Today, while doing my scripture study on the train into the city, I read about when Nephi fled from his brethren after their father died, because the Lord warned him Laman and Lemuel would try to take his life. The scriptures say that he took with him his family, Sam's, Zoram's, his sisters, and "all those who would go with [him]" (2 Nephi 5:6).
I think sometimes we assume that each and every descendant of Laman and Lemuel was wicked. But as I read this verse today, it occurred to me that that may not be the case. It is very possible - and I would say probably likely - that some of their children received a knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel despite their parents' wickedness. They were living among Nephi, Sam, and other righteous giants, after all.
And as I continued to reflect upon this, I was reminded of Lehi's dying words to the children of his two eldest, his blessing that their parents would bear the pain of their sins for not having raised them in righteousness. And I have to think that at least some of those children were old enough to recognize the warning, to recognize that there was something wrong with the way they were being taught, and seek guidance and knowledge from their relatives who were strong in spirit.
It must have been so difficult for these children of Laman and Lemuel to leave their families, to fight against them in the "many contentions" they had, but - if there were, indeed, children of these two eldest who left with Nephi - they knew the truth, and they knew that their eternal salvation was at stake.
We cannot, for one second, be complacent in our circumstances if our circumstances are drawing us away from the Lord. The people we surround ourselves with have a great effect upon us, and it is imperative we choose to surround ourselves with those who choose righteously and who will support and uplift us.
This all reminded me of the second article of faith: "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression."
The sins of our fathers are not our own. We can choose to live righteously, and our choices are ultimately what is going to determine our happiness on earth and our everlasting salvation or condemnation.