Just Say No (to members)

November 7, 2008 | 67 comments
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A few months ago, a sister in our ward asked my daughter to babysit. On a Monday evening. That’s right. Monday Evening. We try to be diligent with family home evening on Monday night, so the answer needed to be “no,” but I was a bit confused about how to convey that message. If someone of another faith had called, I would have explained that we had “family plans” and so my daughter would be unable to babysit. If that someone had continued calling on Mondays, I would have used it as a missionary moment to explain our idea about a family home evening—a night set aside to be together as a family. But because the caller was a member of my ward, I was stumped. If I said, “It’s family home evening, so she can’t,” then I sound preachy and rude. If I didn’t say that, then what? Lie? Make up an excuse? Didn’t she know it was Family Home Evening? Maybe she was of the “FHE on Sunday” ilk?

I ran into similar problems when I went to college at BYU. Growing up outside Utah defined my values. Though a few teenage members chose slightly different values, I unconsciously equated my brand of morality with general Mormonism. BYU shocked me out of that belief. I found fellow students who were drastically “more faithful” and some who were drastically “less faithful”—and all would have defined themselves as active Mormons (though those guys who were drinking beer out of Sprite cans while talking about their missions had to know they were crossing some lines).

If a guy in high school had crossed one of my “morality lines,” I would have told him “no” and told myself I was following what the prophet taught. But when you come to BYU and your LDS date crosses one of your morality lines, you aren’t so sure. Especially if that date is an active member of the church, maybe an Elder’s Quorum president, and someone whose testimony you admire. Or what if the Relief Society President wears a dress you would have put back on the rack because it was immodest? Then you can’t help but wonder if you are the weird one, if you have defined lines that were not really Mormon lines at all, if what you thought was honest or chaste or true is just uptight and rigid.

Thus, I find that I struggle to defend my values to other Mormons. I do not necessarily think this is a bad thing. My high school morality was somewhat thoughtless and assumed. Being challenged helped me solidify what I, personally, believe to be true and where, exactly, I stand on certain issues and doctrines. I just find it interesting and ironic: when someone decidedly a-religious or other-religious questions my values, I leap to defend myself and do it in the name of Mormonism, but when someone of my own faith questions me, I take a big step back and question myself.

So where do you draw your “faithful” lines? And how do you handle situations when your faithful brushes up against someone else’s faithful? Because I was really stumped with the woman in my ward. I stammered around about how my daughter had been sick (true) and was really tired (true) so she couldn’t (true), but that wasn’t the whole, real or complete answer, was it?

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67 Responses to Just Say No (to members)

  1. Seth R. on November 7, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Just let it pass.

    Say “I’m sorry, she has other stuff that night.” and leave it at that. This one ain’t worth bothering with.

  2. Eric on November 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I think it’s fine to just say no, that it’s not a good time; there’s no need to give a reason, whether the person you’re talking to is LDS or not. You owe no one an explanation.

    Reading between the lines of what you’re saying, I’m wondering if you’re worried about being perceived as being judgmental, because you feel that you are. Perhaps you don’t want people to judge you the way you’re judging them. I’m just playing amateur psychologist here, so I may be way off base.

  3. Margaret on November 7, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    What\’s wrong with saying \”sorry, Monday is our family night\”. She probably doesn\’t have FHE but if she usually does she can explain \”the emergency\” for this particular Monday. If it is an emergency then perhaps she could bring her children to your home??

  4. Steve Evans on November 7, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I’d wager that most Mormons don’t have FHE. I don’t think it would have been too hard just to approach it like Seth said. If your real question is how do you stand for something without looking like a jerkish prude, that’s a little more complicated — but a healthy dose of self-deprecation and awareness can go a long way.

  5. Jane on November 7, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I’m not sure of the answer to this question, though I think it’s a valid, interesting one. (Saying you don’t owe any reasons to anyone, ever, while true, is a bit simplistic. If we never answered questions truthfully and in detail, we’d never share the gospel, right?)

    I have a dilemma:

    Next Sunday is our baptism preview. I need to attend as primary 2nd couns and mother of an almost-8 year old. I’d like my husband to come with us, but we’re encouraging parents to not bring younger siblings, so that it’ll be more special for the big kids. My next door (Mormon) neighbors have a 12 year-old I’d like to ask to babysit. But it’s Sunday — do I ask her to babysit for free bec. it’s a church thing? Or do I pay her and then ask her to “work” on Sunday?

    I’m sure this is silly and trivial, but, what would you do?

  6. Kent Larsen on November 7, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    “If someone of another faith had called, I would have explained that we had “family plans” and so my daughter would be unable to babysit.”

    Hmmm. Why wouldn’t you say “Family Home Evening” and take advantage of the opportunity to explain what that is?

    But more to your point, I agree that this is something every Mormon can expect. Long-time members sometimes bend the rules, or become amused at the rigidity of new converts striving to live the gospel.

    I’ve found myself on both sides of the question — annoyed at suggestions that I shave my mustache or wear white shirts to pass the sacrament, but shocked at the abuse of wives and children, or the failure to pay tithing, or something else that seems basic.

    I think we are all at different places in how well we know and learn the gospel. One of the advantages of living the gospel in a congregation is that we have the constant examples and even input of others to keep our own rationalizations or our irrational fanaticism in check.

