It doesn’t matter whether you’re protestant, catholic, or LDS. It is up to you to raise and instruct your children. Yes, the church is fantastic and has lots of opportunities for learning the gospel. In the LDS church we have primary, Sunday School, the Young Men and Young Women programs, and high school seminary. They are all good things. It’s important your child goes, but at best they are basic. Even the seminary program, which I highly recommend, is just four years of survey courses. Our children need more.
The general authorities (leadership in the LDS church) know this too. They’ve counseled parents on multiple occasions to have daily scripture study, prayer, and fun time together as important aspects of child rearing.
If you’ve ever taught primary you know the lessons can be….um…repetitive. I believe I taught a lesson on “Choose the Right” more times than I can count. That repetition is good and there probably isn’t an LDS child around that couldn’t tell you how important it is to make right choices. However, our children need doctrine too. They need to go through the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price (Whew! We have a lot of Scriptures) thoroughly before they leave your home.
I think the answer to that is twofold.
1. That our children may know who god is and what he expects of them
The Book of Mormon puts it this way:
“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” 2 Nephi 25:26
2. that they may grow in godliness
I love this passage in the New Testament:
“And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
So where do you start?
First, in your everyday life.
You must live the gospel yourself. You must also talk about it. Listen to what Moses taught the Israelites as they were about to enter the promised land.
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Duet. 6: 6.
It should just be a natural part of living- a regular and comfortable part of your daily conversations. Our children need us to engage with them about real life and how it fits in with the gospel. Discuss current events with your children. Discuss politics. Help them learn to think for themselves and not just accept what the talking heads on television are telling them. Challenge them to look at the world in light of what we know about God’s instructions to us.
Make sure they understand that everyone is biased—yes even your favorite news anchor. I’ve got news for you, you’re biased as well. When you can face that, it will help you be more honest with your children about exploring world views. Help them to take what they’re hearing and compare it with the word of God. Teach them to pray and ask the Spirit what is true and what they should do about it.
Second, in formal instruction.
This is where daily scripture study comes in.
For young children, teach them the stories of the Scriptures. They should know about Abraham, Moses, Christ, Paul’s life and Martyrdom, Nephi, King Benjamin, etc…
LDS parents need to be careful not to just focus on the Book of Mormon. Your future missionary is a lot less effective in ministering to protestants when they have a remedial understanding of the Old and New Testament. Believe me, as a former protestant who was an investigator for three years, I was often appalled at the lack of knowledge some missionaries had. It made me less likely to take them seriously. Plus, they are missing out on a large portion of God’s instruction to us.
For older children, take the time to do an additional more in depth study. Our classes at church do not (to my complete exasperation at times). Do a weekly study with them on a book of scripture. Give them assignments that teach them how to study the words of God for themselves.
I know you’re probably thinking when you’re going to find the time to fit all this in. Believe me, if I can do it ANYONE can.
Most parents love their children. Most want to do what is the best for their children. Just don’t be tempted to think just sending them to church is enough. It’s good, but it’s not enough.