Family distracted by media and daydreams

I was engaged once to a man I didn’t marry. For the record, he was a good Latter-day Saint and a good man. But I came to discover that even good people can have bad relationships. We were engaged for 4 tumultuous months before I finally called it off.

I knew it wasn’t right early on. I could bore you with all the reasons I entered into an engagement with a person I wasn’t in love with, but that’s a longish, whiny tale. More importantly, I think, is why I stayed as long as I did. 4 months doesn’t seem that long, I suppose, but it was longer than it should have been.

We fought. A lot. About little things, big things, and everything in between. We weren’t very good at communicating with each other, and during one exasperating conversation I pulled the ring off my finger and held it out to him.

“Don’t,” he said. “Don’t do this.”

“We’re not getting along,” I told him. “People who get married are supposed to get along. It’s supposed to be better than this.”

“No,” he told me. “It’s not. This is real life, babe. This is how it works. You’ve just been brainwashed by a lifetime of Young Women’s lessons that tell you that some shining knight is going to come up on a white horse and sweep you off your feet and you’ll live happily ever after. I’m here to tell you it just doesn’t work that way. This is it. THIS is how it works. I’m the best you’ll ever get.”

It wasn’t exactly the nicest thing he’d ever said, but the worst part about that moment is that I believed him. For a little while, at least. It wasn’t until I saw my best friend’s face on her wedding day and the pure joy she radiated that I realized he was wrong. White knight or not, everybody deserved to be that happy on her wedding day. I came home from the wedding and broke off my engagement. It was hard to do, and I felt I had humiliated us both, but I figured a little short term humiliation was better than long-term misery.

Also, I actually did believe in the lessons I had received as a youth, which essentially told me that marriage was supposed to make you happy, that marrying and building a family was the path to joy in this life and in the life to come. And so I held out until I found somebody who did make me happy, and I assure you that on my wedding day, my face was just as bright as any other bride. Sitting across the alter from my husband, I had the thought, “This is the definition of joy.”

I tell you this story because this month, our bishop had us read a talk by Julie Beck on the Doctrine of the Family. I don’t know how to link it for y’all, as it was a talk she gave to the CES. But it was powerful. In addition to reiterating what the brethren have taught us about the eternal nature of family, she brought up the disturbing idea that the youth today have lost confidence in their abilities to form and manage a family.

I was prepared to hear that young people today are making different choices about families–marrying older, putting off having children, having fewer children. But losing confidence in their own ability to make lasting bonds? Losing confidence in their ability to be parents? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was as clueless as the next gal when it came to being a mother, and I am still learning how this whole thing works. But I always wanted to be a mother, even as I struggled (and continue to struggle) with the decisions and sacrifices that entails. And I figured that somehow, I’d manage.

When I broke off my engagement, I was shaken and left off balance, and wanted to swear off dating for a while. But I remember a conversation where somebody said to me, “Does this make you think you’ll never get married?”

It didn’t. Not for a second. I was always fairly confident that someday it would happen, that one bad relationship didn’t mean I was incapable of making something work with someone else.

Apparently, this is not true for our youth. They don’t have confidence in their ability to form eternal bonds because they aren’t very good at forming bonds now. According to Sister Beck, they have underdeveloped communication skills borne of overuse of technology that makes it unnecessary to engage in actual conversation.

Does anybody else see this? Does anybody else see that our young people have lost confidence in the doctrine of eternal family?

I don’t have teenagers, so I don’t have a front row seat. But I’ve always felt that the messages the media sends about the absurdity of being a virgin and the uselessness of marriage could be successfully counteracted with consistent and strong messages about marriage and family that come from the home. But if your kids don’t believe you, what next?

It’s one thing to have a child who chooses something against what they’ve been taught, who gets caught up in sin and temptation. It’s something else entirely to have a generation of youth who don’t think that the doctrine of the family is something that could ever apply to them.

How can we teach our children confidence in their abilities to be wives, husbands, fathers, mothers? How can we battle against Satan’s new arsenal of technology and isolation? This is big stuff, people. I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially the parents of teenagers. And if you are interested in seeing the full text of Sister Beck’s talk, I will be happy to email it to you. Just let me know in your comments if you are interested.
UPDATE: Ah, Matt found a link (comment #2) . Thank you so much, Matt.

February 16, 2010

95 Comments

  1. Course Correction

    February 17, 2010

    If over-indulgence in technology is harming children’s ability to bond with other human beings, the obvious solution is to limit children’s use of phones and video games. How many parents will have the guts to do that?

    And are some parents guilty of making their own technology hobbies a greater priority than communicating with their nearest and dearest?

  2. Matt

    February 17, 2010

    Is this the one?

    Teaching the Doctrine of the Family.

  3. Claudia

    February 17, 2010

    While it tempting to blame all our ills on technology and, its negative effects it cannot be the only source of this or any other of our societal problems. Kids learn what they live. They learn how to communicate from their parents who model communications skills for them. They learn how to sustain relationships when they see an example of parents and sibling, aunts, uncles and grandparents who have sustained and continue to sustaine relationships.

    There may be any number of other influences that have effected the rising generation which might include the societal acceptance of single parent families, divorce, two income families, moving around for the job and longer working hours for men and women. We might also add the acceptance or premarital relationships that are mostly temporary and are apparently the norm these days.

    Getting rid of technology or limiting its use might or might not mitigate some of these problems. It will not cure them. We need to learn how to live with it and use itfor our own ends.

  4. HeidiAnn

    February 17, 2010

    I’d love a copy of the talk!

    I think she’s right. I’m a YW President, and while we’re not having a problem with texting during YW, etc. I do see the lack of confidence. In my ward, it has more to do with the fact that many of our youth come from families that are not the strongest. It’s hard to have confidence in creating a family when your family of origin didn’t stay together. It’s hard when your family members don’t necessarily live the gospel, or when parents are converts who don’t know what it is to raise a child in the gospel. And I say that as a convert myself. I think with the technology, for my girls at least, there is a need for connection so strong that they are willing to settle for “superficial” forms like texting, myspace, etc.-not realizing that they are worthy of true friendships and relationships. I don’t think the technological things are inherently bad, but I also think that Satan can use those things to take you “out of your body”. I don’t know if I’m explaining this very well, but Elder Bednar gave an incredible CES fireside about it, in 2009, I believe.

  5. Collette

    February 17, 2010

    I have nothing to say. But I really want a copy of the talk! And I’m really curious what others think on this.

    My e-mail: Never2Comfortable@gmail.com

  6. Course Correction

    February 17, 2010

    I forgot to ask for a copy of the talk. Please e-mail me a copy.

  7. Christy

    February 17, 2010

    I would love a copy of the talk as well. This is fascinating to me. I do know a few people my age (I’m 25) who seem to fit this description, but I have no insight as to how they got that way.

  8. Christy

    February 17, 2010

    Ooh, looks like Matt found it for us. Thanks!

  9. Sharlee

    February 17, 2010

    These are great questions, Heather. And, you’re right, this is a huge issue. When my daughter first went away to college, I was surprised and a little disturbed that all her dates seemed to be with guys who were much older–26ish and up. I asked her why she wasn’t dating boys her own age, and she said: “Oh, mom, the younger guys don’t date. They just stay in their dorms and play “Halo” all the time.”

    Here’s a link to that talk by Elder Bednar:

    http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,538-1-4830-1,00.html

    I wish every family would use this talk as the basis for a really good FHE lesson/discussion. It’s important stuff.

  10. Giggles

    February 17, 2010

    I think part of thinking that “this is as good as it gets” is having seen that your whole life. If your parents didn’t get along then that will be your definition of marriage. People need examples of good happy relationships. They need to see husbands and wives holding hands long after the “newlywed” stage. They need to hear couples communicating and working through problems rather than just throwing problems at each other. I don’t think there’s just one cause to the lack of confidence, it’s a lot of things multiplying on each other.

  11. corktree

    February 17, 2010

    I don’t think it’s all because of technology, though it definitely seems to be a factor. I think a lot of the issues lie with divorce rates in the church and teenagers being too busy to even get babysitting experience. (Even in my large ward, it’s hard to find willing sitters, and not because other people are using them)

    I have a young cousin that has been married for quite some time, and is choosing NOT to have kids (they haven’t even tried) because she is afraid that she can’t handle it emotionally. Her parents are divorced, but I’m not sure that’s the whole of it. Their certainly seems to be an inexplicable trend that is warping young adults’ views. (incidentally, this cousin is also a big fan of video games)

    I really hope the solutions lie in our own parenting awareness and that if we can look for these issues before our younger ones are teenagers that it really will be just a matter of counteracting outside and cultural influences. But something tells me it’s naive to believe that it will be that simple.

  12. Coffinberry

    February 17, 2010

    I am in front-row seat, both at home (well, sort of… I IM my 21 year old RM in Idaho, and email my 19 year old missionary in Chile — who just this week asked me to come up with a short and powerful statement of why marriage is important — yay! technology; I do not think modern technology is the problem) and at work in a criminal/juvenile/domestic court.

    I think that to some extent the experience of seeing a successful marriage actually work –through good and bad– is powerful in motivating our current generation toward marriage. But my observation is that as marriage becomes increasingly defined as a legal construct that exists solely to promote the satisfaction of the adult particpants, it is harder for young people to imagine how imperfect people can expect to stay together ‘forever’. Such definition moves marriage out of the picture because it is something that might be accomplished after achieving “perfection,” rather than understanding it as an experience that helps move both participants toward achieving exaltation (or in secular terms, makes us better persons by developing compassion, patience, and devotion).

    Elder Bednar pointed out in 2006 that our teaching about marriage has to be grounded in an understanding of how marriage is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. The world’s definition is persuasive without that understanding.

  13. Coffinberry

    February 17, 2010

    One more comment about “younger guys don’t date”… the problem is that the available dating pool for younger guys is so darned young (18-20 year old girls, not women). I’ve been teaching my sons to wait a bit, so they can marry women who have had a chance to grow up and be on their own before marriage. Younger guys just shouldn’t be doing marriage-potential dating until their dating pool is old enough to get married.

  14. TheOneTrueSue

    February 17, 2010

    Great comments Coffinberry – both of them.

