I just saw that Gene R. Cook’s Raising Up a Family To the Lord must be out of print: Amazon.com only has marketplace copies, Barnes and Noble doesn’t list it at all, and even Deseret Book’s Web site only offers an audio tape and a couple of translations.
That’s too bad, because it is far and away the best book about parenting that I’ve ever read. Cook, a general authority in the LDS Church, wrote the most specific, organized, detailed, inspiring, and practical family guide ever set down on paper. What most especially impresses me is that he published this book two years before the church’s famous Proclamation on the Family. Talk about prophetic! Actually, Elder Cook’s book is the best manual for implementing and living the Proclamation that anyone could ever ask for. That’s why it’s so tragic that it seems to have fallen by the wayside. It should be in every home. Couples should study it regularly. I’d love to see it become popular, or even come back into print.
As it is, some of those used copies at Amazon are going for as low as three dollars. It’s worth a million times that.
I used my notes below as the text for a lesson once when I was elders quorun president, and got a few laughs because the notes are so long. Yes, Elder Cook covers all his bases, and does so in exacting detail. But don’t get the idea that these notes are exhaustive–they don’t convey the wonderful spirit of his dozens of personal stories that carry the testimony of his principles into our hearts. Not much of what he writes could be considered “commandments,” anyway: mostly ideas for us to adapt and use in our own circumstances.
Still, any family, of any faith or none at all, would benefit greatly by working these ideas into their home life over time. I’ll say that the more any family resembles the ideal outlined by Elder Cook, the more happy and healthy they’ll be.
Please forgive the inconsistent spacing in my notes:
Raising Up A Family To The Lord
by Gene R. Cook
* See outline of basic priorities on pp. 13-16.
I. Most important things: instill habits of personal prayer and scripture study in children by modeling them
as a family; also, convey spiritual values to children through daily living in the home.
A. Do not rely on church programs to mold children– they merely support the home.
B. Involve children in home teaching responsibilities; expose them to faithful models (“second
witnesses”) in church.
1. “Family duties” to encourage include:
a. Weekly family home evening.
b. Family and individual prayers twice daily
c. Bless food at each meal.
d. Make time for family activities.
e. Family scripture study
f. Have mealtime discussions
g. Discuss gospel while working together.
h. Use special holidays and occasions to teach the gospel
i. Teach tithing and offerings by example.
j. Teach the gospel through bedtime stories.
k. Hold private interviews.
C. Teach children these doctrines BEFORE they turn eight:
2. Faith in Christ
4. Gift of the Holy Ghost
5. Pray and “walk uprightly before the Lord”
6. Observe the Sabbath Day
7. Labor in faithfulness and not be idle or greedy
8. Seek for the riches of eternity
II. Teach Your Family By The Spirit
A. Pray with children as soon as there is trouble
B. How to invite the spirit:
1. Pray: first thought in need should be to pray for and with people.
2. Use stories and quotes from the scriptures
3. “Testify frequently while you are teaching.”
a. Discuss with children after spiritual moments to review/reinforce principles.
4. Use sacred music frequently in the home.
a. Sing before all family prayers
b. Sing hymns to yourself often in the home.
c. Use hymns to sing children to sleep.
d. Listen to hymns in the car
e. Listen to uplifting music in the mornings.
5. Express love and gratitude to God and man
a. “Throw your arms around your children each day” (e.g. after prayers)
6. Share spiritual experiences
a. Pray to have useful stories drawn from you at the right time
b. Record spiritual experiences in a journal weekly
c. Only share personal experiences as directed by the Spirit
7. Use priesthood ordinances
a. Encourage children to get patriarchal blessings.
b. Teach children to ask for blessings “fairly regularly” when needed.
c. Teach by example: get blessings.
