01) RESPONSIBILITY/STEWARDSHIP: Who is responsible for the education of children? What should be the role of fathers in the education of their family?

Prophetic Statements

Brigham Young

JOD, 1:66 – Education


It is the duty of the Latter-day Saints, according to the revelations, to give their children the best education that can be procured, both from the books of the world and the revelations of the Lord.1

Do not say you cannot school them, for you can. There is not a family in this community but what we will take and school their children if they are not able to do it themselves.2


Mothers, let your minds be sanctified before the Lord, for this is the commencement, the true foundation of a proper education in your children, the beginning point to form a disposition in your offspring, that will bring honor, glory, comfort, and satisfaction to you all your lifetime.3


The education of our children is worthy of our attention, and the instruction of the Elders from this stand. It is a subject that should be thoroughly impressed upon the minds of parents and the rising generation; and those who wish to preach from this text may do so.4


It is a duty we owe to our children to educate and train them in every principle of honor and good manners, in a knowledge of God and his ways, and in popular school education. I am happy to hear the little children sing, and hope they are also learning to read and write, and are progressing in every useful branch of learning.5


See that your children are properly educated in the rudiments of their mother tongue, and then let them proceed to higher branches of learning; let them become more informed in every department of true and useful learning than their fathers are. When they have become well acquainted with their language, let them study other languages, and make themselves fully acquainted with the manners, customs, laws, governments and literature of other nations, peoples, and tongues. Let them also learn all the truth pertaining to the arts and sciences, and how to apply the same to their temporal wants. Let them study things that are upon the earth, that are in the earth, and that are in the heavens.6


How often is it the case that mothers will say—“Why, Pa, this child is growing up in ignorance, he is going to ruin. Really, dear husband, what shall we do with him?” I will tell you the truth as you will find it in eternity. If your children do not receive impressions of true piety, virtue, tenderness and every principle of the holy Gospel, you may be assured that their sins will not be required at the hands of the father, but of the mother. Lay it to heart, ye mothers, for it will unavoidably be so. The duty of the mother is to watch over her children, and give them their early education, for impressions received in infancy are lasting. You know, yourselves, by experience, that the impressions you have received in the dawn of your mortal existence, bear, to this day, with the greatest weight upon your mind. It is the experience of people generally, that what they imbibe from their mothers in infancy, is the most lasting upon the mind through life. This is natural, it is reasonable, it is right. I do not suppose you can find one person among five hundred, who does not think his mother to be the best woman that ever lived. This is right, it is planted in the human heart. The child reposes implicit confidence in the mother, you behold in him a natural attachment no matter what her appearance may be, that makes him think his mother is the best and handsomest mother in the world. I speak for myself. Children have all confidence in their mothers; and if mothers would take proper pains, they can instil into the hearts of their children what they please. You will, no doubt, recollect reading, in the Book of Mormon, of two thousand young men, who were brought up to believe that if they put their whole trust in God and served Him, no power would overcome them. You also recollect reading of them going out to fight, and so bold were they, and so mighty their faith, that it was impossible for their enemies to slay them. This power and faith they obtained through the teachings of their mothers.

The character of a person is formed through life, to a greater or less degree, by the teachings of the mother. The traits of early impressions that she gives the child, will be characteristic points in his character through every avenue of his mortal existence.

This is the education I wish you to establish in this Church, that mothers may not suppose they are not required to watch over the early education and impressions of their children, but over their husbands to know where they are every moment of their lives, taking special care to order them thus and so, so as to keep them advised and properly instructed all the time, instead of doing that which they ought in their houses with their children. I am not quite so strenuous as some of the ancients were, who taught that if the women wanted to learn anything, to learn it at home from their husbands. I am willing they should come to the meetings and learn, but some of the ancients proscribed them in this privilege, and would confine them at home to learn through their husbands. I am a little more liberal than they were, but this is not liberal enough for many of the women, they must also be watching their husbands, while at the same time their children are running abroad in the streets, naked and barefooted, cursing and swearing. What time have I got to watch my children today? Does not my duty demand my presence here? Where are my children? Some are here. Where are the rest of them? Perhaps in the streets, with other children, playing, or doing that which is wrong, entirely unnoticed by their mothers. This applies to the community. And then their mother will say—“Husband, our children will certainly be ruined.” Mothers, what do you want? Do you wish your husband to sit all the time in the parlor with you? Yes, and I should suppose, by the conduct of some, you want to be seated over the head of God Almighty, to rule over Him, and all His kingdoms. If I mention my own family, and use them as an example, I do it that other people cannot complain. Do you suppose that I cannot see faults in my own family, as well as in my neighbors? I am not so prejudiced in their favor, as not to discover faults in them, neither can I close my eyes upon the faults of my neighbors.

