Mormons place the family in the heart of the gospel. The home is the center of our earthly existence. God planned for families right from the beginning, and even started our world with a family, not with a group of unrelated people.
The Mormons teach a traditional family structure. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and where possible, families should have and want children. The father serves as the head of the household and earns the family income and the mother cares for the family wherever possible.
Head of Household
This term often leads to confusion to those who don’t understand how LDS families operate. Head of
household is not a synonym for the word boss. It means to preside over the home, not to rule over it. How does a man lead or preside over a family without ruling over it? His first responsibility is to set the appropriate example. He must model for the rest of the family appropriate moral behavior and demonstrate for his children the proper role of a man’s life. He cannot expect more of his family than he expects from himself.
When a decision must be made, the husband counsels with his wife. Together, they discuss the issues involved and together, they come to a decision. The husband’s job as the person who presides is to guide the discussion, making sure the wife’s feelings are understood and considered, and then to guide the discussion in a loving way so a decision can be reached that both are comfortable with. Prayer is always the final answer in any important decision and in any where the parents really don’t agree. If there is no clear answer and the parents don’t agree, the husband does not automatically get his way. He has a moral responsibility to balance the decisions he makes with the needs of his wife, and often, these decisions are made based on who is most affected, most knowledgeable about a decision, or who is the most passionate about it.
Marriage is an equal partnership. While the man and the woman have different responsibilities, neither role is more important than the other. They are simply the two roles that need to be filled to make a family function properly.
Mormon families are encouraged to pray together often. Besides their personal prayers, married couples have a private prayer together each day. Then they pray with their children each morning and evening, and at each meal. At these family prayers, members of the family take turns offering the prayer. Even a very small child might offer the family prayer with help. Prayers are not recited, but are offered from the heart. Children can learn more about the faith of their families as they listen to the heartfelt prayers of others, and better understand how to pray.
Family Home Evening
Every Monday evenings, LDS families retreat from the world for a few hours, and spend time as a family. They generally begin with a hymn and a prayer, followed by a lesson. The lesson is on any subject the family feels will benefit them, whether it is a religious topic, a moral topic, an issue facing their family, or the teaching of a practical skill. This is normally followed by games and refreshments, and ended with another song and prayer before bedtime. Each member of the family has an assignment and the jobs are rotated, so children gain important skills in the safety of their homes. A three-year-old might lead the music and a kindergartener might teach the lesson with a little help from a parent or older sibling.
All of these aspects of family life matter because Mormons believe a family will continue on after death. Because God commanded us to create families and blessed us with a powerful love for them, we understand He won’t take them from us if we do what we need to do to return home to Him. If Heaven is to be the place where we’re happier than we’ve ever been before, Mormons know they could never be happy without those they love most. They love their families too much to abandon them at death, and God knows this. He planned for families to be able to live together for eternity by marrying through the proper authority, living the commandments, and building a loving family life.