Every day children are challenged by worldly standards, and those conditions will improve only when society re-enthrones the family and traditional values, said Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president.
Speaking March 30 at the 1993 Annual Army Family Life Chaplains Training Event, Pres. Grassli, said, "My stance is that prevention is cheaper and easier than curative procedures.""It's easier to put a fence up at the top of a cliff than it is to put an ambulance down in the valley. Putting up a fence is what families can do for children if they will. They can protect them from harm and teach them how to cope."
Pres. Grassli was a featured speaker at the conference, held March 29 through April 2 to provide training to U.S. Army chaplains who specialize in soldier and Army family counseling.
She spoke on "Help for Today's Children," and also participated in a panel discussion on the American family of the future that same day. The theme of the conference, sponsored by the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains, was "Soldier-Family Ministry in an Era of Change."
"Those of us with religious convictions should be the most vocal advocates of children," she told the chaplains. "Because you have opportunity to counsel with families, your ministry can take the position of asking, `What is best for the children? How can we prevent or minimize the [negativeT conditions that we see so rampant in the lives of children and their families?' "
She explained that by putting child development in the context of the gospel, the LDS Church has designed a way to help understand what children need.
"The moral, responsible behavior that we hope our children will develop is based on spiritual growth that can take place as children are able to find answers to three major questions," Pres. Grassli commented.
Those questions are Who am I? What should I do? and Why am I here?
When the environment does not provide the answer to "Who am I?" a child begins life in indifference and fear, she noted.
When the questions, "What should I do?" and "Why am I here?" are answered through role models who adhere to values and demonstrate self-discipline, then children will likely answer in responsible ways that will help them be contributors to society rather than be detractors, Pres. Grassli continued.
Parents can provide a climate where their children can find answers to these questions with a religious foundation that gives security and identity, self-esteem, a purpose to life, and a strong sense of moral values, she said.
"The traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs are great preventive medicine for children and great strengtheners to families."
She suggested five things parents can do to give children a strong religious foundation.
- Be united in family goals.
- Go to church as a family.
- Pray daily as a family.
- Teach children values.
- Read the scriptures together.
By giving children a firm spiritual foundation, they can make decisions that will bring them happiness, she concluded.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Diana McNeil James, the ranking female chaplain in the Army, stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C., remarked afterward that she was impressed with Pres. Grassli's thought that children find strength in having three questions - Who am I? What should I do? and Why am I here? - answered.
She said she was eager to think more about the questions and how they can help her, because most of her work deals with preventive measures.