As part of the August Come Follow Me topic of “Marriage and Family,” I reached out to some of my friends and gave them all of the same questions. I love doing articles like this where everyone answers the same questions, it is like we are all together part of the same conversation.
John Hilton III teaches in Religious Education at Brigham Young University. He has degrees from BYU and Harvard and has taught at Especially for Youth and BYU Education Week. John and his wife, Lani, have six children and live in Utah.
See his latest book, “52 Life-Changing Questions from the Book of Mormon”
Can you tell us about your family?
I have a great family! I’m married to Lani Hilton, the love of my life, and we have six children, ages 2-14.
What are some specific things you did before you were married, that helped prepare you to be a righteous husband/wife and father/mother?
One thing that we did, that I’m really happy about, is we read the Institute Manual on Celestial Marriage. It has SO MUCH great advice. You can read it online for free (https://www.lds.org/manual/eternal-marriage-student-manual?lang=eng). It is awesome reading material for anyone – married or single.
What are some lessons you have learned about how to have and maintain a righteous home?
The basics are so important! I really believe that daily family prayer and scripture study, weekly Family Home Evening and gospel study time on Sunday will do so much to strengthen the family.
Pick one line from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that has had a great impact on your marriage and family. How has that doctrine influenced your home?
The Family Proclamation talks about the importance of “Wholesome recreational activities.” Along with the work and the teachings, don’t forget to have fun.
What advice would you give to a couple about to be married that could help strengthen their marriage and family?
One of my favorite books (no, I didn’t write it) is His Needs, Her Needs. This book talks about key needs that a husband and a wife have. My biggest advice would be to read that book and then (if I’m the husband) focus on filling my wife’s needs. If I’m the wife, focus on filling my husband’s needs. Don’t sit around hoping that your spouse will read the book and fill your needs! Just start filling his/hers!
How has your career impacted how you teach your children? What advice do you have for others?
So my career has influenced how I teach my children. As a religious educator, I spend a lot of time thinking and learning about how to teach the gospel. I hope that that transfers into the home. But no matter what your job is, you can teach the gospel by your example, by your love, and by powerful lessons.
How would you answer this question that a parent might as you, “How can I teach my children about eternal families?
I think that sometimes the most powerful teaching is the teaching that comes in a special place. It might be a good opportunity to drive to a temple on a Sunday afternoon, maybe pull out the wedding album and talk about the love that mom and dad have for each other. Testifying of eternal marriage in that setting could be that much more powerful.
What are some specific traditions (yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily) that help strengthen your home and family?
In addition to the things I’ve mentioned earlier, we try to celebrate some family holidays. These are holidays that we have invented – for example, every year on February 4, we celebrate “Ancestor Day” because that is the day our ancestors left Nauvoo on the exodus to Utah. We also always celebrate the anniversary of my first date with my wife. We relive the date by doing the same activity (making cookies and watching “A Christmas Carol.”
How have you and your spouse’s roles complemented each other?
I think we complement each other in that we bring different points of emphasis to the family. My wife is really strong with loving the children and integrating music and memorizing scriptures into our daily lives. I have a strength in organization in follow-through (and I love the kids too!) Together we can do more than either of us could do on our own.
What is a specific quote by a prophet that has influenced you and strengthened your family?
“A wise parent would never miss a chance to gather children together to learn of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Such moments are so rare in comparison with the efforts of the enemy. For every hour the power of doctrine is introduced into a child’s life, there may be hundreds of hours of messages and images denying or ignoring the saving truths.
“The question should not be whether we are too tired to prepare to teach doctrine or whether it wouldn’t be better to draw a child closer by just having fun or whether the child isn’t beginning to think that we preach too much. The question must be, ‘With so little time and so few opportunities, what words of doctrine from me will fortify them against the attacks on their faith which are sure to come?’ The words you speak today may be the ones they remember. And today will soon be gone.” (President Henry B. Eyring, The Power of Teaching Doctrine)
Check out our printable package with a 10 month family challenge to help implement better the ten principles that successful families and marriages have. You can find it HERE.
This goes with the August Come Follow Me lesson: How can I strengthen my family?