    I don’t see this in my ward, but my ward is probably pretty far outside of the norm -99.9999% active, tons of strong families, and a huge youth program. Many of the girls are getting married at 18 and 19, and the boys seem to be getting married right after their missions or during college. (The fact that most of the girls are exceptionally pretty probably skews the percentages a little. We have a ward full of beautiful people – plus me :>) It actually worries me seeing these young girls jump right into marriage, but most of their mothers did the same thing, and they all seem to have strong and healthy marriages, so – what do I know.

    But as far as the technology issue – I have no idea how that comes into play. Interesting idea.

  15. Tasha

    February 17, 2010

    Thanks for writing about this! I love that talk and think this topic is something that needs to be discussed.

    As a 19 year old with a 17 year old sister caught in the midst of facebook, iPods, and texting, I can see exactly what Sister Beck is saying. And with an 8 year old brother, I can see his friends starting really young. When his friends come over, many of them want to watch TV or play on the computer. Growing up my mom always taught us that this is not interaction, thus these activities are not suitable for a playdate. She guided us to have experiences where we could develop our social skills. How wise she was, and how grateful I am to her.

    My faith in the concept of the family comes from the good example set by my parents. Even though they have had challenges in their marriage and with their extended families, they have always worked together and with the Lord and come out stronger. My mom has sacrificed so much to stay home with us kids, telling us all the while that we were worth it because an eternal family was the most important thing in the world. I didn’t quite realize what she was saying when I was a child, but now I appreciate the great sacrifice and leap of faith she took for our family’s sake.

    So, in short, I would say that the best way to teach our children these truths is by guidance and example. Manage use of technology. Create environments and experiences where social skills are developed. Live by the Spirit. Raise a family centered in Christ. And don’t keep it a secret. Teach your children as you go about the divinity of the family. Tell them about the sacrifices you make to keep your family close to the Lord. They may not get it now, but I assure you that in the future they will recognize your hard work andbe eternally grateful for it.

  16. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    The technology aspect was only one part of the talk (which is 9 pages, by the way–just FYI, it’s a long one), but I chose to focus on it because I figured bloggers would be sensitive to the technology issue. I know I am. I won’t lie, I LOVE in the internet. I spend far too much time on it, and we’ve had to put limits in place for our children, one of whom figured out how to order Netflix when he was 4. Although I’m aware of the dangers of technology and try to be sensitive to them, I had never made the link between that and low confidence. And certainly, beyond trying to limit exposure to p*rnography, I hadn’t thought of the dangers technology poses to forming eternal families.

    The crux of the talk, really, is that our families are threatened by things we don’t always think about, and that everything we teach (she was speaking specifically to CES folks, but it applies to parents as well) should relate back to the family. EVERYTHING. She said some things that made me bristle (I know, y’all are shocked), but overall, her message is sound doctrine, and I and other members of my ward having been thinking and talking about this all week.

  17. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    But my observation is that as marriage becomes increasingly defined as a legal construct that exists solely to promote the satisfaction of the adult particpants, it is harder for young people to imagine how imperfect people can expect to stay together ‘forever’

    That is an excellent observation, coffinberry. I think you nailed it right on the head.

  18. Sharlee

    February 17, 2010

    Tasha (#15), you are a pretty wise 19-year-old! Amen to everything you said.

    Coffinberry (#13) wrote: “Younger guys just shouldn’t be doing marriage-potential dating until their dating pool is old enough to get married.”

    Or until *they* are old enough to get married. But I’m not talking about “marriage potential dating.” Too many young men (18-25ish) aren’t even group dating or interacting much at all outside their own little computer linked world.

  19. jks

    February 17, 2010

    Dating from 16 to early twenties SHOULD be encouraged by mothers of young men. It is practice social interaction so that they will be experienced enough to develop real relationships and find a marriage partner eventually. I am sad that parents are encouraging young men to not date and just focus on school and wasting their time on the interent & video games.
    I tell my kids that they should have age appropriate social interaction with the opposite sex. For instance, in high school it is good to meet people, date, have a crush, be friends, hang out but they need to make sure they are meeting all their responsibilities like school and developing their talents and then going to college.

  20. john willis

    February 17, 2010

    Have you seen the movie “500 days of summer”

    Even if it is rated ‘R’ it gives some real insight into how twenty somethings today have problems making comittments and yet believe and don’t believe in romantic love leading to marriage.

    While this may not apply to LDS 20 somethings it gives great insight into trends in the culture at large.

  21. Naismith

    February 17, 2010

    I am not sure if he was wrong or not. For me, being married is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life (and I was in the Army and went to grad school and was a single mom).

    We fight all the time, and it’s been more than 30 years. But the fighting isn’t personal insults, and we each appreciate that we need time away to recharge now and then.

    But I am absolutely certain that this was the person I should marry. So go figure.

    I think it’s wonderful that other people have “pure joy” and an easier time, but please understand that not everybody does.

    I don’t think my marriage is “useless,” by any means. Just not easy. And maybe that is a message that needs to be out there, that it is worth it, even when it is hard.

    I guess I don’t see how the technology gets in the way of human interactions. It’s not like they are talking to a computer, just *through* a computer to another human being.

  22. Marintha

    February 17, 2010

    #21
    500 Days of Summer isn’t rater “R”, just sayin’.

  23. lj

    February 17, 2010

    I recently heard a suggestion that hopefully Mormons will become known less for our family size and more for the admirable quality of our families. Wouldn’t that be lovely?! I’d love a copy of the talk please.

  24. Strollerblader

    February 17, 2010

    Just a few thoughts:
    1. The most popular way of thinking among my peers (youngish mothers) in the Church is that their goal is to raise their daughters to not even *think* about getting married until after they have finished a 4 year degree and served a mission. Most of them also attach an age to it, too: 25 or 27 years old. It frankly gets me quite cranky. Not only does it go against prophetic counsel to counsel your daughter as such, but it sets up what seems like (from their limited point of view) a nearly-impossible feat for them that they must plan on staying a virgin for that long. Now, before you jump on me about any of that, let me just say that to a 16 year old because that seems like so long to have to wait to have s*x, many toss that whole plan right out the window at the beginning, thinking “I’m never going to be able to wait that long, so I may as well start enjoying now.” While college degrees and missions are good, worthy goals, they *still* shouldn’t be the priority and take precedence over starting an eternal family. To teach your daughter as such, you are also subtely teaching her to ignore the Spirit until it is convenient to her life. You are telling her that your words, your advice, are more important than what Heavenly Father may have in mind for her during those crucial years. Your daughter may still in fact get a college degree and serve a mission AND be a virgin when she marries in the temple at 28, but that is going to happen because she was listening to the Spirit and following the path that Heavenly Father was laying out for her. Girls should grow up with the expectations that they will move out on their own after high school, that they will seek further training or education after high school, that when the time comes, they may consider serving a mission, or they may be considering marriage before or after the time frame they had in their mind.
    2. It is a hard thing to be a YW leader teaching the lessons about eternal marriage. Yes, we’d love for all of our YW to get married in the temple to a wonderful man, but the reality is that despite how righteous some of those girls/women are, they may never marry. There is just a shortage of good men in this Church. And while the Church, the Plan, is based on family units, that doesn’t mean that everyone will have the opportunity to form that family unit in this life. And even in today’s progressive world, women are still at the mercy of men when it comes to choosing to get married. In our teaching, we need to not alienate singles in the Church. The Church is about family, but we are eternal beings and we will have more than this life to fulfill that if that’s the way it turns out; if we haven’t had the opportunity to form an eternal family in this life.
    3. In teaching our daughters to grow up to be smart, independent women, we need to couple that with the mental and physical preparation to be mothers and wives. Being a mother and wife isn’t just something you do if nothing better comes along. It’s not the bottom rung of whatever ladder you or they want to climb. Their life plans need to be based around the plan of being wives and mothers. For some, Life may not bring those plans around, but eternity surely will. And in eternity, we won’t have careers. Eternity is all about our families.

    We need to raise our children to have respect for marriage and to understand it’s significance. They need to know that it’s not just an old-fashioned way to show you love someone, but that it is a covenant that they need to enter into. It is the way that they will reach their fullest potential. Raising children is also a means that Heavenly Father has given us, not only for the sake of bringing his spirits into this world, but as a means of perfecting ourselves and learning true service and putting others’ needs and happiness before our own.

  25. Coffinberry

    February 17, 2010

    There’s a difference between ‘dating’ and marriage-potential dating.

    A side thought, though, about these boys who are supposedly so engaged to their tech that they’re not out there dating the girls… I think that touches on a sore spot with me. We’re a pretty tech intense family (engineers and their offspring, what can you say?). So much of social interaction is from the get-go a mystery to the whole family (what is this sporting stuff people keep talking about, like the superbowl?), yet we seem to get along ok. Why should our boys be any different? That said, Aspergers does run in the family.

    I keep wondering about who is making these observations about technology, and who they’re actually observing. I’m just saying that maybe it’s not the tech, and maybe young ladies who don’t want tech in their lives ought not to pine for young guys who do.

  26. Genavee

    February 17, 2010

    I think of one myself as one of those young people who doesn’t have faith in families. I am married, happily so. But frankly, I don’t see marriage as having much to do with successful relationships. I’ve seen too many marriages end in divorce (including my parents) or people who stay married in bad or at least stifling marriages. I’ve also seen many unmarried couples (or couples who aren’t legally allowed to marry) who have wonderful relationships that will last.

    I’m married because I knew I wanted to be with my husband forever and build a lasting relationship, and in my social context that’s what you do. But I think the success of our relationship has everything to do with what we do, and very little to do with being married or not. I think my generation believes in relationships just as strongly as any past generation, we just don’t think that institutions like marriage are any guarantee or even a necessity for good relationships. If anything, marriage has so much baggage and meaning attached to it that doesn’t seem relevant to my life or the life of my peers, that in some ways it seems contrary to the type of relationship I want (feels 1950’s and not always in a good way). We want the institution to work for us and our needs, not the other way around.

    The same-sex marriage debate has in many ways challenged the idea that marriage is based on love and choice, and made it seem like more of a method of social control than a relationship. I think allowing same-sex marriage would do more to reform the image of marriage than anything else.

