Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Preparing for General Conference

I recently read an article about preparing our families and children for General Conference. I picked out some of my favorite ideas and recorded them here (you can see the full text of the article here).

Before Conference
  • Be excited! Even very small children can pick up on excitement, especially something that is consistently talked about. “The week before conference, I spend a little time every day talking to my five-year-old daughter about how exciting it will be to get to hear the prophet talk to us."

  • Remember what a gift this is, and sacrifice for it! Heather Turner remembers that as a missionary in Argentina, “In two of the areas where I served, the entire ward got on a bus and traveled for two hours to get to a stake center where we could watch conference. These members’ dedication and devotion to the gospel was clear. They saved their money to be able to afford the trip. They took time off work. They packed up their families for two days. They did all of this to turn their hearts toward the prophet and participate in this great semiannual event. That was a powerful lesson to me.”
  • Don't forget to pray! "Participating in conference can be challenging for families with small children. Matt and Stephanie Sorensen of Minnesota had three children under the age of four. “We pray individually and with our children that our hearts will be prepared for the messages of conference.”  

During Conference

  • Parents can help even very young children begin to notice patterns and themes. "The Sorensens set out a bowl of small treats for each session. Next to the bowl, they place objects that represent key words for that session. Each time the children hear one of those words spoken from the pulpit, they can help themselves to one treat. Sister Sorensen notes: “It’s surprising to see how much young children can and do listen. Their enthusiasm is priceless as you hear them say, ‘Mommy, he said temples!’”
  • Additional activities between or after Conference can help kids recognize the blessings of Conference. "We would have a family picnic in the backyard between sessions, or on the Monday after conference we’d go out for ice cream and talk about the talks that stood out to us the most."

After Conference
  • Set a pattern of remembering. To set general conference apart as a special event, Brother and Sister Beverley designated the family home evening following conference as “Quiz Night,” when each member of the family would ask three questions about the talks, the reports, or things they observed. It quickly became tradition, and even years later, as the Beverleys’ sons and daughters left home to serve missions and attend college, the children insisted on continuing to share Quiz Night questions via letters and e-mail.
  • Sharing your own insights helps everyone. Sister Beverley notes that it takes longer to complete Quiz Night now because the family discusses at length their thoughts and feelings about the talks given. These conversations “give rise to greater insights than any of us could have achieved alone,” she adds. “Even though our family is now scattered throughout the world, we feel united, sure in the knowledge that like the sons of Mosiah, we are ‘still … brethren in the Lord; yea, and [we have] waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth’ (Alma 17:2). This simple tradition has helped our children learn to focus on the content and power of the talks and to realize the importance of general conference.”

“It is when children are young that parents must be innovative in helping them develop good habits regarding conference participation. As our children are given opportunities to observe and learn the role of these special witnesses, they will receive a spiritual confirmation of the sacred calling of their Church leaders, and they will feel a deeper love for and interest in these leaders and their message.” -Elder Neil L. Andersen

What do you do to prepare for Conference? I would love to hear!

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