Mormons attend church three hours each week. After the basic service, they attend two other classes. In addition to the regular courses, there are optional courses offered periodically in wards (congregations) as needed. One is the Marriage and Family Relations Course.
While taught from a Mormon perspective, students do not have to be LDS. The course textbook is available free online, which also allows others to learn the material even if it’s not offered in their areas. For those who do wish to take the class, the course is free. You can contact your local congregation to find out if it’s being offered.
The course consists of sixteen lessons. The first eight are about strengthening marriage. This is important because parents who care about each other and have a strong, functional relationship are better able to meet the needs of their children. The remaining lessons are about parenting.
Parents are taught that children are a gift from God. He created them and they are his children, entrusted to our care. That makes parenting a sacred responsibility. Both parents are essential to a child’s well-being and each parent plays a specific role in the child’s life. Parents are taught what those roles are and are given advice on how to fulfill them.
They learn how to teach their children through example, living their own lives the way they want their children to live theirs. They also learn how to talk to their children about those things that are important, including religion.
The course includes guidelines on types of moral instruction parents should focus on and suggests ways to teach them, such as honesty, hard work, and moral purity. They also learn how to help children understand that choices have consequences and they don’t get to choose the consequences.
The course then introduces some specific Mormon programs that are done in the home by the family to strengthen the family and teach the children. These can be adapted to any faith: family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening.
Family home evening is a program that asks families to stay home on Monday evenings and spend time as a family with no outsiders. They have a family meeting, consisting of prayer, songs, a lesson on a principle the family wants to develop (nutrition, service, morality and other issues, both spiritual and practical), a treat and a fun activity. In today’s busy families, this is critical to making sure families develop a relationship with each other.
This course is designed to help parents set meaningful goals for their families, so their parenting and family life is conducted with an overall purpose and focus, rather than just getting through the busy days. Each choice made is one designed to further the well-being and love of the family, and .
While some of the material is, of course, specific to the Mormon religion, most of it is also generally good advice, and can applied or adapted to almost any family’s values, if those values are conservative and high.
To read the course materials, visit Marriage and Family Relations Class.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.