Judeo-Christian Culture: Role of Fathers in Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Role of Fathers in the Divine Plan, and Nuclear Family

D. Todd Christofferson

I focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

fathers-matter2I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed:

“Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.”1

father-son-cameraEqual Partners

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.”2 We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”3 We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”4 We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.

Some see the good of fatherhood in social terms, as something that obligates men to their offspring, impelling them to be good citizens and to think about the needs of others, supplementing “maternal investment in children with paternal investment in children. … In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.”5 While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.

The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of His children.6 Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best, they are striving to emulate Him, and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust.

For men, fatherhood exposes us to our own weaknesses and our need to improve. Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation.7 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”8 Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families.

Quote-fathersPerhaps the most essential of a father’s work is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. If by his example as well as his words a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.9 A father who reads scripture to and with his children acquaints them with the voice of the Lord.10

Accountable to teach one’s children

We find in the scriptures a repeated emphasis on the parental obligation to teach one’s children:

“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.”11

In 1833, the Lord reprimanded members of the First Presidency for inadequate attention to the duty of teaching their children. To one He said specifically, “You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.12

Fathers are to teach God’s law and works anew to each generation. As the Psalmist declared:

Father's Blessing by L.A. Olas

Father’s Blessing by L.A. Olas

“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should [then] arise and declare them to their children:

“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.13

Children want and need a model

Certainly teaching the gospel is a shared duty between fathers and mothers, but the Lord is clear that He expects fathers to lead out in making it a high priority. (And let’s remember that informal conversations, working and playing together, and listening are important elements of teaching.) The Lord expects fathers to help shape their children, and children want and need a model.

father-son-mentorI myself was blessed with an exemplary father. I recall that when I was a boy of about 12, my father became a candidate for the city council in our rather small community. He did not mount an extensive election campaign—all I remember was that Dad had my brothers and me distribute copies of a flyer door to door, urging people to vote for Paul Christofferson. There were a number of adults that I handed a flyer to who remarked that Paul was a good and honest man and that they would have no problem voting for him. My young boy heart swelled with pride in my father. It gave me confidence and a desire to follow in his footsteps. He was not perfect—no one is—but he was upright and good and an aspirational example for a son.

Discipline and correction are part of teaching.

As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”14 But in discipline a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a father provides correction, his motivation must be love and his guide the Holy Spirit:

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”15

Discipline

Discipline in the divine pattern is not so much about punishing as it is about helping a loved one along the path of self-mastery.

fathers-matter1The Lord has said that “all children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”16 Breadwinning is a consecrated activity. Providing for one’s family, although it generally requires time away from the family, is not inconsistent with fatherhood—it is the essence of being a good father. “Work and family are overlapping domains.”17 This, of course, does not justify a man who neglects his family for his career or, at the other extreme, one who will not exert himself and is content to shift his responsibility to others. In the words of King Benjamin:

“Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.”18

We recognize the agony of men who are unable to find ways and means adequately to sustain their families. There is no shame for those who, at a given moment, despite their best efforts, cannot fulfill all the duties and functions of fathers. “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.19

Loving the mother of his children—and showing that love—are two of the best things a father can do for his children. This reaffirms and strengthens the marriage that is the foundation of their family life and security.

father-sonsSome men are single fathers, foster fathers, or stepfathers. Many of them strive mightily and do their very best in an often difficult role. We honor those who do all that can be done in love, patience, and self-sacrifice to meet individual and family needs. It should be noted that God Himself entrusted His Only Begotten Son to a foster father. Surely some of the credit goes to Joseph for the fact that as Jesus grew, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.20

Regrettably, due to death, abandonment, or divorce, some children don’t have fathers living with them. Some may have fathers who are physically present but emotionally absent or in other ways inattentive or nonsupportive. We call on all fathers to do better and to be better. We call on media and entertainment outlets to portray devoted and capable fathers who truly love their wives and intelligently guide their children, instead of the bumblers and buffoons or “the guys who cause problems,” as fathers are all too frequently depicted.

