04) FATHER: What is the role of the father?

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. 1

Brigham Young


Let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his God, and then instruct his wives and children in this lesson of self-government by his example as well as by precept, and his neighbors also, showing them how to be brave and steadfast, in subduing the rebellious and sinful disposition. Such a course as this will eventually subdue that unhallowed influence which works upon the human heart.  2


It is for the husband to learn how to gather around his family the comforts of life, how to control his passions and temper, and how to command the respect, not only of his family but of all his brethren, sisters, and friends.  3


I exhort you, masters, fathers, and husbands, to be affectionate and kind to those you preside over. And let them be obedient, let the wife be subject to her husband, and the children to their parents.  4


Set that example before your wives and your children, before your neighbors and this people, that you can say: “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” When we do this, all is right, and our consciences are clear. 5


The father should be full of kindness, and endeavor to happify and cheer the mother, that her heart may be comforted and her affections unimpaired in her earthly protector, that her love for God and righteousness may vibrate throughout her whole being, that she may bear and bring forth offspring impressed and endowed with all the qualities necessary to a being designed to reign king of kings and lord of lords.  6


Let the father be the head of the family, the master of his own household; and let him treat them as an angel would treat them; and let the wives and the children say amen to what he says, and be subject to his dictates, instead of their dictating the man, instead of their trying to govern him.  7


Let the husband make an improvement upon his kitchen and pantry and upon his bedrooms for the benefit of his family, and improve his gardens, walks, etc., beautifying your habitations and their surroundings, making pavements and planting shade trees.  8


I have been into houses which have not had the least convenience for the women, not so much as a bench to set their water pails on, and they have to set them on the floor, and yet their husbands will sit there year after year, and never make so much improvement as a bench to set the pail on. Yet they have the ability, but they will not exercise it.  9


Are they playing in the streets, or are they visiting? In going to Sunday school they have done their duty so far; but they ought to be here. In their youth they ought to learn the principles and doctrines of their faith, the arguments for truth, and the advantages of truth, for we can say with one of old, “Bring up a child in the way it should go, and when it is old it will not depart from it.” If we are capable of bringing up a child in the way it should go, I will assure you that it will never depart from that way. Many persons think they do bring up their children in the way they should go, but in my lifetime I have seen very few, if any, parents, perfectly capable of bringing up a child in the way it should go; still most of us know better than we do, and if we will bring up our children according to the best of our knowledge, very few of them will ever forsake the truth. 10


“Some may ask whether that is the case with me; go to my house and live, and then you will learn that I am very kind, but know how to rule.
If I had only wise men to talk to, [p. 57b] there would be no necessity for my saying what I am going to say. Many and many an Elder knows no better than to go home and abuse as good a woman as dwells upon this earth, because of what I have said this afternoon. Are you, who act in that way, fit to have a family? No, you are not, and never will be, until you get good common sense. Then you can go to work and magnify your callings; and you can do the best you know how; and on that ground I will promise you salvation, but upon no other principle.” 11


This is a world in which we are to prove ourselves. The lifetime of man is a day of trial, wherein we may prove to God, in our darkness, in our weakness, and where the enemy reigns, that we are our Father’s friends, and that we receive light from him and are worthy to be leaders of our children—to become lords of lords, and kings of kings—to have perfect dominion over that portion of our families that will be crowned in the celestial kingdom with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. If we are crowned to become lords of lords and kings of kings, it will be to rule and reign over our own posterity pertaining to this flesh—these tabernacles—this commencement in our finite state of being. When I reign king of kings and lord of lords over my children, it will be when my first, second, third, fourth, and so on, son rises up and counts thousands and millions of his posterity, and is king over them; then I am a king of these kings. Our Father, who is Lord of all, will reign a King of kings and Lord of lords over all his children. 12

John Taylor


It is usual in other countries, before a man can be received into society, that he must bring with him a reputation from reputable men; he is expected to have introductory letters before he can be introduced to them and associate with them, and not because he is in the shape of a man and walks on two legs. Why, baboons do that. Before I should allow strangers to come into my family and mix with my wives and daughters, I should want to know who they were, where they came from, what their instincts were, and what was their moral and religious character. As a head of a family, I have a right to know these things; I have a right to know what influences are brought in and around my house, what spirits predominate there, and I have a right to know what a man’s religion is.

