LDS Perspective on Fatherhood

by Lynn Scoresby

LDS fathers lead, teach, play with, and counsel their children as part of their indispensable participation in family life. For Latter-day Saints, no calling or role surpasses a father's personal obligation to guide his children in righteousness. Courtesy Floyd Holdman (Tokyo, 1986).

LDS fathers have primary responsibility for providing spiritual and physical support for all other family members (D&C 68:25, 28; 75:28). Giving Christlike service as a husband and father is the most important work a man can perform during mortality. Far more than mere procreation, fatherhood entails the lifelong care of children and loving support of their mother. Elder Theodore Tuttle wrote that for husbands to be effective fathers they should strive to learn and express those attributes they understand Heavenly Father to possess (pp. 66-68).

Latter-day Saints view parenthood as the highest and most sacred calling from God to his children on earth. Mothers and fathers are taught to labor together in faith and love to bring children into the world, to care for them, and to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they may receive eternal life, thus as parents following the example of their Father and Mother in Heaven (D&C 93:40). Through sacred covenants with God and with each other, men and women establish in this life families that have the potential to endure forever.

Fatherhood is best represented in men who unselfishly cherish and befriend their wives and promote their children's happiness and righteousness. This includes nurturing and expressing love, establishing obedience of their children through firmness and warmth, and teaching the gospel in home and Church settings. Fathers are also encouraged to lead by example (Benson, 1985).

Boys and men are taught the characteristics that exemplify loving and responsible fathers. As part of the Primary organization curricula, songs and lessons teach children to admire their fathers and to associate manhood and fatherhood with the characteristics of Christ. As members of a priesthood quorum, young men are taught self-reliance, self-mastery, achievement, honor and respect for women, and chastity. Youth activities, Church sermons, and family programs also emphasize the importance of service to and sacrifice for others as part of fatherhood. Adult men are exposed to continuing emphasis on fatherhood. Formal instruction in Melchizedek Priesthood quorums is often aimed at motivating and inspiring men to esteem women as fellow children of the Father of all human beings, to observe strict marital fidelity, to give appropriate emphasis to the needs of children, and to learn skills that promote happy and successful lives for all family members.

Men in leadership positions are admonished not to neglect their family duties. When necessary, men may be released from demanding Church positions in order to give appropriate time to their families. Fathers are taught to spend time with their families; to bring the family together in frequent prayer, scripture study, and family meetings; and to teach children to keep God's commandments, to work, and to respect others (Mosiah 4:14-15; 3 Ne. 18:21).

[See also Father's Blessings; Lifestyle; Marriage; Men, Roles of; Motherhood.]

Bibliography

Benson, Ezra Taft. "Worthy Fathers, Worthy Sons." Ensign 15 (Nov. 1985):35-37.

Father, Consider Your Ways (pamphlet). Salt Lake City, 1978.

Perry, L. Tom. "Train Up a Child." Ensign 18 (Nov. 1988):73-75.

"The Role of the Father in the Home." In Seek to Obtain My Word: Melchizedek Priesthood Personal Study Guide 1989, pp. 199-204. Salt Lake City, 1988.

Tanner, N. Eldon. "Fatherhood." Ensign 7 (June 1977):2-5.

Tuttle, A. Theodore. "The Role of Fathers." Ensign 4 (Jan. 1974):66-68.