“The most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of our own home" – Harold B. Lee ROLE OF FATHER IN FAMILY COUNCILS The role of a father in the home has diminished over the years in our society. Numerous sociologists, educators and churchmen are becoming alarmed over this diminishing role fathers are playing in the home. The problem is multifaceted--jobs away from the home, commuting time, and allowing others like the schools, sports and church to assume critical functions that are a part of parenting. Could this be one of the reasons for the tremendous growth in juvenile delinquency today in many countries? The words of David O McKay remind fathers that “no success in life can compensate for failure in the home.”
Father is a title God has shared with His sons. He expects them to share in the responsibility of raising His children. In the Church priesthood quorum meetings, men are continuously instructed and reminded of their duties and role as a "Father" in the home. As a holder of the priesthood, men are expected to preside and officiate in the home to bless the lives of family members and coordinate family activities. As men come to understand how to use the priesthood to bless the lives of their family members they become great fathers. The Priesthood can help a man more clearly understand his vital role in supporting and perfecting family members.
"Since the family is the basic unit of the church, the priesthood should function here first and foremost more than in any other church organization. The priesthood holder heads this family along with his wife, and he is to administer in all spiritual and temporal affairs and should conduct all meetings as guided by the spirit. The family council (one such meeting) is the time when the father, holding the priesthood, calls his family together to keep his house 'in order'." 1ef.p.
As with all things, the priesthood councils which administer to the church at large, provide the examples for a man to follow in working with his eternal unit--the family. Participation and studying these Church councils helps us to understand council principles. Much has been written by the leaders of the LDS Church on councils and their functions. See FC References.
"Each family in the church is really a kingdom or government within itself. The father, by virtue of the sealing blessings of eternal marriage, is the head of this governing unit. This is what constitutes patriarchal office in the family. Originally it was the only government on the earth and was passed down from Adam to his descendants. Eventually, as society became more complex, the manner of governing the peoples of the earth had to change, but as far as the church is concerned the same order exists within the families that God set up originally with Father Adam. This same order will extend into the eternities." ref4. p 165
Family Councils need to be led with vision and sense of mission. The father has the responsibility of conferring with the Lord to see and understand the mind and will of the Lord in the life of each family member. It is important for the father of a family to recognize that part of his personal mission includes that of his Eternal Father's mission when He said," This is my work and My Glory to bring to pass the immortality and Eternal life of Man”. (Moses 1:39). Since earthly fathers are raising God's children their mission should include His mission as well. Learn more about family vision and mission statements by clicking on the words.
Developing skills in revelation is necessary for fathers to lead with vision. To lead a family council a father and mother must develop the skills of understanding revelation - one of the gifts of the spirit to lead a family council. How to receive and verify revealed thought is clearly outline in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 9:8-9 “But, behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind, then you must ask me if it be right, and if it be right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you, therefore you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feeling but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…” Practice and hewn your skills in this critical area of family management.
Father’s duties in the Family Council: Led with vision and sense of mission.
Presiding - The Father is the patriarch of the family and as such presides at all Family Council meetings. It is not necessary that he conduct all meetings but the position of father should be recognized and sustained. (Note: If there is no father in the home or he is away the mother presides.)
Calling members to Family Council positions - If the family decides to call members to positions in the Family Council then it is the responsibility of the father after counsel with his wife to call members to a position and get a sustaining vote of other family members. Some of our friends also set family members apart to these calling following the order of the church. The father would also do this.
Training family members in Family Council duties - With any calling there are duties and responsibilities. Father and mother are responsible to help teach family members their duties in the various callings in the council. They can vary from being responsible for assigning prayers in the meeting to managing the family budget and finances for a year. (Example of the various calling are outlined in the job descriptions link. The level of responsibility is based on the age and capacity of the individual at the time. The person who held the calling previously may also be asked to share in the orientation of the newly assigned person.
For a man the end result is that he is schooled in the attributes of godliness through the administration, ministering and other service to family members. Hopefully he will in the end have a deeper understanding of himself and God as a result of his leadership in the family council.
ROLE OF MOTHER IN FAMILY COUNCIL “ It is in the home that the woman’s most effective influence has always been felt. The sensitivities she has developed in the home needs to be applied in other councils so that cooperation between men and women may produce the most rewarding results for the welfare of all mankind.” – Barbara Smith
The role of the mother is a co-equal with father in raising the children. Again, it is clear our society is encouraging the woman, like the man, to seek fulfillment outside the home. Because of either family decay or economic pressures many women are now working away from the home. This leaves the children to be raised by other institutions of society. However, family values of character and morality remains the final responsibility of parents.
The mother is a member of the executive council with her husband. She should share her honest feelings about issues involving the family and its value system. She with her husband is expected to take proposals on family issues to the Lord for ratification when necessary. Issues are not to be acted upon until there is unity.
For example, sometimes issues raised in family council are so complex or involved that the issue/concern should be tabled until father and mother have the opportunity to come to a unity with the Lord on the correct course of action for their family. Once unity is achieved in the executive council, the wife and mother becomes a "second witness" or endorser of the proposed course of action presented and discussed in the Family Council.
Mother’s duties in Family Council: Mother is co-equal with husband in the family and should preside in in the Family Council when the father is absent. The one exception is that the father alone exercises the priesthood blessings for family members. The wife and mother should be an active counselor and help her husband.
Like her husband, her personal mission statement should encompass the mission of God for His children. Revelation for a family is not limited to the father. A righteous woman can and should seek and share direction as she receives it from the Lord. If an idea on a course of action is right both members of the family leadership should receive a witness of the same and then move forward in unity.
Presiding: In the absence of the father, mother presides at all Family Council meetings.
Training of Family Council members: The training of family members in their duty in the Family Council is not limited to the father. Mother can help in this responsibility as well.
