Now, Even Stronger Youth!

December 14, 2011 | 83 comments
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The Church announced that it has released a revised Strength of Youth pamphlet.

Changes:

–New version: “Avoid situations that invite increased temptation, such as late-night or overnight activities away from home or activities where there is a lack of adult supervision.” Old version: nothing about overnights.

–New to the dating section: “Young men generally take the initiative in asking for and planning dates.”

–The section on physical health is now “physical and emotional health.” New material: “Also, avoid extremes in diet that could lead to eating disorders. Do not intentionally harm your body. Avoid dangerous activities that put your body at risk of serious injury.” “However, if you have prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, or depression, talk with your parents and your bishop and seek help.”

–New section: “Work and Self-Reliance.”

This isn’t an exhaustive list of changes, but just a few things that I noticed.

83 Responses to Now, Even Stronger Youth!

  1. Kristine on December 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    “late-night or overnight activities away from home or activities where there is a lack of adult supervision”

    Like youth conference and Girls’ Camp?

  2. Kevin Barney on December 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Uh oh, I think that dating change is my fault:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/04/09/the-reciprocity-resolution/

  3. M Miles on December 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Kristine, I think that cancels a lot of scouting too.

  4. Prudence McPrude on December 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I just want to say that (a) to the extent the new pamphlet contains strong language condemning the watching of R-rated movies, “I told you so,” and (b) to the extent the new pamphlet doesn’t contain any mention of R-rated movies, I will interpret this as evidence that a super-duper-strong “No R-rated Movies” rule is still very much in force.

    So you see, I win, no matter what.

  5. Jacob on December 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    I’m so happy to see the girls don’t have to carry the burden of asking out on dates anymore. It’s been like Sadie Hawkins everywhere I looked.

  6. Kyle M on December 14, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    “late-night or overnight activities away from home or activities where there is a lack of adult supervision”

    Great, I’m going to lose all my babysitters

  7. Ben S. on December 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    ““Young men generally take the initiative in asking for and planning dates.” This is purely descriptive, and pretty useless. Is it indicating they *should*? Or that by “generally”, it shouldn’t *always* be the case, encouraging the women?

    I had two women in late 20′s, both educated, both east coast, tell me in the last three years, that men have to do the asking out, women don’t call men or invite them, because that would be “weird.” It blew my mind; girls asked me out, called me, and I’m no Brad Pitt. Neither is from Utah, so whence the 1950′s dating protocol?

  8. Jax on December 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Any chance we could get something added like

    “Turn off the TV and go live life rather than watch others live theres”

    or

    “Stop playing so many video games that the women around you don’t even know you exist”

    Too late for that?

  9. Course Correction on December 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I think the new pamphlet is on target with the “no overnight activities away from home” rule. I raised 5 kids and taught junior high in Utah. Sleepovers are not supervised–no matter how Molly Mormon the parents hosting.

    Parents go to bed at 11:00 and assume the kids will fall asleep watching movies. Not so. Once they’re pretty sure the parents are down for the night–out the door the kids go–or friends the parents didn’t invite show up.

  10. Sonny on December 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    “–New version: “Avoid situations that invite increased temptation, such as late-night or overnight activities away from home or activities where there is a lack of adult supervision.” Old version: nothing about overnights”

    And I was just thinking about how I wish we LDS can appear just a little bit more insular. (tongue planted)

    I know I have mentioned this before, but I have personal experience seeing this advice taken to the point of just making Mormons appear downright weird to others.

    My sister’s stake president told the stake that his family follows a policy of not letting their kids sleep over if there are any non-member kids present. Taking this advice to heart, my sister brought her son over to our house for his cousin’s b-day party video game marathon extravaganza. But because we also invited a non-member boy (who happens to be one of nicest, most trustworthy teenagers I have ever known and is currently studying to be a minister), my nephew had to leave early and could not participate in the sleepover. I didn’t have the heart to tell this non-member boy the real reason why my nephew had to leave when he asked me. I just didn’t think it was right to say to him that his mere presence was the cause.

  11. David T on December 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Jax:

    They did:

    “The Lord has commanded us not to be idle. Idleness can lead to inappropriate behavior, damaged relationships, and sin. One form of idleness is spending excessive amounts of time in activities that keep you from productive work, such as using the Internet, playing video games, and watching television.”

  12. Steve on December 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Does anyone find it plain weird that a youth who has psychological problems should talk to their bishop?

    Good grief. They don’t have the training nor the expertise to do so. Nor, can they rationally recommend treatment.

    These are medical and/or psychological issues, not spiritual ones.

  13. David T on December 14, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    And for those keeping count, the gay section was made even more specific. And arguably put more stuff into the sinful category.

    OLD: “Homosexual activity is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction, seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.”

    NEW: “Homosexual and lesbian behavior is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction or you are being persuaded to participate in inappropriate behavior, seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.”

