By Mackenzie Nelson
We have all read the simple, yet timeless phrase from the Book of Mormon, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.” In this one sentence, Nephi gives us a huge glimpse into his upbringing. Lehi was a good dad and Sariah was a good mom. They kept God’s commandments and they did their best to care for their family and to teach their children.
From further studying, we can see how important a role model Lehi was for his son Nephi. Nephi respected him and tried to emulate him, even seeking to have a vision similar to his father’s. He loved and looked up to his dad enough that he didn’t even murmur when his father wanted to lead them away from comfortable life in Jerusalem on what must have been a trying and maybe even a scary journey into the wilderness. Their whole family benefited from Lehi’s wisdom and faith. They were saved from being killed or carried into Babylon, were able to cross the ocean to a promised land, and had the opportunity to learn the mysteries of God and receive the blessings of keeping the commandments.
Over 2000 years ago, Lehi’s role was critical to the physical and spiritual wellbeing of his family. Although imperfect, he led his family, taught them, admonished them when needed, and exemplified faith and obedience to God. And despite what popular culture says, the role of fathers is just as critical today! Elder D. Todd Christofferson said “We call on media and entertainment outlets to portray devoted and capable fathers who truly love their wives and intelligently guide their children, instead of the bumblers and buffoons or ‘the guys who cause problems,’ as fathers are all too frequently depicted.”
With so many obstacles around us, wow can fathers truly “intelligently guide their children”?
As counseled in the Book of Mormon, fathers are instructed to “teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness.” Here are a few tips on how this can be done:
- “Prepare their minds”
Alma testified to his son, “And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.” With all of the information that the digital age brings, we need to talk to our kids about the changing technologies in the world around us. Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age will help you to begin those discussions with them. Prepare their minds for challenges and help them to build emotional resilience by reading together 30 Days to a Stronger Child. This is the Spirit of Revelation will give your kids an awesome visual as you help them prepare to receive and understand personal revelation. Arm their minds for exposure to dangers like pornography that are inevitable. Sit down with your children and teach them how to fight the evil they are up against by using How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography as a resource.
- Teach by example
We can help our children to be strong, confident, and resilient in the face of opposition, but just talking about it isn’t enough. We must show them how by creating a firm foundation of our own. Study the scriptures, sincerely pray to Heavenly Father, keep your covenants, hold weekly family home evenings, go to your weekly church meetings, and go to the temple. These may seem too simple and not of great importance, but they will lead to great impacts!
- Spend quality time with your children
Have you ever heard of the saying “love is spelled T-I-M-E”? Loving your children will help them to thrive, but just saying it won’t be enough. Your time and undivided attention will speak volumes. Take your children on dates or have them help you with work outside and around the house. As you spend time with them, ask them about their lives. Ask them what makes them happy and sad. Teach them about life and about God. Give them your full attention and if necessary, place your smartphone in your pocket or out of arm’s reach.
I am blessed to say that I was also born of goodly parents. They taught me about the Lord and led by example. My father continues to be an example to me. He loves my brothers and I, and it is so fun to watch him love and adore my own kids. Above all, he loves the Lord and I know it because I see him serve faithfully. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my dad.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.” The role of fatherhood is by divine design. Therefore, your role is irreplaceable, and integral to the happiness and wellbeing of your family. Elder Christofferson quoted Jesus who said, “‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.” So, dads, who you are and what you do is so important. Despite what the world says, no one else can fulfill your role. Your children need you and look up to you. Thank you for all of the good that you do.
Mackenzie is a student at BYU-Idaho and is currently preparing to graduate this July with a bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies. She and her husband of 14 years have three children. She is a homeschool mom, a painter, and she loves to bake, grow plants, exercise, and organize.
Christofferson, D. T. (2016, April). Fathers. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2016/04/fathers?lang=apw
Dads, Your Kids Need You!
“We believe in fathers. We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.” —D Todd. Christofferson
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