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LARRY: We have been asked to discuss the challenges we as parents,

grandparents, family, friends, & neighbors face in raising righteous children with
particular note of children who choose a path we would not have them choose.

Pres. Hinckley said, “I recognize that there are parents who, notwithstanding an
outpouring of love and a diligent and faithful effort to teach them, see their
children grow in a contrary manner and weep while their wayward sons and
daughters willfully pursue courses of tragic consequence. For such I have great
sympathy.” (Ensign, 11-78, p. 19)

One of the greatest heartaches in life is the pain and sorrow we experience when
our children stray from the Gospel.
• Straying can include sin, drugs, alcohol, criminal behavior, immorality,
abuse, and others
• Other forms of straying, perhaps less serious but nevertheless troubling,
include underachieving, for some dropping out of school, and finding little
purpose or happiness in life.

Today, we will tell you things you already know. We will also assure you that it is
far easier to intellectually discuss and understand these situations and
circumstances than to emotionally “buy into” it when we are emotionally involved.

CATHY: Having said that, what questions do we ask ourselves regarding

children who have strayed: (You can ask these yourself or ask class)
• What did I/we do wrong?
• WHY?
• I/we should have done ….
• I can’t do this any more

Our Goal Today, provide:

1. Understanding
2. Comfort
3. Strategies
- not only to parents, but to family members, friends, & neighbors

LARRY: Read parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32

• Prodigal & sinful straying
• Disinterested straying
• It’s like watching our kids drive down a one-way street all the while
knowing it leads to a dead end & not being able to alter their course

CATHY: #1 - Understanding

• Much of who are children are come packaged

• This is not to diminish the import role of teaching & nurturing
• But it is not to ignore that we as well as our children much a ,lot of
psychology with them (Larry will discuss more on this later)
• Life doesn’t always follow the road map
• We do our best
• The WHY question will kill you

“Givens” in Parenting
The following are statements from both church leaders and health care
professionals on the raising of children. [Ask class to comment on each one]
• You can’t set boundaries on someone else. You can only set boundaries
on yourself and your decisions. [At a certain age you really can’t “make” a
child do anything.]
• You can only teach children to the level of their willingness
• Just because what YOU want for a child is a right thing, that doesn’t mean
it will happen
• You can’t do the Lord’s work in the devil’s way
• We are sometimes held hostage by what we perceive as “lost
opportunities” our children will suffer because we don’t force them to do
what we want, what we know is right. Example: child picked up for
shoplifting and we want them to avoid any real consequences because
they may have to forfeit something else or some other opportunity
• Natural consequences is the best teacher. Prodigal son learned by
natural consequences
• Children learn by: seeing, hearing, experience, and some children seem to
“only” learn by experiencing and not by all good experiences

Read: Mosiah 23:21” Nevertheless the lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea,
he trieth their patience and their faith.”
• Why our patience & faith?
• Because they are portable virtues. We take them with us.

LARRY: #2 - Comfort
• We cannot judge ourselves or others by how our kids turn out.
• If we did, then what about HF & HM losing 1/3 not just as wayward
children but as sons of perdition, Lehi, Adam & Eve, Jacob & his 12 sons,
Joseph Smith, & others?
• Read: Boyd K. Packer statement
• We are not in this parenting thing alone?
• How far do we emotionally buy into HF being involved with us in this
parenting role? What parents doesn’t want all his/her children back?
• How does the Lord view our challenges with our children?

Read: Blessings of bring born in the Covenant by Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 2:90

• What is a sealing blessing?

• How can this help our children?
• What about those whose children are not sealed to them?
• Sealing covenant is not a “Free Pass” in this life
• Did we “mess up” or was this child sent to us because we could provide the
best hope & situation for him/her?