    You’re welcome.

  14. Rebecca J on December 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    One reason a youth with psychological problems might talk to their bishop is that the bishop could connect them with a professional counselor and possibly help with the financial aspect (even if you’re not going through LDSFS). Obviously, different bishops will be more or less savvy about these matters, but so will different parents. Some people have no idea where to start. The bishop isn’t necessarily a bad resource (and ideally ought to be a reasonably good one).

  15. Steve on December 14, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Rebecca,

    I have to disagree.

    I personally know of youth who were advised to exercise more, read the scriptures more regularly or rely on a blessing — when the issue was chemical depression.

    We had a suicide in my area over this very issue.

    These kind of issues require immediate, professional intervention.

  16. Ardis E. Parshall on December 14, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    So Steve, those kids clearly weren’t getting the help they needed — and you’re saying that nobody should go to a bishop who *might* be able to hook them up with suitable help that they’re not finding on their own, just because there’s a chance that some bishop somewhere might give irresponsible advice instead? Seems to me they haven’t lost anything by talking to the bishop, when they aren’t getting help as it is.

  17. Michael H. on December 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    “Avoid dangerous activities that put your body at risk of serious injury.”

    Does away with Church basketball and football, eh?

  18. Steve on December 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Ardis,

    That is a fair point.

    I’m just sensitive — probably overly so — to the idea that a religious leader should be a resource for a medical/psychological issues.

    Bishops have a very important role. They role in repentance, worthiness, etc. are vital.

    But, some folks use them to advise on whether or not to pursue chemotherapy, whether to get a gastric bypass or to go on an anti-psychotic medication (All cases I’m aware of).

    I personally wish it said “consult with your parents or, if appropriate, a medical professional.”

  19. Name withheld to protect me on December 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Was this in there before: “Obey the laws that govern sharing music, movies, and other copyrighted items.”

  20. Ardis E. Parshall on December 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    That’s a fair point, too, Steve. Could we perhaps add a line to your suggestion that says something like “Your bishop may be a resource to assist you and your parents with securing appropriate help”?

  21. anon on December 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    It doesn’t mention anything about the big M-unless I missed it?

  22. Jax on December 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    David T,

    I didn’t know it was in there… is it a new addition or was it in the old one and I didn’t know it?

  23. Rob Perkins on December 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Bishops have a line to LDS Social Services, which has a psychiatric component. I think all bishops have guidelines to take news of physical or mental health needs and immediately refer. Obviously, they need to be trained to recognize the signs of depression, anorexia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, what have you, but done right they can be a solid resource.

    The copyright stuff has been there for years, as I recall.

  24. kamschron on December 15, 2011 at 12:05 am

    The big M- without the M: “Do not do anything else that arouses sexual feelings. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.”

  25. Lucy on December 15, 2011 at 12:45 am

    This is great! Thanks. I like the new conclusion:

    “In all circumstances, follow the teachings of the prophets, the other authorities of the Church, and your local leaders. They will lead you in paths of happiness.”

    “Be humble and willing to listen to the Holy Ghost and respond to His promptings. Place the wisdom of the Lord above your own wisdom.”

    “As you do these things, the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you. He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges. You will gain a stronger testimony and find true joy as you come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and feel Their love for you.”

  26. Miri on December 15, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Like the changes to the physical health section, except that I agree with Steve (15) about seeing bishops. I have personal experience with the exact situation you described, Steve, while I was in college. Ardis’s comment (20) is probably a good compromise (as long as it does include something about a medical health professional–so that the idea is at least OUT THERE that it might not be an issue of needing to repent. Too many people really don’t know this).

    Am irritated, also, that the church feels like it needs to encroach further and more specifically into parents’ decisions about their children’s activities. I know Course Correction’s probably right, but that doesn’t mean it’s an issue the church needs to have a rule about. Still a parent-child area.

    Absolutely loathe the step backward with homosexuality and the blatant support of the antiquated, useless, damaging patriarchal system in re: dating. Why is the idea of independent women so repugnant? I just don’t understand.

  27. Miri on December 15, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Kevin–your post at BCC is awesome. I’d like to think this isn’t in response to that, though, because that’d just be obstinate and a teeny bit juvenile. :)

  28. michelle on December 15, 2011 at 2:24 am

    “I’m just sensitive — probably overly so — to the idea that a religious leader should be a resource for a medical/psychological issues.”

    One of the reasons I’m glad they have the option to talk with a bishop is that some kids may not have parents they can rely on. If there are some options for getting help, maybe that can help kids who feel that one or the other option wouldn’t be the best, for whatever reason.

    I also agree on one hand about the role of bishops primarily being about repentance, etc., but I also have come to believe there may be something to them having keys that could include helping us with personal challenges that may not be related to sin. I know that sometimes that can be approached incorrectly, but I think sometimes, bishops can help as *a* resource (vs. *the* resource) as people are weighing out hard decisions.