“But do you not allow liberty of conscience?” Yes. You can worship what you please—a donkey or a red dog—but you must not bring that worship into my house; I do not believe in your gods, I believe in the God of Israel, in the Holy Ghost, in the spirit of truth and intelligence, and all good principles; and if you want to worship your gods, worship them somewhere else, and if anybody else wants to worship them, they can do so: you can go on to one of those mountains and worship your gods, or if you are living in a house here, you can be a worshipper of Buddha if you please; but I do not want it in my house, and I do not want the spirit that you have—the spirit of those gods, visible or invisible; I do not want their teachings, spirit, nor influences.

. . . You may see people come here smiling and bowing, and very polite, and “won’t you let me take your daughter to a party?” No, nor yourself either, not unless I have a mind to; I will have a say in that, for I want to know who dances with my wives and daughters, and whether they have a reputation or not, and if they have a reputation, what kind of people they are. This I have a right to do in a social capacity, independent of all religion, and I mean to do it. 13

Joseph F. Smith


… This patriarchal order has its divine spirit and purpose, and those who disregard it under one pretext or another are out of harmony with the spirit of God’s laws as they are ordained for recognition in the home. 14


There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher Priesthood, than that of the father. The authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the prophets who were inspired of God. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity. There is, then, a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of his children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.” 15


Wives and children should be taught to feel that the patriarchal order in the kingdom of God has been established for a wise and beneficent purpose, and should sustain the head of the household and encourage him in the discharge of his duties, and do all in their power to aid him in the exercise of the rights and privileges which God has bestowed upon the head of the home. …

The necessity, then, of organizing the patriarchal order and authority of the home rests upon principle as well as upon the person who holds that authority, and among the Latter-day Saints family discipline, founded upon the law of the patriarchs, should be carefully cultivated, and fathers will then be able to remove many of the difficulties that now weaken their position in the home.” 16

David O. McKay


If I were asked to name the world’s greatest need, I should say unhesitatingly wise mothers; and the second greatest, exemplary fathers.

If mother love were but half rightly directed, and if fatherhood were but half what it should be in example and honor, much of the sorrow in the world would indeed be overcome.

The home is the source of our national life.  If we keep the spring pure, we shall have less difficulty in protecting the stream from pollution. 17


Of more concern at the present time than the delinquency of youth, is the delinquincy of parents.  It is said that ‘to be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.’  The greatest trust that can come to a man and woman is the placing in their keeping the life of a little child.

If a man who is entrusted with other people’s funds, defaults–whether he be a bank, municipal or state official—he is apprehended and probably sent to prison.  If a person entrusted with a government secret discloses that secret and bestrays his country, he is called a traitor.

How then, must parents be regarded, who through their own negligence or willful desire to indulge their selfishness, fail properly to rear their children, and thereby prove untrue to the greatest trust that has been given to human beings? 18


Among such delinquent parents are:

First:  Those who quarrel in the presence of their children.  . . .  One parent criticizes, the other objects, and the good influence of the home, so far as the child is concerned, is nullified. . . .

Third:  Those whose daily home life does not conform to their church pretentions.  Children are quick to detect insincerity. . . .  Though children may not detect hypocrisy, they are quick to sense something wrong, and they resent insincerity or false pretension.

Children are more influenced by the sermons that you act than by the sermons that you preach.  Parents of all people on earth should be honest

Ezra Taft Benson

Brethren, it is your role to be the leader in the home. While the wife may be considered the heart of the home, you are the head. 19

Supporting Statements

Boyd K. Packer

If my boy needs counseling, bishop, it should be my responsibility first, and yours second. If my boy needs recreation, bishop, I should provide it first, and you second.  If my boy needs correction, that should be my responsibility first, and yours second.  If I am failing as a father, help me first, and my children second.

Do not be too quick to take over from me the job of raising my children.  Do not be too quick to counsel them and solve all of the problems. Get me involved. It is my ministry.  21

Scott Brown

Families need courageous fathers who care nothing but for the glory of God. This is the kind of fatherly leadership that we see in Joshua, the son of Nun. Joshua was a true man. Joshua was not proving himself to be a man by living out some kind of worldly, macho, testosterone expression session. He proved himself by being a highly principled, visionary, and courageous man who walked according to the counsels of God. He is an inspiring example of a man who understood his role. When Joshua declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, (Joshua 24:15) was laying claim to a position of headship over his family. In this statement we find a mixture of courage and vision. He believed that his family was his. He saw himself as a steward who was fully responsible for a particular house for he calls it “my house”. A family was given to him by almighty God.

