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The Home as a Sacred Center for Family Life

Latter-Day Saints Perspective

For most people the word "home" evokes feelings of security, happiness, and belonging.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches many important principles about what should happen within the four walls of a home in order to create these feelings. It is inside the home that relationships are strengthened, children are taught, and joy is felt.

Families can work together to make their home a sacred center for family life, a place where each family member feels a sense of belonging and a place of refuge and shelter from the outside world. When families create a sacred home, the comforting environment nourishes each family member, strengthens relationships, and fosters learning the important lessons of life.

Below are five important elements of a home that is a sacred center for family life.


When family members put others' needs above their own, they impart holiness to themselves and to their home. Learning to set aside your own needs and wants for others helps your loved ones become happier and adds to your own happiness. When each member of the family focuses on making others happy, everyone benefits.

Examples of how family members might sacrifice for one another include:

  • Save your spending money to help a family member accomplish something, such as gaining an education, or purchase something, such as a new bicycle.
  • Take turns when playing games and with toys or when watching favorite television shows.
  • Allow another family member to have the last piece of dessert.


Prayer brings us closer to God and inspires us to be more like Him. It softens hard feelings, reminds us to be grateful, and provides in understanding how to better our lives. If homes are filled with prayer, family members are more likely to look outside of themselves when resolving difficult situations. Allowing the influence of God to enter the home through prayer makes the home sacred and more enjoyable.

Here are some suggestions about prayer in the home:

  • Pray regularly and at set times so everyone knows in advance and can participate. You may need to have more than one morning prayer if children leave for school or work at different times.
  • Give each family member a chance to pray. Teach children to pray from the time they can speak. If they don't know what to say, prompt them as they learn.


Working together in the home is an important part of family life. Through housework not only does the house get clean, making your home a more inviting place, but also family members get the opportunity to interact and spend time together. When parents work alongside their children, the parent-child hierarchy dissolves and communication opens up. Teaching your children to work while they are young instills in them valuable character traits that will serve them well all their lives.

Ways to encourage work in the home include:

  • Work beside your children, teaching them the skills of keeping up a home. Working together breaks down barriers, allowing parents to grow closer to children and siblings to grow closer to one another.
  • Rotate daily and weekly chores so children don't get bored doing the same tasks over and over. Be sure to keep chores age appropriate.
  • Be clear about what you're assigning your children and what’s expected of them before they start. If you add on new tasks after a child thinks he's finished, you likely will discourage him from working.
  • Make work fun. Crank up the stereo and sing and dance while you scrub. Plan a treat after everyone's tasks are accomplished.


Parents prepare their children to live in society by teaching them in the home about being responsible, moral beings. Home is where children learn to speak, love others, and care for themselves.

Here are basic suggestions for teaching in the home:

  • Read to your children when they are young, even before they can talk. Reading time fosters bonding at the same time that it introduces children to the skills that will help them become good speakers, readers, and writers.
  • Make eating meals together a priority. Through dinner conversations parents learn about their children's lives. Younger children, by listening to conversations, can build their vocabulary.
  • Teach children to respect their bodies by encouraging regular exercise and providing healthy meals. Take time to teach your children about the different food groups and the importance of eating a balanced diet.

Cultural Enrichment

Cultural enrichment and entertainment in the home introduces your children to art, dancing, music, and sports. Wide exposure helps children find hobbies and discover talents that will stimulate their minds and feed their souls.

Here are suggestions about providing cultural enrichment in your home:

  • Invite your children to dance, draw, or participate in sports with you. Participate at their level and encourage them as they learn. Provide them with a safe environment to try new things.
  • Take your children to see plays and concerts. Give them options and let them choose which events they would like to go to.
  • Know which culturally enriching activities you yourself enjoy and participate in them, showing your children by example an appreciation for the arts.
  • Limit television watching. Use the extra time to be active or creative by playing outdoors, practicing a musical instrument, drawing, or reading.

Written by Jennifer Crockett, Research Assistant, and edited by Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.


  1. Bahr, H. M., & Barh, K. S. (2001). Families and self-sacrifice: Alternative models and meaning for family theory. Social Forces, 79(4), 1231-1258.
  2. Bahr, K. S., & Loveless, C. A. (2000). Family work. Brigham Young Magazine, 54(1), 24-34.
  3. Bahr, K. S., Loveless, C. A., Manwaring, K., Rice, M., & Worthen, V. E. (2000). The meaning and blessings of family work. In D. C. Dollahite (Ed.), Strengthening our families: An in-depth look at the proclamation on the family (pp. 177-189). Salt Lake City: Bookcraft.
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  5. Clarke, M. C., Brown, L. B., Garrison, C., Green, J. D., Honey, P., Jaccard, J. L., et al. (2000). Home as a sacred center for family life. In D. C. Dollahite (Ed.), Strengthening our families: An in-depth look at the proclamation on the family (pp. 83-99). Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft.
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  8. Evans, M. A., Shaw, D., & Bell, M. (2000). Home literacy activities and their influence on early literacy skills. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 54(2), 65-75.
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The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches that the family is “central to the Creator's plan".1 It also teaches that "the family is the most important organization both in the Church and in society. Indeed, it is the only organization that will exist eternally. For this reason the Lord has commanded us to make our homes places where families can learn the gospel and progress together".2