    Oh and technology? I have a hard time taking any criticism of young people based on technology seriously, especially given that I and most other people use it (and use it effectively) for communication and building relationships. It’s different maybe, but not necessarily negative.

  27. The Queen

    February 17, 2010

    I can almost guarantee you that another reason kids are not confident in their ability to keep a family together is because that is what is being modeled by their parents. I am an advisor to the Mia-Maid class in my ward and on Sunday we had a lesson about temple marriage and the eternal nature of families. We didn’t even get a fourth of the way through it because the girls had so many questions about how their parents’ divorces and remarriages would affect who they were sealed to. I felt horrible. I’m sure I’ll get butchered for saying this but I do believe that most people use divorce as an easy out, although it doesn’t usually turn out to be so. I don’t say that lightly as my marriage has not been the happiest and has required a lot of work on both our parts. (I think it is safe to say we were in the same situation as you were and didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to fight and argue about anything and everything.)

    Anyway, that’s my take on it. I hope that it’s a trend that reverses itself.

  28. Strollerblader

    February 17, 2010

    Also, I think another thing that plays into this is that we don’t like to attach the titles of “men” or “women” until mid-20s. Society is extending adolescence farther and farther, and I believe that we’re buying into that as well. I don’t necessarily agree that Heavenly Father is on that same page.

    Technology is great — until you realize that you can only communicate with your friends using a keyboard or phone or until your worth is based on how many “Friends” you have on FB. There needs to be a healthy balance between screen time and face-to-face time. Our screen personas are so easily ‘photoshopped’ into however we want to present ourselves. In real life, all of our real humanness is part of the equation of getting to know each other.

  29. HeidiAphrodite

    February 17, 2010

    Wow. This one hit a little close to home for me. At 31, I was engaged for two months to a man who made some unexpected choices, one of which was calling off our engagement. It was devastating in so many ways. So many ways. I won’t get into all of it here, but I did lose a little of my faith for a while. After all, I didn’t exactly choose to be single this long. I could have convinced myself to fall for the sweet boys who fell for me, I suppose, but it was never right. So I chose not to.

    Something happened to me just about a year ago, though. I attended a lecture with a dear friend of mine, and as we were leaving, he spontaneously held my hand. Just naturally, like we’d always held hands. I realized later that I had been happier during that short time with him than I had been on the best of days with my ex-fiance. That changed everything. I questioned if it was too much to ask to be that happy and content and stress-free with a man, and now I know that it isn’t. It’s the ideal. I just turned 35, and I’m still holding out for that idea. I know it can happen. I know it. I’m not expecting Prince Charming to solve all my problems–I’m expecting (and have been promised) that I will marry someone as committed to the Gospel as I am. I’m not looking for perfect; I’m looking for solid commitment. And I’m glad to know it’s out there somewhere.

    I hope I can be an example for the younger girls in my ward, and I hope the good men who stayed true and found the courage to commit in the face of hardship can be an example for the boys in my ward. I think they can. I have a lot of hope for the next generation!

  30. Tay

    February 17, 2010

    Sure technology has something to do with it, seeing as interaction in person becomes scarce for some and less necessary for the rest of us. However, parental examples are a huge part of the kids my age being wary of marriage. There have been too many raised with the expectation of marriage being the final destination. Parents with the frame of mind that they just had to raise them and let go of their marriage in the process. Or families raised in selfishness, determined to have exactly what they wanted at the risk of everything.

    My husband and I are terribly flawed, but I do know that my marriage is something worth fighting for. I learned that any (except abusive) marriage is worth fighting for from my mother. She continues to fight for hers, for it to be a companionship, to be able to relate and to be able to feel loved is her goal. And it’s almost been 25 years of this with only minor breakthroughs with my dad very recently.

    Because my mom can make it through and make it work, I know that I can too. If my mom had let it go, I would have said “Good for you, find someone who values you more” but then what did their commitment mean in the long run? What would that mean to me in relation to the goal of eternal family? Why should working for eternity mean anything to me when it meant so seemingly little to my parents?

    In the end, I am grateful for my mom’s sacrifices, mistakes, and perseverance. And for my husband who is not a nut case like my dad, but instead patiently helps me work through my emotional kinks.

  31. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    If anything, marriage has so much baggage and meaning attached to it that doesn’t seem relevant to my life or the life of my peers, that in some ways it seems contrary to the type of relationship I want (feels 1950’s and not always in a good way). We want the institution to work for us and our needs, not the other way around.

    I gotta say, this comment makes me very very sad. Marriage is relevant to your life because it is one of the reasons we came to earth. Sister Beck said that it’s really the ONLY reason, which I have to say I disagree with (don’t shoot me), but marriage is integral to our Heavenly Father’s plan. Indeed, I think it’s also one of the main reasons we got a body–to make other bodies, of course, but I also firmly believe that giving your body to somebody else in an intimate setting that is within the bonds the Lord has set is one of the most spiritual things a person can do, and certainly one of the most pleasing things we can do physically. So if you believe at all in the Plan of Salvation, marriage is incredibly relevant.

    That said, I am highly aware that we aren’t always in control of our life’s situation, and certainly we can’t control other people’s actions when it comes to behavior in dating and behavior within marriage. People make choices that make a marriage difficult or impossible, and of course the Lord knows and sees and understand these situations. I know of a situation where abuse at an early age has made it difficult for a woman to be able to sustain a healthy
    physical relationship with a man, again, something she couldn’t control and certainly would have never chosen. Everybody’s life’s circumstances are different, and everybody’s marriage is different. And like I said, the Lord knows that. I also firmly believe that God doesn’t want us to enter into any old marriage just for marriage’s sake. God doesn’t intend for us to be miserable on this earth, and the relief and overwhelming peace I felt when I broke off my engagement with the wrong man is my personal testimony of this.

    But when teaching our youth, it seems that we need to start with the ideal, to show them how things can be, how God wants them most to be, and let them know that it is possible to strive to create that pattern God has outlined that is most likely to lead to our happiness. Otherwise, if we teach them something that is less than ideal, that is what they are more likely to end up with.

  32. Lindsey

    February 17, 2010

    Strollerblader: “Girls should grow up with the expectations that they will move out on their own after high school, that they will seek further training or education after high school, that when the time comes, they may consider serving a mission, or they may be considering marriage before or after the time frame they had in their mind.”

    I definitely plan on raising my girls to discover and understand themselves before getting married. I want them to go to college or some form of training school and go on missions if they want. I have seen too many women of my generation and earlier generations who have chosen to get married early, before they even know who they are and what they want in their lives. They just get married because the church expects them to, because the Mormon CULTURE says they should. Not because they had a revelation that now is the right time for them.

    On technology, I agree that it is part of the problem. Those who say that FB and texting are just another form of communication are partly right, but those are not meaningful communications. You get so much more connection from people when you’re face-to-face. We ALL (me included, as I’m typing this) should focus on being more present with those around us, making eye-contact, being aware of social cues, and listening to others. We should model this in our families with less TV time, less video games (notice I didn’t say “NO video games”), more outdoor activities, more discussions at family meals, and consciously maintaining good friendships with non-family members. Maybe then they will grow up to know how to be a strong individual, a good friend, and a possible spouse.

  33. anonymous

    February 17, 2010

    Don’t tell me technology has nothing to do with it–I’m at BYU in married housing and most of my friends’ younger siblings will come over to “spend time together”, then hop on the computer and facebook chat for hours instead of turning around and having a real conversation.

    Technology isn’t everything, I’m sure, but it has an impact I have no doubt.

    My husband is in the bishopric of a singles ward south of campus, mostly students, some older, some not. Out of 150 members of the ward, on average 2 get married every calendar year. These are righteous, intelligent, attractive, incredible kids. And the dating scene is nearly non-existent. I can’t wrap my head around it, when I was going to school 4 years ago we had nearly a dozen kids get married every semester.

  34. Carrie

    February 17, 2010

    Such an interesting conversation! I’m dying to read all the comments, but want to add something before my preggo brain forgets it. I think that part of the reason for the attitude of our young people is that for the first time EVER in human history, parents are having to TEACH the importance of family. Up until this point in time, the importance of family has never been controversial or optional and now we see that people are choosing to believe that family is controversial and optional. As a parent to young children, I think about this often. I think about how, unlike my own mom and dad, I’m going to have to teach this. My parents taught me the doctrine of eternal families. They taught me to be kind to my siblings and to get married in the temple. But they didn’t have to teach me to WANT to get married and have children. To me, that is a different FHE lesson entirely.

    And I think part of the lack of confidence comes from parents enabling their kids. Teenagers today have a serious lack of responsibility. And some parents don’t help this by always covering their kids’ behinds when, as my parents would say, the going gets tough. They end up with no ability to cope with anything because someone else has always fixed the problem for them.

  35. Joy128

    February 17, 2010

    I love your thoughts here Strolllerblader: “In teaching our daughters to grow up to be smart, independent women, we need to couple that with the mental and physical preparation to be mothers and wives. Being a mother and wife isn’t just something you do if nothing better comes along. It’s not the bottom rung of whatever ladder you or they want to climb. Their life plans need to be based around the plan of being wives and mothers. For some, Life may not bring those plans around, but eternity surely will. And in eternity, we won’t have careers. Eternity is all about our families.”

    I completely agree. As a smart gal (valedictorian, full 4 year scholarship to BYU, graduated Cum Laude), I have many friends from high school and even one of my parents who cannot understand my choice to stay home with my kids. Why am I wasting my life away? I’m not wasting my life. As you said, we won’t have careers in eternity, we have families. And motherhood is NOT the bottom rung of the ladder, even when it feels that way sometimes!

  36. jendoop

    February 17, 2010

    Good discussion on a sorely needed topic.

    I do believe technology has something to do with it. There is no face time, body language, dealing with uncomfortable situations – just turn it off if you don’t like what someone said. This is basic human interaction, it matters! I feel that I teach my children about this, including my teenage daughter, when I talk to her in the car instead of listening to music. When we have conversations around the dinner table. When we have doctrinal discussions during FHE (rare as they are). When we play board games and talk. When we ask her what she thinks and then listen.