    I know I’m not answering the question. My only suggestion is that what may be more important than the standards themselves is how we communicate with others. Somehow we have to combine communicating what our standards are, with the humility of knowing that we may be too rigid or too permissive, and with the understanding that we are all human, at different positions in our understanding of the gospel and progressing at different rates.

    I agree that in these situations, you should make sure the other person knows your standards. Its how you do it that makes the difference.

  7. Tom on November 7, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I generally try to avoid talking with other members about topics where I know people draw different lines. For example, when we have people over for dinner and sports comes up in the conversation I’ll usually not talk bring up the NFL because it might lead to awkward discussions about TV on the sabbath. Pretty much, my strategy is to avoid awkwardness at any cost.

    I’m much more willing to talk (or argue) about these things with family and close friends. Also, online with total strangers.

    Being around the blogs has been for me a little bit like how you describe your experience at BYU, especially with regards to members criticizing and contradicting the Church. I draw the line of appropriate dissent much closer to “toeing the line” than many bloggers. I think I may have readjusted a little bit but I’m still not comfortable with a lot of what many good members write. So I pretty much follow my dinner conversation strategy on that issue: I just kind of avoid the subject.

  8. danquixote on November 7, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t see anything wrong with saying, “Sorry, we have Family Night on Mondays.” If the friend gets offended, that’s up to her, but as an active Mormon, she should respect your family for holding Monday evening as sacred family time.

  9. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Tom–you made me laugh out loud. So true! Why am I talking about this online with total strangers rather than the woman in my ward???

  10. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Eric, you’re a pretty good amatuer psychologist, as far as I can tell. Of course I’m judgmental, but I’m trying hard not to be. The question is whether I’m judging things accurately as far as my own righteousness is concerned–because sometimes it throws me for a loop when people I consider to be faithful have vastly different ideas of what constitutes righteousness.

  11. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Okay, Steve Evans has intrigued me. As long as I’m measuring everyone’s righteousness, how about answering his question:

    Do you have FHE or no?

    We do. Of course, sometimes it’s “read-a-thon” night like last Monday (so I can keep reading my books). But we were all together reading. I count that.

  12. Jay S on November 7, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Interesting point.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking someone to babysit on monday night. Growing up, we had FHE on tuesday, because my brother had extracurricular things on monday.

    Nor do I think there is anything wrong with asking someone to babysit on Sunday. My wife and have young children and are frequently at church meetings at the same time. I have had a few babysitters say they wouldn’t accept pay for this, but I insisted, and told them they could put it in the mission funds. about 1/4 refuse any payment.
    (Jane – ask her to babysit. Offer to pay her. If she doesn’t want to accept payment, that is her choice and she will get blessings. Or she accepts payment and will still get blessings for allowing you to do church work)

    But I don’t think you should feel awkward in telling the family that you have FHE. It would be no different than saying, I have soccer, or I have a debate meet. There should be no condescension though. Its just a fact. Make no insinuation that “well shouldn’t you be too?” and you will be fine. I think the evasive answer would be more offensive, because it might appear that your not saying FHE would hurt their feelings. As if something was wrong with them.

    I found I used to code my discussions about the church. Instead of saying “someone in the ward” I would say “someone I know” or “one of my neighbors”. Now I am straight out with it. Why can’t I meet for cocktails? I have to help out with the Youth group at my church. or “We talked about that in my sunday school class”. Maybe this was just my sensitivity, but I have seen it in a few others as well.

    A little while ago, one of the counselors in the stake presidency was surprised at how many active, recommend holding members would come in, and not think it a problem to drink a beer, or watch pornography. These aren’t the less actives coming back, but strong members who didn’t even think it something to be worried about. Shocking.

    So you do what you think is right, and don’t be ashamed about it, but respect the rights of others to feel differently.

  13. tanya on November 7, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t see anything wrong with saying that it is Family Night, even to members of the church. First you are assuming she doesn’t have family Night. Maybe they do it a different night. Most important though is to stand up for what your family is doing. You are telling someone that this night is important and she is not available.

    I know there were times when I had concerts on Monday night, we needed babysitters. Rehersing the Messiah on Sunday my husband and I needed to find help.

    What ever the case, never feel that you have to feel embarrassed for you standards. I find that happening too much lately. That those of us with more conservative views need to feel apologetic for our choices, when we shouldn’t have to feel that way.

  14. Steve Evans on November 7, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Kylie, I’ll put up a poll for you at BCC about it if you’d like. I’m willing to wager that most families do not have FHE on a regular basis. I don’t think it’s a righteousness issue, though.

  15. iguacufalls on November 7, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, “Sorry, we’re having FHE tonight.” If you keep the preachiness out of your voice, then it should go over well. (There’s also nothing wrong with a subtle jab if you feel like it… )

    Regarding the lines – Heavenly Father will never be upset with us being TOO righteous. Of course that includes being humble, teachable and non-judgemental. So, the higher we set our personal “faithful lines” the better, as long as we are sensitive that others might have se theirs higher or lower than us and we don’t consider them “wicked” or “unfaithful” or ourselves as “better.”

    The other part of this is that different people’s lines might be at different levels at different things. For example, I might take a high reading on the Word of Wisdom, avoiding even caffeinated drinks but I might feel like it’s not a big deal to take $50 to the casino on a business trip and call it a night of entertainment. Someone else on the other hand, might be inclined to drink a Coke but avoid casinos altogether on moral grounds. So, who’s better? Neither. We’d basically have testimonies of different principles.

