Book of Mormon Parenting

Review of Geri Brinley. The Book of Mormon: A Pattern for Parenting. American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2006. 293 pp., with appendixes. $19.95.


In the world of advice books for parents, there are two broad types: those that attend to the research in the fields of parenting, child development, developmental psychology, and family studies and those that rely on traditional, religious, and anecdotal wisdom. Each addresses problems with a different set of assumptions. Both have value when seen for what they are. The Book of Mormon: A Pattern for Parenting is a resource for those who are looking for a Latter-day Saint parenting book of the latter type. Useful ideas from scripture, general conference talks, and some of the older theoretical models of parenting are presented but not critiqued. The author faithfully lays out topics and ideas that can be usefully discussed and mentioned within the family. Such topics include prayer, privileges, love, responsibility, and trust. Those who are short of ideas about how to use Book of Mormon stories to teach moral principles in their families will likely find this book helpful. The book may also be a useful resource for parents-to-be, giving them some ideas for a general framework for raising their future children.

An example of how principles are illustrated comes from the eighth principle in the book: “Allow Natural and Logical Consequences to Teach.” Brinley uses a common story to demonstrate the idea of applying logical consequences: A child left his bike out on the driveway after having been told that there would be consequences if he did. His father was at a crossroads as to what he should do with both the bike and his son. Eventually, after praying for guidance, the father decided to lock the bike and have a discussion with his son about what he did and how long the bike should remain locked up (pp. 163-64). In connecting this story to the Book of Mormon, Brinley refers to Alma 46:35, where Moroni gave the prisoners of war a choice: to make a covenant of peace or be destroyed. Those who would not make the covenant suffered the consequences that were in place. The pairing of teaching children and managing prisoners of war is “smile-worthy,” but the general principle of offering appropriate choices is sound. Such pairings are used repeatedly to build the examples that make up the book. Like all books of this genre, The Book of Mormon: A Pattern for Parenting would be more useful if it offered parents advice about how to decide which choices are most developmentally and contextually appropriate.