  29. queuno on December 15, 2011 at 8:06 am

    In my experience, scout camps and girls camp are the most overchaperoned activities in the church (on the scouting side, it’s because of the guilt tripping, I’ve accompanied my son on campouts with more men than boys).

  30. queuno on December 15, 2011 at 8:11 am

    As for dating, where I am, LDS boys are not dating LDS girls (basically not at all). The hanging out that Oaks decried is alive and well in the youth. Girls aren’t even interested in asking them out siince they can hang out… We’ve always taught our 14yo daughter to be prepared to, and expect to have to, ask out boys she likes.

  31. Mark B. on December 15, 2011 at 8:37 am

    “Do not do anything else that arouses sexual feelings.”

    In other words, (for the young men) never have a girlfriend, and for heaven’s sake, don’t even think about falling in love.

  32. queuno on December 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Dangerous activities/serious risk = no high school football with its risk of concussions.

  33. queuno on December 15, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I remember a bishop 15 years ago gathering the parents together for an annual Strength of Youth review and saying, “The biggest problem I have as a bishop is not the decisions parents make, but that parents aren’t willing to respect decisions other parents make”. (w.r.t. dress codes and dating)

  34. Naismith on December 15, 2011 at 9:00 am

    “Bishops have a line to LDS Social Services, which has a psychiatric component. I think all bishops have guidelines to take news of physical or mental health needs and immediately refer.”

    This is very true now, at least in the US. It has been a recent shift. We live far from Utah and didn’t have access to those services 10 years ago. But in recent years, there has been a push to provide professional counseling whenever appropriate and leave bishops free to deal with actual ministry.

    Nowadays we have an LDS social services counselor in town a half a day every week, and addiction support groups have been set up. And the local leaders keep a list of non-LDS psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers who are supportive of religious faith (i.e., who don’t try to tell them that their problems are caused by their religious beliefs). Sometimes the church pays for needed therapy.

  35. NewlyHousewife on December 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I find the wording of the gender attraction a little disturbing. “Struggling” with the way your body works just seems weird. It’s been proven for awhile now that sexual identity is not a reversible thing and one simply can’t choose to be gay anymore than they can choose to be straight.

    Everything else though I think is humerus as the new changes just state the obvious (avoid hitting yourself with a crowbar as you’ll probably break a bone, avoid sneaking out at night without supervision) and what once was common sense is now “commandment”.

    Is the Strength for Youth strictly a US thing or has it been passed on to the majority of saints in South America?

  36. john roberts on December 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I have been appalled for years that the Strength of Youth pamphlet is even necessary, let alone the Youth’s focus on what it “really” means to be a Latter-day Saint.

    Teen-agers ought to be learning how to call upon the ministering of angels, and call down fire from heaven, not how to keep their pants zipped.

  37. ji on December 15, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I regret the feeling common among us that because parents are failures, bishops need to assume parental responsibilities. I fully agree with Steve (no. 18) and appreciate Ardis’s re-thinking (no. 20).

  38. anon on December 15, 2011 at 10:55 am

    @37-just on that point I had heard that because parents weren’t having scripture study with their kids early morning seminary took over the spot but yet how were parents supposed to have scripture study with their kids if they are shipping them off to seminary?

  39. ji on December 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

    We must appreciate that the Strength of Youth booklet does not establish doctrine. It provides teachings from current Church leaders for this day and time. Those teachings can change as time passes and circumstances change. But I do not adopt the booklet as doctrine. Unfortunately, some people might want to adopt the teachings in the booklet as doctrine.

    Thus, I look at the teaching that boys should take the lead in dating as just that, a teaching — a teaching offered sincerely and honestly by good men, even holy men, who want to magnify their callings and teach correct principles. I hope it will be accepted in this light. But I do not see this as a doctrine to which obedience is required and to which disobedience is a sin.

    For example, if Peter and Paul and those back in 50AD had written a Strength of Youth booklet (or scroll-let), they would not have endorsed our culture’s serial dating practices but rather might have counseled a young man to happily accept whatever spouse their parents select for him and to do his best to make the marriage work.

    Marriage is a doctrine. Dating is a cultural practice. Telling young men to take the lead in dating is a teaching.

    My wife asked me out for our first date. She did not sin in doing so. I will box the ears, so to speak, of anyone who suggests she sinned in doing so. I also did not sin in my shyness. As a general rule, I support the teaching of the brethren. But I see it as a teaching, not as a doctrine, and I see it as intended to influence behavior (even though I heard somewhere that talking about doctrine is more effective in changing behavior than talking about behavior). As I suppose, the purpose for the teaching is intended to encourage marriage — and this by encouraging more young men to more aggressively take the lead in dating (it is their responsibility) so that more dates occur so that more marriages occur.

