The Environment of Our Homes
by President Gordon B. Hinckley
In the spirit of trying to be helpful, I should like to suggest four elements in building the environment of your homes. I suggest that you let your children grow in a home where there is (1) a spirit of service, (2) an atmosphere of growth, (3) the discipline of love, and (4) the practice of prayer.
An Atmosphere of Growth
What a marvelously interesting thing it is to watch young minds stretch and strengthen. I am one who greatly appreciates the vast potential of television for good. But I also am one who decries the terrible waste of time and opportunity as children in some homes watch, hour upon hour, that which neither enlightens nor strengthens.
When I was a boy we lived in a large old house. One room was called the library. It had a solid table and a good lamp, three or four comfortable chairs with good light, and books in cases that lined the walls. There were many volumes-the acquisitions of my father and mother over a period of many years.
We were never forced to read them, but they were placed where they were handy and where we could get at them whenever we wished.
There was quiet in that room. It was understood that it was a place to study.
There were also magazines-the Church magazines and two or three other good magazines. There were books of history and literature, books on technical subjects, dictionaries, a set of encyclopedias, and an atlas of the world. There was no television, of course, at that time. Radio came along while I was growing up. But there was an environment, an environment of learning. I would not have you believe that we were great scholars. But we were exposed to great literature, great ideas from great thinkers, and the language of men and women who thought deeply and wrote beautifully
In so many of our homes today there is not the possibility of such a library. Most families are cramped for space. But with planning there can be a corner, there can be an area that becomes something of a hideaway from the noises about us where one can sit and read and think. It is a wonderful thing to have a desk or a table, be it ever so simple, on which are found the standard works of the Church, a few good books, the magazines issued by the Church, and other things worthy of our reading.
Begin early in exposing children to books. The mother who fails to read to her small children does a disservice to them and a disservice to herself. It takes time, yes, much of it. It takes self-discipline. It takes organizing and budgeting the minutes and hours of the day. But it will never be a bore as you watch young minds come to know characters, expressions, and ideas. Good reading can become a love affair, far more fruitful in long-term effects than many other activities in which children use their time. It has been estimated that “the average child on this continent has watched something like 8,000 hours of TV before he or she even starts school.” A very large part of that is of questionable value.
Parents, work at the matter of creating an atmosphere in your homes. Let your children be exposed to great minds, great ideas, everlasting truth, and those things which will build and motivate for good.
The Lord has said to this people, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). I wish to urge every parent to try to create within your home an atmosphere of learning and the growth which will come of it.
It is a significant thing to teach children how to pray concerning their own needs and righteous desires. As members of the family kneel together in supplication to the Almighty and speak with Him of their needs, there will distill into the hearts of children a natural inclination in times of distress and extremity to turn to God as their Father and their friend.
Let prayer, night and morning, as a family and as individuals become a practice in which children grow while yet young. It will bless their lives forever. No parent in this Church can afford to neglect it.
My beloved fellow parents, these are the four elements I should like to suggest to you as you work to create the environment of your homes: (1) A spirit of outreaching service, (2) an atmosphere of stimulating growth, (3) the discipline of godly love, and (4) the practice of sacred prayer.
I thank the Lord for the many good parents of this Church who are impressive examples of honesty and integrity before their children and before the world. I thank Him for their faith and their faithfulness. I thank Him for their great desire to nurture their children in light and truth as the Lord has commanded. May His blessings crown your efforts and may each of you someday be able to say, as said John of old: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).