Thursday, October 18, 2007

YW Do's and Don'ts

There's a blog I follow sometimes about a single lds woman who lives in a big city. She writes about her different boyfriends and her struggles with trying to keep lds standards. And I really feel for her. I know it's GOT to be difficult. Extremely difficult, especially when you consider that the vast majority or her dating pool is of the non-lds variety.

A couple of weeks ago she had a major melt-down and told her bishop about not ever ever feeling part of the ward or fellowshipped in any way. In fact she usually left Sacrament Meeting crying and didn't stay for any other meetings, because she felt so isolated. Nobody would talk to her, and she didn't have home teachers. And here she is, trying to live her standards, and she feels more alone at church than anywhere else. Including well, anywhere else she hangs out and tries to meet people or whatever.

This morning she posted that the bishop had gotten her wonderful home teachers and she now has a new calling... And I was really happy for her. And then as I continued to read, I got very concerned.

Her calling is in the young women. - NO PROBLEM!! I love the idea of having single, experienced sisters in YW.
But then I read what she's planning on teaching. Here's part of her post. See what you think:
Things I wish I had learned in my Young Women's classes:
  1. How to say 'No' when appropriate. Especially how and when to say 'no' to men. That skill would have saved me a few years of agony in college.
  2. When it's necessary to be rude, i.e. to stave off the drunks trying to hit on you. As opposed to re-enforcing the docile and submissive behavior that good girls are supposed to always exhibit, teach me to stand up for myself as a daughter of God that deserves respect.
  3. What qualities really make a man marriageable: no, being a return missionary and priesthood holder does not automatically qualify a man as good marriage material, nor does dental school. (What's the deal with all the Mo's becoming dentists?)
  4. How to tell when you are dating a loser.
  5. How to get rid of said loser.
  6. Exactly which sins/offenses need to be shared with the Bishop. (I still don't know.)
  7. Etiquette for turning down alcohol at social events.
  8. Etiquette for serving/not serving alcohol at your own social events. I deal with this by telling my party guests to brink their own beverages. Though I find that practice very tacky.
  9. Smart dating strategies. More than just saying "Don't date until you are 16." Teach the girls to avoid risky situations.
  10. Nutrition for healthy living.
  11. How to take care of yourself in a loving and respectful way. The importance of taking care of yourself emotionally as opposed to sacrificing your sanity to serve the family. "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
  12. Learning how to love yourself.
  13. Career Planning, i.e. don't spend your youth pursuing a doctorate in the humanities.
  14. Study skills.
  15. Teach me the truth, that a temple marriage does not guarantee happiness, and being a 'good girl' does not shield you from pain or tragedy. (I already knew these things in high school, the fact that my teachers wouldn't tell this truth made me suspicious of everything else they said.)
  16. Teach me to use my voice to express my feelings and my needs so I don't grow up to be a depressed housewife on Prozac. (Or a 30 year old who has to practice saying "I love you" in therapy.)

I have to say; as a mom and a yw president, I would want to know if this was where we were headed in our program.

Take #2. How about instead of teaching them how to fend off drunken men, let's teach them not to be somewhere with drunken men in the first place.

I don't know. I think some of the things she wants to teach are great. But there are others that are pretty iff-y. And it would depend on the age she's teaching, too. Many of these things would be pretty good info for Laurels, but Beehives, not so much.

Do we really need to tell our 16 year olds how to serve alcohol at their parties? What do you think?


Heather said...


Lena said...

Uh, no. That would concern me a bit. When is she planning on teaching these? I mean, at activites?? Give her a few weeks and maybe she'll see that these girls probably just need the basics like everyone else at that age.

Stephanette said...

Oh wow...after being a single sister in YW...that's about all I can say.

Hopefully she'll settle into her role and be able to see what her YW need vs. what she thinks they need. Sometimes there is a huge gap.

The Wiz said...

Some of those things are great, like the fact about temple marriage not guaranteeing happiness. A lot more goes into a marriage than just the temple. The temple is the BEST way to start, though, and is mui importante, and I would want that stressed. I guess just more marriage skills (communication, etc) in addition to the temple marriage is what I would want.

The stuff about drinking, though, yeah, strange. And yes, ALL of these things are more appropriate for Laurels than Beehives.

Most of it I'm OK with, though.

The Wiz said...

Oh, one more thing though, and this is very important to me with my family history of depression.

Learning to express your feelings does NOT guarantee you won't end up on Prozac. And I would want them to know that being on Prozac is NOT IN ANY WAY a failure. (She clearly thinks it is, if it's something to be avoided.)

