Tend to your child early on
By William Neal
By William Neal
In Psalms 127:3, it is written: "Children are an heritage of the Lord."
It goes on to say: "Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."
There is a proverb that says, "As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined."
At a recent address, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley shared this story: "Not long after we were married, we built our first home. ... The first of many trees that I planted was a thornless honey locust, and I envisioned the day when its shade would assist in cooling the house in the summer.
"I put it in a place at the corner where the wind from the canyon to the east blew the hardest. I dug a hole, put in the bare root, put soil around it, poured on water, and largely forgot it. It was only a wisp of a tree, perhaps three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It was so supple that I could bend it with ease in any direction.
"I paid little attention to it as the years passed. Then one winter day ... I noted that it was leaning to the west, misshapen and out of balance. ... I went out and braced myself against it as if to push it upright. But the trunk was now nearly a foot in diameter.
"My strength was as nothing against it. I took ... a block and tackle, attaching one end to the tree and the other to a well-set post. I pulled the rope. The ... trunk of the tree trembled slightly. But that was all. It seemed to say to me, 'You can't straighten me. It's too late. I've grown this way because of your neglect, and I will not bend.' ...
"When the tree was first planted, a piece of string would have held it against the forces of the wind. I could have and should have supplied that string with ever so little effort, but I did not. And it bent to the forces that came against it."
Children are like trees. When they are young, their lives can be shaped and directed, usually with ever so little effort. Said the writer of Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
That training finds its roots in the family.