Often as parents, we see pain, disillusionment and hopelessness in our children and have no idea where it comes from. We show them our love, ask them what's wrong and try to get to the bottom of it, but many times they are incapable of telling us what is bothering them.

As a single mother, I know very well that my children tried to protect me, knowing the stresses I was already under, and so they kept things to themselves, trying to work out their own solutions without the proper resources or knowledge to do so. As many times and ways as we may try to explain to them that it would be so much easier to help them if we knew the issues, they still find it difficult to unload on us or burden us.

What, then, can we do to understand their needs?

The answer is more simple than you might expect. We can take great comfort in knowing that there is someone who knows the hearts and minds of our children. We need only ask and we shall receive. But that's not all.

I have been told and I believe that once we pray to know those needs, when we take that understanding to our children, we shall speak to them the words that will touch their hearts and give them comfort in the pure knowledge that they are not alone. That someone understands them.

We have been instructed that the Lord Jesus Christ is our counselor. Our God is our Father in Heaven. The Holy Ghost is our comforter. We then should speak to them as such.

Here are some suggestions on how to pray, receive answers and address the needs of your child(ren):

Pay attention to the details surrounding your children

Notice their moods, their friends, their activities and their speech. Discuss this with the Lord in your prayers.

Pray mightily to the Lord

Formulate some ideas in your own mind and then present them on your knees and ask for confirmation whether or not you are on the right track.

Continue the process

Continue with all possibilities until you have received confirmation. In order to receive that confirmation, you must make listening a part of your prayer. At the end of your plea, stay on your knees and rid your mind of all outside influences and thoughts. Keep your mind open and just listen. The answer may come as an audible voice, a feeling, a peace or another way that you are able to receive it.

Give thanks

Once you have your answer, be sure to show your gratitude.

Ask for further guidance

Now you must figure out what to say and how to say it to your child(ren). This is just as important as knowing so that you don't further alienate them.

Set aside a special time

Don't try to talk to your child when you are in the middle of cooking dinner, driving to soccer, or helping with homework. Make the time special and with just the two of you. Go where you won't be interrupted. If you feel inspired to, ask if you can pray together before you discuss. Pour out your heart and concerns as you have been instructed by the Spirit. Look your child in the eyes. Let him or her see your unconditional love and concern.

Work out a solution

Show your child that you are in this together and willing to do what it takes to help.

Follow through

Don't drop the ball. Set up a time in the near future to meet and follow up and discuss how things are going.

The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home. Make it count. Take the job seriously. There are eternal consequences to our efforts. Speak to God as your father; take counsel from the Savior; listen to the Holy Spirit.

I testify to you that this works. It has worked for me. It will work for you.

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