To children whose family situation is troubled, we say, you yourself are no less for that. Challenges are at times an indication of the Lord’s trust in you. He can help you, directly and through others, to deal with what you face. You can become the generation, perhaps the first in your family, where the divine patterns that God has ordained for families truly take shape and bless all the generations after you.

To young men, recognizing the role you will have as provider and protector, we say, prepare now by being diligent in school and planning for postsecondary training. Education, whether in a university, technical school, apprenticeship, or similar program, is key to developing the skills and capabilities you will need. Take advantage of opportunities to associate with people of all ages, including children, and learn how to establish healthy and rewarding relationships. That typically means talking face to face with people and sometimes doing things together, not just perfecting your texting skills. Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children.

To all the rising generation, we say, wherever you rank your own father on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life. Remember the yearning hope of a father as expressed by John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”21 Your righteousness is the greatest honor any father can receive.

father-son-grandson_1448787_inlTo my brethren, the fathers in this Church, I say, I know you wish you were a more perfect father. I know I wish I were. Even so, despite our limitations, let us press on. Let us lay aside the exaggerated notions of individualism and autonomy in today’s culture and think first of the happiness and well-being of others. Surely, despite our inadequacies, our Heavenly Father will magnify us and cause our simple efforts to bear fruit. I am encouraged by a story that appeared in the New Era some years ago. The author recounted the following:

“When I was young, our little family lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor. I slept on the couch in the living room. …

“My dad, a steelworker, left home very early for work each day. Every morning he would … tuck the covers around me and stop for a minute. I would be half-dreaming when I could sense my dad standing beside the couch, looking at me. As I slowly awoke, I became embarrassed to have him there. I tried to pretend I was still asleep. … I became aware that as he stood beside my bed he was praying with all his attention, energy, and focus—for me.

“Each morning my dad prayed for me. He prayed that I would have a good day, that I would be safe, that I would learn and prepare for the future. And since he could not be with me until evening, he prayed for the teachers and my friends that I would be with that day. …

“At first, I didn’t really understand what my dad was doing those mornings when he prayed for me. But as I got older, I came to sense his love and interest in me and everything I was doing. It is one of my favorite memories. It wasn’t until years later, after I was married, had children of my own, and would go into their rooms while they were asleep and pray for them that I understood completely how my father felt about me.”22

Alma testified to his son:

“Behold, I say unto you, that it is [Christ] that surely shall come … ; yea he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.

And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.”23

That is the ministry of fathers today. God bless and make them equal to it.

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Judeo-Christian Worldview: Moral Character Education Theme Quotes

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Moral Character Education Theme Quotes

It is so obvious that the great good and the terrible evil in the world today are the sweet and the bitter fruits of the rearing of yesterday’s children. As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children. ~Gordon B. Hinckley

Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all. ~Oliver Wendell Homes

The Lord wants us to be peacemakers, but he doesn’t want peace at the cost of truth. ~Sarah Sundin

We need [men and] women who can detect deception in all of its forms. ~Russell M. Nelson

If we continue to teach about tolerance and intolerance instead of good and evil, we will end up with tolerance of evil. ~Dennis Prager

“The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain. … If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone.” ~Thomas S. Monson

We may be bucking a strong tide, but we must teach our children that sin is sin. ~Spencer W. Kimball

Obedience to God is the habit of a free man. ~James Talmadge

Whether we recognize it or not, we are connected with our past . . . people who care nothing for the past usually have no thought for the future and are selfish in the way they use the present. (World Conference 1980)

Love people, not things; use things, not people. ~Spencer W. Kimball

Choose your friends with caution, plan your future with purpose, and frame your life with faith. ~Thomas S. Monson

Never grow a wishbone where a backbone ought to be.

The secret to having it all is knowing that  you already do.