  16. Mark Brown on November 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    In a ward where we used to live, one of the families chose not to answer their phone on Monday evenings.

    If you called, you got a message that said: ‘We are having Family Home Evening. Why aren’t you?”

  17. bbell on November 7, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Growing up we did FHE on Sunday cause of all the week-day activities. It worked better that way for us. Our current Monday night FHE’s take about 10 minutes cause of lack of attention span.

    This kind of stuff is not worth offending people over.

  18. Kylie on November 7, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Do it, Steve. Though of course we’re polling the apostate world of bloggers, so it’s hardly a representative sample. [smile]

  19. Nate W. on November 7, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Jane (5):

    Having her do it for free doesn’t mean it isn’t work. Pay her double in appreciation of the fact that she would be willing to watch your kids on a Sunday.

  20. Ian Cook on November 7, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Jane,

    My wife and I both have callings where we often have to be away at the same time. I’m in the Elders Quorum Presidency, and she is in the Young Womens Presidency. We have three kids, 8, 6 and 3. When a situation like that comes up, we usually just bring the kids with us. I would personally feel weird about paying someone to babysit on Sunday. On top of that, as much as possible, I try to spend as much time with my family as possible on Sunday. I think a baptism is a great place to take your kids. My personal philosophy is that, when church business gets in the way of family, family comes first.

  21. JillM on November 7, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I totally relate to what Jay S said. I used to visit with another mother while we waited to pick up our kindergarteners and she was always saying Jesus this and Jesus that in very casual conversation. I realized that I had no doubt that this woman was a Christian and attended church on a regular bais, but that I had probably given her zero indication of my own, deeply held spiritual beliefs. Why is that so hard for us Mormons? I think Eric nailed it. It’s because I am a judgmental religious snob. I’m working on it…

    But tolerance seems to be a double edged sword and I’m unsure of which direction to slice.

  22. Kylie on November 7, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    So we’re about evenly divided between just say no (no explanation), be nice or say it straight. No wonder I’m having a problem with this.

    I will probably lean toward the “be nice” side of things, but that brings up another host of issues, in my opinion. My students just had a very disturbing discussion last week (which I let run long since they were obviously engaged) about the pressure they feel to be nice. They have a difficult time expressing negative emotions or opinions at all, except anonymously or through completely other outlets (ie sports). Interesting.

  23. Kylie on November 7, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Jane–I was YW pres while my husband was in the bishopric. We had that crisis at least two Sundays per month for a couple of years because of various meetings. I never knew what to do. I pulled in every favor I could, but I didn’t feel right about asking for babysitting on Sunday — especially on a consistent basis. I insisted on paying when I had to resort to babysitting. I begged neighbors, mooched off friends, and sometimes just brought my 2 little ones to the meetings.

  24. Kristine on November 7, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    This is tricky–I once had a mother’s helper whose mother was horrified that I had made peppermint tea for the children’s tea party. Their family interpreted the WofW as forbidding anything hot made with leaves of any kind. In this case, I didn’t feel judged because I thought their interpretation was wrong, so I could judge them :) But you’re right that what ought to be a simple answer “we have FHE that night” could easily lead to misunderstanding and offense.

    What’s the line Chieko Okazaki used to use? “In principles, great clarity; in practices, great charity.” It’s clear that charity needs to flow from those whose practice is more perfect to those who struggle, but it seems to me that the charity has to flow both ways–we strugglers have to be charitable both towards those who seem to be judging us, but also to ourselves, so that we won’t be so quick to assume that there is judgment or condemnation where there is merely a difference.

  25. maren on November 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I will try and say this kindly, but the OP comes off a tad bit snobby, as if people should never have a reason to need a babysitter on Monday night if they are LDS. Maybe you left out part of the story? Maybe you knew it was for something frivolous? My husband has classes Monday night, so we do not have FHE then. I travel a lot for work, so our FHE rotates. There have been times that something has come up where I need someone’s help, even on a Monday night. It just seems a little weird to me that you would automatically assume they would get offended. If I called someone, and they said, no they had family home evening, I would either explain why it was really needed, or just call someone else.

  26. Steve Evans on November 7, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Kylie, here you go.

  27. Tony on November 7, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Re. #21- “…Jesus this and Jesus that in very casual conversation.”

    Was she taking His name in vain as in profanity? Is that why you found it troubling?

  28. Julie M. Smith on November 7, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I wouldn’t make too many assumptions about the other party: we always have FHE, and have it on Monday, and have a standard lesson-based FHE, (so big orthodoxy points there) . . . but I have little kids and so it takes maybe 15 minutes. And we do it early to avoid messing up the bedtime routine. So we might very well have it from 6:30-6:45 and you would see me at Half Price Books at 7pm on a Monday and assume I was an apostate when I’m really much more righteous than the lot of you. :)

  29. Tom Rod on November 7, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Really? This is the concern of the hour?

    Brutal and total honesty. Anything less is demeaning to a child of God.

    See, not so hard :-D

  30. Karen on November 7, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Kylie, I think your students discussion brings up an interesting point. There is a lot of pressure to be nice. Even if we are doing what we have been counseled to do as members of the LDS Church, such as having FHE on monday evenings. We don\’t want to make anyone feel bad if they aren\’t having FHE. So it is hard to say we are.