    I agree with those who have said that youth don’t have examples of successful relationships so they don’t believe it exists. Eternal marriage is as much of a fairy tale as pumpkins turning into carriages for some. I taught a temple lesson to a group of YW once and was asked by a girl, “Why someone would want to be married forever to someone who beats them?” This YW had seen so much spousal abuse in her home that she believed every man beat his wife. Live the gospel and have a good marriage to be a good example, to give the rising generation hope.

    I don’t know that everyone that has commented has read the talk – it answers some of the questions that have been asked. This quote from Pres. Kimball was in the talk: “which downplay the significance of the family
    and which play up the significance of selfish
    individualism.” This is a huge part of what is happening with our youth. Selfish individualism. Life is for them to enjoy as they see fit, to play sports or etc, to develop themselves, to “find” themselves. Sometimes as well meaning and loving parents we mistakenly give our children the idea that life is about them. This is something that can be remedied through hands on service and examples of service. Which ironically enough can take place in families.

  37. Stephanie

    February 17, 2010

    I have so many thoughts related to this topic I hope I can be clear and concise.

    As for the technology aspect, I absolutely do think that this has a huge impact on our youth’s ability to communicate and develop healthy, normal relationships. A couple of years ago we stupidly let our then 12 yr. old daughter have a cell phone with unlimited texting. And, basically she became what I like to call “partial awareness” within our family context. Normally vivacious and chatty, she became obsessed with these pseudo relationships on her phone and practically ignored those she loves the most- us. While on a family vacation I told her she couldn’t have the phone on and she went through withdrawls, I swear. She was bullied on that phone, wasted all sorts of time, and basically ignored all of the normal relationships around her. Fortunately, after six months she realized her problem and voluntarily gave up the phone and hasn’t had it since. She quickly became the engaging, loving, “normal” daughter I knew and loved. Needless to say, our other kids are not getting a cell phone until they are 18, move out and can buy and pay for their own.

    On the topic of LDS girls getting married young, I have told my girls that I would like them to wait until they are 21 or so. I just think a lot of personal growth goes on between 18 and 21 and I want them to have that time to develop themselves before they get married. Also, I know my choice in ahusband was much better at 21 than it would have been at 18. It is a huge decision and I want them to take it very seriously.

  38. Jacki

    February 17, 2010

    As a youth I remember thinking- why do I want to live with my siblings and parents for eternity? they get on my nerves! It really didn’t make sense because my home was so contentious. But as my relationship with my boyfriend was one of civility, kindness, courtesy and affection, I gained confidence in my abiility to form an eternal family that would want to be together for eternity. So I guess what I’m saying is, it takes practice of your own to have confidence in family bonds. If that practice can’t be found within the walls of the home, then it can be found with sucessful relationships with friends and dates.

    But if all your interaction is found through technology, then that can be a big problem. How do you carry on a normal conversation during a date if you only know how to think in quantities of up to 140 characters? In our young women, there’s a real problem with their need to constantly communicate. It’s like they are so used to instant communication with everyone they know, it’s torture to sit through an hour long lesson and not tell their best friend what thought they had about last night.

    As a YW leader, our stake presidency has stressed that one of our tasks is to show “happy gospel living” to the young women. To me that means, show the girls that living the gospel doesn’t equal drudgery, and being a wife and mother is full of joy. Not to mention showing the direct connection between living the gospel and having a joy-filled life. I go out of my way to tell the girls that I didn’t always know how to take care of kids, how to pray with faith, how to read my scriptures and get something out of it, or how to be caring to my husband- I had to learn and practice. It’s not just something that came “naturally” to me.

  39. ECS

    February 17, 2010

    This is an interesting topic and reminds me of an article I read in the NY Times this Valentine’s Day answering the question “What is love?” Falling in love is easy, staying in love and making a marriage work is ridiculously hard. No wonder why so many people give up on each other.

    “What is love, anyway?

    Ah, best for last. If I were Spock from “Star Trek,” I would explain that human love is a combination of three emotions or impulses: desire, vulnerability and bravery. Desire makes one feel vulnerable, which then requires one to be brave.

    Since I’m not Spock, I will tell a story.

    Say you decide to adopt a baby girl in China. You receive her photo, put it on your refrigerator and gaze at it as the months pass, until finally you’re halfway around the world, holding her in your arms, tears of joy streaming down your face.

    But later in your hotel room, after undressing her, you discover worrisome physical signs, in particular a scar on her spine. You call the doctor, then head to the hospital for examinations and CT scans, where you are told the following: she suffered botched spinal surgery that caused nerve damage. Soon she will lose all bladder and bowel control. Oh, and she will be paralyzed for life. We’re so sorry.

    But the adoption agency offers you a choice: keep this damaged baby, or trade her in for a healthier one.

    You don’t even know about the trials yet to come, about the alarming diagnoses she’ll receive back home, the terrifying seizures you’ll witness. Nor do you know about the happy ending that is years off, when she comes through it all and is perfectly fine. You have to decide now. This is your test. What do you do?

    If you’re Elizabeth Fitzsimons, who told this story here one Mother’s Day, you say: “We don’t want another baby. We want our baby, the one sleeping right over there. She’s our daughter.”

    That’s love. Anyone can have it. All it requires is a little bravery. Or a lot.”

  40. Laurie

    February 17, 2010

    I don’t think technology is part of Satan’s plan. I have a teenager, and I see as many benefits as drawbacks.

    Being a wife and mother is a joy, except when it isn’t. I think what we have for the first time in history, are women who are finally able to be honest – and say, “I don’t WANT that. I didn’t know motherhood was going to be like this.” The rising generation isn’t buying the romanticized story of marriage, because it isn’t reality. We have a women who get married, and have children on the promise that it is the path to happiness, only to find out that they are not happy. I think that is what we are seeing. The ability to be honest. To make choices. Some members of the church will see this as an assault on the family and women’s divine roles, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to redefine what a family is, and a way to life a truly honest and happy life.

  41. Sharlee

    February 17, 2010

    #41, just because something has as many benefits as drawbacks doesn’t mean Satan won’t use it to his advantage. Technology itself is fabulous. I don’t think anyone here is anti-technology. Heaven forbid we should return to a world without technology. Long live technology! (insert soundtrack from Napoleon Dynamite: “I love technology, but not as much as you, you see . . .”)

    However, the unfettered use of technology and, in extreme cases, the substitution of virtual reality for real life human interaction can lead to serious, serious problems. Satan is so good at twisting good things (or morally neutral things) for his own purposes. Here, again, is that link to Elder Bednar’s talk on this very subject:

    http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,538-1-4830-1,00.html

  42. john willis

    February 17, 2010

    First of all I apologize for saying that 500 Days of Summer was rated “R” instead of “PG -13″. See it anyway and think about it.

    I would also call you attention to the work of two sociologists on the state of marriage in the United States.

    First is Andrew Cherlin and his book”The marriage go round”. He points out that the U.S. has the highest divorce rate of any industrialized country. He attributes this in part to our highly individualistic view of marriage, i.e. that marriage is designed to make ME happy. He also points out that the relatively high rates of marriage and low rates of divorce in the 40’s and 50’s compared to the present were due to a number of long term social trends.

    With relatively low rates of education and limited opportunites of women in the work force women in the Leave it to Beaver and Father know best era ,had limited options to have a middle class lifestyle outside of marriage. Many women had no real choice but to stay in what we would today consider a bad marriage.

    Furthermore in the 50’s a man could finish high school get a job in a factory that he could stay in for life and be able to support a wife and family without her working outside of the home.

    Those days are gone FOREVER and telling people to “try harder” to make their marriage work will not reverse these long term social trends.

    Secondly I would call your attention to the work of Mark Regenerus and his book Forbiden Fruit on pre-marital sex and an article “the case for early marriage ” which appeared in Christianity Today in August 2009.

    While Cherlin writes from a secular prespective , Regenerus is an Evangelical Christian. Regenerus argues that expecting people to saty chaste untill they marry in their mid and late 20’s is socialy and biologically unrealistic. Hence his call for early marriage.

    I am not out to say that Cherlin or Regenerus has all the answers to solve the problems of marriage for society at large or the LDS community in particular. But they do raise issues and questions which are not going to be answered by saying that couple should just “try harder” or that young men should stop playing video games and do more serious dating.

    There is a ALWAYS going to be a tension in being in a Church that teaches that eternal marriage is a part of God’s plan and the fact that not everyone is the Church is going to be able to achive a Temple marriage in this life.

    Perhaps stressing the importance of leading a Christlike life ,while recognizing that persons will do this in different ways at different points in thier lives and not judging people based on if they are married or single is part of the answer.

  43. Handsfullmom

    February 17, 2010

    “I recently heard a suggestion that hopefully Mormons will become known less for our family size and more for the admirable quality of our families. Wouldn’t that be lovely?!”

    While I think an increase in the quality of our families is EXACTLY what we need, I don’t like the assumption made by many that if a family has fewer children, they’ll do a better job with it. That may not be what you are saying here, but I see less and less members of the Church with large families with no resulting increase in the quality. I’ve heard many say that their reasons for having fewer children are so they can have better quality families, yet the reality is that instead of filling up all that “extra time” they should theoretically have with more quality interactions, they instead find themselves with plenty of time for pursuits that take them away from their families and dull their faith and commitment.

    I’m not saying every large family is fabulous and wonderful, nor that smaller families cannot do a great job, but especially in today’s world, it takes a huge amount of commitment, effort, and dedication, plus a pretty thick skin, to have more than the average number of children, even in the Church. Most large families I know are faithful, loving, hard-working, thoughtful and deliberate in the way they CHOOSE family over every other pursuit.

    I see the trends towards smaller families in the Church as a negative, and as another sign that people are losing their commitment to family and their willingness to sacrifice for something larger and more important than their own selfish desires. Obviously, not everyone can bear a lot of children and some have health concerns to take into account, but I wish we as a culture had more of a commitment to having children.

    So, I think it would be best if we could be known for BOTH our large families AND the amazing quality of our families. The two are in no way mutually exclusive.

  44. Michelle L.

    February 17, 2010

    I haven’t read all the comments, but I need to thank you for this beautifully written and timely piece.