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.” ― Alexander Pope

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny. ~Thomas S. Monson

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Woe unto them that call aevil bgood, and good evil; that put cdarkness for dlight, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! ~Isaiah 5:20

The opposite of Courage: “Most of the world fears the raised fist while we in America fear the raised eyebrow.” ~Mack Stiles

Parenting: Teaching Justice and Mercy

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Teaching Justice and Mercy

June Value: Justice and Mercy, Introduction and part 1

From Richard and Linda Eyre

 

family3-silhouettekeyObedience to law, fairness in work and play. An understanding of natural consequences and the law of the harvest. A grasp of mercy and forgiveness and an understanding of the futility (and bitter poison) of carrying a grudge.

Sample Method for Preschool Age: Turn Taking

Begin to establish the idea of fairness. One of the first words that toddlers should learn is turn. Two year olds (and even pre-two’s) can understand this most basic form of sharing. Help them to take a short turn with a toy and then say, “Jamie’s turn,” as they pass it to the other child. Then help them to watch and wait for a moment until it is their turn again.

Praise them generously every time they give a turn to the other child. As mentioned earlier, some sort of timing device makes “turns” work better. Use an oven clock or egg timer to help small children take turns of two or three minutes. Explain that equal time is fair.

Sample Method of Elementary Age: The Sun and Cloud Game

This will help younger elementary-age children see that they can make themselves happy or miserable depending on their ability to repent and to forgive. Cut a yellow sun and a black cloud out of construction paper, along with two stick men or figures labeled “Billy” and “Eddy.” Set Billy and Eddy on a table or on the floor and tell the following situations. Have the children put the sun over the head of the child who will be made happy by his actions and the cloud over the child whose actions will make him sad.

  • A boy trips Eddy at school. Eddy is mad at the boy all day and keeps looking for a way to get even. (cloud)
  • Billy opens his sister’s drawer and takes some of her pencils. Then he feels badly about it and brings them back and says he is sorry. (sun)
  • Eddy gets hit in the back by a ball another boy throws. It hurts for a minute and Eddy feels mad, but then he gets over it and tells the other boy he’s okay and he knows the other boy didn’t mean to do it. (sun)
  • Billy leaves his mother’s boots outside, and the dog chews one of them up. No one knows he was the one who left the boots out there, so he keeps it as a secret and doesn’t repent or tell anyone. (cloud)
  • And so on — make up your own.

Sample Method for Adolescents: Discussion: Accepting Justice, Giving Mercy:

This will help older adolescents see the importance of both values and the relationship between the two. At an appropriate time ask older adolescents which they would rather receive — justice or mercy. Try to evolve this into a discussion where you are able to understand together that justice is something we should all be prepared to accept — for justice will always come, in some form, sooner or later. It is the law of the harvest and of cause and effect. Discuss the following quote by Emerson:

“Cause and effect are two sides of one fact. Every secret is told, every crime is punished. Every virtue is rewarded, every wrong is redressed, silence and certainty . . . cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end pre-exists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

After discussing justice, turn to mercy. Explain that while we should accept justice, we should try to give mercy. Do not be interested in making others “pay” for their mistakes. Do not hold grudges or carry a chip on our shoulder. Discuss how these tendencies make us vindictive and vengeful and cause us to poison ourselves and our outlook.

Judeo-Christian worldview: Christian Word on Parents, Marriage, and the Nuclear Family

Judeo-Christian worldview:

Christian Word on Parents, Marriage, and the Nuclear Family

 

Defining Moment

keyoldToday there are many who are changing the definition of the traditional family. Here Christian leaders clearly define the real family, and warn of the consequences of abandoning Biblical values and moral absolutes.

The Family


A Proclamation to the World

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

marriageWe, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal family-ties-grave-perryFather and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). 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. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

family3-silhouetteThe family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Teaching Children about Easter with Object Lessons for Kids

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Teaching Children about Easter with object lessons for Kids

Teach with an Easter Bag

Object lessons are the best, and this one is a great family home evening for the Monday before Easter. Start with the song “He Sent His Son.” Put the following items in a bag: (1) three coins, (2) small cup, (3) knotted string, (4) soap, (5) small piece of red fabric, (6) small toothpick cross, (7) white cloth, (8) cinnamon stick or other spice, (9) small stone, (10) folded white cloth, (11) picture of Jesus. As you read the scriptures below, have your kids take the matching items out of your Easter bag. It’s a different way to talk about the Resurrection, and it provides yet another opportunity to share your feelings of gratitude and gladness for a Savior.

