This was posted on an Internet bulletin board in October of 99 by Patti--a
lifetime member of the church who was struggling with her faith.
This idea may be unpopular, but when have I ever cared about being
The young Women's President spoke at the last sacrament meeting I ever
attended. She described how she and her husband held a meeting to decide the
goals they had for their children. Here's what the goals were:
1. All six children baptized in the church. 2. All six children graduate
from Seminary. 3. All the boys serve honorable missions (girls can if they
want to, but they are not that important.) 4. All children to attend BYU or
another church school. (I swear.) 5. All six children to be married in the
These were the goals these people had for their children. She then went
on to tell how they would do this. You guessed it--the list was ticked off:
Family Home Evening, family prayer, scripture study, church attendance,
temple attendance, auxiliary meetings, early morning seminary, go to BYU,
yada yada yada.....
Now here is where I part.... I believe the idea that if you follow the
formula your children will do exactly what you want them to do is not only
misguided, but pernicious. I believe it goes against everything I hold dear
including a belief in free agency and individuality. I remember a quote I
used to keep with me from a General Authority who came across the plains
with the saints. He said in effect that we came to the valley of the Great
Salt Lake to pursue our own religion and to preserve individuality! I don't
see that that happened. In fact, I think individuality is crushed wherever
it springs up. Individuality in thought, action, and even appearance is
frowned upon in our church.
Think about it. We tell parents that they can avoid having their children
choose something else if they just do what the brethren tell them to do (and
the list grows all the time).
Here are the goals I have for my children and it is my hope they will
have for themselves:
1. To be kind, caring, compassionate individuals. 2. To have a deep sense
of spirituality. 3. To be prayerful individuals. 4. To be joyful. 5. To
pursue a career that brings them fulfillment and enriches the people around
them. 6. To give service to others. 7. To be accepting of others, even
people who are different than them. 8. To be educated. 9. To be nurturing
parents if they choose to marry and have children.
The idea that you can and should make your children conform to your
belief system is not only wrong-headed, it is just plain untrue. The
scripture "Raise up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old
he will not depart from it" has been proven over and over to be untrue. How
many people here can site cases when the parents did everything! They did
the list carefully and their children still made their own choices? My
family is one I can mention.
Listen to me. I have two teenagers. They will do what they want to do no
matter how many Family Home Evenings you have. They will make their own
choices no matter how many hours you spend reading the scriptures. And guess
what? This is their right. This is what is supposed to happen! As I recall,
it was Satan's plan to have a bunch of robots who all make the same choices
running around. It was God's plan to allow agency, choice, and guess what