"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
October 07, 2015
Tools for Turning Hearts to the Family
by Laurie Williams Sowby

With the LDS Church’s The Family: A Proclamation to the World marking 20 years in September, it’s appropriate to highlight a book that supports “turning the heart of the fathers to the children” and vice versa.

“Family values (and family value) ... are the truest and most time-tested way to live, the single constant requirement of a safe and stable society, and the key underpinning of real happiness.”

So assert Richard and Linda Eyre, who’ve built a career around helping families succeed and children thrive, in their latest book The Turning: Why the State of the Family Matters, and What the World Can Do About It (Familius 2014, 340 pages in softcover, $18.95).

“Nothing is more responsible for the pain and suffering in the world than the breakdown of families,” they write in the introduction. Likewise, “nothing can heal and renew the world like the revaluing of families; and there is not nearly enough focus on how dramatically the state of families affects the state of society.”

In Part One, the authors lay out the somewhat discouraging facts about the deterioration of the family, including indicators and causes. Statistics, surveys, and studies back up conclusions drawn from their own experience and observations. (As parents of nine and grandparents of 26, they have some, many of which they will share at the 2015 World Congress on Families in Salt Lake City the end of October.)

More and more, they say, large institutions have taken over the role of parents and families, and not with positive result. “The challenges that our culture faces are preventable and curable only if family, the smallest of organizations, is revived and supported. Family is the cornerstone and crux of all stable societies.”

Before launching into specific how-to’s in the second part, the authors declare, “We are not powerless in this war. There are ways that we can fight back, both in the micro of our homes and in the macro of forming coalitions to influence large institutions to change their tunes and change their policies and actions and messages with regard to the families of their employees and the families of their customers.”

It starts with celebrating the concept and creation of marriage and families: “Millennials need to see more of the positive and joyful aspects of family, and less of the scary and expensive ones. They need to see and appreciate more good reasons for having families ... and see more people celebrating commitment and popularizing parenting.”

An excellent chapter, “The Cure: Making Your Own Family Culture Stronger than All Competing Cultures,” discusses seven strategies: personally recommitting to the priority of marriage and family; teaching and living by correct principles; reinventing time management and balance with emphasis on spouse and children; understanding selective use of larger institutions (media, government, business); making [verbal] communication a constant goal; creating identity, security, and motivation for children; and using “values therapy” to shift focus “away from what is wrong toward the rewards and fulfillment of what is right.”

In addition to references, extras in the book include sample coalition letters urging large institutions to enact family-supportive policies as well as a list of parent resource books and a discussion guide for readers’ groups.

Among the many quotable gems: “People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice — commitments to family, God, craft and country.”

The Eyres believe, with Winston Churchill, “There is no doubt that it is around family and home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of humans, are created, strengthened, and maintained.”

They offer not just food for thought in this book, but tools for positive change.

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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