What faults do I discover in my neighbors’ families? I can see their women go off visiting, riding on horseback, attending parties, while their little ones are neglected, and left to run at large in the streets, exposed to the pernicious examples of vile company. Hear it again! The blood of these wicked children will be required at the hands of their mothers! Should your husbands be called out to fight the Indians, or go to the islands of the sea to gather the poor, it is none of your business, when it is their calling to be away from home.

I want education to commence here. I wish you strictly to follow out this principle, and when children are old enough to labor in the field, then the father will take them in charge. If children are not taught by their mothers, in the days of their youth, to revere and follow the counsels of their fathers, it will be hard indeed for the father ever to control them. I know it is so, for it is too true. Mothers will let their children go to the Devil in their childhood and when they are old enough to come under the immediate guidance of their fathers, to be sent out to preach the Gospel in the world, or to learn some kind of mechanism, they are as uncontrollable as the winds that now revel in the mountains.

It is not for the mother to rise up and encourage her children to fight against their father. You know my feelings on this point—they are pointed, resolute, and strong. And when I undertake to conquer a child who wants to conquer me, it shall be death to him before I yield. I would rather see every child I have, go into the grave this day, than suffer them to rise up and have control over me.

Mothers, if you suffer your children to grow up wild, and uncorrected, when they come into the hands of their fathers, and will not follow their counsels, let them be disowned, and have no portion in the inheritance; let them be disfranchised, be banished from Israel, and not be numbered in the books of the offspring of Abraham. This shall be the fate of my disobedient children, if I have any; and if there are any of my children here today, let them hear it! For if they will not keep my commandments, they shall have no part or lot in the household of faith.

Let education commence at this point, you mothers! And then with brother Spencer and the Board of Regents. Let mothers commence to teach their children while in their laps, there do you learn them to love the Lord, and keep His commandments. Teach them to keep your commandments, and you will learn them to keep the commandments of your husbands. It is not the prerogative of a child to dictate to his mother, or his father; and it is not the prerogative of the father to rise up and dictate to his God whom he serves. Is it right that my wife should dictate to me? It is just as reasonable, and as right, as it is for your children to rise up and dictate to their mother. It is not their business to dictate to you, their duty is to obey, and not to dictate.7

John Taylor

It is for us to train our children. God will hold us responsible for this trust.8

And then we want to study also the principles of education, and to get the very best teachers we can to teach our children; see that they are men and women who fear God and keep his commandments. We do not want men or women to teach the children of the Latter-day Saints who are not Latter-day Saints themselves. Hear it, you Elders of Israel and you school trustees! We want none of these things. Let others who fear not God take their course; but it is for us to train our children up in the fear of God. God will hold us responsible for this trust. Hear it, you Elders of Israel and you fathers and you mothers!9

Joseph F. Smith

Brethren, there is too little religious devotion, love and fear of God, in the home; too much worldliness, selfishness, indifference and lack of reverence in the family, or these never would exist so abundantly on the outside. Then, the home is what needs reforming. Try today, and tomorrow, to make a change in your home by praying twice a day with your family; call on your children and your wife to pray with you. Ask a blessing upon every meal you eat. Spend ten minutes in reading a chapter from the words of the Lord in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, before you retire, or before you go to your daily toil. Feed your spiritual selves at home, as well as in public places. Let love, and peace, and the Spirit of the Lord, kindness, charity, sacrifice for others, abound in your families. Banish harsh words, envyings, hatreds, evil speaking, obscene language and innuendo, blasphemy, and let the Spirit of God take possession
of your hearts. Teach to your children these things, in spirit and power, sustained and strengthened by personal practice. Let them see that you are earnest, and practice what you preach. Do not let your children out to specialists in these things, but teach them by your own precept and example, by your own fireside. Be a specialist yourself in the truth. Let our meetings, schools and organizations, instead of being our only or leading teachers, be supplements to our teachings and training in the home. Not one child in a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example and training, were in harmony with the truth in the gospel of Christ, as revealed and taught to the Latter-day Saints. Fathers and mothers, you are largely to blame for the infidelity and indifference of your children. You can remedy the evil by earnest worship, example, training and discipline, in the home. 10