Read: 1 Nephi 11:17

• When we really buy into this trust that the Lord loves us and our/His children,
that He knows our name, it strengthens us beyond measure to keep going
• One of the hardest trials is sometimes referred to as the “Trial of Abraham” as
referenced in D&C 101, when it appears that God has forsaken us in our greatest
hour of need, that we have been left on our own, and then the tidal wave of self
doubts and self incrimination can set in

CATHY: Emily story, coming to work, etc. [Show picture]

• “I don’t know when I will see you again”
• Flying over APW

• We have covered Understanding & Comfort, after our break we will discuss
today’s 3rd goal, viz., Strategies to Help & To Cope


LARRY: “Spirit Memories” IE, Nov 1919, OFW & JFS

• We must alter our perspective and help our children remember and act upon
what they already know to be true

• 3 Strategies

LARRY: #1 - Focus on the Final Score

• How would it affect you as a player if you knew the final score before the
game finished, or even started
• Use football examples

• Put embarrassment side
• How do you look beyond tattoos, piercings, weird hair, clothing, etc?

• Q: How do we get over the embarrassment to involve, when appropriate,

other family members and friends?
• Larry: 40th Ward. I was embarrassed by her appearance, but I told myself I
could never give up, and loved my daughter more than the emotion of
embarrassment – as hard as it is, you must set your ego & pride aside

LARRY: Trust sealing blessing & take the Lord at his word
• Read: Joseph Smith statement
• Pres Hinckley quoted JS statement and added, “If any of you have a child or
loved one in that condition, do not give up. Pray for them and love them and reach
out to them and help them.”
• Read: Lorenzo Snow statement

• OK, you may say, “It’s one thing if I had been done all I could, but the truth of
the matter is that I was more concerned with my business, or whatever, than with the
kids and I really feel some of their problems are a result of me.”
• Remember the parable of the laborers in the vineyard?
• We can’t change yesterday, but we can do what we can do now, and nothing
is for not.

• Either way, stop beating yourself up

• Read: Elder Neal Maxwell put it this way,
• “Unquestionably, parents have such a profound role in assisting in the
educating of our desires, especially when parents combine explanation and
exemplification! Even so, given our responsibilities for our own desires, we should
not be surprised that Adam and Eve, such superb parents, who conscientiously
taught all things to their children, still lost some of them! Lehi and Sariah made the
same effort, doing so ''with all the feeling of a tender parent.'' (1 Ne. 8:37.) Yet they
experienced the same thing with Laman and Lemuel who ''understood not the
dealings of the Lord.'' (see 1 Ne. 8:37; Mosiah 10:14.) Fixing responsibility for such
recalcitrance where it should be, the Prophet Joseph Smith observed: ''Men who
have no principle of truth do not understand the word of truth when they hear it. The
devil taketh away the word of truth out of their hearts, because there is no desire for
righteousness in them.'' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith Section Two 1834
37, p 96) – from Oct 1996 General Conference

• Within the context of our covenants and the commandments, I am convinved

the Lord is more concerned with the WHY of what we do than he is with the WHAT,
i.e., our motives and intents are everything.
• Example: D&C 131
• Elder Maxwell speaking of the Final Judgement, “God thus takes into merciful
account not only our desires and our performances, but also the degrees of difficulty
which our varied circumstances impose upon us. No wonder we will not complain at
the final judgment, especially since even the telestial kingdom's glory ''surpasses all
understanding.'' (D&C 76:89.) God delights in blessing us, especially when we

realize from our petitions ''joy in that which [we] have desired.'' (D&C 7:8.) – Oct
1996 GC

• Take comfort in your motives and intents, even when making mistakes and
missing the mark as the “perfect parent.”