When Joshua said, “we will serve the Lord,” he was summarizing one of the greatest functions of a family in the world – to resist the pressures of the World and be conformed to the Word of God. Here Joshua emphasized serving “the Lord” instead of serving other interests around him. His family will not walk in the broad path of worldly living. The world may go it’s own way, but Joshua and his family would serve the Lord.

Joshua understood the importance of working to establish a Christian culture in his generation. The world will always try to squeeze the family into its own mold. The cultures of the earth will press upon us things that are not of the kingdom of heaven, but we must maintain our distinction from the world and its lusts. The holy courage of a faithful father is God’s provision to stem the tide and to be an agent for cultural transformation.

Fathers who allow their families to be absorbed into the culture are in direct disobedience to the Lord. Syncretism is one of the most dangerous forces at work in the church in every generation, but the front line of defense against it is a courageous father like Joshua.

In every generation, we must be bold to declare our devotion to the Lord for we are a peculiar people and a holy nation. We dare not “love the world’. 22

D. H. Wells

“How far is that mother responsible for her daughter, when she surrounds her with influences that are calculated to lead her astray and into darkness?
How far can the father be held responsible for the future conduct of his daughters, after surrounding them with pernicious influences, and they should, in consequence thereof, fall away?

“It appears to me as though persons in pretty good faith, who think they may stand themselves, will be held responsible for many of these things. It seems to me, if I surrounded my family with evil influences, and they were led astray thereby, I should have nobody else to blame for it but myself.

“It is true sons and daughters may go contrary to fathers’ and mothers’ counsel, and parents employ every means in their power to keep them from wandering into by-and-forbidden paths.

“Under these circumstances they may not be considered responsible; but when parents place bad influences around their children, or introduce them into their houses, I look quite differently upon the matter of responsibility.

“Even at the present time, many are caused to mourn: they have real sorrow of heart, in consequence of their own injudiciousness—of their want of thought and good understanding. They now see where they have missed it; and many a heart will yet sorrow for not pursuing a different course.

“Let us not forget these important items, but have our minds stirred up to them, and be careful as to what kind of influences we surround our families with. Let the mother be careful what kind of company she lets her daughter keep. This is the way to preserve their own hearts from bitter sorrow, and their daughters from degradation and death. How far will the father of that young man be held responsible, whose pernicious practices have led him to drunkenness?” 23

  1. The Proclamation on the Family, First Presidency 1995
  2. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 198; Journal of Discourses 9:256
  3. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 198; Journal of Discourses 10:28
  4. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 198; Journal of Discourses 1:69
  5. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 198; Journal of Discourses 15:229
  6. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 199; Journal of Discourses 8:62
  7. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 197-198; Journal of Discourses 4:55
  8. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 198; Journal of Discourses 10:177
  9. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 198; Journal of Discourses 18:75
  10. JOD, Brigham Young. “Observe the Sabbath Day,” pg. 83
  11. Brigham Young, JD 4:51
  12. JOD, 8:61
  13. John Taylor, “Divine Government, Etc.“, Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, pp. 51-59, January 18, 1865.
  14. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Deseret Book Company, 1968). pp. 287.
  15. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Deseret Book Company, 1968). pp. 286–87.
  16. Smith, op. cit. pp. 287–88.
  17. David O. McKay, Secrets of a Happy Life, p. 2
  18. David O. McKay, Secrets of a Happy Life, p. 2
  19. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 484.
  20. Boyd K. Packer, “Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Own Way,”  General Conference April 1978; Ensign, May 1978/ref]

    Bruce R. McConkie

    Among the saints the family is the basic unit of the Church and of society, and its needs and preservation in righteousness take precedence over all other things. True family organization is patriarchal in nature; it is patterned after that organization which exists in heaven (Eph. 3:15); 20Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon doctrine

  21. Brown, Scott. “Fatherhood as Cultural Resistance.” . The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. .
  22. Daniel H. Wells, “Devotedness to “Mormonism,” Etc.”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pp. 291-296, October 16, 1859.
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