David O. McKay

No greater responsibility can rest upon any man, than to be a teacher of God’s children.11

Harold B. Lee

The most important of the Lord’s work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes.12

Most important in a home is to have a father who doesn’t shirk his responsibility to his sons when they seek and need answers to delicate questions and he too takes time to answer them.13

Parents, stay close to your children. You mothers, stay close to your daughters. When they’re little children, don’t let someone else tell them about the so-called facts of life. As soon as your little children begin to ask you questions, little tots about little intimate things, sit down and talk to them about the things to the limit of their intelligence. They will then say, “All right, Mother, that’s fine.” And then a little later when they get in their teenage, they’ll come again a second time, this time a little more sophisticated. Then they begin to date, and where will they come for counsel? If you’ve done your job, they’ll come to ask Mother about her counsel on this and that, and on the night of her marriage, she’ll seek counsel from her mother, not from the women on the street.

And you fathers, be companionable with your boys. Never turn your boy aside when he wants to have your counsel about the things that he wants a father to talk to him about. Therein is the safety in the home. There’s the safety of your young people. Don’t deny them that safety, you fathers and you mothers.

Fathers can help boys meet temptations when they come. One of the things we must do in teaching our young people is to condition them on how to meet a temptation that comes in an unguarded moment.

The one who has the chief responsibility is the father of the boy. This doesn’t mean that the father should wake up some morning and call his boy to his bedside and in fifteen minutes tell him all the facts of life. That isn’t what the boy needs. He needs a father to answer when he wants to ask questions of a delicate nature. He is hungering to know; he is curious about things.

If his father will be frank and honest, and tell him up to the limit of his intelligence as he grows up, that father will be the one to whom the son will return for counsel in the years that follow. That father will be an anchor to that boy’s soul, as the father takes from his book of experience lessons that he can give to his son to help condition him against the possibility of falling into that fatal trap in an unguarded moment.14

Spencer W. Kimball

Adam spent much effort being the school teacher for his children. He and Eve taught their sons and daughters. He taught them the gospel in their home evenings, and he taught them reading and writing and arithmetic. And they kept their books of remembrance.15

Ezra Taft Benson

[We should] reassert the primary right and responsibility of parents for the total education of their children, including social values, religious convictions, and political concepts. Schools should be reminded that their primary field of competence is academic, not social adjustment, or world citizenship, or sex education. Parents should stand firm on this and not be intimidated by professional educators. After all, it’s their children and their money.16

Fathers have the major responsibility for teaching their sons the gospel. As important as the organizations of the Church are for teaching our youth, fathers have a sacred calling to continually teach and instruct members of their families in the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.17

Some fathers leave solely to the mother or to the school the responsibility of shaping a child’s ideas and standards. Too often television and movie screens shape our children’s values. We should not assume that public schools always reinforce teachings given in the home concerning ethical and moral conduct. We have seen introduced into many school systems false ideas about the theory of man’s development from lower forms of life, teachings that there are no absolute values, attempts to repudiate beliefs regarded as supernatural, permissive attitudes toward sexual freedom that give sanction to immoral behavior and “alternative lifestyles,” such as lesbianism, homosexuality, and other perverse practices.