My wife manages the family finances. Therefore, when the children got older, usually about their senior year in high school, she helped them manage the family finances. Naturally the “on-the-job training” in this task is best provided by the family expert in the task - my wife.
The mother's God-given qualities of compassion and love enhance the atmosphere in the home and council. Her training and experience in church callings, leadership and council management principles are invaluable when applied in her role in the family council and visa versa.
Personal (See Personal Council) interviews with children should also be an important part of a mother's role. These can be formal or informal. Critical information learned should be shared with the father. If the Family Council can be of assistance in solving the need, it should be identified there as well. Be careful not to break confidences even in the family.
As with the man, the woman is schooled in the attributes of godliness through the administration, ministering and other service to the family. Therefore, she begins to have a deeper understanding of herself, her eternal role, and her Heavenly Father and Mother.
ROLE OF CHILDREN IN FAMILY COUNCIL “In my judgement, there is no substitute for fathers or mothers training a child—“even when the child is young—and showing the child what they’re doing and ow they’re doing it. The child grows up knowing a lot about life and how to do things just by being at the elbow of his or her father or mother. It also helps the child fell like he or she is part of the family council process”. M. Russell Ballard
The council is a perfect place to teach children of their self-worth and value to society. Children should be encouraged to provide inputs to the agenda of the council and learn how to resolve problems using the council principles of management. Relationships with others, sharing personal property, and rules are all legitimate items for discussion and resolution with children in the council.
As youth participate in church, Aaronic priesthood quorums and young women's presidencies they can learn these council principles as well which can be used to enhance the family council. The reverse is also true. Youth can take the skills they learn in the Family setting to magnify church callings.
The concept of law and order finds its first laboratory test in the family where principles are taught and experienced within the safe harbor of the council and home.
At one of our first councils the concern was "illegal search and seizure" of toys. We agreed that taking other person’s things without asking was wrong. We made it a family rule that you could not take something that belonged to another member of the family without asking. The consequence was "you could not play with the other persons toys.”
The goal of all parents should be the development of a self-reliant child of God independently operating on his own testimony and spiritual light before he/she leaves home. Children’s assignments/callings provided through the Family Council should be commensurate with the capability of the individual and should emphasize growth through self-reliance and responsibility.
Children duties in Family Council: In the family council all ideas and comments of all members including children are treated with respect. No criticism of any idea by others is allowed. Each individual is given the opportunity to be heard on issues of importance to them and the family. Even small children should be heard. Children should also be part of the decision making in the council. All members have an equal representation. The best action results when there is unity and consent in a decision.
Acting incallings or committee assignments - Assignments/callings in the Family Council should be within the capability of the child. You need to take time to explain duties and help the children figure out how they can be successful at the task assigned or they will be very frustrated.
We have found that the children like the assignments and will begin with great enthusiasm but this will drop over time. However, calling on the person to report on his calling/stewardship to other family members helps keep interest in assignments. It also helps the ego of each member to know his assignment counts. Small or large, each assignment is meaningful. For example, having small children decide who will give the family prayer at the end of the meeting or being in charge of assigning family members to write to grandparents can insure a small child knows they are a part of the council.
Assists/sustains other family members in their callings - The concept of assisting and sustaining each other takes on a whole new dimension in the Family Council. The family members learn to support each other in the various calling. From experience they learn that in the future they will have the calling and will want the support. We have numerous examples but one will suffice for
Our garden supervisor is the person assigned to manage the garden. He brings all plans and needs to the council. What is to be planted is decided and assignments given in time to cultivate, plant, weed and harvest. Council members learn to support the gardener and one another.
Children learn by doing. The lessons from the council include many life skills Link to benefits – communication, planning, management, and group interaction skills. The children feel the joy of service, compassion and love as they learn to support and sustain one another.
The end result is a child confident before His God and Man. He eventually becomes a person who knows how God would go about solving the issues/problems.
RELATIONSHIPS AMONG FAMILY MEMBERS IN FAMILY COUNCILS Open communication is the key to the success of family councils. "An atmosphere of listening,honest communication, and respect for the opinions and feelings of others is vital to the success of these meetings." (Our family p.6)
If the youngest member of the family proposes digging worms for a fishing trip as the next family activity, the older children should not say it is a stupid idea. Allowing everyone to give input before deciding on an issue will help family members become more courteous and help them see that there is more than one way of looking at things.
There are no dumb comments in family council meetings. Parents must be on constant guard to maintain this atmosphere. Children can be taught to discuss how the "action" of a family member causes them a problem without pointing a finger. Note: Remember, it’s not you but what you did that hurt. By expressing how we feel about an act or incident we can deal with an issue on a less threatening level. The feelings of people should be respected. A verbal lashing can be worse than the belt. There are several excellent reference on how to convey your feelings about an event without attacking the person in the references.
The goal should be to try and work issues before they develop into serious problems. Family rules and policies written down can solve many frustrations. Rules on conduct, dating, and chores all help to eliminate stress on family members. A child is then free to act within the bounds they have helped to prescribe. "Acts not Individuals offend"
Support for other family members -The Family Council can provide support to all family members in activities or personal challenges. If one family member has a problem it becomes a support issue for the group.
When one of our daughters started school, she had trouble reading. We discussed in council helping her develop her skill by reading out loud. We tried assigning members of the family to read in the evening but it didn't work. We then decided in council to try reading in the morning and using the scriptures as the text. This was in 1978. The practice continued while the children were at home. We put special emphasis on the program again when another child had a similar reading challenge. The children all read and enjoy reading in large measure because of the support of the family. We have read through the standard works of the Church several times. While we helped individual children, the real benefit to the family seen today is the lifelong habit of reading the scriptures.