Parenthood is considered one of the most sacred callings any person can be given by God. It’s not easy, and some days it seems impossible, but in the eternal scheme of things nothing we do in our lifetime will matter more than the time we spent as parents.
When is the last time you thanked your parents for the service they gave you? Following are thoughts from Thomas S. Monson, Mormon prophet, on the sacredness of parenthood and our responsibility to love and honor our parents.
Giving Thanks for Parents
“First, may I ask that we express thanks to our parents for life, for caring, for sacrificing, for laboring to provide a knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s plan for happiness.
“From Sinai the words thunder to our conscience, ‘Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee’ (Exodus 20:12).”
Thomas S. Monson, “The Profound Power of Gratitude,” Ensign, Sept. 2005, 4
A Parent’s Hope
It has been universally bestowed on each of us. Ours was the divine privilege to depart our heavenly home to tabernacle in the flesh and to demonstrate by our lives our worthiness and qualifications to one day return to Heavenly Father, to precious loved ones, and to a kingdom called celestial. Our mothers and our fathers bestowed this marvelous gift on us. Ours is the responsibility to show our gratitude by the actions of our lives.
My own father, a printer, gave me a copy of a piece he had printed. It was titled “A Letter from a Father” and concluded with this thought: “Perhaps my greatest hope as a parent is to have such a relationship with you that when the day comes and you look down into the face of your first child, you will feel deep within you the desire to be to your child the kind of parent your dad has tried to be to you. What greater compliment could any man ask? Love, Dad.”
Our gratitude to Mother for the gift of birth is equal or beyond that owed to Father. She who looked upon us as “a sweet new blossom of humanity, fresh fallen from God’s own home, to flower on earth”and cared for our every need, comforted our every cry, and later rejoiced in any of our accomplishments and wept over our failures and disappointments occupies a singular place of honor in our hearts.
A passage from 3 John sets forth the formula whereby we might express to our parents our gratitude for the gift of birth: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”Let us so walk. Let us so honor the givers of this priceless gift of birth.
Thomas S. Monson, “Treasured Gifts,” Liahona, Dec 2006, 2–8
What Children Really Need
The place of parents in the home and family is of vital importance as we examine our personal responsibilities in this regard. A distinguished group met in conference to examine the increase of violence in the lives of individuals, particularly the young. Some observations from their deliberations are helpful to us as we examine our priorities:
“A society that views graphic violence as entertainment … should not be surprised when senseless violence shatters the dreams of its youngest and brightest. …
“… Unemployment and despair can lead to desperation. But most people will not commit desperate acts if they have been taught that dignity, honesty and integrity are more important than revenge or rage; if they understand that respect and kindness ultimately give one a better chance at success. …
“The women of the anti-violence summit have hit on the solution—the only one that can reverse a downward spiral of destructive behavior and senseless pain. A return to old-fashioned family values will work wonders.”
So frequently we mistakenly believe that our children need more things, when in reality their silent pleadings are simply for more of our time. The accumulation of wealth or the multiplication of assets belies the Master’s teachings:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
One evening I saw large masses of parents and children crossing an intersection in Salt Lake City en route to a large arena to see a production of Beauty and the Beast. I actually pulled my car over to the curb to watch the gleeful throng. Fathers, who I am certain were cajoled into going to the event, held tightly in their hands the small and clutching hands of their precious children. Here was love in action. Here was an unspoken sermon of caring. Here was a rearrangement of time as a God-given priority.
Truly peace will reign triumphant when we improve ourselves after the pattern taught by the Lord. Then we will appreciate the deep spirituality hidden behind the simple words of a familiar hymn: “There is beauty all around When there’s love at home.”
Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Peace,” Liahona, Mar 2004, 3
Rescuing Lost Children
Perhaps an oft-repeated scene will bring closer to home your personal opportunity to reach out to rescue. Let us look in on a family with a son named Jack. Throughout Jack’s early life, he and his father had many serious arguments. One day when he was 17, they had a particularly agitated one. Jack said to his father, “This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’m leaving home, and I will never return!” He went to his room and packed a bag. His mother begged him to stay, but he was too angry to listen. He left her crying in the doorway.
Leaving the yard, he was about to pass through the gate when he heard his father call to him, “Jack, I know that a large share of the blame for your leaving rests with me. For this I am truly sorry. I want you to know that if you should ever wish to return home, you’ll always be welcome. And I’ll try to be a better father to you. I want you to know that I love you, and I’ll always love you.”
Jack said nothing but went to the bus station and bought a ticket to a distant point. As he sat in the bus watching the miles go by, his thoughts turned to the words of his father. He began to realize how much courage, how much love had been required for his father to say what he had said. Dad had apologized. He had invited him back and had left the words ringing in the summer air, “I love you.”
Jack knew that the next move was up to him. He realized the only way he could ever find peace with himself was to demonstrate to his father the same kind of maturity, goodness, and love that Dad had shown toward him. Jack got off the bus. He bought a return ticket and began the journey home.
He arrived shortly after midnight, entered the house, and turned on the light. There in the rocking chair sat his father, his head bowed. As he looked up and saw Jack, he arose from the chair; they rushed into each other’s arms. Jack later said, “Those last years that I was home were among the happiest of my life.”
Here was a father who, suppressing passion and bridling pride, reached out to rescue his son before he became one of that vast “lost battalion” resulting from fractured families and shattered homes. Love was the binding band, the healing balm; love so often felt, so seldom expressed.
Thomas S. Monson, “Heavenly Homes, Forever Families,” Liahona, Jun 2006, 66–71