Relief Society Lesson 19: Strengthening Our Families

Introductory note: As a single person, I found this lesson to be a bit of a challenge. However, Chieko Okazaki’s essay titled “Strengthening Every Home,” in her book Disciples, suggests a helpful way of thinking about this topic. She comments:

  • “I don’t know the stories of all women, but if we looked at a cross section of women in the Church, we would find a significant number of them to be single—either through divorce, through the death of a husband, or because they have not yet married. Some of them are single moms. Some are grandmothers, and the years of having little children in the home every hour of every day are in the past. But all of them have homes. All of them have families. All of them can be strong individuals and can build homes with strong families.” (p. 81)

Thoughts/Questions
1. Why do families matter so much in LDS theology? I like the way in which LDS doctrine counters the notion that salvation is a purely individual affair; it suggests that our relationships with other human beings here aren’t merely a trivial byproduct of mortality, but that they really matter in an eternal sense. Why isn’t enough for individuals to get saved on their own, but we also seal people together?

2. Whether in your current family or your family of origin, what family activities have you most enjoyed?

3. President Kimball talks a lot about the importance of teaching the gospel in a family setting. How do you incorporate religion into a family in a positive way, without making it into something associated with guilt trips, power struggles, etc.?

4. Family relationships can be incredibly rich, but at times they can also be extremely challenging. When you’ve found yourself in a strained relationship with another family member, what have you found helpful in working things out?

5. When members of a family have very different beliefs (whether about religion, politics, behavioral standards, etc.), how do you peacefully co-exist with and support each other?

6. It seems very easy to think about one’s own family in comparison to some hypothetical “ideal Mormon family,” and get discouraged. How do you avoid thinking in those terms, and appreciate and encourage the strengths in your family?

7. President Kimball observes that “the Church can be no healthier than its families.” What do you think are the ingredients of a healthy family?

8. How do you balance time devoted to your immediate family relationships with the need to also be engaged with the broader world, with the human family?

Deborah

Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for some really great ideas for this lesson. I’m teaching it this Sunday and your quotes and questions will be perfect.

  2. Caroline says:

    These are great questions, Lynnette. How I wish our lesson last Sunday had looked more like this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This strays a bit from the lesson. The prophet has advised us many times to not stray to far and create our own lessons from the lesson topic. Just be careful.

  4. Eve says:

    Actually, Anonymous, I think Lynnette is following the instructions at the beginning of the manual very closely, which include the following passages:

    Ponder how President Kimball’s teaching apply to you. Think about how the teachings relate to concerns or questions you have….

    Decide how to encourage discussion. This is where you should spend most of the lesson tome….You might use questions from “Suggestions for Study and Teaching” at the end of the chapter. You may prepare some of your own. Ask questions that help those you are teaching:

    Look for what is taught.
    Think about the meaning.
    Share experiences.
    Apply what is taught.

    I think sometimes in the church we have the unfortunate misconception that “stick to the manual” means that we can’t use any outside materials or pose any questions not contained within the manual–but the manual itself makes it clear that’s not the case. Some of the worst RS lessons I’ve ever endured were taught by a woman who seemed to believe she had to stand in front of us and read the manual to us (after berating us all indignantly for having failed to read it on our own).

    Lynnette here is simply doing exactly what the manual instructs the teacher to do, and what all good teacher must do–considering ways to help students reflect on the material thoughtfully, to understand and assimilate it and to apply it to their lives.

  5. stevo says:

    As a young single adult, this lesson really inspired my own last week when I taught lessons 18 and 19 together. It felt odd to be teaching these lessons to my mother and women I’d looked up to while I was growing up but after pondering your ideas I gained a new perspective and was able to effectively teach through the Spirit. Thanks so much!

  6. Aimee says:

    I just wanted to agree with what Eve said. Sometimes I feel as though we aren’t encouraged to “think outside the box” in the LDS religion. I love the gospel, but I also have a brain and it likes to think independant thoughts! How do we grow if the same material with the same “sunday school” answers are given each week. What can be gained from reading strait from the manual. As a teacher, I like to get people thinking and talking. That’s why I come to this site and I love it. Keep up the good work!

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