    Family Home Evening is often (usually?) hard to hold. Our family has had times when we had it on another night because of my husbands class schedule. But that didn\’t change the fact that the leaders of the church have asked us to keep monday nights for families. The exception doesn\’t change the rule.

    I guess I mean to say that you (and I, because I have the same feelings!) shouldn\’t be afraid to say kindly that it is our family night. And then if that person was to share their reason for needing a babysitter, we would weigh the reasons and see if it changes our answer.

  31. JillM on November 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    #27 Not at all. More like “Bless Jesus” or “Thank Jesus” in a very sincere way. Not troubling, but not how mormons speak either. I’m feeling a little off topic here though….sorry.

  32. JM on November 7, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    re: #6

    If you are foolish enough to ask both parents to be at the baptismal preview and you don’t allow small children to attend, well, you’re going to have problems.

    If it’s that important to you exclude the smaller children, then maybe as a primary presidency, you could arrange for some other members of the presidency or primary board to open up the nursery and look after any small children of parents who would otherwise be unable to attend.

    Or, you could stop trying to fit the people to the needs of your program and instead fit the program to the needs of the people.

  33. Ranbato on November 7, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Whenever my wife an I have had callings where meetings overlapped we have either 1) brought our children or, more often, 2) one of us has stayed home. When we inform them we can’t make the meeting or people call to ask why we missed the meeting, we tell them. They usually reschedule the meetings.

    Behavior doesn’t change if people aren’t informed that they need to change it.

  34. Russell Arben Fox on November 7, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Sunday Spiritual Time, rather than FHE. Worked for my parents in my family while I was growing up, it’s working for us now.

  35. mike on November 7, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I think some people have different perspectives of what is FHE.

    For us it is not just one more church meeting with a prayer/song/lesson. My children never stood for that kind of thing. How long does it have to last, like the kids get home from school at about 4:00 and often stay up until after midnight with homework. Are they forbidden from doing anything else during that 8 hour stretch on Monday night? I think if what you are doing often turns into Famly Home Screaming, you might be missing the point.

    Actually I have very vague memories of back in the early 1960′s when the church made Family Home Evening the exclusive Monday night Mormon activity and first started locking the wardhouse up. Something about the FHE program has always bothered me and it took me years to figure it out. I may not be able to explain it clearly but here is my best shot.

    With FHE it was like the church was saying: we own you for every other night of the week and all day Sat and Sun. We give you these few hours with your family, not as relaxation, but as another meeting for you to plan and execute. Then we will not feel the least bit hesitant to take you out of your home any other time for any other reason, regardles of how flimsy. If you object or even whimper, you are not fulfilling temple covenants to devote your all to the building of the Kingdom. The Pioneers…..

    So as far as I am concerned EVERY NIGHT IS FAMILY HOME EVENING AT MY HOUSE. My family comes first. Church work, especialy that not directly connected to my teenage children is a distant second. Now, my children are involved in a variety of activities and we don’t keep them chained at home all the time and we have to make some choices. But this helps me to decide, is this worth it to a life long member who bends the rules, to disrupt FHE? Affirmative answers might include: well planned YM/YW activities (but few are well planned), missionaries over for dinner (to flirt with my daughter?), etc. Not home teaching, not missionary splits, not temple sessions; not for my family at this crucial time.

    Our non-LDS boy scout troop meets on Monday night and my son attends that. A weekly recital for our musical daughter is acceptable. One option I have found to be excellent for babysitting conflicts is to have my daughter (or son) bring the children she watchs to our house and then they can spend time with us as a family; but she has to not sluff off the responsibility to mom. And a few other activities are allowed if they are finished before about 6:00 pm. We eat dinner together as a family even if we have to eat at 10:00 pm.

    I guess if you think it might be rude for me to do something preachy about my version of FHE on say a Thursday night, then you might not want to do it on Monday night either, eh? Paying for things on Sunday is another slippery slope but we are all already doing it. Police, fire, hospitals, etc. Your A/C (furnace in Utah) and electricity and water are running all day. Is it acceptable to buy stamps for a letter to a missionary from a machine on Sunday? So many grey areas; I think you have to read the Bible about the Pharisees, apply some common sense and the Lord knows where your heart is at.

  36. Roland on November 7, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    #30 / #34 -

    Several years ago our family moved FHE from Monday Night to Sunday Afternoon. It increase spirituallity of the Sabbath significantly and it freed up Monday night for kids to get more homework done.

  37. John Taber on November 7, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Growing up, once things started to get busy, we had FHE on Sunday afternoon. The way I look at it, Monday night isn’t reserved so that we all sit down and have FHE, but rather that we have a fighting chance for it and in any event get a bit of a break. That is, no meetings, no phone calls, no home teachers/visiting teachers/other members dropping by at the last minute. (I will send and receive email if I’m not busy with something else.) Some people in my ward have at times called (“You’re not having home evening right now, are you?” No, because Alisa’s in class) or wanted to come home teaching “after home evening”. Since I maintain the ward website (for now), I put “Family Home Evening” on the calendar for every Monday, hoping to send a message my own special way.

    Once in a while I hear of a town in Utah or Idaho that looks at not having sporting events on Monday night. Each one comes to the conculsion that, given the facilities they have, they could stop having games on Monday when they started having them Sunday.

  38. John Mansfield on November 7, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Sunday Spiritual Time sounds nice, but not as broad as Family Home Evening, like the difference of Primary compared with cub scouts and achievement days.

