One of my favorite non-gospel books is one called Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt. It's all about an economists perspective of the world and added mathematical value to things that aren't normally viewed as quantifiable. I wouldn't recommend it if you don't have interest in random economic trivia, but there is one chapter that I wanted to share a little bit about today.
The chapter is called What Makes a Perfect Parent? It's mostly about a study that the U.S. Department of Education conducted in the late 1990's that measured academic progress of 20,000+ children K-5 from across the country. This study is referred to as the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study or ECLS. They measured 16 different factors that might affect a child's ability to test well and interviewed their parents to see whet they did to affect those factors. I thought the conclusion that the author came to was extremely interesting. He states, "[B]y the time most people pick up a parenting book, it is far too late. Most of the things that matter were decided long ago--who you are, whom you married, what kind of life you lead...[I]t isn't so much a matter of what you do as a parent; it's who you are."
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so great at making us (almost) "perfect parents" because it teaches us this concept to us from the beginning. It's never about making us act a certain way, even though many people see our church as such, but it's about making us into good people through exercising our free will righteously and helping others (especially in our families) to do so also.
"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."
-Boyd K. Packer
"The most important of the Lord's work you will ever do will be within the walls of you own homes."
-Harold B. Lee
So, there it is. It's not about fancy schools or the newest toys, the greatest factor in who your children will become is who you are. It's about being the best you and passing that "bestness" on to your children. And who would be a better example of this than our own Father in Heaven. He is constantly teaching us to be perfect like Him and His Begotten Son, and even though we are not there yet, He gets to rejoice in our little triumphs and our willingness to try.