A Powerful Pattern for Parenting

Being a parent has eternal purpose and can be rewarding, enlightening, and joyful. But because families come in all shapes and sizes and face their own unique challenges, raising children can also seem overwhelming or exhausting at times.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do it alone.

With the guidance of our Heavenly Father, the support of the Savior and His gospel, and the prayerful application of inspired counsel, we can find help and hope for our parenting journey.

A Gospel-Supported Pattern for Parenting

Drawing from the gospel of Jesus Christ and supporting research on parenting we have identified three guiding principles for nurturing a child’s emotional and spiritual development. When brought together, these interrelated areas of emphasis form a powerful pattern that can help families.

This pattern is powerful because it combines gospel truths with key concepts from parenting and child development research. Seeking personal revelation on how to apply the principles in this pattern can help you build your family’s resilience and establish a home centered on Jesus Christ.

The three guiding principles are:

  1. Create loving family relationships
  2. Nurture learning and growth
  3. Build unity and strength through service

This pattern helps us focus on the things that matter most. Each part of the pattern is an important component that strengthens our families. Working together, they encourage positive relationships and experiences, help our families cope with adversity, and build capacity and resilience.

As we grow as parents, this pattern can serve as a helpful framework for discovering how to best teach and nurture each child.

Below is a brief overview of each part of the pattern and an example from the Savior’s life to guide us in applying this pattern in our lives. More parenting information, practical tips, and answers to common parenting questions are available at parents.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Create Loving Family Relationships

This principle reminds us to prioritize loving relationships with Heavenly Father, the Savior, our spouse, and our children. These family relationships are critical. Our children’s eternal identity and relationships grow out of the fundamental truth that “each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”1

We can encourage them to come to know God and Jesus Christ through faith, prayer, scripture study, and personal revelation from the Holy Spirit (see John 17:3). We can foster faith by nourishing our children’s “desire to believe” (Alma 32:27) and helping them feel God’s love. It is important for our children to realize that Heavenly Father and the Savior understand them completely, love them perfectly, and want to help them succeed (see Romans 8:38–39).2

As parents, it is important to create a loving relationship with each child that is filled with warmth and empathy. Understanding our children’s perspectives and respectfully listening to what they say forges a secure and loving relationship. Our children need to know we are interested in them, care about how they feel, and are there to help them. Our caring interactions with our children help them develop a positive view of themselves, recognize their eternal value, and form trusting relationships with God and Jesus Christ.

In addition, family members can be a tremendous support to one another. We can foster family relationships as we gather together to connect, pray, counsel, and have fun.

Look to Christ

Jesus Christ shares His love, one by one, through a relationship that offers belonging, hope, and healing. After the Savior had finished speaking to the Nephites, He compassionately reached out and ministered personally to heal and bless each one. He lovingly “took [the] little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them” (3 Nephi 17:21).

As a parent, you can bless your children by creating a loving relationship with them—one meaningful connection at a time.

Ideas for Creating Loving Family Relationships

  • Communicate with your children by listening carefully, responding with love, and following their cues to meet their needs.
  • Nourish faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and encourage prayer and personal revelation to strengthen these divine relationships.
  • Care for yourself and your marriage. This will help you to better connect with your children and to parent with your spouse in unity and love, as equal partners. If you are single, lead your family with faith and confidence. Seek additional support from those you trust.
  • Foster security, belonging, and joy in your home.

Nurture Learning and Growth

Nurture your children’s growth by valuing their unique personalities, offering them unwavering love, and supporting their efforts. Discover where your children are in their development and tailor your support to fit their specific needs. Your example, instruction, guidance, and encouragement are vital to nurture your child’s abilities and confidence. Be curious and compassionate as your children learn through experience.

Nurturing parents also avoid being too demanding, too permissive, or too enabling. Providing appropriate boundaries, regular routines, and reasonable expectations will promote your child’s growth. Like our Heavenly Father, parents should focus more on facilitating their children’s growth than their comfort (see 2 Nephi 28:30; Doctrine and Covenants 50:24, 40).

Lead, guide, and walk beside your children as they learn to follow Jesus Christ.3 Teach them how to turn to the Savior and rely on His Atonement to help them grow. Your children will gradually discover from your example and their own experience that they “can do all things through Christ,” who forgives and strengthens them (Philippians 4:13). Growth and change can be hard and take a lot of practice. Righteous, intentional parents strive to teach their children not only how “to walk in the ways of truth” (Mosiah 4:15) but also why they should do so. Nurture their understanding and support their righteous use of agency with each step they take.

