What do I teach my daughter about her baptism?

July 31, 2011    By: Matt W. @ 6:05 pm   Category: Life

Well, I’m getting older, and in three weeks, give or take, my oldest daughter will be baptized. I’ve talked with her about many different things, but it is getting down to the wire here and there are so many things I want her to feel and understand. I accept that she is 8 and my baptism at 21 is spiritually and emotionally different than hers at 8. But there isn’t exactly a Mormon parenting for converts guide.

What should I do to prepare my daughter for baptism? What should I tell he to expect? What should I expect?


  1. Without knowing anything I am sure you’ve done fine preparing her. What are your concerns?

    Comment by Jacob J — July 31, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

  2. I don’t even know what I am concerned about. She is ready. She is enthusiastic. I guess part of it is that I had what I’d consider to be a very spiritual experience as part of my baptism, Something that has carried me through many of the rough patches of my spiritual journey. I realize I can not fabricate such an experience, not force one to occur, but I really want her to have an anchor like that. And all I can do is turn it over to God.

    That is hard for me to do.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 31, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

  3. That seems like a great self-diagnosis. Sounds like you really need to brace yourself for the reasonably likely possibility that she won’t have the experience you hope she has. But don’t worry, it is hard to guess when those pivotal testimony-anchor moments will come and even if there is no pillar of light for your daughter at her baptism it will be a time when she knows she has done the right thing.

    Kids at that age are usually not very good at articulating their feelings or inward experiences, so it can be hard to know for sure what they experienced even when you ask them. Their own understanding of their experience is likely to change over time as they reinterpret it in light of later experiences. She is lucky to have such great parents.

    Comment by Jacob J — July 31, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

  4. One thing I know the Bishop will emphasize with her is that she is making a promise to Heavenly Father. Lean on your wife since she went through the “baptism at eight” experience. A good & striving to be good father (and mother) is a great anchor.

    Comment by wally bob — July 31, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

  5. I agree that you have surely done a great job preparing her. I think for most of us who were baptized at eight, the anchors come in different ways, and may not come right then. Although sometimes they do (Silvia Allred has talked about her experience).

    I think, too, that you can always be praying for her to have the anchors as God would choose to give her through her life, and pray that along the way you can be in tune if you are to help be a part of helping her recognize and/or experience them.

    I’m reminded of a bishop that really had an impact on me and my view of the youth. He said our goal should be to help them have as many experiences with the Spirit as possible. I think that as you do the usual — FHE, family prayer, scripture study, family dinner, family time — you can and will continue to be blessed with opportunities to do just that.

    And I really like this from Jacob J: “Their own understanding of their experience is likely to change over time as they reinterpret it in light of later experiences. “

    Comment by Michelle — August 1, 2011 @ 2:15 am

  6. You should teach her how to bend her knees, hold on to your forarm, and plug her nose. These may be her greatest concerns.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 1, 2011 @ 5:41 am

  7. You can only teach an 8-year-old so much; they can’t comprehend everything an adult can. I’m almost 40, and there is still stuff I keep learning.

    That being said, with my two oldest, I gave them a list of scriptures relating to the purposes and covenants of baptism. I had them read them and answer the question “Why I get baptised”. Then we discuss their answers.

    This might be to late for you, but about a year before my children are baptised, I use the missionary discussions (the ones from when I was on my mission) for my FHE lessons.

    At the very least, when they become rebellious teenagers, they can’t come back to me and say they didn’t know what they were doing. :)

    Comment by Kim Siever — August 1, 2011 @ 6:54 am

  8. “I realize I can not fabricate such an experience, not force one to occur, but I really want her to have an anchor like that. And all I can do is turn it over to God.”

    Have you explained that to her? That to me, more than anything, seems most important. Baptism is her first “official” interaction with God—I mean, that’s what baptism boils down to, right? An outward expression of the first covenant she will make. But it’s such a public display that it can be mistaken for something that is between her and God and everybody else at church.