    One idea: I think that as Saints we sometimes dwell too much on– ‘get married’ “have children’ ‘hold FHE’ etc.– more as a list of ‘to-dos’ without explaining the WHY. Why are strong marriages so important? Why is righteous parenting crucial? What kind of happiness can you yield from successful family relationships?

    Perhaps if we could better convey the joy of family life, our youth would feel more optimistic.

  45. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    john willis-

    There is a ALWAYS going to be a tension in being in a Church that teaches that eternal marriage is a part of God’s plan and the fact that not everyone is the Church is going to be able to achive a Temple marriage in this life

    Certainly that’s true. And like others have mentioned, I don’t think it serves anybody not to be honest about what marriage entails—hard work, days when you want to strangle your spouse, even days when you wonder if you made the right choice. And that’s just marriage–forget about the realities of motherhood, which include extended sleep deprivation, up close and personal relationships with bodily fluids, and the fact that you are now permanently connected to another person and you are expected to love that person, no matter how snotty he gets.

    But I don’t think that acknowledging the hardships and teaching the ideals have to be mutually exclusive.

  46. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    The ability to be honest. To make choices. Some members of the church will see this as an assault on the family and women’s divine roles, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to redefine what a family is, and a way to life a truly honest and happy life.

    Laurie, I’m not sure where you are going with this. What opportunity to redefine what a family is are you referring to? Are you talking about new societal trends that involve a widening of women’s choices? Are you talking about women NOT choosing to have families? And if you want to redefine the family, what is the pattern that you would use? Obviously families are different, marriages are different, circumstances are different, and people endure huge amounts of pain and heartache when dealing with these issues. But again, when teaching our youth what a family should look like, I feel we have to teach them the ideal. They may or may not get there, but teaching them something less than the ideal ensures that less than ideal is what they will get.

  47. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    Michelle L,

    One idea: I think that as Saints we sometimes dwell too much on– ‘get married’ “have children’ ‘hold FHE’ etc.– more as a list of ‘to-dos’ without explaining the WHY. Why are strong marriages so important? Why is righteous parenting crucial? What kind of happiness can you yield from successful family relationships?

    Perhaps if we could better convey the joy of family life, our youth would feel more optimistic.

    Well said, friend.

  48. Melinda in the Jello Belt

    February 17, 2010

    Technology has a huge impact on my marriage. My husband would much rather surf the Internet and play computer games than talk to me or spend time with our sons. I’ve tried to talk to him about it, and he has told me he will never change. I just have to learn to live with it. I’ve quit trying to talk to him about it because it doesn’t make any difference, other than to send me on another crying jag.

    The result is that I find most of my emotional fulfillment in motherhood and friendships outside my marriage. Being a mother is a hundred times easier than being a wife. My children haven’t rejected me in favor of a computer screen, and so I adore them. It’s hard to remain open and loving towards someone who is happiest when I just leave him alone instead of bothering him by interacting with him. He wasn’t like that when we were dating.

    On the other hand, our marriage is better than my parents’ marriage. But if marriage is supposed to be about joy and companionship, I’ve never seen one of those up close, and I’m approaching middle age. The problem of bad examples of marriages isn’t a new one.

    I was interested in Tay’s comment #31, about how her mother fought for companionship and the marriage that she wanted, and it took her decades. I don’t know if I have that kind of staying power, or if we’ll just permanently degenerate into a parallel marriage. I resent the idea that he wouldn’t meet me halfway, if he meets me at all. It would all be me begging him for attention; he doesn’t need anything from me.

    I really don’t know what to do. I want my sons to learn to prefer normal human interaction to technological interaction, but I know it’s going to be an uphill battle.

  49. Jill

    February 17, 2010

    I really recommend listening to Dr. John L. Lund’s lecture series called “For All Eternity.” It changed the way that my husband and I communicate with each other and, as a result, our whole marriage. In it, he talks about the misconception that women sometimes have that if their husbands didn’t spend so much time watching TV or playing on the computer, their husbands would spend that time with them and their families. But really, wouldn’t the husband just find something else to fill his time with? If it wasn’t TV or the internet, it would be another “hobby.” So I don’t necessarily think that technology is the problem.

    I do see the problem though and I don’t want to negate the pain and the hurt that this can cause in a marriage and a family. My husband’s teenage brothers have been sucked into computer gaming and IM’ing and texting and I do see a huge difference in their emotional health, maturity, general happiness, worth ethic, etc. But I don’t think that we can necessarily blame technology for all of these problems. Because, if it wasn’t technology, it could be something else. It is so important to keep this in mind while we’re parenting… by starting while they’re young and setting rules and placing focus on “wholesome recreational activities” and gospel principles.

  50. Giggles

    February 17, 2010

    Strollerblader, I found your comments about throwing in the towel on chastity if people think they’ll have to wait so long to get married interesting. It shows a misunderstanding of chastity and a misunderstanding of how to teach it. Chastity, one of the virtues of Christ, is not simply not having sex before marriage. It’s a way of life. It’s part of everything you do, not simply a few things you don’t do.

    I did get a degree, and then another one, and serve a mission, and didn’t get married till I was in my 30’s. But marriage was never about sex for me. Marriage was about committing to someone else with everything I had, and my body was just a small part of that. If you (general you, not you specifically) teach people that a reason to get married is to have sex, then you are teaching them the wrong thing about both marriage and sex. And then what happens when the sex goes bad? You can end up with people thinking they need to “kick the tires” on a relationship before settling into it, just to make sure the sex works.

    With a correct teaching on sex, waiting for marriage doesn’t have to be a big deal. And marriage becomes a lot more than just a way to have legitimate sex.

  51. April

    February 17, 2010

    I’ve been thinking about this topic lately. Thanks for the link. I am in my late thirties and I live in a Branch where most of the members are twenty somethings. I find they don’t have home phones and like to communicate by e-mail. Which has been a big adjustment for me. I rely a lot on the tones in peoples voices ect… to communicate and find it very unnerving to constantly speak through e-mail. I can’t imagine typing someone when you can hear their voice.
    I can see how constantly speaking through email could stunt verbal confidence.

  52. Ashley Stolworthy

    February 17, 2010

    Thank you so very much for bringing up this topic for discussion. I don’t have much time right now to read everyone’s comments or all of Sis. Beck’s talk, but I wanted to let you know I will. Tonight!

    Until then, here are a few comments going through my head right now about this initial perusal.

    As a 28-year-old single professional, I see this problem staring at me on a daily basis. I feel a large percentage of even our young adults (single or not) have similar problems, not just the teenagers. Some of us don’t know how to have real relationships. Complacency of life in general is rampant. It has many feeders, including: lack of goal setting, too much Halo playing :), and lack of real communication with anyone.

    I have spent significant amounts of time in the public school setting and while technology plays into these problems of inadequacy and complacency to life, I do feel that people everywhere–regardless of age or marital status–have similar problems. But if the youth specifically have these problems already, where will that leave us in five, 10 or 15 years?

  53. Happy Mom

    February 17, 2010

    I LOVE this talk! My husband and I were talking about it just this morning.

    I think our youth need roll models of happy marriages. Hopefully in the home, but examples in their youth leaders, bishopric, home teachers are important too. If they see the joy in others and understand that marriage is a faith based work, they’ll want it and work towards it with faith that they can receive those blessings.

  54. Tiffany

    February 17, 2010

    great points, strollerblader.

  55. Strollerblader

    February 17, 2010

    Giggles, trying to clarify a bit:
    I think that well-intentioned parents often sabotage their efforts to have their kids end up in solid eternal marriages because they set up ages or requirements that must be met before the “child” is ready to get married. In much of society today, “hooking up” is the solution to this dilemma: The kid still doesn’t ‘screw up’ their life by getting tangled up in relationships or getting married before they’ve graduated from college and gotten started in a career (like Mom and Dad want), but they still get the hormonal satisfaction that their bodies seek, so to speak. So they are ‘putting out’ for just about anyone without any strings attached, because that means they’re doing what Mom and Dad want, right? Which is focusing on education and financial readiness before they get involved in a distracting relationship or even married. With this as the norm among college students, you can see how easily it is for a Mormon guy or girl to get caught up to some degree or another in this way of life when their parents are advocating the same.

    The book _Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue S*x, Delay Love and Lose at Both_ is fascinating and clearly discusses this issue much better than my little attempts. Just reading through some of Amazon’s customer reviews of the book gives you a good idea of this big issue. And, further, the “hooking up” culture is also based on shallow interactions (like the technology problems discussed here) that separate the person from who they are and the deep, meaningful relationships that we crave, particularly women.

    Anyhow, here is the link:
    http://tinyurl.com/yz5h8kx

    I am just pointing out that this is just one trend that is contributing to Generations’ X and Y’s rejection of marriage.

  56. mom o' boys

    February 17, 2010

    Thank you so much for posting your thoughts, Heather. Thank you for the links to Elder Bednar’s talk and Sister Beck’s talk. So much to take away from those. I’ve really enjoyed reading the comments that were left here.

    Just a few thoughts of my own…

    I really do think technology’s effects are much more pervasive than we even realize. Just a few examples from what I’ve seen in my own life:

    *Watching a father eat dinner with his three daughters at McDonald’s, I noticed that almost the whole time he was on his Blackberry. He almost said nothing for 20 minutes or more to his baby daughter who was sitting in the high chair while his other kids were playing.

    *I saw 2 moms get together at an indoor play space and they spent at least 30 minutes talking on their cell phones instead of to each other.

    *I frequently see kids walking around with little portable video devices while they’re waiting at the doctor’s office or at their siblings’ basketball games. I’m just not sure if we’re “amusing ourselves and our kids to death”.

    I don’t think any of these single moments is a big deal, but added up again and again, how can we expect our kids to learn how to live in the here and now, to deal with the monotony of daily family life when they always have some diversion at their fingertips? I find myself sneaking to the computer throughout the day, and while not all of it’s bad, I have found myself often sucked into cyberspace when my kids actually need me to be present with them. Speaking of which…my twin preschoolers are calling for me right at this moment, ready to get dressed for bed and be read to. Thank you so much for this discussion. I will continue to think on this topic.