  39. My other Brother Jones on November 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I think nobody has yet answered the central question, and I think the author answered it in the original post.
    \”What do you do when you feel you must defend your Mormon Standards to other Mormons?\”
    The answer is that you rethink your own stand on the issue. You make a judgement about whether you are too strict or too liberal in your own standards. And you go on continuing to adhere to your own standards.
    There is nothing wrong with changing oyur stance after reflection, and nothing wrong with getting more entrenched in your position after some reflection.

    But a knee-jerk judgement followed by an offesive remark is not the asnwer, but sometimes it slips out.

    As for myself, I grew up thinking that all my non-mormon friends and many of my mormon frinds were breaking commandments because they did not make homemade bread. (they had that store-bought pre-sliced stuff, which I coveted, but I was martyr for the cause)

  40. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Maren 25–they were going to a movie. But, actually, I’m not sure it matters; I was just using it for an example. We’re stuck on FHE, which is fine, but I was really asking about the broader issue: what to do when my faithful brushes by/crashes up against someone else’s faithful. I don’t want to be holier-than-thou, but I do want to do what’s right (for me); I don’t want to make others in my ward/neighborhood (which is pretty much the same thing here in Provo) feel bad/judged, but that’s hard when your choice involves explicit Mormon values or ideals.

  41. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Other Brother Jones, I’m hearing you about being jealous of store-bought bread. My mom only bought it for camping trips, and we were so excited we couldn’t stand it. What was I thinking? And thanks for picking up on the overall issues. I like talking about FHE, but it’s really much broader than that.

  42. moksha on November 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I\’m with maren on this one. Seems a wee bit judgmental up front when you\’re already assuming that someone else doesn\’t hold FHE or in making comments about the relief society pres\’ dress. Who cares what she\’s wearing? Why are you measuring your level of \’weirdness\’, lines, or boundaries against anothers\’? If you don\’t want your daughter to babysit because that is a night you don\’t allow it– for FHE, or for whatever reason, then you should be able to say that without lying or covertly answering in any way. You can be polite and as kind as you can– and that would probably be a wonderful thing to do– but you still can respond with truth and let the chips fall where they may.

  43. Toria on November 7, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    While I don’t think that any ward member has cause to feel judged or get offended if you simply say that you need your daughter home for Family Home Evening, I can imagine that some people would feel judged. I think that because the phrase “Family Home Evening” was coined by the brethren and is used so frequently in the context of discussing what righteous families do, that the phrase itself can carry some guilt with it. Using another way of saying FHE, such as saying “We have a family event/family plans” might come across a little more friendly while at the same time not sugarcoating the reason why your daughter cannot babysit.

    We shouldn’t feel locked into using LDS lingo just because the person we are talking to is also LDS. And when we are talking to people of other faiths we also shouldn’t feel that we need to use LDS lingo just to have a missionary opportunity. I like what JayS [12] said about freely bringing up church in our conversations and I would add that nothing is lost by saying “Family time” instead of “FHE” just as nothing is lost by saying “Youth Group” instead of “Young Women’s”

  44. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Moksha, I hear what you are saying. It does sound judgmental. I’m wondering: how do you avoid being judgmental? What if your daughter asks for a dress like so-and-so’s, and you have to say, “No, we don’t wear dresses cut like that.” You don’t mean to be judging so-and-so, but you really can’t help it. As soon as you draw a line for yourself, you are implicitly saying that your line is what you think is best . . . and then doesn’t it follow that you disagree with someone else’s choice?

    Of course, not always. I can choose to have FHE on Monday and you can on Sunday. Who cares?

    But if my LDS date wants to french kiss and I think that it’s immoral (so I say no), then how is it possible to avoid implicitly judging his standards?

  45. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    #43 Toria–I agree with what you are saying about LDS lingo. I have found people of other faiths understand me better when I alter LDS lingo just a bit. I have yet to encounter someone of another faith who is anything but supportive of our family’s goal to spend some “family time” together on Monday evenings.

  46. Steve Evans on November 7, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Our non-representative poll has about 175 respondents thus far, and I am losing in my wager.

  47. moksha on November 7, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Kylie- I think that Toria said what I felt but in a different way. Also, I totally understand what you are saying.. We all have to make judgment calls throughout life. The point I was trying to make was that I want to try to be careful to judge not unrighteously.

    If we are talking about teaching children versus just not liking what another woman in your ward wears– One example might be that if your daughter wants to wear a dress that you don’t feel comfortable allowing her to– it can always be just about her and her own special body and not about someone else. ie… Well sweetie because I believe so strongly that you are very special and so is your body and that we want to value that and show reverence and respect for that great gift- we want to make sure that our clothing supports that as well, and so I would prefer that your dress look like this… and that is not to say that this other person is not a good person because they might not know that or might feel totally differently.. etc etc.. or something to that effect. Versus a negative remark or comment about another person’s attire. Same with the kissing thing– You can always stand up for what you believe is truly important without expecting the other person to have the same standards/ideas as you do. And without judging them negatively for having different standards than you do. Kind of like what iguacufalls said about one person not wanting to spend money gambling but avoids caffeine while another wants to drink their caffeine and not gamble and so forth. To each his own.

    A woman in my ward remarked the other day, how she was so proud of her daughter (11 years old) because she came home to tell her that she wouldn’t be friends with so and so because she had a second piercing in one ear. She was just so proud of her daughter and hoped that she always stayed like that. I would hope that my daughter would instead be loving and kind and respectful of others’ views, habits, beliefs and try to still uphold her own and set an example of what she dearly believed in. Does that make sense?