Such teachings not only tend to undermine the faith and morals of our young people, they also deny the existence of God, who gave absolute laws, and the divinity of Jesus Christ. Surely we can see the moral contradiction of some who argue for the preservation of endangered species but who also sanction the abortion of unborn humans. The Lord expects great things from the fathers of Israel. Fathers must take time to find out what their children are being taught and then take steps to correct false information and teaching.18

I know one noble father who reviews with his children regularly what they have been taught, and if they have been taught any falsehoods; then the children and the father together research out the truth.19

Opposing Statements

Woodrow Wilson

“The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. By the time a man has grown old enough to have a son in college he has specialized. The university should generalize the treatment of its undergraduates, should struggle to put them in touch with every force of life.”20

John Goodlad

Public education has served as a check on the power of parents, and this is another powerful reason for maintaining it.21

[schools] should liberate students from the ways of thinking imposed by religions and other traditions of thought.22

Most youth still hold the same values of their parents… if we do not alter this pattern, if we don’t resocialize, our system will decay.23

Parents do not own their children. They have no ‘natural right’ to control their education fully.24

Education is a task for both parents and state. The state, parents, and children all have interests that must be protected.25

Charles Potter

Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?26


D&C 68:25, 28-32
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. . . .And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord. And the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy. And the inhabitants of Zion also shall remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, in all faithfulness; for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord. Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7
And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in they heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Supporting Statements

Alvin R. Dyer

….by the end of the millennium, for those who will occupy the celestial kingdom, the home will be the only medium of teaching children. Teaching will be through the family.27

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

Now the point that I wish particularly to emphasize is this — you parents cannot shift that responsibility to anyone else. It is yours; you cannot divest yourselves of it. You cannot give it to the state, and you ought not to give it to the state, for when the state takes over the direction, instruction, and rearing of its youth, then passes out, as the whole history of the world shows, the great principle of free agency, and not only that, but all the sacred principles of chastity and morality, with a host of other virtues which belong to a free society and are inherent in the governing principles of the kingdom of God.

You cannot entrust your children, in the sense of having them take over your responsibility, to our schools. They cannot do your work. They may aid, and, sometimes, they may detract and defeat. I have referred before to pernicious doctrines which are appearing in our schools, not only political doctrines, which I would like you to note, but moral. The doctrine that the sex urge is like the urge for food and drink, is born of Satan, and the man or woman who teaches it, is Satan-inspired. Every effort you can make to prevent the spread of this doctrine, you should make. You cannot entrust your children to society. That will never do. Society is too tolerant of wrong, too ignorant of matters of right living, too easy to betray and debauch.28

Joseph L. Wirthlin

The great responsibility in guiding the thinking of youth rests in the home. That obligation rests squarely upon the shoulders of parents. I sometimes think that we parents are prone to leave the matter of what our boys and girls think too much in the hands of the schools. As Bishop Richards indicated yesterday, doctrine is being taught to our boys and girls that will undermine their faith, and I say that the Lord is going to hold us accountable as parents if we fail to take an inventory of what is being taught to our boys and girls in the institutions of learning in the land. Not only that, we as parents usually are very careful about the kind of associates our sons and daughters shall have. But I want to say to you there are other associates to which we should also give very careful consideration; namely, the books they read, for, after all, books are more than associates because they are so intimate. Let us remember that the books that these young men and young women read will store away in the storehouse of memory the thoughts that will either motivate them to deeds of nobleness or evil.29

H. Verlan Andersen

Not only do the scriptures instruct us on when teaching is best done 30 but also on what should and should not be taught31 and who should and should not do the teaching.32 The early teaching of children by parents offers the solution to many problems which otherwise would not afflict our lives. Is not this the ounce of prevention which will eliminate the need for many pounds of cure with respect to our youth? …The proper teaching of children is truly one of the most essential parts of God’s plan for our happiness.”33

A. Theodore Tuttle

The things we have done in past years are not now sufficient to protect our children in these critical times. It has long been taught in this church that the day will come when no one will be able to stand without an individual testimony of the divinity of this work. That day is here… No longer can we expect the church to assume the major role in teaching our children -parents have this prime responsibility.34

Horacio A. Tenorio

Parents have the responsibility to educate their children. No inappropriate outsider should be allowed to dictate our family’s values nor what our children are being taught… In medieval times, great fortresses were built around castles or cities to protect them from enemy attacks. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites built fortresses to defend their families against the enemies. We must make of our homes fortresses to protect our families against the constant attacks of the adversary.35

L. Tom Perry

Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family. Parents must resolve that teaching in the home is a most sacred and important responsibility. While other institutions . . . can assist parents to “train up a child in the way he [or she] should go”36 ultimately this responsibility rests with parents. According to the great plan of happiness, it is parents who are entrusted with the care and development of our Heavenly Father’s children. Our families are an integral part of His work and glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”.37 On God’s eternal stage, it is usually intended that parents act as the central cast members in their children’s lives. . . . It, however, is parents who have been commanded by the Lord to bring up their children in light and truth38

Tad R. Callister

“The scriptures speak of the role of parents—that it is their duty to teach their children “the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost” 39.

