I have a challenge for all of the fathers out there.
This morning, after I had spent about an hour exercising with my five children (ages 2-11), I remembered a quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf that said,“In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time.” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign, Nov. 2010. See also, “T-I-M-E Spells Love”)
As I recalled this quote, I thought, “In what ways am I showing my children that I love them with the time that I spend with them?” I understand that many people will discuss the difference of spending quality time with their family rather than worrying about the quantity of time, but why can’t we do both at the same time?
To help all of the fathers, step-fathers, future-fathers, and any other type of fathers out there to make the most of their TIME with their families, I would like to challenge you to create an acrostic using the word TIME that can help you to show your LOVE to your family. For those who have been out of school for a while, an acrostic is a “poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.” So what I want you to do is to take each letter of the word TIME and make it stand for a meaningful way that you can use your TIME to show your family that you LOVE them.
As I went through this thought process today, I found many words that I felt fit very well with our family’s dynamics. However, the more I thought about it the more I was able to refine my list down to one word for each letter that I feel best represents ways in which I personally try to make my quantity of TIME become quality TIME that shows my family just how much I LOVE them. Now, before you read my acrostic below, I would invite you to take a moment and create a list of words for yourself that describe ways that you show your LOVE to your family with your TIME. Of course this will not be an exhaustive list because I am asking you to limit your words to those that fit the letters T-I-M-E. But I think that you will find a good number of ways in which you can or do express your LOVE to your family using those letters. So go for it! Begin making a list of words that start with T, I, M, and E that name the different ways that you show your LOVE to your family.
I would like to briefly share with you why I settled on each of those words out of the many that I had considered. First of all, my list is no better than yours, and yours will be no better than the next man’s. Each of our lists will be somewhat different because we come from different families and we have different expectations. So please, rather than comparing each other’s words, let focus on learning from each other’s words.
I chose the word TESTIMONY, because I feel that it is one of the greatest treasures that I can help my children to obtain (D&C 76:50-51). In fact, I have a sacred mandate to do so (D&C 68:25-28). One way that we strive to help our children to gain their own testimony is by studying the scriptures with then each day. Two of our children have already been baptized and both of them read the entire Book of Mormon before they were baptized. They have each continued to read it on their own since then. My oldest son is currently studying the Old Testament, and his sister is studying the Doctrine and Covenants. My third child has also decided to study the Book of Mormon before he decides to get baptized. We read at least 15 verses each night so that he can finish before he turns eight. When my oldest son was studying the Book of Mormon for the first time, we were almost at the end of the book and we read Moroni’s exhortation to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5). Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “So, are you going to pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon is true?”
My Son: “No.”
Me: (slightly worried) “Why not???”
My Son: “I don’t need to. I already feel that it is true every time that I read it.”
Me: (in my head) “YAAAAAY!!!” (out loud) “You’re right!”
President Uchtdorf’s previous quote continued as follows:
“Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship. (ibid, emphasis added)
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also shared the following relevant insight:
“I pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost as I describe a spiritual early warning system that can help parents in Zion to be watchful and discerning concerning their children. This early warning system applies to children of all ages and contains three basic components: (1) reading and talking about the Book of Mormon with your children, (2) bearing testimony of gospel truths spontaneously with your children, and (3) inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon. Parents who do these things faithfully will be blessed to recognize early signals of spiritual growth in or challenges with their children and be better prepared to receive inspiration to strengthen and help those children.” (“Watching with All Perseverance,” Ensign, May 2010.)
Everyone wants to be included. When people include us in their activities we feel loved. Recall the feelings that you had when your dad (or father-figure) would include you in something that he was doing. I know, sometimes it was hard work that wasn’t so exciting. But sometimes it was something that seemed fun, or grown-up, or something like that, and we felt LOVE. I have noticed that same feeling coming from my children as I have tried to include them in my activities. In fact, just after this morning’s workout, my oldest son came to me and gave me a very heart-felt thank you for letting him exercise with me. I let him know that I was enjoying his company just as much and that I hoped he would continue to join me for our morning workouts. I look for as many ways as I can to include my children in the things that I do. Some times that even includes them helping me in my church callings and assignments. Their excitement is often a breath of fresh air as they join me on what I consider normal or mundane. Look for ways to include your family in the things that you do! Not only will they feel your LOVE, but it will be a model of inclusion for them in many aspects of their lives. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following example:
“The Lord expects a great deal from us. Parents, please teach your children and practice yourselves the principle of inclusion of others and not exclusion because of religious, political, or cultural differences.