  48. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Totally makes sense. I really like your advice about focusing back on the child and the choice, rather than on someone else. I actually think we agree far more than we disagree. Do we disagree? Probably not. We’re all trying to raise discerning, loving children, too–and to be a discerning, loving parent. It’s not always easy, is it?

    I have to say that the stickiest judging issues don’t really come up for me in my relationships with casual ward-member acquaintances, but with family members. It is probably the hazzard of coming from a family with 7 daughters (1 son). All of us sisters are making justifiably different choices in regards to marriage, child raising and etc. It’s hard for all of us not to take someone else’s choice as a criticism of your own choice. So, along with not judging others, we probably all need a healthy dose of not getting offended, huh?

  49. moksha on November 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Agreed. Completely. ;)

    Its all a personal choice — the choice not to get offended and the choice not to judge unfairly.

    No one can give us that option (thankfully we were already given that agency)- we just have to choose not to be offended when someone says something we may not like. And you can’t take that option (to be or not to be) away from someone even if you are as nice and good as you can possibly be.

    And for what its worth– I’m guessing you are doing better than you think you are doing as a parent/sister, etc.. We are all not quite as good as we might think, and we are all not ever quite as bad as we might think either.

  50. Velska on November 7, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    On the Monday night question, I would absolutely say, in a neutral, matter-of-fact tone, that it won’t work, because we’re having FHE (been there, done that, same as being asked by members to work on Sundays – and not on medical emergencies, either).

  51. queuno on November 7, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Several years ago our family moved FHE from Monday Night to Sunday Afternoon. It increase spirituallity of the Sabbath significantly and it freed up Monday night for kids to get more homework done.

    I thought the point was to already have a spiritual Sabbath, and to then have a weeknight devoted to the family. Doubling them up doesn’t quite seem right.

    On that note – our family holds FHE on Tuesday. We let the home teachers know, and we try to structure our callings around it. (Because my wife has a very important commitment each Monday night, the alternative to which is Sunday.) Once a HT complained that he wanted to come on a Tuesday, so we invited him on Monday to come (which he refused). We also refuse HT/VT on Sundays. I’m a jerk.

  52. Timer on November 7, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    You should just say,

    “My family and I have chosen to follow the prophet’s counsel to reserve Monday for Family Home Evening.”

    If an awkward silence ensues, you might add, as reassurance,

    “However, your decision to ignore that counsel in no way diminishes my love for you as a fellow child of God.”

    and possibly,

    “Hate the sin, love the sinner — that’s the way I feel.” ;)

  53. Drex Davis on November 7, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Your point about “wondering if you’re the weird one” when the LDS people you admire are crossing lines you thought all members followed really resonated with me.

    When I arrived at BYU (as a post-mission-experience Junior) I was shocked at the movies that more than a few of the people in my ward and on my block – mostly RMs – watched. It wasn’t just the ratings of the movies – R’s were most common – but the specific themes and content of the movies, particularly the sexual content.

    It was, of course, disappointing to see so many people I respected giving lip service the honor code. But that wasn’t what bothered/shocked me most. I was never much an honor-code Nazi.

    I had expected when I arrived at BYU to see people in general trying to at least “keep crap out of their minds.”

    But on reflection that unmet expectation didn’t really surprise me all that much either because of course we all face temptation and at times compromise our beliefs – I shouldn’t have thought BYU students would be any different (maybe that’s a sad commentary, but that was my conclustion).

    BUT – and I’m getting to my point – what really did surprise me and what bothered me most was that they didn’t even try to hide it, or keep it private, or express any embarrasment about it, or even show the slightest hint of understanding that that it just might be a behavior somewhat unbecoming a Latter-Day Saint (much less a student at BYU).

    It was the casualness, the openness, and the non-chalance with which it was treated.

    There were other points of behavior like this that surprised me, but that was the one that jumped out at me right away. One of the first nights I was there I left a house party where a questionable R movie was about to be aired and I got looks from people – not of disbelief, not of scorn, not of peer pressure – but of a complete wondering, a lack of understanding as to why I wouldn’t stay. Like it would not have even dawned on them that the content of the movie might have been offensive to a latter-day saint.

    It was my first realization that I may have been an LDS exception when I was raised in a home where we actually tried to adhere pretty strictly to general counsel from church leaders.

    Over time I came to suspect that more and more. In fact, I once dated a girl who told me that after President Kimball counselled members not to see R rated movies that her parents came down with a new rule for her family that the family was no longer allowed to go to R-rated movies . . . (wait for it) . . . on Sundays . . . Sundays was just for PG and PG-13 movies. I guess I should commend them for trying. I know old habits are hard to break.

    For me, I just couldn’t keep the spirit when I let crap media into my eyes, ears, memory, but I learned that there are a lot of Mormons for whom this doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    I’ve learned that for many members FHE is in the same category. Not nearly as many people practice it as we’d think. And those who don’t assume that other don’t.

    You’d think they’d still refrain from calling you in the off chance that you did honor it. But like my friends who think that the counsel to avoid R-rated movies is something that “no one really follows anyway”, they may be surprised to find that others, yes, actually do follow it . . .

  54. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks, Timer. By the 52nd comment, I wasn’t really expecting to laugh out loud. But I did. Happy Day!

