The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Lesson 1

Perfect Mormon Children

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 popular?

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 temple.

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 else--individuality.


If you have a question or would like to discuss these topics, I suggest that you go to a Mormon-related bulletin board (here are some recommendations). If you'd like to contact me with comments or feedback, you may send an email to