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Elder Robert D. Hales: 'The mission of parents and leaders to the rising generation'

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 10:23 a.m. MDT

"Do our children know what we know?" asked Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve during the Sunday afternoon session of conference.

"Our duty to God as parents and leaders begins with leading by example — consistently and diligently living gospel principles at home. This takes daily determination and diligence."

Sharing "what I have learned by way of personal reflection," Elder Hales told how parents lead by understanding the hearts of their children and by walking alongside them on the gospel path.

"To truly understand their hearts, we must do more than just be in the same room or attend the same family and Church activities," he said. "We must plan and take advantage of teaching moments that make a deep and lasting impression upon their minds and hearts."

Scouting events or walking with a child to school can be made more meaningful by being interested in their lives, by talking about their hopes and fears and joys, he said.

The greatest influence on a child does not come from an interview with the bishop or some other leader, he continued, "but from the regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction with parents."

Most important in these interactions with youth is "asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen, yes listen, and then listen some more, even hearken with spiritual ears!"

Being there, he continued, "means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too."

Elder Hales spoke of the two youth programs, Personal Progress for Young Women and Duty to God for Young Men, and said, "Let it be understood: for young men and young women to try to accomplish these goals alone would be a great loss and tragedy! Fathers, mothers and leaders of youth, we urge you to participate … with your youth."

A bond of faith and friendship will grow, he promised, "that will allow you to strengthen each other and stay on the gospel path forever."

An imperative duty in helping youth understand and believe the gospel in a deeply personal way, Elder Hales said, is that "they must obtain their own light of testimony. … They must understand who they are and who Heavenly Father wants them to become.

"How do we help them?"

During family home evening, a family council or a meaningful gospel conversation, "we have opportunity to look them in the eyes and tell them we love them and that Heavenly Father loves them."

Parents also have the opportunity, especially on this Easter Sunday, to share with their children their own testimony that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. The greatest place for parents to teach and show love to their children will be in their own homes.

"The greatest love shown will be in our homes," Elder Hales said. "I would hope that for those who desire to have missionary work that they would understand that the greatest missionary service that they will ever give will be in their homes. The greatest rescue, the greatest activation, will be in our homes. And yes, the greatest family history, the greatest family heritage, the greatest family legacy, will come from our love and our homes for the generations that follow us.

"I ask the Lord's blessings to be with the parents, to be with the youth that are brought up in faithful homes, that they will understand the joy it is to be in the home they were brought to, that they might be loved, directed and guided."

To watch this talk on video go to ksl.com.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company