d. Pray for your home to be blessed during contention or difficulty
III. Teach Your Family To Pray
A. Pray together over small, ordinary incidents
B. Pray specifically over anything that concerns you, with total trust in God. (Alma 34:17-24)
C. Can’t stress enough, families must pray together morning and night!
1. Even if all kids aren’t up to pray together, each should at least pray with parents.
2. Most of the time, children should be able to take turns offering the prayer.
D. Teach children to pray for church leaders.
E. Make fasting a family experience; children may fast 24 hours after baptism.
IV. Teach Your Family Through Scripture Reading
A. Model in daily family scripture study: “read the passages, to understand them, to cross-
reference them, to learn from the Lord, to believe in the standards taught, and to apply them in
B. Read and discuss to: learn about Jesus, how to be like him, how to live.
C. WHEN you read isn’t important, but do it every day.
D. Never force participation; give kids alarm clocks and invite them, but don’t anger them.
E. Study by subject as well as reading by sequence; depending on family interest.
F. Each family member should have their own scriptures and marking pencils.
G. Begin by praying for understanding.
H. Idea for participation: have readers call on other family members to explain reading.
I. Another idea: readers ask questions based on each verse or two.
J. Stop and use Topical Guide, footnotes, Bible Dictionary, etc. to gain understanding.
K. End with testimonies, songs, prayer.
L. A few verses deeply studied is good goal; remember, focus on feelings, not knowledge.
M. Add variety: do talks based on scriptures, scripture chases, learn order of books, spiritual
stories, conference talks, church magazines.
1. Fathers, goal is to leave family in good mood when you go to work; helps mother.
N. When family struggles with study, count blessings and Lord’s mercy to invite the Spirit.
O. Never use the Church or gospel as a guilt-trip tool to force children to be good!
P. Find principles together in scriptures, testify– powerful way to teach! (page 217)
V. Teach Your Family By the Power of Faith
A. Never be embarrassed or reluctant about the gospel with your family.
B. Ultimately, focus on setting an example of turning to the Lord and relying on him.
C. Set high standards of gospel living for your family.
1. Objective: Don’t be absorbed in materialism, selfishness, financial or social pressure.
2. Objective: Don’t yield to pride by aspiring to worldly honor, etc.
3. Objective: Avoid worldliness.
4. Objective: Don’t allow family to be divided by anyone; retain closeness.
a. Ex: Use money for basic needs; save the rest.
b. Ex: Avoid idle activities.
c. Ex: Eat all meals together; spend evenings as a family.
d. Ex: Everybody dresses by endowed standards.
e. Ex: No sleep-overs.
f. Ex: Church, classical, light music in home; nothing else!
g. Ex: Prefer time with friends to be at our home. Select good friends!
h. Ex: Strict dating standards.
i. Ex: Focus on seven spirit-inviting activities from earlier.
D. Home time is not for rest as much as it is for strengthening family faith.
E. Have activities where the family is united in faith.
F. Pray over your families, their needs and faith.
G. Call on children for help in appropriate spiritual matters, e.g. priesthood blessings.
H. Exercise faith as a family:
1. Believe that your faith and prayers will be rewarded.
2. Be prepared to be blessed in unexpected ways.
3. Answers often come as you are busy in good work.
4. Be patient.
5. Do your duty; be obedient first.
6. Compare impressions with fruits of the Spirit.
7. Pray fervently in gratitude.
8. Distinguish between Lord’s will and your own.
9. Exercise faith in behalf of others.
10. Give credit to the Lord, not yourself.
I. Take advantage of ordinary experiences to teach and demonstrate faith.
1. Write down and review family spiritual experiences– important!
VI. Teach Your Family Repentance and Discipline
A. The reason for discipline is to help children repent. If children have hardened their hearts, they must be helped, even through chastisement, to be humble.