Apostle Joseph B. Wirthlin has taught the importance of taking the time and effort to create a loving, sacred LDS home:

Building our homes as fortresses of righteousness for protection from the world takes constant labor and diligence. Membership in the Church is no guarantee of a strong, happy family. Often parents feel overwhelmed. Many must accomplish the whole job single-handedly while bearing all of the emotional pain of divorce. The Lord has provided a plan that will help us to be successful in meeting every challenge that may confront us.3

Elder Wirthlin further taught that each family acts as an instrument of the Lord in directing His children toward a "celestial destination." There is no greater calling:

The righteous molding of an immortal soul is the highest work we can do, and the home is the place to do it. To accomplish this eternal work, we should make our homes gospel-centered. When peace and harmony abound, the Holy Spirit will ever be present. The storms of the evil one can be stopped at the very entrance of our homes.3

Parents are charged with the primary responsibility of teaching their children the Lord's commandments and the laws of the land.

In 1904, President Joseph F. Smith said to parents: "Do not let your children out to specialists . . . , but teach them by your own precept and example, by your own fireside. Be a specialist yourself in the truth. . . .Not one child in a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example and training, were in harmony with the truth in the gospel of Christ, as revealed and taught to the Latter-day Saints" (as quoted in Wirthlin).3

A Sacred Center for Family Life

Because families are so central to the Lord's plan, destroying the home is a prime target of the Adversary. By recognizing this danger, we can be more vigilant against it. "If Satan can weaken or destroy the loving relationships among members of families, he can cause more misery and more unhappiness for more people than he could in any other way".3

Here are some ways to help make your home a sacred center of family life:

Keep out destructive influences.

Evil influences are everywhere. President Hinckley has said:4 If [youth] want to get involved in pornography, they can do so very easily. They can pick up the phone and dial a number with which they are familiar. They can sit at a computer and revel in cyberspace filth. I fear this may be going on in some of your homes. It is vicious. It is lewd and filthy. It is enticing and habit-forming. It will take a young man or woman down to destruction as surely as anything in this world. . . .Our youth find this tempting stuff all about them. They need the help of their parents in resisting it. They need a tremendous amount of self-control. They need the strength of good friends. They need prayer to fortify them against this flood tide of filth.4

It is crucial that parents monitor their children’s activities. They should teach them to avoid lewd magazines, to turn off offensive television shows, to avoid or walk out of vulgar movies, and to choose friends with high standards.

Do things together that invite the Spirit.

Keeping evil out goes hand-in-hand with inviting the goodness of the Holy Ghost into our homes. Elder Christiansen states:4 In all his evil doings, the adversary can go no further than the transgressor permits him to go, and we can gain complete power to resist the evils caused by Satan through adherence to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . Study of the scriptures, prayer, faithful living of the commandments of the Lord, the discharge of church obligations and duties, being a considerate neighbor, and using the heaven-sent program of family home evenings can provide a basis for having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion and protector, which will result in peace and happiness.5

When we build our homes upon a foundation of Jesus Christ, we will be able to overcome the Adversary and all of his temptations (see Helaman 5:12).

Help children discover their gifts.

In a home that is a sacred center of family life, children feel free to discover their divine gifts. It is parents' responsibility to plan activities that enlighten and enrich their children. Creating these opportunities while children are young is very beneficial to their future.

The cultural arts fulfill a basic human need for beauty in our lives. A family that tries hard to enjoy the arts enriches their family life. The arts may allow us at once to inspire, instruct, and edify.

Different arts come more naturally to different individuals, so give children the chance to discover what appeals to them most, whether it be literature, music, painting, sculpture, drama, or dance. . . .

Our knowledge of each child's abilities and potential can help us provide opportunities for development in each area. Each child has individual gifts. Few things are more harmful to a child's free development of creativity than the parental expectation that all children in a family will have the same talents or express them equally well. Parents can help identify the gifts each individual child has. Then opportunities for growth and further development of each talent can be sought.6

If we make our homes sacred centers of family life, the Spirit of the Lord will abound, and each family member will be blessed.

Written by Jennifer Crockett, Research Assistant, and edited by Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.


  1. The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles. (1995, November). The family: A proclamation to the world. Ensign, 102.
  2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2000). Duties and blessings of the priesthood. Salt Lake City, UT: Author.
  3. Wirthlin, J. B. (1993, May). Spiritually strong homes and families. Ensign, 68-71.
  4. Hinckley, G. B. (2000, November). "Great shall be the peace of thy children." Ensign, 50-52.
  5. Christiansen, E. L. (1974, November). Power over Satan. Ensign, 22-24.
  6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (1988, October). Children and the arts. Liahona Tambuli, 14-18.