This week I studied the sermon Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children by Tad R. Callister. All quotes come from this talk unless otherwise noted. I chose this one, because I was inspired to make it the subject of a letter to my grandson. Not too long ago, I sent Cole an autobiography of Ben Carson, whose life was the anecdotal parable in the sermon.
As a young mother, I dove into teaching my children from the very beginning. I'm not sure how I knew to do this, because my mother didn't read to us or help with homework or anything of the kind. I'm not saying she was a bad mother at all, but that education wasn't a priority in our home. What I got in that department, I grabbed for myself. In fact, I had only three books as a child, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White Rose Red, and a book about animals. From the pages of the animal book, I wrote reports. Strangely, neither my mother or school teacher encouraged it. The teacher rolled her eyes and dismissed them without comment. Needless to say, I hated school but loved learning. Additionally, we didn't belong to a church or discuss religion much, but I found a small Gideon bible and read it often. Maybe it was this deep faith and love of learning that drove me to share education and religion with my children.
Back to the sermon..."do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts, or do they receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to [other] pursuits?" Family home evening, family scripture/prayer, personal prayer, supplemental intellectual improvement, wholesome physical recreation, and home arts when taught with gentleness and love bind children to parents and to God. Do we as women spend our time in frivolous pursuits, or do we take our chosen career as mother seriously? Do fathers spend free time in front of a screen, off exploring hobbies, or enjoying family time. Children are in our daily lives for such a short time; there is no time to waste. I think of the parents of Stripling Warriors and Enos, who made their children their priority.
"It was Enos who said, “The words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart” (Enos 1:3). There is no question who Enos’s prime gospel teacher was." '...[the Stripling Warriors] had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it,' Alma 56:47-48. Similarly, these mothers were inspired to train up their children in the way they should go in such a manner that their sons did not depart from their teachings. See Proverbs 22:6.
This idea shouldn't be limited to mother and father though. I've discovered even a distant grandparent or auntie or friend can make a difference in the lives of the children they love with a bit of time. Writing letters, sending books, games, clothes, school supplies, jump ropes, and balls, as well as praying for these distant loved ones can bring them closer to us and to God. A child is worth all our effort. To build on a phrase, minds and spirits are terrible things to waste.