Responsibility of Parenthood

David O. McKay

Called Unto Liberty, 20th Century Sermons, David O. McKay

Parenthood, and particularly motherhood, should be held as a sacred obligation. There is something in the depths of the human soul which revolts against neglectful parenthood. God has implanted deep in the souls of parents the truth that they cannot with impunity shirk the responsibility to protect childhood and youth.

There seems to be a growing tendency to shift this responsibility from the home to outside influences, such as the school and the church. Important as these outward influences are, they never can take the place of the influence of the mother and the father. Constant training, constant vigilance, companionship, being watchmen of our own children are necessary in order to keep our homes intact.

The character of the child is formed largely during the first 12 years of his life. During that period he spends 16 times as many waking hours in the home as in school, and 126 times as many hours in the home as in the church. Children go out with the stamp of these homes upon them, and only as these homes are what they should be will children be what they should be. Luther Burbank, the great plant wizard and scientist, most impressively emphasizes the need for constant attention in the training of a child. He says:

“Teach the child self-respect. Train it in self-respect just as you train a plant in better ways. No self-respecting man was ever a grafter. Above all, bear in mind repetition—the use of an influence over and over again, keeping everlastingly at it. This is what fixes traits in plants, the constant repetition of an influence until at last it is irrevocably fixed and will not change. You cannot afford to get discouraged. You are dealing with something far more precious than any plant—the precious soul of a child!”

Source: David O. McKay, “Structure of the Home Threatened by Irresponsibility and Divorce,” Conference Report, April 1969, pp. 4-10. David O. McKay was the ninth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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