“Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” (The Family, A Proclamation to the World).As I have been studying the principles of faith taught by the mothers of Helaman’s 2,060 (Alma 56:45-48; Alma 57:21), here are some of the teachings they taught their children (because, I am sure, there were plenty of daughters in the mix as well!):
1. Be strong and of a good courage
Here were these Lamanite women converts who had made a covenant, years earlier, NEVER to fight again, let alone pick up a weapon of war. Now, in the midst battles against the Lamanites, they willingly allowed their young (stripling) sons to enter into a covenant that required them to take up their weapons of war to defend their country. Strength and Courage were virtues demonstrated by both mothers and sons.
2. Show respect to men, fathers, priesthood leaders and priesthood authority
These young men called Helaman “Father.” Their mothers had taught them importance of respect for others, for men, for priesthood leadership. I am sure they saw that esteem exemplified within their homes, observing the relationships they had with their husbands as well as priesthood leadership. Sadly today, men are depicted in movies and commercials either as idiots or sexual hunters and gratifiers. Gratefully, at the helm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are 15 men who represent what a man of God is. Men who respect women; men who honor covenants; men who love the Lord.
3. Cultivate a “go and do” attitude – with the Lord, you can do anything
How else could these young men, without reservation, know, with a certainty, that “our God is with us, and He will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth!” I believe that is what “raising the bar” is all about. It’s about sending 19 year-old young men out into the world with the attitude that that can do anything that is required of them, with God’s help!
4. Faith, not fear
Trying something new or getting out of our comfort-zone should be a time when faith is cultivated, rather than having fear overwhelm. I am sure for these Lamanite mothers moving from a land and a culture they had always known, to go to a land that was taught to be the land of your enemies, was not a very comfortable move. It required faith - for fear would have left them unconverted. But they did something HARD, something DIFFICULT, something that had never been done in their families before. And they took that newness, and turned it into an incredible legacy of faith, obedience and divine motherhood.
5. Demonstrate to others that your service is not about YOU, it is about others
Sometimes our service to others requires the most of us. Sometimes it’s not easy; at other times it’s highly inconvenient and there will be times that it will sacrifice us to the very edge. For these mothers and their sons, their service and their commitment may have lead to an untimely death! But because of their faith in God’s eternal plan, “they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their own lives.”
6. Liberty and Freedom are God-given rights that are to be protected and defended
Hand in hand with teaching their children the principles of faith in Jesus Christ, these mothers also impressed upon the minds and hearts of their children the price that comes to maintain the blessings of liberty and freedom. What a lesson for us in our day!
7. A family is unit of love, support and unity
I believe that these stripling warriors were strengthened even more knowing that their mothers and fathers believed in them. Sending children off to war wouldn’t be my first choice, either. But these young men were equipped with strength and courage and faith.
8. Obedience to every word - with exactness - brings down the blessings – and the miracles – from heaven.
I believe the mothers of Helaman’s 2,060 took this counsel: “Seek not to declare me word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea the power of God unto the convincing of [your children]” (Doctrine and Covenant 11:21). These mothers studied, feasted and then lived the word of God! The word of God, coupled with the words of the prophet, enable them to have their tongues loosed to the convincing of their children that “obedience is the first law of heaven” and that ”sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.”
In studying about these mothers and their sons, I realize have a lot to put into practice as a mother of stripling warriors. But I am so aware of how blessed we are to have the fullness of the gospel place before us, around us and in us as can be strengthened as we “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:44).
I'd love to hear how you're raising your stripling warriors!