  55. Kylie Turley on November 7, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    “It was the casualness, the openness, and the non-chalance with which it was treated.”

    Drex, I’m sorry about your experience, but I’m a bit glad to hear I wasn’t the only one. I thought I was past being naive after watching friends and their choices in high school. And in some ways, that was true. I remember going dancing one night at the Ivy Tower (it was the 90′s, my friends) and being questioned by college roommates after I left a guy on the dance floor. “Well,” I said. “He was drunk and about to pass out on me.” They were stunned–and had no idea how I had “known” the guy was drinking. So, yes, growing up in Wyoming taught me the smell of alcohol. But it didn’t prepare me at all for the at-times hostile, gossiping, and backstabbing environment of the Brigham Young University Student Service Association, nor for the obscenity-screaming if other cars cut one off in traffic, nor for a host of other choices that I though “all Mormons” agreed with me about. I guess we all have to learn the hard way that Mormons are people, too–both for good and for ill.

  56. AZ on November 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    After surviving (barely) the teenage years with my 3 kids, I feel that we as LDS families are hoping and expecting support from our fellow members. Like the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child” and we turn to our fellow members who we expect to have the same beliefs and standards. It’s difficult enough to battle with our own teens over these types of issues alone but it seems to compound the issues when it’s their fellow ward members or LDS friend’s who don’t have a curfew on a Friday night, or the phone rings off the hook during the attempts at FHE and the calls are all from their Mormon friends begging them to come out and do something “fun.”

    I do understand completely that everyone is on a different page at a different time in life and not everyone has grasped the importance of the same principles. But I do think that we expect more from our fellow church members and it feels like we are being let down when we don’t feel the support. Also on the same token, being rabid over others “flexibility” with issues that we may feel aren’t that flexible has caused me to question at times which issues deserve being made a big deal over. Though it’s frustrating during the time, we ultimately can’t blame others when our kids make choices that aren’t in accordance with what we hoped for them, just like we can’t blame our neighbors when they do the same. My point is that we can and should say No to others on the things we feel are important for our families, but the key is to do it simply and not in a negative way.

  57. Juliann on November 7, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    My mother loaned me out to her friends without asking me on a regular basis so I’m sure I overcompensated with my own daughter. But there is an advantage to letting your daughter deal with this herself….the parent doesn’t come off as the guardian of good. No one expects a kid to say more than “Sorry, I can’t do it that night”.

  58. Alison Moore Smith on November 8, 2008 at 4:58 am

    I echo #2. When I say “no” I don’t justify it for anyone else. It’s no one’s business WHY I choose not to do something.

    But if you WANT to justify it, you could do what I tell the audiences in my speeches to say, “I’m sorry. I have an appointment.” If that appointment is FHE or date night or a bubble bath or with your pillow makes no difference. YOU set the priorities for your life, not your neighbor.

    Once, in 1995, I actually called a YW in the ward to baby sit on a Monday night. It was our 10th anniversary and all our kids were still young. I called the BISHOP’s wife, told her I knew it was FHE, but asked if there was any chance of her kids babysitting. She thought it was a good reason to ask for a babysitter on Monday and consented. I was grateful.

    As for BYU shock, I grew up mostly in Orem and my shock was going to BYU and having RM’s constantly “trying stuff.” My reaction was, “What’s wrong with ME that they are doing this?” It took me a good long time to figure out it was THEM.

    But if my LDS date wants to french kiss and I think that it’s immoral (so I say no), then how is it possible to avoid implicitly judging his standards?

    First, totally go for the french kiss. Then realize it’s not immoral, it’s awesome. Then you avoid that judging problem all together.

    Hmmm. Maybe it was me…

  59. Sarah on November 8, 2008 at 11:29 am

    My family was atrocious about Family Home Evening – we homeschooled, so my sisters and mom and I were literally together learning, often about churchy stuff, easily six hours a day. Later when I was in college, my sister and I would sit at home together on a Saturday, talking about churchy stuff all day long, and then get into a conversation about how our family is a bunch of heathens for not doing FHE. Even when we were 100%-tithing, no-shopping-on-Sundays, lets-buy-caffeine-free-Coke type Mormons (it comes and goes with us, especially since we’re sufficient introverts that church usually feels like torture even when we’d actually be willing to spend all day Sunday reading the Ensign and watching old General Conference videos) we never really did FHE. We’d can food together or sew quilts together or read scriptures together (my mom taught Seminary to just my sister and some kids who never showed up) but never, ever FHE. I think it was the artificialness of the whole exercise. I’m rather confident that when I have kids, they’ll be available for babysitting on Mondays.

    Having said that? I don’t think a single one of my family members would ask another Mormon to babysit on Monday, except if they were known to be in an FHE-on-some-other-day family. Good grief, half of my family has taught in Primary; we know the song. Maybe if it was 1945 and no one knew about FHE and no one quite stuck it on a particular day (like coffee in 1870.) But come on, we’re Mormons, it’s 2008, we know this stuff. Same goes with all the other “Mormons don’t” things — we all know where the lines are.

    (For the record, my personal boundaries are such that I have no trouble saying “AAAAK, DON’T DO THAT!!” to boyfriends regardless of religious affiliation. But, I’m really bad about actually managing to date LDS guys. I am so not a celestial person.)

