Mormonism and culture/Wayward family members/Other quotes

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Quotes from Mormon leaders about how to treat "wayward" family members

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Marvin J. Ashton

  • The opportunities for showing love for God through the home, neighborhood, mission field, community, and family are never–ending. Some of us are inclined to terminate our love processes in the family when a member disappoints, rebels, or becomes lost. Sometimes when family members least deserve love, they need it most. Love is not appropriately expressed in threats, accusations, expressions of disappointment, or retaliation. Real love takes time, patience, help, and continuing performances. -- Marvin J. Ashton, "Love Takes Time," Ensign (November 1975), 108.

Spencer W. Kimball

  • Parental training often brings rebellious children back…. The current of our life, as defined and developed in the lives of a family by the righteous teaching of parents, will often control the direction children will go, in spite of the waves and winds of numerous adverse influences of the world of error.
I have sometimes seen children of good families rebel, resist, stray, sin, and even actually fight God. In this they bring sorrow to their parents, who have done their best to set in movement a current and to teach and live as examples. But I have repeatedly seen many of these same children, after years of wandering, mellow, realize what they have been missing, repent, and make great contribution to the spiritual life of their community. The reason I believe this can take place is that, despite all the adverse winds to which these people have been subjected, they have been influenced still more, and much more than they realized, by the current of life in the homes in which they were reared. When, in later years, they feel a longing to recreate in their own families the same atmosphere they enjoyed as children, they are likely to turn to the faith that gave meaning to their parents' lives.
- Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 334.

Neal A. Maxwell

  • One of faith's most trying experiences occurs when, after having given our loving help, we watch with feelings of helplessness the struggles of those we love. If their circumstance or suffering goes unrelieved, did we quit importuning the Lord too soon? If we had importuned a little longer, would things be different? How do we balance sincere importuning with submissively accepting what God has allotted to us? Only the Holy Ghost can give us such discernment and assurance. What a splendid gift is thus given to us! -- Neal A. Maxwell, Lord, Increase Our Faith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1994), 37.
  • The ability to create a climate around us in which people, as in the case of the man who approached Jesus, feel free enough to say the equivalent of "Lord, help Thou my unbelief," is a critical skill. If we can deal with doubt effectively in its nascent stages, we can assist people by a warmth and love which frees them to share the worries that they may have, and increase the probability of dissolving their doubt. But, if we over–react to dissent or to doubt, we are apt, rather than inculcating confidence in those we serve, to exhibit what, in the eyes of the rebel, may seem to be a flaw in our inner confidence in what we say.
We need to relax to be effective in the process of helping people who are building testimonies. Over–reacting and pressing the panic button when doubt first makes its appearance can render us ineffective. This is one of the reasons why parents are often in a temporarily poorer tactical position to deal effectively with a rebellious son or daughter—the anxiety is too real to relax. In these circumstances, bishops, teachers, and friends can be helpful—not because they are clinically detached, for their love and concern should be honestly communicated—but rather because third parties sometimes can listen a little longer without reacting, can prescribe with a clear–headed assessment, and most of all, can be a fresh voice which conveys care and concern, a voice which has risen above similar challenges. -- Neal A Maxwell, A More Excellent Way: Essays on Leadership for Latter–day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1967), 62.

