Linda & Richard Eyre: Favorite maxims about families

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

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It has been said that writing a book is easy, but writing one perfect sentence is very difficult indeed. We love beautiful, short quotes that uplift, refresh and remind us of what matters. Most of all, we love quotes about family.

“The most important work you ever do will be within the walls of your own home,” President Harold B. Lee said. His simple and direct statement reminds us that, in the eternal perspective, it is our family relationships that count, and that the raising of our children will make a greater difference to the world, and to our own happiness (and that of our children) than any other thing we accomplish.

We love the fact that the key word is “work,” because raising kids is indeed very hard and very demanding work. And we love that he reminds us how important that work is, because it is that importance that gets lost in our competitive world of materialism and professionalism.

Most of us get far more recognition and praise for what we do at work than what we do at home. Parenting can seem like the most thankless and least appreciated thing we do, and President Lee’s quote reminds us simply and forcefully that it is also the most important.

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home,” said President David O. McKay. The classic quote can be thought of as the other side of the coin from President Lee’s, and it kind of completes the circle of the expression of priorities. President Lee tells us how important our “home work” is and President McKay tells us failure at it cannot be made up for by any outside-the-home success.

Good quotes sometimes send us on a bit of a guilt trip, and President McKay’s certainly can, but a little guilt and a little fear can be great motivators, and what he is doing is reminding us that even if we are drinking in the accolades and satisfactions of other kinds of success, it will ultimately all be for naught unless we can develop eternal relationships and bonds within our families.

President McKay’s definition of “success in the home” certainly was not about being perfect or never making mistakes, but it was about never giving up and never putting other things ahead of our families.

“Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers, lest the whole earth be wasted," is one of the few scriptures that appears, with slight variations, in all five of our standard works (counting the Old Testament). This quote puts the whole world into perspective and reminds us that God’s own purpose is to weld us into his complete and redeemed family for the eternities. We love that it is about our hearts, and that hearts have to turn both ways, to our ancestors and to our children, making ourselves a strong link between those who brought us into the world and those who we bring into the world. Many wise parents have realized that temple work and parenting work are two sides of the same exaltation coin.

“The church is mere scaffolding with which we build eternal families," said President Lee. This final one is much less known and quoted than the other three but in a way it sums them all up. We think it may be the most powerful way of all to encourage us to focus on the transcending importance of family.

What could make the point more strongly than comparing this wonderful, enlightening, salvation-bringing restored church to the family and pointing out that as amazing and divine as it is, the church is temporary and of this earth while the family is eternal and will compose the government of God and the kingdom of heaven?

Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.

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