• Focus on the Final Score & Trust in God’s promises, take Him at His word

CATHY: #2 - First Responsibility to Exalt Yourself & Spouse

• Saving our children may be the ultimate motivation to lead a righteous life
• If we fail here, all this talk about children and sealing blessings is academic &
somewhat meaningless
• What did Lehi do? 1 Nephi 8:37, “And he did exhort them with all the feeling
of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words…”
• And some did, and some didn’t
• Do ALL you can and then turn it over to the Lord
• Harold B Lee, “You haven’t failed until you’ve given up.”
• What would the Lord tell you?
• Probably, “I understand, I’ve been there,” and “Don’t give up, I haven’t.”
• Take your frustration to the Lord and your love to your children & family
• This doesn’t mean we approve of their behavior
• Recognizing there are times when a child’s behavior is so dangerous to other
family members that you cannot allow them in your house, but you can still love
them, pray for them, fast for them, and exhort them with all the feelings of a tender
• Holy Ghost is the only agent of change

• Read: 1 Nephi 11:17 (again)
• In Parable of PS, we know what happened, but what we don’t read is
how many nights the father gazed across the horizon searching for his lost
son, only to return home alone and broken hearted.
• Parable of the prodigal son had a happy ending – not all families have a
happy ending…in this life…take the Lord at His word

CATHY: #3 - Develop an “I Love You” Program

• Stay in contact
• Invite to participate
• Extended family
• Larry: speaking of extended family, I have often been curious about a
statement from Pres Joseph F Smith in response to a questions asking what role our
departed family members and friends may have with us and our families now. To
this question Pres Smith replied, “They are not far from us and know and understand

our thoughts and feelings and notions and are often pained therewith. Now, if our
departed kindred and friends are just spirits, they may be very near us…rejoicing
because of our virtues or sorrowing and weeping over our sins and transgressions…
I believe that our departed kindred and loved ones are more mindful of us and
solicitous for our salvation day by day [now] than they ever were in the flesh,
because they know more.” (From Prophet To Son, pp. 38-39)
• Cathy: Pray, Fast, & Temple Roll
• Look at photos from “happier times” that will kindle in your heart the strength
to keep going
• Be an example of a principle you value
• Set boundaries before the emotion of the moment
• What children want to ultimately know is that they are loved
• We asked Emily what we could have done differently, she replied, “Nothing.
You were the perfect parents for me. I always knew you loved me.”

• Do not confuse their rejection of the Gospel as necessarily a rejection of
the family
• We must avoid harsh judgment of our children and of others, both other
parents and their children – and it is easier said sometimes than done.
• Loving does not mean we condone behavior – right is still right and wrong is
still wrong
• We must refrain from judging others unrighteously. That’s not our job.
• What do we do, think, and feel in these situations with our own children and
with the children of others?
1. Dress wildly like something out of the vegetable garden?
2. Piercings & tattoos?
3. Living together
4. DUI
5. Same gender preference
6. Drug possession & gets busted for it
7. Pornography
8. Adultery, fornication, and other forms of immorality
9. Criminal arrest, even felony arrest
10. Fraud
11. Theft
12. Unwed pregnancy
13. Murder

• Read: 3 Nephi 18:32, “Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your
synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister;
for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full
purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing
salvation unto them.”

• Exception: for persons who pose real and present danger to your home and
• “I cannot promise my kids will always make the right choices, but I can
guarantee they will know the difference between right & wrong.”

• Gulf in every ward between youth & adults

• We greet each other as adults, but few greet youth
• Start today, always say hello, acknowledge, handshake, congrats
• Honk & wave

• We came to earth by our own request

• To what extent we knew each family member in Pre-Mortal existence is not
fully known, but I like to think there was some familiarity, which both Elder Whitney
and Pres Smith taught
• How much of the struggles and challenges did we know? Don’t know.
• But if we did know, what would we have said to each other?
• Envision our children as who they really are and as who they really can

• We came to earth for two reasons

1. Gain a physical body
2. Develop the character of God
• By obedience
• By serving others

CATHY: Review
1. Focus on the Final Score
2. First Responsibility is to Exalt Yourself & Spouse
3. Develop an “I Love You” Program

And we pray that the strength of our eternal covenants will ultimately be
stronger than the bonds of the adversary that now seem to grip his or her life.

CATHY & LARRY: Testimony