Look to Christ

Jesus Christ empowers your growth by looking at the righteous desires of your heart and helping you accomplish them (see 1 Samuel 16:7; Enos 1:12). The Lord asked His disciples “one by one … : What is it that ye desire of me?” (3 Nephi 28:1; see also 1 Nephi 11:1–3). Contemplating this question can help you discover and develop what you value most. Consider how the Savior nurtured learning and growth within the brother of Jared by respecting his agency and asking, “What will ye that I should do?” (Ether 2:23). The Lord supported him by giving specific instructions, when needed, but also by encouraging him to figure out some things on his own. The Savior doesn’t force or control you but instead teaches and persuades you to use your individual agency for good (see Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–28).

Encourage your children’s growth by supporting the righteous desires of their hearts—one insightful question at a time.

Ideas for Nurturing Learning and Growth

  • Point your children to Jesus Christ and teach them how to access the power of His Atonement.
  • Emulate Jesus Christ by providing love, guidance, support, and compassion as your children learn to follow Him.
  • Nurture growth by supporting your child’s understanding, abilities, agency, and confidence.
  • Come unto Christ by learning His gospel and practice living it together as you progress along the covenant path.

Build Unity and Strength through Service

Jesus Christ taught His disciples to “love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34). As you comfort, lift, and serve one another, you are spreading Christ’s pure love and becoming more like Him. God also provides many valuable opportunities for your children to learn and grow by joining in His work and fulfilling their promises to serve others (see Moses 1:39; Mosiah 18:7–11). Sharing Christ’s love and radiating His light transform them and those they serve.

Your family also benefits from belonging to a ward or branch where your children give and receive love and support. Knitting your hearts “together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21) weaves a web of supportive relationships and positive experiences that strengthen your family. When you serve others with Christlike love, you can help to build Zion in your family and in society as a whole (see Moses 7:18).

Teach children that service can be a daily practice rather than an isolated project. Striving to serve one another will help children and youth find a more fulfilling life as they look beyond their own needs to the needs of others. It is amazing how building Zion builds a Zion people.

Look to Christ

The Savior invited each of us to love and serve others (see John 13:34–35). Participating in our Heavenly Father’s work of salvation strengthens and changes us. Being “about [His] Father’s business” (Luke 2:49) was part of the growth Jesus experienced in His youth as He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Your family engages in God’s work of salvation and exaltation by living the gospel of Jesus Christ, caring for those in need, inviting all to receive the gospel, and uniting families for eternity.4

Nurture your children’s growth by uniting in God’s “great work” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33)—one loving act of service at a time.

Ideas for Building Unity and Strength through Service

  • Show your love for God and come to know Him better by loving and serving His children.
  • Love one another by ministering to those around you and caring for those in need.
  • Gather Israel by sharing the gospel, researching your family history, serving in the temple, and helping others make and keep sacred covenants.
  • Build unity and collective strength by offering love, creating a sense of belonging, and supporting one another.

Applying the Pattern in Your Home

These guiding principles can help focus your parenting every day. For example, today you might consider how you can intentionally create a more loving relationship, nurture learning, or build up others. Applying this pattern can enhance gospel learning, nourish your child’s personal growth, and encourage a brighter outward focus that will lift and bless your family. Applying these principles can also improve your use of home-centered Church resources like Come, Follow Me and the Children and Youth program.

There are many ways to apply the principles of this pattern. Be flexible and seek personal revelation to adapt them to your family’s needs. The “create, nurture, build” pattern isn’t necessarily about doing more. While there may be things you feel inspired to add to what you’re currently doing, the pattern is meant to help you make the most of the time you have together.

When you do anything to create loving relationships, nurture learning and growth, or build up unity and strength through service, you are laying a solid foundation for everything you do in your home.

Good Parents Are Reliable, Not Perfect

It is important to remember that you don’t need to be perfect to be a good parent. Instead, seek to be a reliable source of love and support for your children. Simply engaging with your child in small ways can make a big difference.

When parenting feels discouraging, remember to breathe, give yourself a break, and keep trying. You can press forward with faith knowing that the Savior cares deeply about you and your children and will magnify your sincere efforts and righteous desires.

Hope in Christ

As you strive to be steadfast in doing all that you can to love, nurture, and strengthen each child, one by one, you and your family can have hope in Christ because of His eternal promise to you: “Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:41).