That is why it is so important for us to teach our children to come to Christ. Christ is the source of light and truth, and when they come to Him, they regain the light that they have lost. They also learn to trust Him, become like Him and serve His children. So it is really important to lead our children to Him.
Correction is part of teaching. I think correction can be one of the most misunderstood parts of teaching, especially within Christianity. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Proverbs 13:24)." Using a rod is a figure of speech. It doesn't mean we beat our kids when we love them!
But correction does show love. How? It teaches obedience and leads us on the road to perfection, like when the Lord chastised the brother of Jared for 3 hours. The brother of Jared repented and became one of the greatest prophets of all time (Ether 2:14, 3:13). "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law (Psalms 94:12)."
But we have to "chasten" appropriately, otherwise we fail in our purpose. We can create hard feelings in our children or make the feel like failures. In D&C 121:43-44, the Lord describes the right way to correct: "Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death." The key is to reprove when moved upon by the Spirit, and then show greater love afterwards. Let them know you love them despite mistakes!
Missionary work has many parallels to teaching children. They both have the same goal: to bring souls to Christ. In D&C 100, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon are going on a mission to Canada, and the Lord gives them some instruction: " ...ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. And I give unto you a promise, that inasmuch as ye do this, the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say (D&C 100:7-8)."
At another time, the Lord told the prophet and others, "Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit ... (D&C 63:64)."
I recognized this in my own life. When I have been corrected harshly or in the wrong spirit, I resent it or ignore it. But when the Holy Ghost accompanies the correction, it sinks into my heart. I remember it. I can't ignore it. It is so important that our children feel the Holy Ghost in their learning, including in correction. But that's a topic big enough to fill another blog post.
While thinking about my study topic this week, I came up with a list of appropriate ways to teach and lead our children that I have read in the past:
- point out real life, familiar examples and sources of counsel and encouragement in people they know, like Alma the Younger did (Alma 39:10)
- use relevant object lessons from their experience, like Lehi did for Laman and Lemuel (1 Nephi 2:8-10)
- teach them about righteous ancestors and prophets that have gone before, like Helaman did for Lehi and Nephi (Helaman 5:6-7)
- take them with you as you work and serve, like Alma the Younger did (Alma 31:7)
- pray for and about them, like Alma the Elder did (Mosiah 27:14)
- support them in their work and callings, like Joseph Smith, Sen., did for his son (Joseph Smith-History 1:49-50)
- teach and correct them individually, one-on-one, like Alma the Younger did (Alma 36-42)
- teach them the scriptures and the gospel, like King Benjamin did (Mosiah 1:2-3)