  1. Matthew 26:14–15
  2. Matthew 26:36, 39
  3. Matthew 27:1–2
  4. Matthew 27:22, 24
  5. Matthew 27:28–29
  6. Matthew 27:31
  7. Matthew 27:59
  8. John 19:40
  9. John 20:1–4
  10. John 20:5–7
  11. John 20:10–20

 

Remember when “Spring Break” was called “Easter Vacation?”

Read Birthright covenant trilogy, help restore Judeo-Christian cultural values

 

Parents Teaching Children Character: Respect vs. Ego

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Parenting Value: Respect, Part 1.  General Guidelines. Don’t miss these helpful points on character education.

Richard and Linda Eyre

key Children born between 1980 and 1995, called “millennials,” now saturate the job market …They are typically demanding, impertinent, and narcissistic. They need constant affirmation and expect to be catered to. ~Reb Bradley

childhelpingotherMore respect for others, less egocentric. Becoming more extra-centered and less self-centered. Learning empathy. ~ Richard and Linda Eyre

Some children have a natural and seemingly inherent sense of caring and sensitivity. Such cases are rather rare, however, and the self-centered “surrounded by mirrors” perspective of life is typical of most children, particularly adolescents. In fact most of the problems teenagers face (whether taking the form of rebellion or of extreme shyness and withdrawal) stem from their rather intense preoccupation with self.

Sample Method for Preschool Age: “Put Yourself in the Picture” Game

This game lets children practice at empathizing with someone they have never met or spoken to. Watch for pictures in magazine that show people in situations that are unusual to you and your children. These could range from a man on a horse in the mountains to a girl in a magazine clothing ad. Almost any magazine has several pictures or advertisements that will work for this exercise.

The game consists of looking at the picture and attempting to describe how the person in the picture feels. This can start on a physical level as you try to imagine what he sees and hears, whether she is cold or warm, and so forth. Then try to go beyond the physical and speculate how he or she might feel emotionally. Have a discussion about it. Let each person imagine how the subject feels and express his or her own observations.

A variation of the game is to give each player a different picture to study, then have them give a short speech or write a brief theme on what the subject feels.

Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Noticing Game

boytieshoeThis game trains children to see more that is outside themselves and thus to be less self-aware. Form a habit of playing “the noticing game” when you are traveling or going to any unfamiliar place with children. Ask them, without notice or warning, to close and cover their eyes. Then ask them to describe, as best they can, the room or scene they are in (the walls, the lighting, the carpet, the trees, the sky, etc.). Let them also play the game on you. The exercise in observing and being aware of where you are and what is around you is good training for empathy and sensitivity.

 

 

Sample Method for Adolescents: The Mirror-Window Lesson

Make an effort to tell your children how the things they do make you feel. This will help children be more aware of your feelings and be more sensitive toward them. If a teenager tells you that you are weird, tell him that that hurts your feelings. Sometimes children think of parents as people on whom they can vent their feelings without making a dent.

This lesson can help adolescents conceptualize and appreciate the difference between self-centeredness and extra-centeredness. Try to get a piece of one-way glass (mirror windowfrom one side, window from other). If you can’t find one, a plain piece of glass will do. Point out that when it is dark behind the glass, it is a mirror — all you see in it is yourself. When it is light behind it, you see through it — you see other people and not your own reflection. Point out to your children that life is much the same. When our minds are dark and self-centered, we only see ourselves (“What’s best for me?” “How will that affect me?” “What can this person do for me?”) In this mode we are always unhappy and self-conscious.

 

youthservingBut when we light up and look at other people — trying to listen, trying to see their needs, and so on — we “lose ourselves” and quit worrying about ourselves and feeling self-conscious.