    The Strength of Youth booklet provides teachings for our day and time, for our youth, from our leaders. I appreciate these teachings I wish I could effectively teach those I have some stewardship for to accept these teachings as a gift from those who care about them.

    [Here, I use doctrine to mean RIGHT and WRONG, in the eyes of God and God's church. I do not use doctrine here to mean that which is commonly taught among the people. Unfortunately, too much contention has been caused by this differing use of the word "doctrine".]

  40. ji on December 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Anon (no. 38) — I see seminary as an enrichment activity — the Church offers it as a service and encourages youth to enroll — it is a wonderful gift. I think it would be unfortunate to see seminary attendance as DOCTRINE and seminary absence as SIN. I know some people see it that way, but I don’t. There is beauty in offering a gift and beauty in accepting a gift.

    I don’t know, but I hope the initial reasoning behind early morning seminary was more to help parents and members and less to force-feed the youth because of the failings of the parents.

    My son isn’t old enough for seminary yet, but he will be in a couple of years.

  41. Guyando on December 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

    What a bunch of pathetic whiners you are. If the church didn’t publish For the Strength of Youth, how many of you would be wailing to the skies about the church not stating clearly what it really believes? Now that it has, you’re deeply offended that the church offers counsel that you don’t agree with 100% in every single conceivable situation as implemented by every bishop and youth leader everywhere.

    How about you all just grow up?

  42. jks on December 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I have a 14 year old and a 12 year old. I think the For Strength of Youth is a great resource for them to help them learn how to behave. It is obvious that children and teenagers do better with some guidance from parents, schools, communities, churches, etc. I don’t think FSOY is a complete guide for behavior, but it does reinforce “some” of the things that will “help” a kid grow up without making stupid teen decisions.
    I like it. I think that any parent can talk to their children and mention things that they think aren’t worded perfectly (my daughter and I talk about depression and discuss strategies if hormonal negative feelings ever feel overwhelming).
    I think this is a great resource for teenagers who don’t have ANY resource. A great resource for teens and parents who want something as a structure for discussion. A great resource for a teenager who wants something solid to study as they decide their values and make their own decisions.

  43. Jacob M on December 15, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Guyando, why is it that a pamphlet that should be a list of principles is instead a pharisaic list of rules? What ever happened to Joseph Smith’s “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves” type of teaching? That is what’s annoying us, far more than most of the individual rules that we disagree with.

  44. jks on December 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    These are for KIDS. Children. How many of you really think a 12 year old or 14 year old shouldn’t be following these kinds of rules?
    It is tough being a parent and having NO ONE else in your community reinforcing any of your teachings. School? Partially no. Peers? Mostly no. TV & movies? Definitely no. Internet? No.
    I am very happy and very grateful that the church provides a pamphlet like this.

  45. NewlyHousewife on December 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    jks,

    Yes it’s for kids but it’s pushed on the adults just as much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it over the pulpit about how great of a resource it was for EVERYONE. If it’s targeted for kids stick it in the New Era where it belongs, not among the “Welcome to the Church” pamphlets.

  46. chris on December 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    #45,
    These are rules for kids based on important principles. It obviously doesn’t mean every rule needs to be followed by an adult, but clearly there are some rules which we can each choose to apply to ourselves based on an understanding of and personal conviction of the foundational principles out of which the “rule” was created.

    No one said we need to make an idol out of the rules. But I don’t see how as an adult it’s a bad thing to take this “rule” (which is really just a principle guideline and letting you decide where to apply it):

    Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit.

  47. queuno on December 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    @john roberts — Sadly, empirical evidence is that teenagers are too busy with the zipping part to worry about your first part.

  48. Miri on December 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Besides which, regardless of whether or not it’s actual doctrine, it is taught that way by Young Women leaders (and, I would assume, Young Men). Maybe the lenience toward it here is a feature of the more progressive group here on the bloggernacle, but my own experience has been that for many members, if the General Authorities say it, it’s doctrine. Not necessarily the kind of doctrine that gets included with the ten commandments, but doctrine enough that if you’re not following it, you’re not good in your temple recommend interview. Regardless of whether or not it’s intended to be interpreted that way, it’s true that it sometimes (often?) is.

  49. chris on December 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    But actually, I’d really not want to engage in debate with people who are unhappy with the book.

    If you think the content is bad, what principles would you list that you expect people to govern themselves by? It would be neat if for each section in the pamphlet, someone who wanted something principle-based went through each topic and said, here’s the prinicpled teaching that addresses this issue.

  50. queuno on December 15, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    What bothers me a bit is that we’ve spent the better part of 15-20 years in the Church (through the pamphlet and through other discussions) telling the youth that they don’t have to date while teens, that they should maintain groups of friends, that group dating is OK, etc. And our kids seem to be doing really well at that.