B. The key is to instill in children an internal desire to repent and do good.
C. Teach correct principles, encourage children to pray and choose, let the Holy Ghost convince.
D. Principles of discipline:
1. Never discipline when angry.
2. After disciplining, show forth an increase of love– D&C 121:43
3. The less kids deserve love, the more you need to love them.
4. Use natural and logical consequences.
5. Don’t soften the blow.
6. Do not shield kids from the consequences of their actions.
7. Plan ahead of time and explain consequences.
8. Don’t discuss or explain your discipline with children.
9. Hold your children.
10. Praise good performance.
11. Pray before and during discipline
12. Discuss with children their feelings about the problem
13. Children need to know why what they did was wrong.
1. Make all assignments clear, specific, and make sure kids know what’s expected.
2. On assignments: parents follow up, kids report back
3. Enforce the rules of the family!
F. Discipline Techniques
1. Pres. Kimball: “Disobedient children are entitled to discipline as an aid to growth.”
2. Do your best to turn your child to the Lord!
3. Teach steps of repentance: recognize sin, confess, ask for forgiveness, make restitution, resolve to sin no more.
4. Forgive and forget; don’t bring up their sin again!
5. Use 7 suggestions for inviting the Spirit from part II.
6. Use family councils.
a. Begin with prayer, testimony, singing, expressions of love.
b. When conclusions are reached, state them clearly.
7. Use personal interviews.
a. May be formal and/or informal (in trees, walks around the block, etc.)
b. Wife should be present for most.
8. Use priesthood blessings (and at the end of interviews)
9. When prompted, give blessings of commendation!
1. Spank rarely, but it may be useful for younger children
2. Isolate children who get worked up or who rebel to get attention
3. Ground children if withholding something will encourage obedience
4. Use natural/logical consequences– let them suffer from their poor choices
5. Always administer discipline calmly; if upset, wait or get your spouse
6. Never give in to children’s cries to avoid punishment when it’s time to start
7. NEVER let children threaten you with the gospel or use church as a bargaining chip,
e.g. “If you do this, I’ll stop believing.” Tell them that’s not relevant, but it’s their choice.
8. Use rewards such as prizes and extra affection for good behavior– help them
recognize their own good feelings
VII. Teach Your Family to Keep the Commandments
A. Teach children to receive the ordinances of the gospel
1. As children learn to follow the Spirit, they will naturally want to receive the
ordinances of the gospel.
B. Teach the law of tithing
C. Teach children to proclaim the gospel
1. Teach young men and, as appropriate, young women to go on missions
2. Teach all children to save for missions and college
3. In family prayer, pray for children to prepare for missions
4. Remind children of covenants made in premortal life
5. Remind young men that that missionary service is inherent in the priesthood
6. Be sure children receive a patriarchal blessing
7. Share missionary stories; yours and others
8. Teach children that a mission is a stop on the path to salvation
9. Mission of family is same as church: proclaim gospel, perfect saints, save dead
D. Control television and movie watching
1. Normally, restrict TV watching to weekends, watch wholesome programs and do it as
E. Teach children to keep the Sabbath day holy
1. Sabbath activities:
a. Read scriptures
b. Read church magazines
c. Write letters
d. Do family history work
e. Go to a church visitor’s center
f. Visit the sick and the lonely
g. Read good books
h. Play quiet family games
i. Write in a journal
l. Hold family discussions
m. Memorize scriptures
n. Play and sing hymns
o. Do missionary work
p. Quietly walk through neighborhood / visit neighbors
2. Learn from the scriptures how to keep the commandments and how to work together;
don’t just “lay down the law”