    If you want her to have her own experience with God, then teaching her that she must have her own experience would certainly help.

    Other than that: congratulations and have fun!!

    Comment by BrianJ — August 1, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  9. I grew up in the church and felt very prepared. My biggest complaint is that people referred to big spiritual experiences at baptism but mine wasn’t. I was raised in a home that had the spirit, I went to church and felt the Spirit, so baptism just seemed like same old same old to me.
    I say this just so that you can maybe see that for your daughter who has been a part of the church her whole life, it might not be anything new or different for her.
    My daughter when asked later how she felt right after her baptism, said that she really needed to go to the bathroom right after her baptism.

    Comment by jks — August 1, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

  10. We tried to talk about it a bit last night for FHE. She is terrified that the Bishop’s Interview is going to be a test of which primary songs she has memorized. (Wally Bob, you’d better not!)

    Kim, I totally did that a few months ago!

    Brian, tried that last night, with the 4 year old and the 1 year old pretending to be Tazmanian devils in the background. Not sure if it worked.

    Eric, we’re old hat at that. We’ve been doing it since she was 4 at the pool. Although last night was the first time she asked me if she could see my certification to perform the ordinance.

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 2, 2011 @ 6:59 am

  11. Definitely ask the bishop beforehand what he does for the interview. That way you can give your daughter a heads up. (You can go in with her if she would prefer). You want the bishop’s interview to be a positive thing, not a scary thing.

    Comment by jks — August 2, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  12. jks- the Bishop is her grandpa. I’ll probably have him talk to her about it over dinner before the official one. Good suggestion.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 2, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  13. You teach her that now she is a member of the only true and living church on the face of the earth; you teach her that, save Jesus Christ only, Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of men (and woman) in this world, than any man (or woman) that ever lived on it; then you teach her that to enter into the highest glory of celestial power she must enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage; after that, and finally, you teach to keep striving until she has the more sure word of prophecy, even the second comforter, to know without doubt on this earthly abode that her calling and election has been made sure and she will be a priestess in a celestial sphere. Teach her that, straight from the holy books.

    Comment by michael — August 6, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  14. “An outward expression of the first covenant she will make. But it’s such a public display that it can be mistaken for something that is between her and God and everybody else at church.”

    I’m not sure this is inaccurate. D&C 20:37 talks about witnessing before the Church that one is repentant. We also have a lot of scriptures about the community and how our covenants play out in how we treat each other. While the covenant itself is made with God, I don’t think we should overlook the reality that we covenant in holy places and times with others.

    Comment by Michelle — August 7, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  15. Greetings.

    First time visiting this site. Very interesting.

    Anyhow, I’m guessing by now your daughter has already taken the plunge. Congratulations. Baptizing your children is one of the great experiences in the life of a church family. My thoughts here are most likely too late, still I don’t have anything to lose by sharing.

    A child’s baptism fills a couple of blanks on their eternal checklist. Fulfillment of their first official ordinance. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Becoming an official member of the church and the ward. At eight, it is very likely your daughter will remember her baptism well into her life. Most likely it wont be a memory of a spiritual experience, but more of her first official act as a member of the church.

    If she understands at this point there will be several times in her life where she will be asked to perform organized tasks/ceremonies/ordinances as she grows in her testimony and faith, then me thinks you’ve got it covered very well. Her full understanding of what she has done will start making sense to her as she gets closer to twelve and prepares to leave primary. The weight of the commitment will come to her as she goes through seminary. And when the day comes, all to soon, she is preparing to enter the temple with a good and honest young man by her side, she will be ready to take on the commitment she and her husband will make in the House of the Lord.

    Regardless, she will always remember it was her daddy that baptized her.

    My son left the church at 17 for all practical purposes. After six years of following a very destructive and dark path he managed to get himself out of the gutter. He is 27 now, and still not ready to re-enter active church participation, but as I am not active he lacks a positive role model. Still, he remembers two things about the church; his baptism and when he was ordained a deacon. Those two things are the anchors that at least keep him linked to the church. He remembers his baptism because of teh event itself, not what it meant. He remembers his ordination to a Deacon because it was a powerful, spiritual event for him. For my wife and I as well.