    Are we going to start telling the YM to take the lead in dating? Or has the scope creeped so much that Oaks’ admonition to the young singles about dating and hanging out now has to be codified in what most perceive to be a teen pamphlet?

  51. LovelyLauren on December 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with the pamphlet. On the one hand, it’s an easy reference for teens in a simplified format. On the other hand, it’s so simplified that it leaves no room for nuance and people take it as commandment. I can’t tell you how many times it was referenced (to the point where I could once quote lines verbatim) in youth activities, lessons. I was encouraged to “study” it, which always made me roll my eyes. It’s a pamphlet. What the heck is there to “study?”

    I wish it was taught as a guideline everywhere rather than doctrine. Really not a fan of the “young men generally take the lead in dating” line. I feel like it’s more of a vague cultural observation than an admonition and only perpetuates the idea that young women are ‘chosen’ by the young men and ‘taken’ to the temple. The last thing we need is to encourage young women to be passive. The line about depression is a nice inclusion, but I wish it included talking to a qualified medical professional rather than the bishop. Bishops receive no training and therefore should not be a primary resource in those cases, unless it’s for the purpose of a referral.

    And I have to agree with NewlyHousewife that these pamphlets are often pushed at adults as well, especially when I was in a single’s ward.

  52. queuno on December 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Bishops receive no training and therefore should not be a primary resource in those cases, unless it’s for the purpose of a referral.

    I think that’s what they are hoping will happen, but aren’t saying it.

  53. Thomas Parkin on December 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Nothing about slouching? The opium dens are full of slouchers.

    Nothing about penmanship? The opium dens are full of people with poor penmanship.

  54. jks on December 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    queno – I just read the dating part. I think it is GREAT. Definitely more in line with what I teach my children about practicing age appropriate social skills with the opposite sex which means interactions change as you get older and there is a goal of finding a marriage partner.

    “A date is a planned activity that allows a young man and a young woman to get to know each other better. In cultures where dating is acceptable, it can help you learn and practice social skills, develop friendships, have wholesome fun, and eventually find an eternal companion.

    You should not date until you are at least 16 years old. When you begin dating , go with one or more additional couples. Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person. Developing serious relationships too early in life can limit the number of other people you meet and can perhaps lead to immorality. Invite your parents to become acquainted with those you date.

    Choose to date only those who have high moral standards and in whose company you can maintain your standards. Remember that a young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to protect each other’s honor and virtue.

    Plan dating activities that are safe, positive, and inexpensive and that will help you get to know each other. Go only to places where you can maintain your standards and remain close to the Spirit.

    Young men generally take the initiative in asking for and planning dates. Always be kind and respectful when you ask for a date or when you accept or decline one. While on a date, be courteous as you listen to others and express your own feelings.

    As you enter your adult years, make dating and marriage a high priority. Seek a companion who is worthy to go to the temple to be sealed to you for time and all eternity. Marrying in the temple and creating an eternal family are essential in God’s plan of happiness.”

  55. Alison Moore Smith on December 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Ben S. (#7), I grew up mostly in Utah. I asked boys out and so did a number of my friends, even way back then. We have lived in Utah for the past 10+ years and my daughters ask boys out. (And no, not just to specified “girls’ choice” dances.) What other backwards “1950s” dating things do Utahns do? Refrain from sex on the first date or two? Have fun without booze? Dance without a pole?

    On the late night/overnight thing:I don’t love overnighters but, seriously, this is going to hurt the girls and won’t curtail scout campouts at all. And, come on, the “late nights” were to avoid the OVERnighters. Now we’re going to forbid that as well?

    sonny #10:

    I didn’t have the heart to tell this non-member boy the real reason why my nephew had to leave when he asked me. I just didn’t think it was right to say to him that his mere presence was the cause.

    You “didn’t have the heart”? You mean if you had more heart, you WOULD have told him?

    I agree that your nephew’s situation is weird and dumb, but people withhold things in the name of tact and kindness all the time. (Except when blogging. ;) ) Of course you wouldn’t tell any guest that some other guest had a problem with his/her presence. That’s not an undue burden or a great display of altruism, it’s just common sense.

  56. Chadwick on December 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    #49

    I’ll take the bait. I don’t like the line about men taking the lead in dating. My daughter is only 4, but I fully intend to raise her in such a way that if she sees something worthwhile, that she can go for it, be it schooling, a career, or a man. She need not wait patiently by the sidelines playing games for something she wants.

    Case in point, at BYU I knew a girl. I liked this girl. She used to come over to see my roommate every day because they shared a church calling. I thought it was excessive but there you have it. I figured the excessive part was because she also liked him and this was an excuse to visit him. Turns out, she did like me and used this as an excuse to see me. Well. It didn’t work. I had no clue she was asking for my roommate at the door so that she could see me. Not at all logical. I changed wards and went on with my life. While I’m now happily married to someone else, I look back and find the whole things silly. She clearly was giving me clues but waiting for me to ask her out. Had she merely asked me out, I would have said yes and that would have been that. What a crock.