Dallin H. Oaks

  • In teaching and reacting to their children, parents have many opportunities to apply these principles. One such opportunity has to do with the gifts parents bestow on their children. Just as God has bestowed some gifts on all of His mortal children without requiring their personal obedience to His laws, parents provide many benefits like housing and food even if their children are not in total harmony with all parental requirements. But, following the example of an all-wise and loving Heavenly Father who has given laws and commandments for the benefit of His children, wise parents condition some parental gifts on obedience.
If parents have a wayward child—such as a teenager indulging in alcohol or drugs—they face a serious question. Does parental love require that these substances or their consumption be allowed in the home, or do the requirements of civil law or the seriousness of the conduct or the interests of other children in the home require that this be forbidden?
To pose an even more serious question, if an adult child is living in cohabitation, does the seriousness of sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage require that this child feel the full weight of family disapproval by being excluded from any family contacts, or does parental love require that the fact of cohabitation be ignored? I have seen both of these extremes, and I believe that both are inappropriate.
Where do parents draw the line? That is a matter for parental wisdom, guided by the inspiration of the Lord. There is no area of parental action that is more needful of heavenly guidance or more likely to receive it than the decisions of parents in raising their children and governing their families. This is the work of eternity.
As parents grapple with these problems, they should remember the Lord’s teaching that we leave the ninety and nine and go out into the wilderness to rescue the lost sheep. 11 President Thomas S. Monson has called for a loving crusade to rescue our brothers and sisters who are wandering in the wilderness of apathy or ignorance. 12 These teachings require continued loving concern, which surely requires continued loving associations.
Parents should also remember the Lord’s frequent teaching that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6). 13 In his conference talk on tolerance and love, Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that “real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.”
Wherever the line is drawn between the power of love and the force of law, the breaking of commandments is certain to impact loving family relationships. Jesus taught:
“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
“For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
“The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother” (Luke 12:51–53).
This sobering teaching reminds us that when family members are not united in striving to keep the commandments of God, there will be divisions. We do all that we can to avoid impairing loving relationships, but sometimes it happens after all we can do.
In the midst of such stress, we must endure the reality that the straying of our loved ones will detract from our happiness, but it should not detract from our love for one another or our patient efforts to be united in understanding God’s love and God’s laws.
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Love and Law," Ensign (October 2009).

Boyd K. Packer

  • Don't be too anxious to call yourself a failure or to judge others as failures. When all accounts are settled, you will find that no effort to teach righteousness is ever completely lost. Nothing you do in the way of trying to convey the gospel of Jesus Christ is ever futile. -- Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975), 339.
  • The story is told that someone stopped Elder J. Golden Kimball on the street on one occasion. There had been a little difficulty in Elder Kimball's family that had become publicly known, and whoever it was who stopped him, no doubt with a mind to injure, said, "Brother Kimball, I understand you're having some problems with one of your children." His answer was, "Yes, and the Lord is having some problems with some of his, too." -- Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975), 337.
  • The measure of our success as parents … will not rest solely on how our children turn out. That judgment would be just only if we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment, and that now is not possible.
It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should.
It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled. …
We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them.
- Boyd K. Packer, "Our Moral Environment," Ensign (May 1992), 68.

Richard G. Scott

  • “Many of you have heavy hearts because a son or daughter, husband or wife, has turned from righteousness to pursue evil. My message is for you.
“Your life is filled with anguish, pain, and, at times, despair. I will tell you how you can be comforted by the Lord.
“First, you must recognize two foundation principles:
“1. While there are many things you can do to help a loved one in need, there are some things that must be done by the Lord.
“2. Also, no enduring improvement can occur without righteous exercise of agency. Do not attempt to override agency. The Lord himself would not do that. Forced obedience yields no blessings (see D&C 58:26–33).
“I will suggest seven ways you can help.
“First, love without limitations. … Second, do not condone the transgressions, but extend every hope and support to the transgressor. … Third, teach truth. … Fourth, honestly forgive as often as is required. … Fifth, pray trustingly. ‘The … fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:16). …
“Sixth, keep perspective. … When the things you realistically can do to help are done, leave the matter in the hands of the Lord and worry no more. Do not feel guilty because you cannot do more. Do not waste your energy on useless worry. … In time, you will feel impressions and know how to give further help. You will find more peace and happiness, will not neglect others that need you, and will be able to give greater help because of that eternal perspective. …
“One last suggestion—Never give up on a loved one, never!”
-- Richard G. Scott, "To Help A Loved One In Need," Ensign (May 1988), 60–61.

Joseph F. Smith

  • There should [not] be any of us so unwisely indulgent, so thoughtless and so shallow in our affection for our children that we dare not check them in a wayward course, in wrong–doing and in their foolish love for the things of the world more than for the things of righteousness, for fear of offending them. - Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939), 286.

Brigham Young

  • Do I think that my children will be damned? No, I do not, for I am going to fight the devil until I save them all; I have got my sword ready, and it is a two-edged one. I have not a fear about that, for I would almost be ashamed of my body if it would beget a child that would not abide the law of God, though I may have some unruly children. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:56.
  • I could say something encouraging to parents, if they would heed. Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang. - Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:215.