Remember that unselfishness does not come naturally. Try to maintain your patience as you implement this “month.” Everyone, although in varying degrees, is born with a certain amount of selfishness. There is no quick fix for learning to be unselfish. It is a process that takes thinking and practicing and a certain amount of maturity to develop.

Parenting: Teaching Charity

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Parenting Value: Charity, Part 1

Richard and Linda Eyre

Methods for Teaching Charity

Love

momdaughterwillowIndividual and personal caring that goes both beneath and beyond loyalty and respect. Love for friends, neighbors, even adversaries. And a prioritized, lifelong commitment of love for family.

Sample Method for Preschoolers: “Secret Services”

This can help young children taste the delight of anonymous giving. With your little ones, decide on something you can do for someone anonymously. It may be baking cookies and leaving a little basket of them on Daddy’s pillow or on the bed of an older brother or sister. It may be leaving a bowl of fruit on the doorstep of an elderly neighbor or sending a grandparent a new pair of slippers with no return address on the package.

Sample Method for Elementary Age: “Show Physical Love”

Show your love openly and teach your children that overt affection and love is okay. Give hugs. Children need to feel their parents’ physical love as much during their elementary-school-age years as they do as preschoolers. Whether it is as your child goes off to school, just before he pops into bed, or, as we do at our house, just after family prayer, a sincere hug is appreciated by everyone, even teenagers, whether they will openly admit it or not. Be sure to tell children verbally that you love them as well as providing hugs. A quick “love you” as they dash off with their friends will give them added security.

Sample Method for Adolescents: “Look for Special Needs”

It’s important to teach adolescent-age children to look for those who need help.

One father taught awareness and love for others by asking his son every day, when he came home from school, “Son, did you help anyone today?” At first the son looked back at him blankly and said, “Well, no.” The father just smiled and changed the subject. After being asked the same question and giving the same answer about twenty days in a row, one day the son finally said, “Yes!” and told how he had noticed a handicapped boy and helped him get to class.

As parents we need to let our children know that it is important to us that they learn to love others by looking for opportunities to help. As always, example is the best teacher and we need to share our own personal efforts to give help or service.

Christian Parenting, Ten Commandments, and Les Miserables

Christian Parenting, Ten Commandments, and Les Miserables

Written, Not with Ink

*Teaching about the Atonement

keyHave courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.
Victor Hugo

Moses and 10 cropJochebed, mother of Moses, gently laid her infant son in a carefully crafted little ark, then watched over the short river journey of her precious cargo until he was safely in the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter.  Even then, in the king’s court, she was there, nursing him and vigilant in his care.

Despite the opposition of those who would have killed him, Moses grew to manhood, delivered his people from bondage, and left to the world the priceless moral code known as the Ten Commandments.  Moses went on to his reward, but opposition to his work continues.

In the New World, about 148 B.C., the prophet Abinadi was put to death by a king, for defending the plan of salvation and the Ten Commandments.

This revered code has been preserved, found today inscribed in stone or metal.  The Ten Commandments have been ridiculed, forbidden, removed from public display.  Yet within the calm eye of stormy hostility, this code remains serene, steadfast, and immovable.

After the children of Israel broke the Ten Commandments and other higher laws, Moses was instructed to create a complex structure of rules and regulations.

Today, many try to replace the Ten Commandments with gargantuan legal documents of government regulation.

Laws of men come and go.  People have been killed or thrown in jail defending the Ten Commandments.  But this moral code persists as a foundation for all civilized societies.  Why?  Because its Author is absolute— the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  The Ten Commandments are moral absolutes.

Those whose behavior is consistent with moral absolutes are guided by what is called “internal government.”  These individuals can successfully govern themselves, but are accountable to a just God.

When internal government breaks down, external government takes over, with rules, regulation, and bureaucracy.  Persons under external government are accountable to men, who may not be just.