    I’m only 31. I’m not that old. But I guess sleepovers have changed since I was 16. Yes we waited for the parental units to go to sleep, but only so that we could do silly things like watch Saturday Night Live or leave the house to walk around the neighborhood and MAYBE toilet paper someone’s house. We never did anything inappropriate or illegal or that would make me unworthy to go to temple. And I attended many sleepovers. Why do we automatically assume all overnight activities are therefore inappropriate? Was my experience really that different from the general Mormon population in regards to sleepovers?

  57. Frank Pellett on December 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    #56 – Chadwick – “But I guess sleepovers have changed since I was 16. Yes we waited for the parental units to go to sleep, but only so that we could do silly things like watch Saturday Night Live or leave the house to walk around the neighborhood and MAYBE toilet paper someone’s house. We never did anything inappropriate or illegal or that would make me unworthy to go to temple. And I attended many sleepovers. Why do we automatically assume all overnight activities are therefore inappropriate? Was my experience really that different from the general Mormon population in regards to sleepovers?”

    The problems are the exceptions. My guess is that there have been a recent increase in at least reporting of inappropriate behavior happening at sleep overs, as well as (more alarmingly) cases of sexual abuse by others in the household on participants of sleepovers. Yes, things have changed int he past 15 years, and will continue to change.

    The things given in the pamphlet are reactions to concerns reported by many Bishops throughout the Church, not arbitrary items some Apostle thought up one afternoon.

  58. Miri on December 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    But Frank, how can you structure an entire child-raising philosophy based on the exceptions? There will always be exceptions, no matter what your methods are. And in the meantime, the ones who wouldn’t have been a problem in the first place are being micromanaged to the point of suffocation, which often ends up doing more harm than good.

  59. Sonny on December 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Alison,

    “You “didn’t have the heart”? You mean if you had more heart, you WOULD have told him?”

    Thanks for the grammatical nitpick Alison. I’m sure it has clarified my comment for all the rest and has greatly added to this conversation.

  60. Frank Pellett on December 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Miri, I doubt these are rare exceptions. If the problem were 1 in 100 sleepovers, then yes, it would be an overreaction, but from the stories I’ve been hearing, the problems are heading toward being less of an exception.

    If you want fewer rules, have fewer problems.

  61. david packard on December 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    #35

    If a YM is starting to think he’s gay, but maybe he’s bi, but maybe he’s straight, how is the politically correct way to describe his situation. Is he “struggling” to determine his sexual preference? I struggled to determine what career path I wanted to pursue? Is it “disturbing” to say it this way?

    I do believe that you are partially correct, but this is an oversimplification:
    “It’s been proven for awhile now that sexual identity is not a reversible thing and one simply can’t choose to be gay anymore than they can choose to be straight.”

  62. Rebecca J on December 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I don’t think the “struggle” with same-sex attraction is necessarily a confusion about one’s sexual orientation. I think the struggle is reconciling one’s orientation with the teachings of the church. If you’re gay and Mormon, you’re going to struggle. FTSOY may not be the place to get into a discussion of how fluid one’s sexuality is apt to be over a lifetime. But then, if you can’t discuss homosexuality with any more nuance than “gay sex is a sin, get help,” maybe FTSOY isn’t the place to bring it up at all. But then, if you don’t bring it up at all, you’re just ignoring the issue and treating gay youth like they’re invisible. It’s a no-win situation. That’s why I’m against pamphlets in general.

    As for 1950s dating protocol, some people are just old-fashioned. I’m not sure what the point is of saying “young men generally take the initiative of planning dates, etc.” unless you are trying to not-so-subtly encourage young men to take more initiative. I don’t know if there’s an alarming trend of young men not taking the initiative in courtship. (I don’t know if it’s a trend, and if there is one, I don’t know if it’s alarming.) If you’re the sort of person who would rather ask someone out than wait around for them to decide they want to ask you out, you have nothing to lose by asking them out. The worst they can do is say no. (Well, maybe not, but that’s the worst they’re likely to do.) And then you can move on with your life. No wasting time waiting around on someone who isn’t interested. If you’re the sort of person who prefers to be “pursued,” you may as well wait around for someone to pursue you. No wondering whether or not the person is only dating you to be polite. It’s so simple.

  63. NewlyHousewife on December 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    David,

    The wording isn’t about determining a sexual preference, its worded “struggling with same-gender attraction”. To me this gives off the feeling like one has to overcome it. If the purpose was to provide comfort to those who are concerned about what their sexual identity is then it should have been said as you have stated with “struggling to determine [your] sexual preference.”

    EX: “I struggled to determine what career path I wanted to pursue.” vs. “I struggled with business.”

    And I would choose the word ‘confused’ over ‘struggling’ as the more politically correct, and kindhearted, option.