  57. jendoop

    February 17, 2010

    “the “hooking up” culture is also based on shallow interactions that separate the person from who they are and the deep, meaningful relationships that we crave, particularly women.”
    This is what I am seeing with YW in the inner city. They crave deep meaningful relationships with men that aren’t satisfied by a strong father figure or anyone else. The girls think they are finding it in boyfriends, but because they don’t really know what “it” is they are constantly grasping at interactions that leave them wanting. Also resulting in the general attitude that life as a whole isn’t fulfilling.

  58. Julie R.

    February 17, 2010

    Just a couple of thoughts about the effects of technology to throw in. It’s not just “young people” who don’t know how to form relationships thanks to technology, and specifically, the Internet/social networking.

    I’ve tried the online dating business several times in the past 10 years. I eventually gave up because while I had several positive experiences via email and chat, when we met in person, all communication halted. Even if the real-life conversation was wonderful.

    I wonder if perhaps the lack of fruition with these Internet acquaintances was due to me suddenly becoming “real.” In email or even live chat, there is a distance; I am virtual but not real. And I think the men I’ve happened to meet online are not equipped to deal with reality. Other comments here speak to why that might be–lack of example, complacency, etc.

    Sure, maybe this is a justification to keep me from thinking that I happen to be unlovable, but I think there’s a bit of truth to it nonetheless. It’s hard to explain, but I wanted to note that I see technological solipsistic behaviors in older people as well.

    (That’s not to say that successful relationships don’t happen online–I know they do. Just not for me.)

  59. Carrie

    February 17, 2010

    Jacki- loved what your Stake is asking you to do. “Happy gospel living”. Love it. I once remember begrudgingly telling a non member friend about a church assignment and she started asking me about why I did so much for my church… wasn’t really criticizing the church, assignment, or me, but it made me think twice about complaining out loud again. The same is true for our kids. There is a way to be ‘real’ about how difficult marriage is without showing the worst moments.

    And to #38 Stephanie and others who have said they’ve put ‘age ranges’ on when they want their kids to get married- As a woman who married at 19, and 9 years later considers herself happily married, I think you are being short sighted. The ‘growing up’ I did in the years from 19- 21 was crucial, yes, but just as crucial FOR ME and for MY MARRIAGE (meaning I speak only for myself, from my perspective) was growing up WITH my husband. Our relationship is far stronger because of those years than had we met when I was 21. Delaying marriage because one is waiting for ‘readiness’, as I’ve seen with my 2 younger siblings, only breeds selfishness. I think we do our youth a disservice by putting numbers next to anything. My emphasis to my daughters and son will ALWAYS be to find the person who is right for you, whenever and where ever that may happen. I think my focus will be on the being prayerful part and less about when I think she’ll be grown up enough for it. My focus will be on teaching her that marriage is about commitment, not about maturity, which is one of the reasons why I think marrying young worked out for me.

  60. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    These are great comments, everybody. Please, keep them coming!

    Just a thought about getting married young: Two of my sisters married at age 20. I once asked one of them if she regrets getting married so young. She told me simply that she married the guy she was supposed to, and he happened to show up when she was 20. What, was she supposed to say to the man of her dreams, “Hey, back off dude, I want to get married at 25. Come back then.”? I don’t think anybody really ‘plans’ to get married at any specific age. Can’t it just a matter of who shows up when?

  61. Katie

    February 17, 2010

    I loved this post, except for the part where all of the youth’s communication problems are blamed on technology. It really bothers me when people blame problems on technology instead of focusing on the root issue. If teens are burying their heads in technology instead of participating in so-called “real” relationships it is probably because of other problems, such as social problems, family problems, etc.

    The proper use of technology has brought incredible good to my life. If it were not for the internet I would never have met my husband. If it were not for the internet our long distance relationship would never have worked. If it were not for the internet my husband would never have met his business partner and started his own company. If it were not for the internet my husband would not have his current well-paying dream job. Pretty much everything great in our life can be brought back to my husband or I meeting someone online and forming a friendship. Even with such a technology-centered past, we have a fabulous marriage built on respect for each other and we are super close. Sure, marrying a computer nerd means sometimes he is on the computer when I wish he wasn’t, but because he loves and respects me I know that he will stop what he is doing and turn off the computer if it really is important to me. If a marriage is falling apart because someone is doing too much online, the issue is a lack of love and respect for the other’s feelings, not the fact that technology exists.

    Kids today lack confidence in relationships because they see relationships falling apart all around them. In media, parents are more often divorced than married. Also, even if kids are lucky enough to have happily married parents, they see the mess that divorce and bad relationships have had on their friends. The ideas of relationships are so skewed that it can be very difficult for kids to form good romantic relationships at a young age. This is why kids lack confidence in their ability to form good relationships, not because they happen to have a cell phone and text their friends when we think they should be talking to us.

    Part of the reason this gets me so upset is I see so many parents freaking out and blaming video games, the internet, social networking sites, etc., for their kids problems. So, they try to force their kids not to use these things, and they just end up alienating their kids from their friends and doing great damage to the relationship they have with their kids. All the while these same parents are completely missing out on what is really causing their kids problems – be it a bad relationship with their parents, a lack of confidence, a misunderstanding of the gospel, etc. Instead of using their heads to figure out what is going on with their kids, they panic and end up causing more harm than good.

    I’m not saying parents shouldn’t regulate their kids use of technology. It’s definitely a parent’s job to teach their kids how to regulate their own behavior. A parent who lets their child do whatever they want whenever they want is a bad parent. But, to vilify technology and blame it for problems, and thereby let the more serious underlying cause go unnoticed is also bad parenting. Technology is just a tool and can be used for great good or great bad – it is up to you to decide what role it will play in your home.

  62. Heather O.

    February 17, 2010

    Katie, I appreciate your perspective. If you have a minute, go ahead and read the talk in its entirety. Technology is touched on, but it isn’t the only thing Sister Beck cites as a threat to the family. Like I said in an earlier comment, I chose to focus on the threats of technology in the original post because, as bloggers, we are probably more plugged in to those things than other people. And, like I said before, I LOVE the internet. Like you, it has brought wonderful opportunities into my life, not the least of which is being a part of Segullah. So I agree with you that the internet can be a great tool, and that technology can’t be an scapegoat for bad parenting.

    But it’s hard to deny that technology isn’t playing a big part in rewiring how our kids think about and interact with the world. I took my nephew, a kid who has been plugged in almost his entire life, on a drive to an aquarium. It was just under an hour’s drive, and he was appalled that we didn’t have a DVD player to watch. “What am I supposed to do FOR AN HOUR?” I suggested that we could listen to music, play a game, or even (gasp!) talk. It was something he clearly wasn’t used to doing.

  63. Stephanie

    February 17, 2010

    Carrie- I really appreciate your opinion. I understand the perspective you have. I’ve had a couple of friends who have married at 19 as well and have “grown up” so to speak with their spouses and have benefited much from it. I only put the number 21 out their because statistically speaking you are increasing your chances of a successful (ie no divorce) marriage by being older when you marry. I know that many people have successful marriages that have started when they were both young, my inlaws included. They are celebrating 50 years this summer and they were both 19 when they married.

    This is only my opinion that I share with my daughters. I know that the guy I was dating, and pondering marriage with at 19 was not the right guy for me, although at the time I definitely thought he was.

  64. Michelle Glauser

    February 17, 2010

    Yep, I’m one of that generation that looks at marriage and thinks, “Wow, I will never be able to do that.” My biggest fear could just be having a divorce some day/having my husband die before he’s 75. Not because I’m afraid of what others will think, but because the idea of having an eternal partner with me my whole life is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard and I want to make the best decision that will make both of us happy. That’s why I would love to just have a really long-term boyfriend (who is also worthy–willing not to have sex before marriage).

    As for the kids thing, I am so convinced that I would not be a good mother that it’s hard for me to imagine myself being happy trying to force that role upon myself. People say that God will strengthen you so you can handle it, but what if that’s not what I want? Am I evil for wishing I could have kids who would raise themselves? And yet I know that having kids and not being personally involved in their lives would not make them good people. It would probably mess them up. But I don’t want to mess up my body (I already have lame health issues) by having kids. I don’t want to have a kid pulling on my pants leg while another is screaming in my arms. I don’t want to have to remind myself to take time to help kids with homework or ask them how their days were or wait up for them to get home from dates. I know it sounds selfish. It is. And I know I should change my attitude and that joy is promised when we follow God’s commandments.

    But I have no answers. I pray often that I will have the desire to marry and have a family. But I think the Lord is going to have carefully lead me there by the hand.

  65. RunnerMom

    February 17, 2010

    I liked mom o’ boys comments. Children need lots of things. Technology isn’t one of them. My hubby works as a pediatrician and sees children all day long, 75 percent of whom have their noses stuck in a DS or game of choice. When he greets them, many won’t look up to say hello. It is annoying to him that a mother must prompt a 10 year old child to say hello when spoken to.

    Technology is wonderful, but maybe not so much for young children. It sucks them in and robs them of the chance for daily interactions, simple “hello’s” and “good bye’s.” Our oldest is 10 and he doesn’t own a DS, ipod, etc. All his friends, save one boy, do.

    As a side note, I do think modeling a healthy, happy marriage can have a wonderful influence on our children. Date night. Holding hands. Affection. This does not come easily; it takes time and it takes hard work. But I believe that seeing parents who really love one another is a powerful confidence-builder for children. I have wonderful memories of my mom and dad dancing together. I loved when the sitter came for date night. I really want my children to feel that same comfort and confidence that comes in knowing that Mom and Dad are in love.

  66. DeniMarie

    February 18, 2010

    I see there are already plenty of comments so I will only add a few things here.

    1. I like what some other people have said about how being a mother and wife isn’t something you do until something more glamorous comes along. I will blame some of that on living in a society that thinks everything that has to do with the home and homemaking is a menial task.

    2. People who create media have agendas. Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even when I write on my own blog sometimes it is more of an advertisement for my “perfect family.” It isn’t bad, but it isn’t real. Trust me, there are people out there with worse agendas than mine.