In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, a timeless novel about justice and mercy, hero Jean Valjean served in prison for decades because he stole one loaf of bread.  He learned about mercy when a compassionate priest bought his freedom with two valuable silver candle holders. Because of that gracious gift, Valjean lived out his life serving and bringing joy to others.  But Javert, his jailer, refusing to accept the price paid for Jean’s deliverance, became obsessed with re-capturing him.  Failing in his objective, Javert finally ended his own miserable life.  Such is the state of man at the hands of human justice.

In a civilized society, however, justice must be served, or there would be nothing to deter evil and protect the innocent. But much as we may desire to be morally perfect, we all fall short.  What is to be done?

Many today reject moral absolutes because, like Javert, they do not understand the plan of mercy.  A loving Father in heaven knew that his children would fail to keep all the commandments that justice required.  Only His perfect Son could meet the absolute demands of justice and pay the price for His children’s deliverance.

Parents need not be afraid of holding their children to high moral standards.  The atonement of Christ is a safety net in the times of falling short, but it is fastened to repentance.  Like Valjean, our children must forsake evil, or justice will have claims upon them.

If we as parents, like Jochebed, diligently train, nurture, and safeguard the internal government in our children, their souls will remain clean and whole when all around them are falling apart.  Despite the fading ink of human doctrine, our children can remain true to eternal principles, written, not with ink, but in the fleshy tables of their hearts. (2Cor.3:3)

But remember, “It is easier to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Children prepared with strong internal government will always make honor and virtue their choice; they will triumph over evil, and rejoice.

Dinner Talk

1.  How does the atonement of Christ satisfy both justice and mercy? (See Alma 40-42)

2.  Give examples in the world today of human injustice, in which the Ten Commandments have been perverted and the atonement of Christ is denied.

3. How is the sacrifice of Christ an act of love?

4.  If we do our very best to live high moral standards, but fall short, what must we do to receive the mercy of Christ?

Copyright © 2010 by C.A. Davidson

 

Victor Hugo

Victor_Hugo_by_Étienne_Carjat_1876Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.
Victor Hugo

A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.
Victor Hugo

All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
Victor Hugo

From Wikipedia

Victor Marie Hugo  26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist. He is considered one of the most well-known French Romantic writers. In France, Hugo’s literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

Though a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo’s views changed as the decades passed;[1] he became a passionate supporter of republicanism,[citation needed] and his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and artistic trends of his time. He was buried in the Panthéon.

Victor Hugo’s first mature work of fiction appeared in 1829, and reflected the acute social conscience that would infuse his later work. Le Dernier jour d’un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man) would have a profound influence on later writers such as Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Claude Gueux, a documentary short story about a real-life murderer who had been executed in France, appeared in 1834, and was later considered by Hugo himself to be a precursor to his great work on social injustice, Les Misérables.

Hugo’s first full-length novel[citation needed] would be the enormously successful Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), which was published in 1831 and quickly translated into other languages across Europe. One of the effects of the novel was to shame the City of Paris into restoring the much-neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was attracting thousands of tourists who had read the popular novel. The book also inspired a renewed appreciation for pre-Renaissance buildings, which thereafter began to be actively preserved.

Hugo began planning a major novel about social misery and injustice as early as the 1830s, but it would take a full 17 years for Les Misérables to be realized and finally published in 1862. Hugo was acutely aware of the quality of the novel and publication of the work went to the highest bidder. The Belgian publishing house Lacroix and Verboeckhoven undertook a marketing campaign unusual for the time, issuing press releases about the work a full six months before the launch. It also initially published only the first part of the novel (“Fantine”), which was launched simultaneously in major cities. Installments of the book sold out within hours, and had enormous impact on French society.

The critical establishment was generally hostile to the novel; Taine found it insincere, Barbey d’Aurevilly complained of its vulgarity, Gustave Flaubert found within it “neither truth nor greatness”, the Goncourts lambasted its artificiality, and Baudelaire – despite giving favorable reviews in newspapers – castigated it in private as “tasteless and inept”. Les Misérables proved popular enough with the masses that the issues it highlighted were soon on the agenda of the National Assembly of France. Today the novel remains his most enduringly popular work. It is popular worldwide, and has been adapted for cinema, television and stage shows.

