Family history work blesses the lives of Primary children—now, and when they get older. And teaching them how to engage in family history work can be fun!
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Priesthood and Family Department, shared these ideas and more during the family history leadership session of RootsTech 2018.
Sister Jones said that children who participate in family history are more excited and prepared to go to the temple when they turn 12, “not only to experience the sacredness of the Lord’s house, but also because they feel a connection to their ancestors and want to perform their ordinances for them.”
Eye on the Temple
Children often learn differently than adults. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. And so Sister Jones encouraged temple and family history consultants to be creative in their approach to engaging children in the work: “Acting out a meaningful family story, learning about their family culture or even family recipes, viewing pictures of their relatives as children, or talking about and recording their four generations in the My Family booklet are all simple ways to begin connecting with children,” she said.
But family history involves more than just looking at photos, as Sister Jones was quick to note. President Nelson himself recently said when discussing the topic, “If our collections of stories and photos should ever become an end point in themselves—if we know who our ancestors are and know marvelous things about them, but we leave them stranded on the other side without their ordinances—such diversion will not be of any help to our ancestors who remain confined in spirit prison.”
Blessings of Family History Work
“So what are the some of the specific benefits of children participating in family history?” Sister Jones asked. She mentioned several, including the following:
- Greater confidence and improved self-esteem. “Studies actually demonstrate that children who are more familiar with their family narratives show more resilience,” she said, “more self-control, and less anxiety.”
- A closer relationship to living parents and siblings. Sister Jones noted that through temple and family history work children gain a greater sense of belonging.
- An improved ability to feel and listen to the Holy Ghost and to follow promptings.
- Opportunities to strengthen and share the gospel with other family members. Family history is a powerful missionary tool that connects people on both sides of the veil.
- Opportunities to succeed and grow spiritually. “Children often have a pure and simple faith that helps them to be successful as they do family history research,” she said. Such experiences are often life changing and form the foundation of a person’s testimony.
Part of the Plan
In conclusion, Sister Jones bore her testimony of the important role family history can play in the lives of today’s youngest members of the Church: “I testify that our Heavenly Father has provided this special way for our children to receive greater protection, increased power to resist sin, and a more deeply rooted love for their families.”
Understanding the Big Picture
Sister Jones was followed by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom. Elder Hallstrom likewise spoke of the importance of inviting children to participate in family history and the conversion that occurs when they experience for themselves the heart-turning influence of the Holy Ghost.
Elder Hallstrom taught how family history helps people, including children, understand God’s plan better. “The gospel teaches us our true identity as a son or a daughter of God and the indispensable role of our Savior Jesus Christ and His glorious Atonement,” he said.
“When these eternal truths go from our heads to our hearts to our souls, we transform from those with faith, to those with testimonies, to those who are converted. Family history is a superb vehicle for this magnificent process.”
Doing the Best You Can
Elder Hallstrom referred to the recent decision to modify the Primary’s former “Priesthood Preview” held annually for 11-year-old boys to include 11-year-old girls and to teach about the temple. “Boys and girls have a need,” he said, “to learn about the priesthood and the temple and to prepare to qualify for limited-use temple recommends preparatory to receiving temple recommends that will for a lifetime represent the keeping of covenants.”
He then described the ideal family history scenario as one that simultaneously involves parents and children researching their ancestry together, collecting stories, preparing names for temple ordinances, and visiting the temple as a family to perform the needed baptisms and confirmations for ancestors.
Of course, the ideal isn’t always possible, in which case Elder Hallstrom encouraged consultants as well as families to “just do your best.”
“Engaging them from the youngest of ages,” he testified, “. . . will bless them forever.”