What’s the greatest experience of your life? The most common answer to that question is a person’s marriage or birth of a child.
Many are likely to resonate with this personal anecdote. When my oldest child was born, the doctor handed this tiny baby to hold. I looked at her perfect little face and felt a rush of emotion and feelings like I’ve ever felt in my life. I was overpowered with a feeling of unconditional love for this perfect child. I felt an instant desire to protect and nurture this baby and give it everything I possibly could in terms of resources and support and love to make for the best life possible. I felt a message spoken to me deep inside that I felt would be just as clear as hearing the voice of God “now you know a fraction of how I feel about all my children.”
The Mormon ideal is to live our lives in family units. The Proclamation on Families tells us the father has primary responsibilities for providing and protection. And the mother has primary responsibility of nurturing. But as Eve worked side by side with Adam to labor in the fields, we know marriage and family will never work without true partnership and cooperation in every aspect, sharing in the responsibilities of all roles.
We are more likely to find enduring family relationships and long term joy and peace in this life by following the LDS church’s emphasis on families, commitment to marriage, and teachings and activities centered on strengthening families.
The church helps families by strengthening the members of the family:
- temple marriage and commitment to marriage
- youth programs to help kids stay on track during crucial ages
- teachings and providing support to parents in their role as parents
- teaching a perspective to youth in how to become good fathers and mothers as they grow up
- Family Home Evening
This the ideal, but this is not possible or realistic for all people, so as in other principles of the gospel, we should seek to understand the important principles that this ideal teaches us and apply that in our lives, even if we are not living in a traditional nuclear family.
Rites of Passage
Every great culture and religion have important rites of passage. These are significant events in our lives of youth as they become adults that are shared by families and others in the community In the LDS church we have: baby blessings, baptisms, mission farewells and homecomings, marriages. Some in the church worry we overdo the cultural part of these: the parties and the dinners. But let’s celebrate them! These are perfect times to celebrate our children and enjoy our external family bonds and share our love with ward members and friends.
In addition to the rites of passage, the church helps families create family traditions such as: Sunday dinners, Sunday evening extended family visits, family home evenings, general conference priesthood or women’s conference for boys or girls night out dinner or ice cream.