“As parents, we are to be the prime gospel teachers and examples for our children—not the bishop, the Sunday School, the Young Women or Young Men, but the parents. As their prime gospel teachers, we can teach them the power and reality of the Atonement—of their identity and divine destiny—and in so doing give them a rock foundation upon which to build. When all is said and done, the home is the ideal forum for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . It was Enos who said, “The words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.” 40 There is no question who Enos’s prime gospel teacher was. . . . We might all ask ourselves: do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts, or do they receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to our Church calling or professional pursuits? In the life to come, I do not know if titles such as bishop or Relief Society president will survive, but I do know that the titles of husband and wife, father and mother, will continue and be revered, worlds without end. That is one reason it is so important to honor our responsibilities as parents here on earth so we can prepare for those even greater, but similar, responsibilities in the life to come.”41

  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol 17, p. 45.
  2. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 20.
  3. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 69. Also, Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 198.
  4. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 262. Also, Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 251.
  5. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 111. Also, Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 251.
  6. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 9. Also, Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 251.
  7. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 66.
  8. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 179, April 8, 1879
  9. Journal of Discourses vol. 20, p. 179. Also, General Conference April 1879
  10. Improvement Era, Vol. 7, Dec., 1904, p. 135. Also, Gospel Doctrine p. 301-2.
  11. David O. McKay, Conference Report, Oct. 1916, p. 57.
  12. Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 255.
  13. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 78.
  14. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee, pp. 227-228.
  15. Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Dec. 1980.
  16. Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 231.
  17. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 306; also, Conference Report, April 1986; also, Ensign 16 [May 1986]: 46.
  18. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 296; also, Come unto Christ, p. 59.
  19. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country, p. 227.
  20. “The University’s Part in Political Life” (13 March 1909) in PWW (The Papers of Woodrow Wilson) 19:99.
  21. John Goodlad, Developing Democratic Character in the Young, p. 165.
  22. John Goodlad, “Education and Community,” in Democracy, Education, and the Schools, Roger Soder, p. 92.
  23. John Goodlad, Schooling for the Future, Issue #9, 1971.
  24. John Goodlad / Developing Democratic Character in the Young, pg. 164.
  25. John Goodlad, Developing Democratic Character in the Young, 2001, pg. 164.
  26. Charles Potter, co-signer with John Dewey of the Humanist Manifesto, “Humanism: a New Religion”, p. 128.
  27. Presidency, BYU Studies 10, No 1 (1969) “Education: Moving Toward and Under the Law of Consecration”.
  28. J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report, October 1951, p.57-58.
  29. Joseph L. Wirthlin, Conference Report, April 1947, p. 83.
  30. D&C 68:25–32; Deuteronomy 8:5–9
  31. Moroni 7:14–19; 2 Nephi 9:28–29
  32. 2 Nephi 28:14, 31; Mosiah 23:14
  33. H. Verlan Andersen, Ensign, 10/91 p. 81.
  34. A Theodore Tuttle, Ensign, May, 1984, p. 23.
  35. Elder Horacio A. Tenorio, Ensign, Nov. 1994, p. 23.
  36. Proverbs 22:6
  37. Moses 1:39
  38. D&C 93:40; L. Tom Perry, LDS General Conference, April 2010; Ensign, May 2010
  39. D&C 68:25
  40. Enos 1:3
  41. Tad R. Callister, Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children, October 2014 Conference
Filter by Categories

Explore our newest project!

Unlock a treasure trove of FREE resources! Dive into engaging videos, lesson plans, activities, and much more—all perfectly aligned with Come Follow Me 2024.

Join our email newsletter!
Latest News