“While it is true we declare to the world that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith and we urge our members to share their faith and testimonies with others, it has never been the policy of the Church that those who choose not to listen or to accept our message should be shunned or ignored.” (“Doctrine of Inclusion,” Ensign, Nov. 2001.)
In a talk given by Sister Elaine S. Dalton, a previous Young Women General President, she taught the following powerful truth:
“This morning I would like to speak to our sons and to all fathers. How can a father raise a happy, well-adjusted daughter in today’s increasingly toxic world? The answer has been taught by the Lord’s prophets. It is a simple answer, and it is true—“The most important thing a father can do for his [daughter] is to love [her] mother.” By the way you love her mother, you will teach your daughter about tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion, and devotion. She will learn from your example what to expect from young men and what qualities to seek in a future spouse. You can show your daughter by the way you love and honor your wife that she should never settle for less. Your example will teach your daughter to value womanhood. You are showing her that she is a daughter of our Heavenly Father, who loves her.” (“Love Her Mother,” Ensign, Nov. 2011. Emphasis added.)
“A man who holds the priesthood has reverence for motherhood. Mothers are given a sacred privilege to ‘bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of [the] Father continued, that he may be glorified’ (D&C 132:63).
“The First Presidency has said: ‘Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind’ (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 6:178). The priesthood cannot work out its destiny, nor can God’s purposes be fulfilled, without our helpmates. Mothers perform a labor the priesthood cannot do. For this gift of life, the priesthood should have love unbounded for the mothers of their children.
“Honor your wife’s unique and divinely appointed role as a mother in Israel and her special capacity to bear and nurture children. We are under divine commandment to multiply and replenish the earth and to bring up our children and grandchildren in light and truth (see Moses 2:28; D&C 93:40). You share, as a loving partner, the care of the children. Help her to manage and keep up your home. Help teach, train, and discipline your children.
“You should express regularly to your wife and children your reverence and respect for her. Indeed, one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” (“Being a Righteous Husband and Father, ” Ensign, Nov. 1994.)
I find this letter (M) in TIME to be the easiest and most enjoyable letter to LOVE. I absolutely LOVE my wife. She is simply amazing, and she is my bestest friend! I believe the term BFF (Best Friends Forever) was created after my wife and I met. This is the part of the blog post where all the guys will just stop reading if I continue on like this. So, suffice it to say, my children KNOW that I love their mother! And she KNOWS it too!
Formal and informal education–book-smarts and know-how–are great ways to use one’s TIME to share their LOVE with their children. The world that we are living in is very competitive, and the more our children know and can do the better. The LOVE that you share with them as you use your TIME to help them to learn new knowledge, skills, talents, etc. will be passed on through generations of families. By taking the TIME to help your child learn something new now, you could be giving them more TIME in the future with their own kids! This can happen in many different ways. Think on it! How much of what you know and do now is a result of previous generations of fathers educating their families? In a General Conference talk giving by President Ezra Taft Benson, he said:
“Good fathers teach their sons, and good sons listen and obey. Teaching is done by precept and example, and by word and deed. A good model is the best teacher. Therefore, a father’s first responsibility is to set the proper example.” (“Worthy Fathers, Worthy Sons,” Ensign, Nov. 1985.)
Before I let you go, I am going to ask you to do one more thing: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE post your personal acrostic for the word TIME in the comments section of this blog post. The reason that I ask this of you isn’t because I don’t trust you to do it on your own, but because I hope that we can all find more ways to spend our TIME with our families in more ways that will really show them how much we LOVE them. It just takes one quick moment of your time (you don’t have to go into detail like I did), and you could affect another man’s family for generations–seriously! And Sisters, you’re also invited to post your acrostic that illustrates what you like that your husband does with his TIME to express his LOVE, or what you wish he did, as well. Either way, your insights are always welcome too :)
Thanks for reading. And thanks for leaving your acrostic in the comments section to help others!