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George Washington Facts, Character Education

Dinner Topics for Monday

Glenn Beck: Being George Washington, Part 2

George WashingtonkeyWithout the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

Try this award-winning Epic Stories for Character Education in “Byte-size” Dinner Topics. Keep our precious Judeo-Christian traditions alive! It’s as easy as eating dinner.

Fortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

 

Character Matters

Without the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Everything that we do in life—every battle that we fight and every mountain that we climb, no matter how many times that we may fall—may be for no other purpose than to prepare us for that moment when we are called upon to make a difference in this world.

In fact, every decision that we make, even those that seem small and perhaps irrelevant—perhaps especially those that seem small and irrelevant—may be moving us toward that moment when we can change a life for the better.

We may only get one chance to make a difference. But there is no doubt that such a moment in each of our lives is going to come.

The only question that really matters is, Will we be ready for it? ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.177

Compromise … But Not Your Principles

My point is that you should never surrender your core principles. Never—ever—never. But don’t try to get 100 percent of what you want from an ally, while giving up zero percent.

And don’t expect to get everything you want this instant; this is going to be a long fight. It won’t be decided in the next election. It may not be decided ever. The key is to continually push the needle in your direction and lay the foundation for the next group of people to push it a bit further. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.212

Judeo-Christian Religion and the Founders

When the Continental Congress learned of the British surrender to Washington at Yorktown, representatives walked together to a Philadelphia church and prayed. Nearly a thousand other people joined America’s leaders in worship around the city. In fact, Congress recommended that the entire nation might want to observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” to celebrate the victory.

How times have changed. Can you imagine if Congress declared a national day of prayer after a military victory these days? The ACLU would file a lawsuit before you could say “God bless you.” On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg even banned all clergy from the Ground Zero ceremonies. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.152

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?

I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service. ~Benjamin Franklin to Constitutional Convention (The motion did not pass, because the group did not have funds to pay the clergy.)

Leadership

The Rules of Civility let Washington display poise in the small moments and thus gravitas in the big ones. He applied these prescriptions to everyday life and they became second nature. The lesson for us is that leadership and vision don’t exist in a vacuum—or spring to life all at once. They must be practiced, and they can grow within you until they become a part of you. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.243

Morality

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, relation and morality are indispensable supports … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ~George Washington, farewell address

Slavery

No section on the Constitution is complete without revisiting the topic of slavery. It’s become accepted fact that the Founders believed that blacks were worth only “three-fifths” of a human. That, however, is simply wrong.

The “three-fifths” clause was really about the census and, consequently, state representation in Congress. Slave populations in the southern states were huge at that time. If slaves were counted on a one-for-one basis then southern states would have far larger populations, and therefore, far more federal representation than the northern ones. As a result, slavery would have been nearly impossible to abolish.

Some revisionists would have you believe that those slaves were not going to be counted at all and that the three-fifths clause actually gave the southern states more power than they otherwise would have. (This allegation is, I think, supposed to “prove” just how racist and hateful our Founders really were.) But think about that logically: would the South really have been that willing to give up so much federal representation right off the bat? Of course not—they would have fought to have slaves counted as full people along with everyone else. The three-fifths compromise was just that, a compromise. It appeased the South, got the Constitution ratified, and paved the way for slavery to eventually end. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.210

Dinner Talk

1. Why is it important, even vital, that a leader be accountable to a Being (Judeo-Christian) higher than himself?

2. Select a politician in today’s society who has made corrupt choices. Compare him or her to the standard of George Washington’s character, and discuss how the choices of the corrupt politician are affecting our nation.