    It is important to know where our kids are what they are doing–even when they are online in our living rooms. Unrestricted access to media is a recipe for trouble. Plus, there are better things kids could be doing. And, no, they won’t die if they can’t know what their friends are doing every second of the day. Nor with they die if we–gasp–make them do something more productive, like work.

    3. I also think another myth of our society is that people need to “find themselves” before they can get married. That carries with it the implication that no personal growth can or will occur after marriage. It sends a message that marriage is the end of all of the “you” time in your life.

    I have matured more in the few short years of my marriage than I ever did when I had endless amounts of time to think about myself and my problems. Actually, focusing on me and my problems only made me more unhappy. After getting married and becoming a mother I find that I am actually a happier and more fulfilled person because I know that I am doing something real and important.

    4. I honestly think it all boils down to one underlying problem, and that is youth growing up with the message that they can’t and shouldn’t have to do hard things. The parents do everything for them and believe this will make them happy. The kids never have to work or even do chores, hence the reason they have plenty of time to devote to less meaningful tasks like having the most friends on FB or playing online games with people they’ve never met. Plus, when Mom and Dad do everything for you the underlying message is “you can’t do this yourself, you are incompetent.”

    I think there are both young people and older people out there who believe that the absence of sadness is happiness. The reality is the things that are the hardest bring us the most joy. Being a wife and mother have been hard, but have also brought me the most joy.

  67. marmot

    February 18, 2010

    You say “It’s one thing to have a child who chooses something against what they’ve been taught, who gets caught up in sin and temptation.” So, you’re going to toss a child that disagrees with you on religion into the trash? How many Morphans* are you willing to create?

    *Morphans — people born into the Mormon church who left and as a consequence have no family that treats them with any decency.

  68. Heather O.

    February 18, 2010

    marmot, I’m not sure where you got the impression that I was advocating people should, as you say, toss their children into the trash. I was trying to say that having a family member who still believes in the doctrine of the family but who is struggling with actually living the commandments is a different kettle of fish than facing an entire generation who think families are unimportant, or, as one commenter stated, irrelevant. I find that as a whole, apathy about the commandments is a bigger problem than somebody who actively sins against the commandments, then works his way back to Christ through the repentence process. Repentence is an active process where real change can occur. Apathy is just….nothing. And in some ways, apathy scares me a whole lot more than sin.

    “Morphans” is an interesting term, but not something that we are talking about today. Indeed, I can’t think of a single commenter who has advocated doing what you are talking about, nor did I bring anything like it up in my original post.

  69. leslie

    February 18, 2010

    I think many of the challenges of rising generations is their lack of fluency in emotional/relational skills. I was teaching a RS class on loving behaviors and made the analogy of learning emotional fluency is like learning chinese- unlesss immersed in things, and with real practice they won’t get it. We need to not just demonstrate good relationship skill but overtly label them and explain why we do them.
    One of my favorite grad school classes was on emotional and moral behavior. I think technology can get in the way, but I think alot has to do with cultural attitudes– Family life is based on sacrifice, committing to something beyond yourself. Our culture teaches us to watch out for ourselves and that the tasks and commitments of family life are drudgery.(this is why I have been working on my domestic series of paintings to raise discussion on our beliefs on family life). Because what is left of relationships if we are in it simply for ourselves? I am such a believer that your family life is as empowering and great as you choose to make it and that is something I really hope I raise my sons to believe.

  70. Becky

    February 18, 2010

    I read this talk and referred it to my Bishop. I LOVE Sister Beck and this one knocked me off of my rocker. I don’t have teenagers, but I will someday. As far as what to do, we have to do what we’ve always been taught. But as Sister Beck says, be intentional in the way you teach. The family proclamation MUST be taught early and clearly. So many times I think that we as adults believe the youth are not ready for the heavy doctrine. But they are. They need it in this world, more than ever.

  71. MOG

    February 18, 2010

    This is a fascinating thread, thoughtful comments, ideas and real learning. As a boomer, I can tell you that in the 60’s most parents thought the telephone was Satan’s gift to teenagers. And yet, they managed to control how much we were able to use it. Technology is a way to avoid interaction, but as one of the commenters pointed out, it could be a hobby – in the old days wives complained about fishing, golf, etc. Keep up the dialogue, it’s helpful, even to an old dog.

  72. Emily

    February 18, 2010

    I am a new member, just baptized in September, and this was sooo good for me. I had to do the same thing – break off an engagement – to get baptized, and now am so glad I did. The “short term humiliation” was by far, I agree, a better price than long term misery.

    Also, as PhD licensed therapist, I can confirm and support (is that sustain-ish?!) what Beck said – it is a cultural trend now, and the delayed communication skills is now also mixed with delayed frontal lobe development – meaning we have young adults, even – who can’t communicate and are impulsive as well.

    The teens today are AMAZING, but yes – the teaching must be intentional.

    This really was good stuff – and I love all the comments that give so much more to consider as well!

    More thoughts I have, but wanted to share those for now – so glad I found your blog here, thank you! Mine is http://www.housewifeclass.blogspot.com

    Thank you!

  73. Heather O.

    February 18, 2010

    I can tell you that in the 60’s most parents thought the telephone was Satan’s gift to teenagers.

    I think you’ll find that opinion exists today. And the fact that when this talk was taught to the youth in the ward, the teacher took away any cellphone the youth had with them, shows that it might not be completely crazy. She said she had 10 phones put in the basket she brought for that purpose. TEN cell phones at church. She said she did took them away because she didn’t want kids texting while she was teaching these principles. I ask you, why do kids need to bring their cell phones to church? Blows my mind.

  74. Natalie H

    February 18, 2010

    I just wanted to second Carrie (#60) and Heather O.’s (#61) comments about being married young. I’ll admit, I was a little surprised that some people put an age limit on when their daughters “can” get married. I was another one married at 19. And just like Carrie, I still had some growing up to do. But I consider myself extremely lucky that I got to do it alongside the man of my dreams. I still finished college, I still “found” myself. I just got to do it with my eternal companion, which was FANTASTIC. Like Heather said, what was I supposed to do when my dream guy came along my Freshman year in college and the Spirit told me it was right? Say, “nope, I can’t – I have to wait until I’m 21?”

    I personally think teaching our daughters to recognize the Spirit and make choices with maturity and responsibility trumps putting a number on when they’re grown up enough to be married.

    Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective, I think! 🙂

  75. Mark Brown

    February 18, 2010

    Heather,

    I share the concern about the next generations apparent unwillingness or inability to form families, but I think the talk and this thread are looking at the wrong culprits. This problem is almost surely a function of our prosperity. I would be very interested to know whether Pres. Beck’s observations apply to LDS people in The Phillipines, for instance.

    I also think the technology issue is a red herring. They used to decry TV in general conference, and I’m old enough to remember when transistor radios were cool, and the old fogies were forever telling us to get rid of them. “Get those earphones out of your ears, young man, and pay attention!” Teachers of a previous generation had to put up with whispering and note-passing in class, so texting is just another form of inattention, not something new and dangerous.

    So while the decline in marriage and family life is alarming, I don’t think this talk addresses the root causes. The solutions to the problem are to be found in the homes of LDS people, not in seminary classes. And without wanting to single out Pres. Beck, I do think that in a thread of this length there is enough room for some quibbles. Pres. Beck might think that Abraham was a paragon of a family man, but Hagar and Ishmael might offer a dissenting opinion. And to assert, as she does, that Joseph Smith at age 17 understood the doctrine of the family is, well, kind of jaw-dropping. Without going into detail, I think we can all agree that his views on the family underwent significant change from age 17 until the end of his life. Again, not to be excessively critical, but considering the audience, I would think these statements would have raised some eyebrows.

  76. Michelle Glauser

    February 18, 2010

    I guess I should have mentioned in my first comment that I’m also a little put off by the whole anti-technology thing. I am one of those who firmly believes that technology is developing so quickly because the Gospel has been restored! It helps us do genealogy. It helps us spread the truth. It helps us stay in touch with far away family members. Okay, and I guess here’s where I throw in that I wrote my master’s thesis about how mommy blogs help women form strong identities because their communities are expanded. A little off the subject.

    But technology can’t be all bad and getting rid of it or discouraging it defeats God’s plans. Instead we should talk about the ways technology can be used to increase communicational skills. For example, I’ve been reading about emotional awareness online this week and I’ve found it very helpful. Or another example could be that people have to learn to give each other the benefit of the doubt when exchanging emails, because you can’t always be sure what someone means.

  77. Sue

    February 18, 2010

    My husband is the bishop of a young adult ward, and all I know is that watching what goes on there is very frustrating to me. I wish I had the answers, or that they were simpler, but I don’t and they aren’t.

    One distressing thing I see is men (and less often, women) who are looking for ridiculously high standards in a partner with little regard to whether they, themselves, are bringing similar attributes to the table. Sometimes these attributes are physical, other times not.

    I am especially bothered by the average or less than average-looking guy who turns his nose up, on the basis of looks, at a girl who is at least as attractive and considerably more accomplished than he is. Yep, that one drives me crazy.

    “/

  78. Heather O.

    February 18, 2010

    I would be very interested to know whether Pres. Beck’s observations apply to LDS people in The Phillipines, for instance.

    Mark, you bring up some good points. although I would perhaps argue that technology and prosperity do, in a lot of places, go hand in hand. People who are living off on one dollar a day are probably not in a position to text during Sacrament meeting.

    And again, opportunities and education, especially for women also are something that goes hand in hand with a prosperous nation. Obviously it’s a broad general statement to say that if you have more money, you have more choices, but I don’t think it’s too off the mark. So in a sense, the prosperity argument is already built in to what she’s targeting, only because in other places, such distractions, if you will, don’t exist.

    That said, I did mention in my original post that I took issue with some of the things Sister Beck brought up, but the last time I posted about disagreeing with a general authority, I was soundly thumped by readers :). I didn’t want to take that route again, nor did I want this thread to be about what she said that I disagreed with. There was enough sound doctrine in her talk that I felt it was an important topic, personal quibbles notwithstanding.

  79. Mark Brown

    February 18, 2010

    I agree completely Heather.

