I was not an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during most of the years we were raising our children. I did have a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We prayed together, we taught our children about the gospel, and we tried to give them a knowledge of right and wrong. We honestly tried to do family home evening with our children on multiple occasions, but it just did not seem to work with our family. We did, however, eat dinner together almost every night. The dinner table discussions were extremely important to our family, and no subject was taboo. While a formal family home evening may not have been successful, our dinner table discussions were quite helpful.
Now that we are grandparents, we are trying to do better. We are trying to help our children be better parents than we were. We are trying to help our grandchildren be better students of learning and better disciples of Christ than we were/are. This has presented some challenges. The Come, Follow Me curriculum has been helpful in giving us an opportunity to study with our children and grandchildren. Some weeks are better than others, and frankly, some weeks seem to duplicate the chaos of our old family home evenings.
We trade off doing Come, Follow Me with our four children and their families. Each family has a different week, and the fifth Sundays my husband and I study alone. Two of our children don’t live close by, so we FaceTime with them.
I’m writing this at midnight on Mother’s Day. It was a difficult Come, Follow Me experience today FaceTiming with one of our children’s family. Apparently, everyone in the world was FaceTiming with their mothers, as we had one technical difficulty after another. To make matters worse, the children were impatient after having Mother’s Day activities and having gone to church. I could feel the anxiety in my child’s voice as she tried to settle her children down and deal with the technical difficulties. My heart ached for her as she and her husband struggled in attempting to teach our grandchildren.
After multiple attempts at solving the technical issues, we gave up with FaceTime. I felt bad for their family. I used my husband’s cell phone and texted our daughter. I said that we had done our best, and that’s all the Lord required of us. Not long afterwards, my husband received a text that they were attempting to discuss the lesson on their own without us. I was encouraged at that, and felt admiration for them for not giving up on teaching their children—and not giving in to rebellious children. I had given in to my own children when it came to family home evening—something I wish I had not done.
My children know that Mother’s Day is not my favorite day of the year. I used to tell them that I did not want any gifts. I just wanted one day when they would clean their rooms and not fight. Obviously, that was a totally unrealistic expectation of four children—and it was a bone of contention in our household for many years. As I watched today’s Mother’s Day struggle with my grandchildren, my heart hurt for their mother. I wanted to wrap virtual arms around her and tell her she is a good mom and that she is doing everything her Heavenly Father wants her to do.
I don’t know whether any of my grandchildren are actually learning doctrine from Come, Follow Me, but I know that they are being blessed by the attempt. They are learning what is important to their parents and grandparents. At some point in the future, they will look back and realize the struggles their parents went through to try to teach them about their Heavenly Father and their Savior. They will understand that their parents must have loved them an awful lot and felt this was an important thing to do, or they would have given up on them.
Parents need to know that while children may not show they are “getting it” now, they really are learning—sometimes through osmosis—but they are learning. If nothing else, they are learning from your example.
Many years ago, I was teaching a particularly exuberant 10-year-old Primary class. One Sunday was particularly difficult, and I knew that no one in the class had listened to a word I said. Ironically, the sharing time lesson taught by the Primary president an hour later was basically the same lesson I had taught my class. As the Primary president asked questions, one by one my rambunctious 10-year-olds who had not heard a word I said (I thought) raised their hands and answered the questions almost word for word from what I had said in my classroom. I sat there dumbfounded! Osmosis learning was my only explanation!
We are doing Heavenly Father’s work in raising these little children, and He will help us get through to them. We need to teach them to have faith—and we do that by our example.
“So building faith in Jesus Christ is the beginning of reversing spiritual decline in your family and in your home. That faith is more likely to bring repentance than your preaching against each symptom of spiritual decline.
You will best lead by example. Family members and others must see you growing in your own faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel. You have recently been provided great help. Parents in the Church have been blessed with an inspired curriculum for families and individuals. As you use it, you will build your faith and the faith of your children in the Lord Jesus Christ” (President Henry B. Eyring, “A Home Where the Spirit of the Lord Dwells,” Apr. 2019 General Conference).
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents#.UYPhA6K.