3. Why is the study of history important?

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

 

 

George Washington Character, Book Review

Dinner Topics for Monday

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

keyBeing George Washington by Glenn Beck is an insightful treatment of the life and service of this magnificent Founding Father. But also Beck gives a “character education” approach. He suggests how we can all use George Washington as a standard for our own good character development, and to prepare ourselves to make a difference. Truly inspirational. Following are highlights, but if you read the entire book with your family, you will treat them to an empowering character education experience.~C. A. Davidson

georgew_beingPart 1

Cultivating Character

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. ~George Washington, first inaugural address

The Great Author, Revealed

Revisionist historians have tried to diminish Washington’s faith in God, but it is clearly evident in his writings. Washington learned very much from his father, who (as the legend goes) once taught young George a lesson using cabbage seeds. He arranged them in such a way that they spelled “George.” When they began to grow, he showed them to his son and explained to him that they just grew that way by happenstance. When George correctly rejected that premise, suspecting it was his Dad who arranged them, he told George to look around at how perfectly everything else was placed. The trees. The grass. The water. The hills. The sky.

Was it mere coincidence, or was it part of a grand plan?

Washington immediately knew the answer. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.41

The Great Protector

A thousand enemy soldiers were captured, killed, or wounded in battle. But the toll on the rebels’ side was not nearly as dramatic. Washington lost two soldiers, and five others were injured. That’s it. It’s no wonder he believed so fervently in the Invisible Hand.

The list goes on and on, and while many say all of it was simply coincidence or luck, Washington himself did not believe that, writing to his brother: “I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence, that protected me beyond all human expectation; I had 4 Bullets through my Coat and two horses shot under me, and yet escaped unhurt.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.42

Washington believed, for very good reason, that God—the Invisible Hand, as he often called Him—oversaw their mission, and that uncovering Arnold’s plot was nothing less than providential. In a message to “the treason has been timely discovered to prevent the fatal misfortune. The providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of divine protection.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.108

In sheer desperation, Cornwallis attempted to lead an evacuation across the York River in whatever small boats he could muster. Apparently, God did not intend to let them go so easily, as a violent storm appeared out of nowhere. In a rush of ferocious wind and rain, the small British boats were swept downstream.

About the same time as the white flag was being raised in Yorktown, the proud British fleet finally sailed out of the New York harbor, the repairs to their ships from damage inflicted in the Chesapeake having taken almost two weeks longer than expected.

The fleet arrived at Yorktown a week too late. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.140

The power and goodness of the Almighty were strongly manifested in the events of our late glorius revolution; and his kind interposition in our behalf has been no less visible in the establishment of our present equal government. In war he directed the sword; and in peace he has ruled in our councils. My agency in both has been guided by the best intentions, and a sense of the duty which I owe my country. ~George Washington to the Hebrew congregations

Character Education

I know that getting a formal education in political science or economics is wonderful, but I can also confidently tell you that a formal education can also mean polically motivated teachers and a lot of closed-minded thinking. After all, how many professors do you know that will teach kids Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, or Thomas Sowell: nom many. Sometimes educating yourself is not only a necessity but a blessing. It allows you to explore ideas in a way professors like to inhibit with their preconceived ideological notions. As the columnist Heather MacDonald recently pointed out, in the past academic year at Bowdoin College, “a student interested in American history courses could have taken ‘Black Women in Atlantic New Orleans,’ ‘Women in American History, 1600-1900,’ or ‘Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl: Gender and the Suburbs,’ but if he wanted a course in American political history, the colonial and revolutionary periods, or the Civil War, he would have been out of luck.”

America allowed the Founders to test ideas that were considered radical elsewhere. They were allowed to think freely without worry of repercussion. Though highly educated in classical texts, most of the Founders were not weighed down by conventional thinking or pseudoscience and gender studies. That was a blessing.

Washington remained self-conscious about his lace of a formal education his entire life. Ironically, it was this fact that drove his intellectual curiosity and ensured that he would always be overly prepared for any debate. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.203

Rules of Civility

Some of the Rules of Civility that Washington copied as a young boy.

  • “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
  • “Let your conversation be without malice or envy. And in all causes of passion admit reason to govern.”
  • “When you speak of God and his attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence.”
  • “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.245

 

Next, part 2