Claiming our Motherhood
The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home. Elder L. Tom Perry
This week, my sister Mary had a baby.
At the hospital, after giving birth, Mary was asked if she would send her baby to the nursery. When she declined, the nurses pressed her: “You’ll be able to rest! Every other mother on the floor has sent their baby to the nursery and we can bring her back when she’s ready to nurse.” Later, my brother-in-law counted over a dozen babies through the nursery window with two nurses.
As a mother of twins, I am confident that a woman can carry two newborns if she is careful- but carrying six? No. Those babies were not being held, even if they began to cry.
This is not to disparage nurses or the mothers desperate for a rest after the exhausting work of bringing God’s children into mortality.
Instead, I ask you to consider: why are we so quick to delegate our stewardship as mothers? Moments after the birth of our children, we ask the professionals to please give us a break from them.
When our babies are a few weeks or months old, we often send them to daycare. When they are three years old (sometimes slightly older or younger), we start sending them to preschool and then full-time school when they are five or six.
Help from others is a blessing and necessity (whether family members, professionals, or others), but I think many of us are so used to delegating our children that we forget what responsibilities are ultimately ours.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf reminded us,“The righteous work we do within the walls of our home is most sacred; it’s benefits are eternal in nature. It cannot be delegated.”
And Elder L. Tom Perry adds this insight, “Parents are entrusted with the education of their children and, ultimately, parents must ensure that their children are being taught what their Heavenly Father would have them learn.”
We cannot hope or assume that our children are being taught what is right and what is True. We must do the teaching ourselves.
When our work on earth is done and we stand before the throne of God, we will undoubtedly be asked if we cared for and loved the children or adults in our Sunday School class or neighborhood. Surely we will be asked if we taught and respected those in our workplace.
But I believe that God will be much more interested in discussing our relationship with our children.
The scriptures and The Family: a Proclamation to the world have been explicit in laying the responsibility of teaching on the shoulders of parents.
“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”
“But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.” D&C 93:40
“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Isaiah 54:13
The Prophets and apostles of the Lord have been clear in their call to parents to rise up and take back control of what is taught to our children.
President Russell M. Nelson has taught, “Scriptures make it clear that parents have the primary responsibility to teach the doctrine to their children. It is the responsibility of the Church to assist each member in the divinely defined goal of increasing his or her gospel knowledge."
“Parents have a responsibility to lovingly teach their children. Homes filled with love are a joy, a delight, and a literal heaven on earth.” Quentin L. Cook
“Our homes are the ultimate setting for learning, living, and becoming.” David A. Bednar
“The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.” Thomas S Monson
“I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children.“ Elder Robert D. Hales
It was extremely difficult to narrow down the available quotes on the subject to only a few. Next time you read a conference talk or scripture story, I encourage you to do it with an eye that is looking for instructions to parents on teaching your children.
You will find a truth that is repeated over and over: while we cannot be held accountable for the choices our children make- we WILL be held accountable for what and how we teach them.
If you are paying attention to the world- things are looking darker. Whether it’s the political climate, the actual climate, our food and health systems, our school systems, or media- we can see that Satan is trying to pervert the beautiful things that God has created. He is working tirelessly to create a generation of angry, unreligious, genderless, addicted youth. He is trying to destroy the family- by convincing us to give up and delegate the raising of our children to others.
As our beloved prophet, Gordon B. Hinkley said, some years ago- “If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children.”
When things look bleak, there is an antidote and there is a way to fight back. Mothers today are engaged in “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today,” because we have been instructed to raise, teach and prepare the Lord’s Battalion.
When Helaman’s Stripling Warriors went out to fight, they did not declare, “We do not doubt our Sunday School Teachers knew it.”
The influence of parents who love and respect their children is a greater influence than any other on the earth. If the gospel is being taught, a mother is the most effective teacher- yes, even more effective than a 19 year old missionary.
As mothers, we have been given a divine stewardship over our children. We are the gate keepers and defenders of their childhood. We are instructed to teach them to walk in the light of the Lord.
Don’t give up this privilege so easily.
There are only a few short years between birth and baptism, and the years between baptism and missions, marriage and grandchildren fly by exponentially more quickly. Your time to teach is now.
For all of you who are striving to do your best to teach in your homes, may you find peace and joy in your efforts. And if you feel you have room for improvement or need greater preparation, please humbly respond as the Spirit prompts you and bind yourself to act. Devin G. Durrant