  64. Clean Cut on December 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    FTSOY: “The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5).”

    I guess the (really thoughtful) alternative interpretation hasn’t quite made it’s way up to the top?
    https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/143-34-43.pdf

  65. Ben S. on December 15, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    “If you’re gay and Mormon, you’re going to struggle.” If you’re a teenager with hormones, you’re going to struggle, whatever your orientation.

    Allison: Most of the odd Mormon things I’ve encountered have come from Utah. This one bucks the trend.

  66. Thomas Parkin on December 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I wish they would teach Faith in Christ – starting with His personality. (One has to have some kind of right idea about what one is exercising faith in.) The Sermon on the Mount would be a great place to start. And repentance, as something needed constantly by everyone, not only those who struggle with items in the Youth pamphlet. And then let the chips fall where they may. This constant struggle with cultural trends seems vain, to me. What is _actually_ a constant, what is _actually_ sure ground.

  67. Thomas Parkin on December 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    What would be the difference between young men who know that they should ask young women on dates and young men who know that the meek shall inherit the earth? What is the Good Samaritan had penetrated their hearts as fully as the injunction to keep their clothes clean and tidy? Maybe we’d have young men who know how to get answers to prayers on subjects other than where they should go to school, or rubber stamp answers like whether they should go on a mission. I think we consistently leave the ‘weightier matters’ undone. Maybe if we actually taught the personality of Christ as an ideal instead of the image of a cultural Mormon as the ideal we’d actually get young men who could tell the difference.

    I have a memory, possibly an amalgam, of sitting in a Sunday School class at about 7 years old, and seeing the picture of Jesus knocking at the door, holding the lamp. And having a powerful sensation that _this is for me_. For most of my time as Mormon, I have had to seek that image out on my own, because what has been held out to me instead is the image of a Stake President, or a missionary, or some other Mormonism.

  68. david packard on December 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Rebecca (#62) and NH (#63) I see what you’re saying, and I appreciate it. Both can be a struggle (orientation and reconciliation)–not to mention hormones in general, but the potential for insensitive people and even the pamphlet itself to exacerbate the issues already there in our LDS culture (equating SSA with sin, etc.) can be troubling and unkind.

  69. Left Field on December 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    “The worst they can do is say no. (Well, maybe not, but that’s the worst they’re likely to do.) And then you can move on with your life.”

    Sadly, based on my single experience, that’s not the worst they’re likely to do. The worst they’re likely to do is to say yes and not mean it, thus impeding moving on with your life.

  70. Rebecca J on December 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    The worst they’re likely to do is to say yes and not mean it, thus impeding moving on with your life.

    This is why I don’t believe in taking the initiative. Wait around, that’s my motto.

  71. Rebecca J on December 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    If you’re a teenager with hormones, you’re going to struggle, whatever your orientation.

    That wasn’t the sort of struggle I was thinking of, but point taken.

  72. Dave K. on December 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I went to school with Ben S. (#7) and can confirm he is no Brad Pitt. He’s closer to Orlando bloom. Anyway, I completely agree on women having equal rights and responsibility for dating. If it were just up to men, we’d still be waiting for the fall to happen.

  73. Julie M. Smith on December 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    “If it were just up to men, we’d still be waiting for the fall to happen.”

    Dave K. FTW.

  74. Merkat on December 16, 2011 at 1:28 am

    One problem with your comment jks, that this is for kids, is that this is pretty much the same pamphlet for single adults, maybe without the steady dating principles. It seems that they are also held to these standards, so it is problematic to have this pamphlet and expect adults to adhere to it. Is there a “for the strength of YSA?” maybe lightening up the rules a bit (heavy petting and necking ok, late nights great, and go ahead and arouse those sexual feelings while you’re at it).

  75. meg on December 16, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Funny the wording” don’t do anything to arouse sexual feelings”.
    As if one wouldn’t naturally feel sexual desire. And the Big M-well, that doesn’t arouse, it’s done to release the tension of the arousal that’s already there.

  76. Ellis on December 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    #13,16 &18 Youth with emotional and mental health problems often do not look very much different than garden variety teens who might be rebellious or withdrawn. Parents and bishops may not recognize the seriousness of the situation until something really bad happens.

    A person experiencing the feelings described in the new booklet most likely will not recognize that his/her feelings are not typical. Parents, friends and yes, bishops might be better able to recognize that treatment is necessary and be helpful in encouraging them to seek help.

    These situations are quite delicate. Friendship is the best thing a non professional can offer to youths in need.

  77. Alison Moore Smith on December 20, 2011 at 7:33 am

    sonny #59, I don’t think it was much of a nitpick. You seemed to make a point of your altruism in refraining from telling a child that another child’s parents had a problem with him. I couldn’t think of why you’d have considered doing so at all — and I can’t think of why you’d mention it (particularly the way you did) if you didn’t consider it.