  80. marmot

    February 18, 2010

    Heather O said: “marmot, I’m not sure where you got the impression that I was advocating people should, as you say, toss their children into the trash. I was trying to say that having a family member who still believes in the doctrine of the family but who is struggling with actually living the commandments is a different kettle of fish than facing an entire generation who think families are unimportant, or, as one commenter stated, irrelevant.” You divide those you despise into three stark options: Struggling with the commandments, thinking families are unimportant, or thinking that families are irrelevant.

    There are other choices, such as loving (loving, loving, loving) your family but disagreeing with their particular religious choices. Many (non-mormon) families are like this and they treat each other with decency.

    It it clear that such folks don’t even exist on your radar. Rather, to quote you again: oh what the heck, if your kids don’t live up to your extraordinarily narrow of correct behaviour, (Overuse of technology? huh? any evidence here? I don’t notice any) I get the idea that they will be seen as failures. Lovely.

  81. marmot

    February 18, 2010

    Morphans.

  82. marmot

    February 18, 2010

    It’s you who doesn’t care about families unless they fit into your narrow religious range of what is allowable.

    Let’s quote another section of your post:
    “I don’t have teenagers, so I don’t have a front row seat. But I’ve always felt that the messages the media sends about the absurdity of being a virgin and the uselessness of marriage could be successfully counteracted with consistent and strong messages about marriage and family that come from the home. But if your kids don’t believe you, what next?”

    Now the part I quoted earlier:
    “It’s one thing to have a child who chooses something against what they’ve been taught, who gets caught up in sin and temptation. It’s something else entirely to have a generation of youth who don’t think that the doctrine of the family is something that could ever apply to them.”

    You’re setting up a false dilemma (trilemma?) here; your kids have only one real choice–be exactly what you expect them to be — that is, don’t allow them to become themselves, don’t allow them to grow in ways you don’t expect, because if they do, they’re “caught up in sin and temptation,” or somehow against being in a family. (“a generation of youth who don’t think that the doctrine of the family is something that could ever apply to them.”

    Whatever. presumably you’ll have enough kids that you can kick a few to the curb for otherwise infinitesimal “sins.”

  83. marmot

    February 19, 2010

    I thought for sure you’d delete that first comment. Count me a confused but impressed Marmota (sucky latin name, but I have to go with what I’ve got.) My original and only point is that you are looking at your kids, whom if I wasn’t born Mormon, I’d presume you love) through a shockingly tiny pinhole.

    You have an excessively narrow range of possible acceptable behaviors–the fact that you’ve added basically the last five-tenish years of blameless technology as a potential sin is kind of astonishing, and I am shocked (OK, I would be shocked but I was under the understanding that even the mildest disagreement is disallowed here) chill.

  84. marmot

    February 19, 2010

    It appears that you have it exactly backward. As far as I can tell you are rejecting your children if they do not fit your excessively narrow range of behaviors. However, this is exactly incorrect. The people who end up leaving love their families but are rejected by them- you Segullahlites, presumably. And to hear you stating that your kids somehow HAVE NO interest in family is a serious inversion of the world as the rest of us experience it. Your kids want to be in the family, just let them even if they play the occasional video game.

  85. RunnerMom

    February 19, 2010

    Marmot, your comments seem a little off.

  86. marmot

    February 19, 2010

    Runnermom, why? I find several ideas here–to mention one–that kids today don’t care about families–absurd. Someone should at least mention this. Let’s pretend I said this is a whisper.

  87. Kathryn Soper

    February 19, 2010

    Marmot, you’re completely misreading the OP, and you’re overstepping bounds of decency with your numerous hostile comments. Disagreement is welcome here; mudslinging is not.

  88. Heather O.

    February 19, 2010

    Marmot-

    This is what my post is about:

    1) The family is important.

    2)The youth of this church have waning confidence in their abilities to forge and maintaining lasting relationships. Is technology partly to blame in this? Discuss.

    3) How can we make the young people of our church understand that forming a family should be a priority in their lives?

    This is not a post about casting people out who sin (although I stand by the assertion that people sin in this world), or about treating family members who leave the church, or decrying the use of technology as a sin (which, given the current media outlet in which this discussion is happening, would be high hypocrisy indeed). Those would all be interesting posts, and I actually agree with you that love is paramount and vital in any family situation. But that isn’t what we are talking about today.

    If you disagree that family is important, please tell me. If you disagree that we should teach the youth that family is important, please tell me. If you disagree (as many have already) that technology plays a part in weakening young people’s social skills, please tell me.

    But don’t tell me I don’t love people who have left the church, or that I have cast off people in my family who haven’t fit into a certain mold, or that I decry people who use technology as sinners. You don’t know me OR my family. You’re making assumptions about things about which you have no real information.

  89. Kathryn Soper

    February 19, 2010

    And violating our commenting guidelines in the process. You’ve been warned, Marmot.

  90. Heather O.

    February 19, 2010

    I have so appreciated all the comments and the great discussion we’ve had here. Just FYI, I have a personal policy that I like to close a thread once it tops 100 comments. Just my thing. But tonight, I am actually on my way out to a hot date with my husband, and won’t be around to read comments. I am leaving in a few hours, so you have until then to make your final comments. I will close comments in a little while. Thanks!

  91. marmot

    February 19, 2010

    Heather 0, first, I would like to mention that you replied to my inflammatory and impolite comments with more grace, elegance, and kindness than I could possibly have expected. Thank you. Now to your points.

    “1) The family is important.” Yes. The family is incredibly important. You and I have obviously have extremely different experiences of families from the same narrow geographical/religious grouping, but your decent, understanding response gives me hope.

    I do disagree on your point “2)The youth of this church have waning confidence in their abilities to forge and maintaining lasting relationships. Is technology partly to blame in this? Discuss.”

    I think technology is just the latest scary thing used to cast free-floating blame on the sorts of problems that many, if not all families have for many and varied reasons; the reasons being as varied as the families themselves. Parents want their kids to do X, the kids do X’ or even (heavens!) Y. It’s not technology. It’s just life. We give birth to actual humans that at some point make their own decisions, whether or not we like it. The trick is retaining some sort of relationship with them–not accusing them of (warning, potentially offensive language, but not mine!) being members of ” a generation of youth who don’t think that the doctrine of the family is something that could ever apply to them.” Making a choice different than yours doesn’t mean that you should immediately assume that your kids will not pass go, and will not collect the Mormon equivalent of $200.00

    Technology is only the latest in a very long series of ways for teens to ignore their parents. Teens really like this. I seem to remember, from way back when. My shorter point (which I have) is that technology is not the problem. The experience of having a teenager in the house is a problem. This is probably why I went into attack-marmot mode (admittedly amusing, Marmots as a rule are not particularly ept at the whole attack thing.) Teens want to avoid you because you are a parent, and thus, by definition, someone to be avoided. This doesn’t last forever.

    As to point “3) How can we make the young people of our church understand that forming a family should be a priority in their lives?” I think there’s close to a 100% chance those you call “young people” are pretty convinced already that you (and I, as well) see it as a priority, and see it a priority in their own lives as well. People like other people. In the Flesh. But that’s a different post. Going off on technology (essentially, though not entirely ,benign) will teach them exactly the wrong lesson, most likely that the parent in question really isn’t to be trusted. My experience leads me to believe that this doesn’t work well. A more nuanced response from the parent will elicit a more nuanced response from the teen.

    Sorry, deeply sorry, for the attack Marmot stance. But as I am a yellow-bellied marmot and my close relatives are squirrels that get no respect (not that I don’t love you, Rocky), I have to kick up a certain amount of fuss to believe that my point is being heard, This is not an excuse and thank you very much for letting my comments stand. I assumed incorrectly that they would be whisked away as so many discarded Starbucks hot chocolate (with extra whip) cups.

    ” This is not a post about casting people out who sin (although I stand by the assertion that people sin in this world), or about treating family members who leave the church, or decrying the use of technology as a sin (which, given the current media outlet in which this discussion is happening, would be high hypocrisy indeed). Those would all be interesting posts, and I actually agree with you that love is paramount and vital in any family situation. But that isn’t what we are talking about today.”

    “If you disagree that family is important, please tell me. If you disagree that we should teach the youth that family is important, please tell me. If you disagree (as many have already) that technology plays a part in weakening young people’s social skills, please tell me.” Technology is a part of life. Those stupid games boys play actually increase their math SAT scores. Technology is a tool. That’s all. It doesn’t weaken young people’s social skills. The inept (among whom I count myself) had plenty of ways prior to what you loosely refer to as technology to weaken our own social skills. The two are not related.

    “But don’t tell me I don’t love people who have left the church, or that I have cast off people in my family who haven’t fit into a certain mold, or that I decry people who use technology as sinners. You don’t know me OR my family. You’re making assumptions about things about which you have no real information.” I do have no information, but you’re making the same inflammatory comments about something that is ubiquitous in modern life that I remember from my youth oh so many generations away–there’s always something to blame; but the ‘something’ itself isn’t the problem, nor are huge sweeping statements that technology will somehow keep your kids from understanding the importance of family which I’m sure they’ve heard multiple times a week (a day) since they could parse an English sentence.

    There’s no bogeyman out there. There’s a million bogeymen out there.

  92. marmot

    February 19, 2010

    I do hope I’m just arguing and not insulting; I’m just trying in my oh-so-socially inept way, using my experience as a completely and totally alienated–all the way to suicidal–Mormon teenager (who never would have confided in any of the adults about, undoubtedly to my detriment) and the parent to teenagers with their own set of problems to have a conversation that might illuminate the occasional shadowy corner of our shared existence.

  93. Heather O.

    February 19, 2010

    Thanks,marmot, for that last comment. I appreciate your tone and your input, particularly about the difficulty of keeping the lines of communication with our teens open. I think every parent fears that their own children would find themselves in a situation similar to what you describe–frightened and isolated and with no adult to confidein or turn for help. Paramount to teaching them that families are important, we also need to convey that OUR family is important to US. And that means giving buckets of love and support to our teenagers, no matter what position they find themselves in.

    I’m glad I could better understand where you were coming from, marmot.

    Again, like I said before, I’m officially closing comments now. I would like to thank our AWESOME readers for a great discussion. This has given me lots to think about. I hope it’s been helpful to everybody.

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