Lessons We Can Learn on Parenting from the Prophet
There is no perfect family. Not even the prophets of God had perfect families. Please recall that Lehi, the prophet in Old Testament times who traveled across the ocean to the Americas had wayward children. Not only did Laman and Lemuel reject the teachings of Jesus Christ, but they went on to persecute and attempt to destroy those who were obedient to the commands of God. If there are members of our families who stray, be patient and do not lose hope. You are enough. Keep praying, keep teaching, keep loving.
In our days, we have had many good men and women doing their best to raise righteous families. Our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson is a wonderful example of a righteous parent. He and his first wife, Dantzel, had nine daughters and one son together. We learn about his obedience to previous counsel and dedication to his family through their habits of consistent family scripture study and prayer, through weekly family home evenings, and through making time for each member of his household.
Sylvia Webster, one of President Nelson’s daughters said, “When he’s at work, he’s 100 percent at work. When he’s home, he’s 100 percent at home. When he’s doing his Church duty, he’s 100 percent Church duty. I think maybe that’s how he balances things.” She added, “When he was home, he was really home.”1
From this, we learn how to balance the many demands on our family by being fully present wherever we are. President Nelson was good at making his children feel like a priority. He taught them to ski, to ride a bicycle, and to drive a car. They played ping pong together often. He gave them his undivided time and attention. An old television commercial from the Church once said, “How do children spell love? T-I-M-E.” President Nelson understands this truth.
Russell Nelson Jr. describes what it is like to be a (then) Apostle’s son, remarking, “He’s always been the same. There isn’t much difference in my father as the surgeon or as the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He’s always been consistent. As a father he has always been loving and always tried to make time.” 1
Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration, suffered often and was persecuted for the sake of the Lord’s work which he was involved in but even in those times, he showered love and kindness upon children. Margaret McIntire Burgess once was very sick with a bad sore throat when she heard her mother speaking to someone at the door. It was the prophet Joseph. He asked to see Margaret, examined her throat, and went on to bless her to be made well. She wondered why the prophet would have bothered with her when she was just a little girl. She didn’t feel like anyone special. Her mother taught her that the Prophet was “a loving friend to all children.”2 We too can show our love and concern for the Lord’s little ones by reaching out to them with kindness, love, and compassion.
The primary program shows us how important it is to start teaching the gospel at young ages. As we consistently safeguard our children within the nurture of the gospel, with prayer, scriptures, and giving our time to them in positive ways, these children will have a firm foundation to rely on. President Nelson said, “Your vigilance in safeguarding your homes and instilling faith in the hearts of your loved ones will reap rewards for generations to come.”3
Wherever you and your family are today, you can start by following the loving example of our dear President Nelson.
1. Church News, “Get to Know President Russell M. Nelson, a Renaissance Man” Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News Editor, January 16, 2008
2. “Joseph Smith: Loving Friend of Children”, Patricia R. Jones, The Friend Magazine, December 2005
3. “Embrace the Future with Faith”, President Russell M. Nelson, General Women’s Conference, October 2020