3. D&C 59:9-14: offer sacraments, rest, pay devotions, offer oblations, confess sins, fast
F. Teach children to be honest
G. Teach the word of wisdom
H. Teach chastity
1. Spend “many a family home evening” teaching importance of lifelong chastity
I. Teach repentance and forgiveness
VIII. Teach Your Family About Work and Finances
A. DO NOT provide an easy lifestyle for your children; help them provide for themselves
B. Determine what work needs doing at home; divide among children by age and ability
C. Work with your children; it’s quality time– provides fun and teaching moments
D. Prophets have said to have a family garden; work together
1. Children should keep a garden inventory
E. Children must also learn to work outside the home.
1. Suggestions: paper route, mowing lawns, washing windows, washing cars, cleaning
garages, homemade cookie sales
a. Sales: help children practice persuasion; very valuable in life
2. Important for children, esp. teens, to learn to find work and earn money on own!
a. Children should work whether it’s necessary or not
3. Finding a job: teach children to:
a. Dress up in best clothes when applying
b. Prepare a resume
c. Practice introducing themselves to an employer
aa. Go with them to each application to motivate and reassure them
bb. Don’t just leave an application; introduce yourself to the boss
cc. Tell a quick story to set yourself apart and illustrate maturity
dd. Enter with confidence
ee. Practice statements of ability, interest, commitment
d. Re: Sabbath day: never compromise your principles
4. Creating a desire to work:
a. Help them recognize a need in the family
bb. Death in family
cc. Serious economic climate
dd. Give them a difficult calling or assignment
ee. Don’t pay for their mission
ff. Tell all children to have money for mission, college, and marriage
by a certain date
gg. Don’t buy any of their wants– they have to save and pay
hh. Give them an example, esp. an older child
ii. Teach them the spiritual rewards of work
1. Set an example of budgeting, saving money, distinguish needs from wants, staying out
2. Teach them the difference between needs and wants, and what they can afford
3. Teach them tithing and fast offerings
4. Re: allowances: if and how much is not important, as long as they learn to work
5. Teach them to budget and plan expenses
6. Do not give or let children buy a car, even if it’s inconvenient; wastes money
7. Children should contribute to family vacations
8. Review family budget in monthly family councils
9. Teach the relationship between keeping commandments and financial stability
G. Solving temporal problems
1. Rely upon God– D&C 104:78-82
2. Keep the commandments (esp. tithing, fast offerings [teach children the blessings of
these!], and keeping the Sabbath holy)
3. Obey principles of economic stability
a. Avoid debt: just for home and education; no credit or installment debt
b. Save part of each paycheck
c. Satisfy only needs, not wants
d. Maintain a budget; plan expenses and record all spending
e. Live within your means. Regardless of income, live frugally and humbly
H. LIVE and TEACH all of these principles!
IX. Teach Your Family Through Meetings and Activities
A. Family Home Evening and family councils are important meetings. Decide when and how
you will hold them (i.e. council during FHE; lesson on Sunday, activity on Monday; etc.)
B. Plan ahead: make a list of roles for the meeting and make assignments (or an assign. wheel)
1. Some FHE roles: conducting, pianist, chorister, talk, “special number,” lesson,
testimonies, prayers, memorized scripture, refreshments, etc.
a. Train little children to conduct, maybe using picture reminders
2. Family Council: List problems and issues to address (e.g. budgeting, scheduling,
making decisions that affect all, agreeing on rules and discipline, etc.) in advance; record decisions
