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RS/MP Lesson 37: “Family Responsibilities” (Gospel Principles Manual) Redux

Posted by kirkcaudle on July 11, 2011

I know Robert already posted a few thoughts on this lesson the other day, but I thought I would put some up also because I already said that I would. And also because I already had them typed up by the time that I saw that Robert had posted his. So you are all lucky because, although we are late getting these up, you get two sets of notes this week! :)

The link for the entire lesson can be found here. http://lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-37-family-responsibilities?lang=eng. The manual gives the disclaimer to those preparing this lesson:

As with chapter 36, be sensitive to the feelings of those who do not have ideal situations at home. Emphasize that with guidance from the Lord and help from family members and the Church, single parents can successfully raise their children.

Responsibilities of the Parents

The manual starts the lesson with the following question, “What responsibilities do husbands and wives share in raising their children?” Often in the church, we talk about the husband and wife having separate roles. However, this question focuses on the similarities between the sexes, not the differences. This question seems to be very in line with the disclaimer provided by the manual. However, as one moves further along into the lesson the specific roles of Father and Mother are still laid out.

The manual also states that one of the responsibilities shared by the husband and the wife comes via teaching their children the gospel. This comment is backed up by D&C 68:25, 28.

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.

How does this verse compare with AOF 2 which says, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins?” Are the “sins” of children an exception to this rule? If I am truly judged for the things that my children do wrong then how does that affect my own example to them? I have four children (ages 2-10). If one of my children under 8 steals a candy bar from the store and eats it, is that sin upon my head? Is that what this verse is talking about, or is the verse talking about something else completely?

It seems to me that the key line in verse 25 is “teach them no to understand.” Therefore, it is not so much the actions that my children do that I am accountable for, but it is what they understand in their hearts while doing so.  This verse is focused on positive teaching and not negative action.

Responsibilities of the Father

Fathers should lead their families with love and not force. Ephesians 6:4 is referenced. (I have added both the KJV and NRSV translations).

 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (KJV).

And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (NRSV).

I am sure that any Father (or Mother) reading this right now has made their children angry at some point during their lives. In fact, the Father (or Mother) was probably right in at least half of those situation. We often tell our children things that they can, or cannot, do depending on a variety of variables. When our children do not get what they want, our children get angry (even older ones). So, how is a Father supposed to parent his children without making his children angry? Does the word “provoke” play into your answer to this question at all? Does the translation this verse gives as “nurture” and “discipline” make a difference in how you perceive the message presented by Paul?

The last paragraph of this section states, “It is also the father’s duty to provide for the physical needs of his family, making sure they have the necessary food, housing, clothing, and education. Even if he is unable to provide all the support himself, he does not give up the responsibility of the care of his family.” Is this against the “Mr. Mom” mind set? Should the man then not stay at home, cook, clean, watch kids, etc. while the woman works?

Responsibilities of the Mother

I found this section extremely interesting because it contained few scriptures pertaining to the roles of motherhood. Rather, the section uses quotes by former church leaders as its backbone. I found the following paragraph of particular interest.

Latter-day prophets have taught, ‘Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children’ (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). A mother needs to spend time with her children and teach them the gospel. She should play and work with them so they can discover the world around them. She also needs to help her family know how to make the home a pleasant place to be. If she is warm and loving, she helps her children feel good about themselves.

I found this paragraph interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the manual uses no scriptures to back any of these claims. Second, how are these responsibilities any different from answers that you might get from the first question given by the manual, “What responsibilities do husbands and wives share in raising their children?” As a Father, do I not have just as large of a responsibility as my wife does to make my house happy, build up the self-esteem of my children, while teaching my children the gospel? How is this all supposed to be female specific?

Responsibilities of the Children

Because the majority of us are teaching adults, I will make my comments for this section brief. However, I would like to point out the oft quoted verse, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Ex. 20:12). How does this verse speak to an 8-year-old verses an 18-year-old? What about someone who is 38? Do our responsibilities towards our parents grow, shrink, or just change, as we grow older? Because we have all been children, what has been your own experience with this? Regardless of age, how do these answers change (if at all) for those with less than ideal parent(s)?

Additional Scriptures and Other Sources

Proverbs 22:6 (train up a child)

Ephesians 6:1–3 (children are to obey parents)

D&C 68:25–28; Ephesians 6:4 (responsibilities of parents)

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” (available on LDS.org and in many Church publications, including Ensign, Nov. 1995, page 102; For the Strength of Youth [item number 36550], page 44; and True to the Faith [item number 36863], pages 59–61)

Family Guidebook (item number 31180)

2 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 37: “Family Responsibilities” (Gospel Principles Manual) Redux”

  1. Robert C. said

    Kirk, this is nice–I esp. like your question about individual vs. collective(/parents’) responsibility.

    So, I meant to say Lesson #38 when I was requesting your help. I’ll email you privately to coordinate for the future. Given the sparse nature of my post for this lesson, this miscommunication is nicely serendipitous.

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