the value of one soul. Help them to understand what Christ did in Gethsemane for each of us.
I don't remember who said this, but we need to respect our child's agency. We teach them the doctrine, but we have to leave them at the crossroads of decision, trusting that the Holy Ghost will guide them and that they will listen.