PROVO, Utah — Forget the parental advice of experts. One only need search the scriptures to find helpful and effective hints for rearing, teaching and correcting children.
Using key words and examples like Enos, Alma and other figures in the standard works, S. Michael Wilcox enlightened the masses gathered in the Wilkinson Student Center ballroom with scriptural parenting pointers for an hour Thursday, Aug. 29, in association with BYU's Campus Education Week.
Wilcox, a retired instructor of seminaries and institutes of religion, titled his presentation "The Nurture and Admonition of the Lord — Maintaining the Critical Balances." The two critical words — "nurture" and "admonition" — are found in the first verse of the Book of Enos.
"Let's play with those words," Wilcox said.
While mothers are more often associated with nurturing (kind, gentle, warm fuzzy stuff) and fathers are more associated with admonishing (teaching, correcting, disciplining, not so warm and fuzzy), Wilcox emphasized the importance of each child receiving a proper balance of both or problems would likely arise in the child's life.
"What happens if a kid gets all nurturing and no admonishing? He may become spoiled and unprepared for the world in which we are going to send him. He may become manipulative," Wilcox said.
"What happens with too much admonition? He may get rebellious or too scared to do anything for fear of what might happen. Each child is different and may need more of one or the other. The balance is important."
Using examples from Alma 38, Wilcox illustrated ways to nurture children. He read how Alma praised his son Shiblon for his steadiness and faithfulness as a missionary. He also reminded the audience of how Heavenly Father praised his son Jesus Christ for his infinite sacrifice before the Savior appeared to the Nephites.
"Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (3 Nephi 11:7).
One day Wilcox's mother looked at him and said, "I can't tell you how happy I am that you are my son."
"Sometimes you need to say to your child, 'You bring joy to me,'" Wilcox said.
Children also need what Wilcox called "validation." As an example, he recounted how Jospeh Smith was commanded by the Angel Moroni to tell his earthly father about their visits. Joseph was afraid his faither wouldn't believe him, but he eventually told his father. His father's reaction was that the message was true and he should follow the angel's instructions.
"Joseph needed parental validation. The Lord gave him a tremendous support system in his family," Wilcox said. "What a beautiful father-son moment. With just the two of them sitting in a field, Joseph tells his father of the experiences, and he replies, 'It is all of God. Go and do as the angel commands.'
Among the other scriptural principles of parenting shared by Wilcox, repetition in teaching and correcting will eventually pay off, he said.
In Enos 1:3, Enos tells how the words he had often heard his father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
Wilcox said repetition is the key to help gospel principles gain enough weight to sink into the watery souls of children. When certain acts — like family scripture study, going to church, family — pile up, the emphasis accumulates, and it sinks into the heart.