  60. Kylie Turley on November 8, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Juliann 57–good advice. Obviously this was difficult for me to negotiate and it would have been hard for my daughter, too–but a great learning experience!

    Thanks for the laugh, Alison. You know, I was about to write something more about the pleasures of kissing, but I think I’ll just let it be. You probably don’t need any more personal information about me than you already have!

    Interesting experience, Sarah. I can relate in some ways. We weren’t homeschooled but we did spend a lot of time together. I guess FHE could have seemed artificial, except that most of the rest of our time together was working or recreation. So one formal lesson time didn’t seem out of line. I think because my parents did it from the get-go, we were brainwashed. It never occurred to me to have a bad attitude or refuse to participate or anything like that because FHE was just what we had always done. And I think it’s great that you have no trouble with personal boundaries. I hope that quality isn’t as rare as I think it is!

  61. Left Field on November 8, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    One autumn evening during the World Series, and two months after my wife and I were married, the bishop called and asked if we could meet with him the following evening. Ain’t nothing comes between me and the Fall Classic. I just told him I wasn’t available that day and suggested a more appropriate day. It didn’t make sense for me to go to the interview and resent it, and I didn’t see any reason to explain myself. My wife was surprised at how easy it was to say no if you don’t have to explain.

  62. jks on November 9, 2008 at 2:29 am

    Kylie,
    If your child is old enough to babysit, she should be old enough to potentially accept or decline a job. What are her choices? What would she say?
    1. Let me ask my mom. I’m sorry she says I can’t tonight.
    2. Let me ask my mom. I’m sorry I’m not available.
    3. Let me ask my mom. She says I can’t babysit on Mondays.
    4. Let me ask my mom. She says we are having FHE. Sorry.
    5. Actually I”m not allowed to babysit on Mondays.
    6. Sorry I’m not available tonight/Monday. I have too many things going on.\
    7. We usually do family things on Monday nights, so I’m not available then.
    What would you tell her if the woman called and spoke to your child and then she was the one asking if she could babysit? What would you want her to say about your family’s values/plans? What would she be comfortable saying? Use that as a guide. There might be years of her babysitting and you might as well establish guidelines. It is ok for her clients to know these rules and guidelines.

  63. Katie on November 9, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Growing up outside of Utah helped me to define my values because most of my friends were not members of the church. At the same time, it also helped me realize that different members have different ideas of where to draw the line. All the time I saw other kids doing things I knew were definitely not okay, yet see those same kids treated like pillars of righteousness by leaders who either didn’t know about their behavior or who didn’t care. For a while as a teenager this was a major problem for me, and for a while I turned into a self-righteous goody two-shoes who ended up just alienating everyone else and doing more harm than good. Then, I got over it.

    Since then, I figure what everybody does is their own business. What matters is that I am living the way I believe I should. It is sooo much more important to just be friends to everyone and to support each other in a not-judging-at-all kind of way. If they are “sinning” then it’s their problem, and when I make it my problem I’m the one who’s sinning.

    I think you are way overthinking this thing. You should just have said, “That would interfere with our FHE plans, maybe another night?” Then give her the benefit of the doubt – maybe she has FHE on Sunday, maybe they have a short FHE earlier in the evening, and even if they don’t it isn’t really any of your business.

  64. Kylie Turley on November 9, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    jks–thanks. Ever since whoever it was suggested that my daughter should decide, I’ve been thinking down the exact same lines. What would I want/expect my daughter to say? Well obviously I should be an example of that, myself. The interesting thing is that the woman asked for me and then asked if my daughter could babysit. So, while it’s great advice (letting my daughter make her own choices), the situation was such that I had to decide.

    Katie, of course you’re right. I am totally over-thinking it. But it has been fun to talk about with all of you! And I thought the little survey at By Common Consent was fascinating.

  65. Kylie Turley on November 9, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks Steve Evans for doing the survey. Latest count = we’re tied. I guess it’s a good thing we never decided what one won if one won.

  66. Amanda on November 9, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Umm, have you considered allowing your daughter to answer for herself? If she is babysitting, then it would seem that she is at an age where she can a) decide what to do and b) figure out how to address the person confronting her with this little dilemma. Also, might you have considered that this person in the ward had a one-time emergency come up and was desperate for help? I don\’t think it is fair to immediately assumed that this person is asking you to lower your morals. Remember that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Perhaps you daughter could be doing a greater service that fulfills a higher law. Let her figure out the situation. Why is this your dilemma? When I was growing up, we would hold family nights on whatever night worked best–sometimes we even held family night two or three times a week, because it just worked out so well that week. Remember that guidelines can always be reworked and reshaped to fit families and individuals.

  67. Amanda on November 9, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Additional thought. I think it is a grievous mistake to think that making your own decisions and setting your own lines is an “implicit judgment” of someone else. I attend grad school, and at every event we have, alcohol is provided. When I choose the San Peligrino, I do not see it as a judgment of my cohorts who choose the wine–it is simply my own decision. Each decision everyone makes is laden with so many environmental and individual factors that our lines are simply different. If you operate under the paradigm that you simply cannot understand everything that went into another’s decision, then making your own will not be a judgment of them. But I still stand by what I said earlier that it seems like a big problem that this FHE situation was entirely your dilemma and not your daughter’s. Where does her agency fall into this equation? If you have taught her right, which I’m sure you have, then it seems that this would be a perfect time to let her figure out how to set her own lines when others “test” them.

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