Parents should use their best influences to shape children's lives and help them to grow to their full spiritual potential, urged Elder M. Russell Ballard in the Sunday afternoon session.
"We plead with you to take time for your children and your grandchildren while they are young," said Elder Ballard of the Council of the Twelve.He recalled an experience last year at the Washington Temple, when the Christmas lights were turned on. Soviet children from the embassy performed at the ceremony and later joined American LDS children in the program.
"Sweet and pure children from two powerful nations showed an instant love for one another as they were seated at the feet of the Christus statue," he recalled.
"I said to the audience that perhaps the world's troubles could be solved if we could turn over the leadership of the nations to the children for a few days."
The importance of the "first tender formative years cannot be overstated," he emphaiszed. "Parents and teachers should see beyond the little girl in pigtails and by the ragged little boy with a dirty face and holes in the knees of his pants. True teachers and leaders see children as they may become.
"The older we grow the more precious our family becomes to us. We come to see more clearly that all of the wealth, honor, and positions of the world pale in significance when compared to the precious souls of our loved ones," said Elder Ballard."
He emphasized that schools, communities, television, or Church organizations must not be allowed to establish children's values. "The Lord has placed this duty with mothers and fathers. It is one from which we cannot escape and one that cannot be delegated.
"We must guard the sanctity of our homes because that is where children develop their values, attitudes, and habits for everyday living."
He recalled his 3-year-old grandson being picked up by his grandmother who said, `Hi. How are you doing, Babes?'
The boy replied in a serious voice, `I not a Babes, I a Dude.' In the vernacular of the day, he was asserting that he was someone special," said Elder Ballard.
He counseled Primary leaders to select teachers that could protect the peace of tender little souls.
Parents might see their role in shaping character by using "building" blocks of time in such teaching activities as praying, stories, conversations, listening, praising, and reading the scriptures, singing, doing homework, and honoring the Sabbath Day.
"A vast array of such beautiful building blocks that are placed carefully can form a fortress of faith that the tidal waves of worldly distraction and evil cannot breach," said Elder Ballard.
"These blocks are held together with a mortar called love: love of Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ, love of parents, love for each other, love for choosing the good."