The family is central to Mormon belief. Everything the Church does is meant to uphold and strengthen the family. The family is under increasing duress from outside influences: traditional family values have been under attack in every society; entertainment and media have become more instilled with sexuality, violence, and vulgarity; pornography has become more readily available, especially because of the internet; a plethora of available (and often good) activities, plus the entrance of more mothers into the workforce, causes family members to become so busy that they have difficulty finding time for each other; people have become more transient, the support of nearby extended family has waned; religious values are always under attack from society at large.
For these reasons, the Mormon Church offers much support for parents in the raising of their children. Perhaps the most important support comes with educating parents on how to be good examples in the home. Parents who happily participate in religious activities and center their lives on the Savior, who live clean lives, who pray when trials assault the family, who repent of transgressions and constantly strive to improve, who are honest in their dealings and respectful of others (including their children), and who are humble and compassionate, will likely raise children who demonstrate these same qualities. Parents are counseled to live what they teach.
Church leaders and Sunday School lessons give constant and repetitive counsel for parents. (Click here to see a Church website on building a strong family.) Any form of abuse or chauvenism in the home or in marriage is strongly condemned and may warrant church disciplinary action.
The Church sponsors a program called Family Home Evening, usually held on Monday nights in most families. No other church functions are scheduled for Monday nights, and communities with high Mormon populations often offer family events for family night participation. Family Home Evening is a simple gathering of the family together for a short, but dedicated, time to have a spiritual discussion or lesson, have a family meeting, or enjoy an activity. The Church publishes materials with lesson plans and activities to help with Family Home Evenings. Parents structure the evening to suit the ages and attention spans of the children and focus on special needs of the family.
Parents are also counseled to establish a routine of daily family prayer and scripture reading. The reading of a single verse of scripture can sometimes instigate an important discussion among family members. Family fasts are also important when pressing decisions loom, or in the case of illness or other emergencies.
The Church offers support for parents who are fighting their own addictions in order to help them be better examples in the home. A side-effect of pornography addiction is general anger towards loved-ones; drug addictions can alter physical health as well as behavior; poor upbringing or poor sexual education can spill over to the next generation. The Church offers counseling services, and bishops are increasingly able to offer support and good counsel. The Church also offers welfare services and employment counseling for families with financial struggles.
The Church recognizes that parents who do their best may still have rebellious children. However, hope is given that the comfort and sanctuary children experience in their youth might be recalled in later years, causing the adult child to return to proper, healthy behavior. Former Church President Spencer W. Kimball gave the following counsel:
“I have sometimes seen children of good families rebel, resist, stray, sin, and even actually fight God. In this they bring sorrow to their parents, who have done their best … to teach and live as examples. But I have repeatedly seen many of these same children, after years of wandering, mellow, realize what they have been missing, repent, and make great contribution to the spiritual life of their community. The reason I believe this can take place is that, despite all the adverse winds to which these people have been subjected, they have been influenced still more, and much more than they realized, by the current of life in the homes in which they were reared.
“There is no guarantee, of course, that righteous parents will succeed always in holding their children, and certainly may lose them if they do not do all in their power. The children have their free agency. …
“What we do know is that righteous parents who strive to develop wholesome influences for their children will be held blameless at the last day, and that they will succeed in saving most of their children, if not all.” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, p. 160; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, pp. 11112.)
For further reading and support: Teaching by Example, Set in Order Thy House, Teaching Children through Example and Instruction, Gospel Library Support Materials, Scripture Stories for Children, Church Music, Marriage and Family Relations Instructor’s Manual