    OK. I’m done rambling. If the event has passed, I congratulate you, your family and your daughter. If it is still to come….well, I suppose I offer the same response as the first, and remember to take pictures.

    Comment by Pog Warden — August 28, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  16. Come back to church Pog. We need you.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 28, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  17. Jacop J: LOL, Thanks. But trust me when I tell you, you dont. It is is said the gospel is true, but the people aren’t so dont let the people drive you away.

    I’m afraid that tired old line isn’t so true. You see, the “people” are the church. Way back in the day, long before Christ made his appearance, people gathered with others of the like mind to worship this god or that. As time moved forward that gathering became a church. By accident? I doubt it. From the earliest days of Adam and Eve that was the structure present for worship.

    Christ comes along and sure enough, thats the base organization of his church. Today, its still the same, regardless of your faith and beliefs folks gather together “in church” to worship. Indeed, if you take away the people, you ultimately no longer have a church, or more specific, the gospel. It’s all about the people.

    Every month our missionaries find good, honest people to baptize. two or three months later those same new and excited converts are gone because once the excitement of being new is gone, the ward loses interest. If a convert is lucky enough to have found a niche, and a fair amount do, they are in. But should that new family be just a little bit, or a lot for that matter, outside the ward politic norm, they are segregated and forgotten.

    Sure, folks say hello to them when they are in church, smile and shake their hands. If the family hasn’t been there for a couple weeks, they say how they missed them. But did even one of those, oh so very sincere folks call the outcast family during the weeks they missed. Did anyone drop by, not as a home teacher, or priesthood rep, but as a friend? How many times since they were baptized did anyone in the ward invite them over to dinner, ask then to join in for a weekend gathering.

    These type of events happen in every ward or branch every week. Dont believe me? Get with your ward mission leader and look at those the missionaries taught over the last year, how many were on the very brink of baptism, then disappeared. How many were actually baptized, and where are they now.

    My story is similar but with a few quirks in thrown in for fun. Still, years ago my son and I (He was 14) worked very hard on a family we were home teaching. A pretty normal family, but the wife was of a different race and the father worked 12 hour shifts and nights. There feelings had been hurt mostly for the reasons I mentioned above, but my son and I, my wife and daughter, finally got them to start coming back out. I tried to get other families involved with them. Of course the member families said “we’d love to, how can we help.” Not one family ever went beyond that point. Not one priesthood leader was willing to put themselves out to arrange visits just to get to know them. This was a good ward to, a happy ward. The family we home taught didn’t last two months.

    I have a testimony believe it or not. Had experiences on my mission I can never rationalize or ignore. I could still get a temple recommend, if I started attending my meetings again. My wife still press on. She’s a better person than, even though she deals with the hypocrisy of our current ward every Sunday. She’s there, three quarters of the time I suspect.

    I night even attempt going back if we moved to a new ward, though I doubt it would last long. I left the church, the social network of thinking I was gathering with like minded folks ::What a fool I was for so long:: a long time ago. I’ve paid for that decision. I was never the example and influence I could have been and my son walked away, never served a mission and is no longer interested. I have caused my wife grief over the years, though now she agrees with me. Like I said, she’s stronger than I ever was. I was a military cop and special operations team leader and I have never come close to reaching my wifes strength.

    OK, so I guess you hit me in a soft spot and got me on my wobbly old soap box. LOL, sorry about that, I suspect deleting this bit would be wisest, but I did spend the time to write it……. :-)

    So, need me? No. Want me? HAHAH….not a chance in that ever-burning hot place. And the final answer? I’m good with that.

    Comment by Pog Warden — August 29, 2011 @ 3:16 am

  18. Pog, go because you love your wife. She needs you there.

    The Baptism was great. The AC was broken at church, and it was 100 degrees, but my daughter felt good and very special.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2011 @ 12:47 pm