    So, in answer to your question, I think pointing out the hyperbole in your statement helps us to better address the issue. Having one child leave a party early — for whatever reason — isn’t a big deal. (And would only become an issue if you made it one.) So we don’t need to be up in arms about goofy relative’s decision.

    Ben S. #65, I guess you’ve never been to Boca. Still, what “1950s dating protocols” that Utahns apparently participate in en masse do you find problematic?

  78. Ben S on December 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Allison, I’ll just repeat my comment. When I meet weird stuff in the Church, it’s nearly always been imported into the ward from Utah. It was the particular item in question that struck me as 1950′s.

  79. Sonny on December 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Alison,

    As always Alison, you are absolutely right and your wisdom has seen right through my hyperbole and cut to the core of why I made my comment. I was indeed ‘up in arms’ and way, way out of line in my wording. How did you get become so insightful?

  80. Alison Moore Smith on December 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    OK, Ben. Call the fifth on the Utah slam. But your statement, “Neither is from Utah, so whence the 1950?s dating protocol?” certainly does not imply just some general Utah weirdness or that a particular event seemed old-fashioned, but rather that a penchant for “1950s dating protocol” (that you find backward) is the norm in Utah and to be expected from Utahns, but not from others. If the old-fashioned notion came from two non-Utahns and you really don’t think that it had anything to do with Utahns, maybe you could have left out the connection?

    I’m sure there are oddities you see from Utah, we have a lot of them. There have been oddities from the local culture in every area I’ve lived, too.( If the only oddities you notice are imported from Utah, you’ve probably got some geography blindness. :) ) If you want to make a specific claims, I don’t mind. But general, sweeping, unspecified criticisms of a whole group of fellow members doesn’t allow much discussion. Why don’t you do a post about Utah oddities? It might be fun if done in a good spirit.

    Sonny, you implied that there was some real trouble or harm to the non-member boy because of one person’s weird overnight rule interpretation, that you protected him from. I don’t think it’s a big deal, stuff like that happens all the time. I thought the emphasis you gave on apparently restraining yourself from telling the boy something hurtful was odd. You don’t have to agree with me, but ad hominem doesn’t clarify your position.

    P.S. I didn’t make a claim about why you made the comment. Rather, I explicitly stated that I couldn’t figure out why you would.

  81. Mark D. on December 21, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Anything taught consistently in publications of the church is a doctrine of the church. That is the only way we can tell what the doctrines are. Everything else is rumor or history.

  82. KerbearRN on December 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    18– I agree totally. I think the Church needs to make a much more public stand that IF YOU SUFFER FROM SADNESS OR FEELINGS OF WANTING TO HURT YOURSELF, PLEASE SEEK HELP FROM A DOCTOR and also counsel with your bishop– with the Bishop-thing as secondary. I too was told by a very wonderful and well-meaning bishop to pray and read my scriptures — nothing about getting actual medical help. A friend’s brother ultimately came at his dad with a knife before they finally took him to a doctor (he was a “troublemaker” and my friend described him as “evil”. All their frantic sessions with the bishop had come to naught.). Ultimately the kid was diagnosed with a chemical mood disorder and put on meds. The kicker: He is now a returned missionary, married in the temple, and has a fine family. If it would have been treated as a chemical disorder instead of a spiritual one in the first place, it would have saved a lot of harm. Chemical mood disorders need to come out of the closet and be treated as non-embarrassing as, say, blood pressure problems or diabetes. Just saying.

    #53– Ha! But you forgot nose-pickers.

    Alison — Sonny made the comment about NOT making the comment to our son’s friend because the non-member boy in question specifically ASKED why our nephew had to go home. Of course he would have had the heart to tell him the truth. But his BIGGER point (instead of focusing like a laser beam on his exact wording) is that the truth that “Mormons don’t allow sleepovers, especially if nonmembers are present” or something very like it, as practiced and preached in many families, just makes us look like insular snobs. This has landed us right at the top of the “least liked religions” polls recently put forth (and I believe mentioned on this blog). We talk a good talk about being “active” in our communities — but heaven forbid we actually interact with the PEOPLE. In our new community, many people I’ve spoken to don’t even know we are HERE. How can that be? Why aren’t members actively, on an official/ward/stake and an individual level going out and being “in” the community and serving? It is just those attitudes of “you aren’t one of us” that push people away. And the no sleepovers thing, currently being practiced in our hometown by a large number of members with absolutely no insight into any individual situation, has created some hurtful situations. THAT is the point Sonny is trying to make. We can be more “involved” and more approachable without sacrificing our values. In fact, it is our values (Love One Another for example) that dictate that we SHOULD.

  83. kerBearRN on December 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Gaak. I meant WOULDN’T have had the heart to tell the teenager the truth. That’s what happens when I over-tweak my posts, I delete an important word…

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