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Helping Our Families Understand when Loved Ones Leave the Church

Helping Our Families Understand when Loved Ones Leave the Church

All people are sent to the earth are blessed through the plan of our Savior to make choices for themselves. That includes the choice to continue partaking of the Lord’s goodness through sacred ordinances, or not.


When children are small, we families do our best to instill in them the love of the gospel and explain principles that, when followed, will bring eternal happiness, peace, joy, and unimaginable blessings. President Thomas S. Monson mentioned the responsibility of teaching children in a conference address. He said, “There are those who dismiss these responsibilities, feeling they can be deferred until the child grows up. Not so, the evidence reveals. Prime time for teaching is fleeting … Dr. Glenn Doman… reported a lifetime of research in the statement: ‘The newborn child is almost an exact duplicate of an empty computer, although superior to such a computer in almost every way. … What is placed in the child’s brain during the first eight years of his life is probably there to stay. If you put misinformation into his brain during this period, it is extremely difficult to erase it.’ ”1


I can imagine how confusing it might be for a child when a cherished adult makes the decision to step away from the church and the teachings of the Savior.  If what they are being taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, why would this person abandon those teachings? That is a tough predicament we may find ourselves in.

I have an amazing friend named Leslie who is gifted with seeing parables amid life’s adventures. She recently shared one that was so beautiful I could not keep it to myself. With her permission, I share it.

While her children were small, a person whom her family loved dearly left the safety of the Church. While she was tucking her children into bed one evening, those precious little spirits asked why this person would do such a thing. Heaven guided her in giving a satisfying response to such an important question.

She asked her sons if they ever noticed how their car got dirty? They never drove through tidal waves of mud; it was just a little layer of grime that added up day by day. Being able to see while driving is very important, and it would be difficult to see where they are going if they did not have windshield wipers and windshield wiper fluid. Their cherished adult had stopped going to Church and had stopped taking the Sacrament. She explained that by going to church and taking the sacrament, their sins are washed away, and they become clean again, just like the windshield wipers clean off the dirt.

This person had not utilized this blessing for so long that it was as if their spiritual windshield was extremely dirty. If they never washed the car, it would get so dirty that perhaps no one could even be able to tell what color the car was. Would it be hard to see what direction to go? Could you see the oncoming dangers?


The point of the parable is clear. With time of darkness and without repentance, it would become very hard to see clearly, making it easy to make wrong turns or drive off the straight and narrow path. A clouded windshield leads to poor judgment because of the lack of visibility.


My friend’s ability to hear heaven’s response blessed her family in ways she may never even recognize. By answering difficult questions and teaching true principles, our children can be reassured that the gospel principles are true while focusing on their love and concern for the person. What a relief it may be to ponder how to bless their loved one instead of the veracity of the gospel.  


Let us take our responsibility to teach these precious souls seriously, starting from the beginning. Let us answer their questions and set the stage for an eternity of commitment to and love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.


  1. “Teach the Children,” President Thomas S. Monson, October 1997 General Conference



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