Parenting Examples from the Bruce McConkie Family


(Paraphrased from Bruce R McConkie biography, ‘The Story of Bruce R McConkie’ by Joseph Fielding McConkie, 2003)


-for breakfast he always ate the same whole wheat mush. His wife ground the wheat in an old coffee grinder. Store bought cereal was only for special occasions, as there were 8 children in the family.


-Christmas morning everyone dressed, made their beds, ate, and would line up on the stairs according to age. Then, Bruce would go into the living room, turn on the tree lights and see if Santa really came. He was always surprised. Christmas dinners were filled with telling of memories, laughing and crying together.


-each week they visited both sets of grandparents. Back then people knew how to visit.


-his mother insisted her married children meet together frequently to study the gospel all together. His dad would send people home to get their scriptures if they showed up without them. Bruce followed the same pattern with his married children.


-he didn’t give his children an allowance, they were expected to help.


-Half of everything his children earned was to be saved for a mission fund.


-Bruce said “I would never brag about my children. If they are worth bragging about, someone else will do it for me.”


-“my father never threw a ball to me, never took me hunting or camping, nor did he have any idea how to change the oil in a car.”


-when he had a free Saturday he would wake his kids early to go hike saying “Come on, great men climb mountains.”


-the importance of learning is something caught, not taught. Children learn to love what their parents do. In their home, a love of the gospel was preeminent.


-He treated high school athletics with tolerance rather than excitement. His enthusiasm was reserved for things like mission calls. He only gave praise for things that mattered.


-“my father never threw a ball to me, never took me hunting or camping, nor did he have any idea how to change the oil in a car.”


-He didn’t teach his children sports, mechanics, etc., for he didn’t know these things. He taught them hard work: to sweat, get blisters, and a sore back as part of a well-rounded life.


-he didn’t write his sons serving missions about what was going on at home, he wrote them Paul-like epistles.


-His son (the author of this book) had a knee injury and so had to stop basketball and joined the debate team. Bruce marched around singing saying, “My son is going to use his brain, my son is going to use his brain.”


-he didn’t teach his kids to tie a tie, or attend their Scouting awards. He didn’t teach them to tie a tie. He never took them to a ball game. They never went to a movie together. “In short, we were not a recreationally minded family.”


-he didn’t teach them patience, he expected them to work with him quickly in the yard etc.


-activities they did together were work projects of tile, shingling, digging a root cellar, painting a house.


-when he came home in the evening and his son wasn’t working the first thing he would say was “Mother, isn’t there something Joseph can be doing?”


-their mother taught them to garden weed and irrigate as Bruce was gone so often


-Bruce was fearless of sweat and calluses, for himself and his children


-his son’s memories of him are ministering to the sick, instructing priesthood leaders, teaching the gospel, and listening to his remarkable conversations


-Joseph (his son, the author of this biography) realized he hadn’t missed out on what mattered


-his son said he wanted to exercise his agency to not go to church one day. Bruce assured him he had agency which in his family meant you could go to church willingly, or go unwillingly, the choice is yours.


-He was anxious for his return missionary son to marry. He said, “Son, don’t you think you ought to have a goal? How many dates do you think you should have each week?”


-His son began to tell him of a girl he liked whom he had met a week and a half ago. Bruce said “marry her.” He explained, “You’ve heard the story of Isaac and Rebekah, haven’t you?” (they met, walked into Sarah’s tent, were married, and loved each other) He continued, “Certainly you’re as smart as Isaac, aren’t you?”

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