C. Goal of meetings: Have a happy, satisfied, fulfilled, excited, developing, growing family.
D. FHE should be even more about feelings of the heart than instruction.
E. In YOUR schedule, make time for family activities first: FHE, birthdays, school events, etc.
F. Plan to be awake first each day, to minister to your children.
G. Being involved with your children:
1. Take time to pray, play, work, and worship with them.
2. Remember, fathers: leave your family happy in the mornings.
3. Spend quantity time with your children: lots of time!
4. Listen to everything they say
5. Leave your work at work. If you need to work at home, do it when they’re asleep.
6. Don’t read the newspaper or watch TV when kids are around; do it when they sleep.
7. Spend as much time with younger ones as with older ones
8. Lighten up! Do cute, surprising things to say, “I love you.”
9. It is essential that families eat together.
10. Don’t let family time center on TV
11. If children bug you when you’re busy… pay attention to them!
12. Pass on your skills to your children
13. Don’t miss that last story, hug, and kiss at night.
14. Decide most issues in family councils
15. Seek out service opportunities as a family
H. Receiving direction from the Lord:
1. Pray specifically for your family
2. Don’t be worried about every mistake kids make: watch for patterns of error.
3. Pray alone with each child
4. Help your children solve their problems by finding answers in the scriptures
5. Unless it’s impossible, a wife should be at home with the children
6. Be loyal to your family’s needs above all worldly concerns
I. Gauging your progress:
1. Do children share their feelings with you? Hug and speak kindly to them.
2. Do your children like being at home?
3. Good parents: lead their children to the Lord; love, cheer up, support, and encourage
children; spend time teaching and playing with children; spiritually prepare children
J. Family activities are more important than church activities
K. Involve grandparents in activities with children
L. Family activities, examples: visit museums, historical sites, courts, other faith’s churches, fire
stations, grandparents; go swimming, hiking, work out, exploring places, skiing, boating, camping,
skating, to a movie, to the library, to a park, on a picnic; do research (fam hist), baptisms for the dead
M. Activities for younger children, examples: march around the house, crawl under things, scavenger hunts for socks and small items, make up fun nicknames, read to them, take turns saying nice things about each other, role play scripture stories, tell jokes, start diaries, play twenty questions, tell them your life story, do something surprising. Let older children help plan. Do daddy-daughter dates.
N. Family games, examples: charades, checkers, basketball, make up fun or church quizzes
O. Family projects, examples: gardening, sewing, writing in journals, learning new skills and languages, writing letters, scrapbooking, painting, preparing food storage, make menus for kitchen, cooking, exercise, research topics of interest, spelling bee, take classes, scripture chases, make plays, work on scout or young women stuff
P. Keep a height and weight chart of all kids
Q. Research options for what they might want to be when they grow up
R. Make music together, including singing and dancing
S. Make a calendar of upcoming activities in family council
T. Don’t forget refreshments at all activities!
U. Extend callings within the family (seriously!): missionary leader, family history coordinator, service committee, food storage manager, activity planner, etc.
V. Make family New Year’s Resolutions; share personal goals
W. Do family projects in summer: plan to reach new goals, learn new things together
X. Holidays and Birthdays:
1. Celebrate all national holidays
2. Have creative birthday parties
3. Plan big birthdays– everybody writes a note to him or her
4. Teach the true meaning of religious holidays, esp. Christmas
5. Christmas idea: give money would have spent to needy, all make presents with things
Y. Exchange personal gift certificates for acts of service
Z. Make sure children help in all planning and preparing!
X. Teach Your Family Love and Service
A. Contention is unacceptable– do not allow teasing, competition, or physical domination in the
1. Even if you did not start a problem, don’t allow it to continue. Apologize, sacrifice, go the extra mile.
2. If a child is stubbornly clinging to anger, isolate him or her to their bedroom.
3. Use humor to diffuse tension
4. Teach children the importance of avoiding contention
B. Teach your children to extend love to others
1. Teach the joy of simple service: giving encouragement, visiting the sick, sharing a
smile, listening, playing with a child, etc.
2. Act as Christ did in relation to other people.
3. Children must experience the joy of service: use family home evenings often to go out and help people.
4. Render temporal service, e.g.: shoveling now, being a good Samaritan, giving money, Christmas gifts, leave food or meals.
a. Teach children: the best service is anonymous!
5. Render spiritual service, i.e., pray for others and follow any promptings to hold, visit, bless, etc.
6. Keep in mind the pattern Jesus gave for service: study it.
7. May call a child to be family service coordinator for a time
8. Teach children that service is fun, not just a duty.
A. From a study by the Dept. of Sociology at BYU (pg. 276-277)– Effective Mormon families:
1. Are full tithe payers, attend all church meetings, and accept all callings
2. Have clear goals for their children involving temple, missions, and education
3. Hold daily family prayer
4. Hold weekly family home evenings
5. Have church leaders and family members as role models, not celebrities
6. Have husbands and wives who work at having a strong relationship
7. Do family activities and attend each other’s activities
8. Work through their adversities (death, illness, violence, etc.) together
9. Express affection for each other daily
10. Watch only 1/3 as much TV as average Americans
11. Have high expectations for their children
12. Reward children with praise instead of money
13. Talk to each other every day
B. How can we as parents raise up our family to the Lord?
1. We ourselves must turn to God and turn all of our children to God.
2. We must help them soften their hearts and teach them by the Spirit of the Lord.
3. We must teach them to keep the commandments.
4. We must teach them by example to follow the promptings of the Spirit.
5. We must teach them the doctrine of the kingdom
6. We must love them with all our hearts