It is certainly good to learn to express your feelings, and mostly, to learn to identify them, but it does not prevent depression. It's a good skill, but doesn't have the results she thinks it will. It will help with that marriage thing, though, and improve your marriage, as well as most of your relationships, drastically.

The Wiz said...

I swear I'm done commenting now. But I think she will find most of these things difficult to teach when she's instead bombarded with questions like "How often and how far up do you shave your legs?" and "Which perfume smells the best, and how do you pick?"

I hope she is given a group of bright Laurels. Those are the ones who have moved past the questions of appropriate grooming because they know them, and have issues like the ones she is wanting to teach. If that is the case, she will rock at her calling.

kristen said...

Wow. Not that I want to be judgmental, but she sounds a little bitter and wants to impart her 'knowledge' on these poor little impressionable girls.

Some of these things are fine; some I worry about. I actually think it's good to have single women representation in the YW, because most, if not all, girls grow up thinking they'll marry in the temple by the age of 21 and live happily ever after. So does not happen. Where's my Prince Charming? I've always said that if I work in the YW I will stress the importance of education. I personally don't think that was stressed enough from my leaders (thankgoodness my parents are very pro education). I graduated from college w/o a husband and I'm still single. I've finished a master's and have set myself up nicely so I can at least take care of myself. Too many girls fall into the trap of 'Oh, someone will take care of me; I don't need to go to school'. Yeah, right.

But I digress. Girls shouldn't be taught how to say no to drunks, how to serve alcohol at parties, how to be rude and demand respect. (The last is not quite Christlike). Girls should be taught to avoid these situations altogether. There should not even be a question of serving alcohol; just don't do it.

Whiz makes a good point about the emotional aspect of a woman. Just because someone is on medication or in therapy does not necessarily mean they are a screw up or a failure. One would be surprised to know how many women (who are supposedly 'normal') struggle with these issues.

And now that I've been a total comment whore, I'll stop.

"Vern" said...

I'm feeling a little sheepish because I feel in the minority here, but I said an internal "amen" to MOST of her bullet points. I've never lived as a single woman in a big city, but I have several friends who have, and sometimes you can be a target of a drunk at your company party. It doesn't mean that she's hanging out at bars on Saturday nights. I've worked in YW callings for 12 out of the last 14 years and I agree that the girls need to have more than a 16th birthday to qualify them for dating, as if getting pregnant isn’t also possible at age 17. There are obvious differences between a Beehive and Laurel class that we have to consider, but we're being naive if we assume that the only thing the girls care about at this age is the color of their lipgloss. They appreciate it when you're real with them because they know that life doesn’t work the way we sometimes present it, (e.g. if we serve missions and get married in the temple then all the rest is smurfs and butterflies). There's a reason why Utah is the leading state in Prozac prescriptions, and it includes our tendency to want to slap a happy face on everything, and then when things go seriously wrong we feel that it must be our fault. We haven't been faithful enough or good enough or some other load of crap. And I’m not interested in running a “Rude Is Cool” campaign, but teaching a young woman to have enough self-respect to stand up for herself is critical. Two words: Ted Bundy. Anyway, sorry. I guess a nerve has been struck. I think I understand where the author is trying to come from, and I don’t think it’s cause to put parents on alert. But that might just be me.

miggy said...

Unless she's the president she won't be teaching these topics anyway.

But I can see where she's coming from and she definitely has some good points, ie just because someone is a returned missionary does not mean he is a "good guy", and the whole temple marriage bit. . . but like someone else said, she seems to have a bitter edge about her and is coming from a negative viewpoint. I too would be a little concerned as I believe these things have a certain practical application but she's lacking spiritual depth.

I also think maybe she's just sorta being a little dramatic for the sake of the blog, but will probably stick to the manual and hopefully be more concerned with listening to the spirit and teaching what they need . . . hopefully.

JustRandi said...

Everybody has some good points. I guess what I object to is the tone. (If she were may daughter I'd call it attitude.)
What I want when I send my daughters to church - is for someone to teach them the standard. What to reach for. The best outcome. And while I agree that being a "good girl" doesn't shield you from ALL pain and tragedy, it certainly shields you from LOTS of it. And we need to teach that!

If she can teach that the best husband would likely be a return missionary at the same time as she teaches that not all rm's are great marriage material, then GREAT. But I think we need to teach the standards, and not give the impression that the standards are impossible, so I'll just tell you about the real world.

I do want to say that I'm sure she has been called at this time in this ward for a reason. She has lots to offer - and it's info for girls in a different world than the normal suburb world where I live. Of course my little suburb world has been in the national news for the past 10 years, so I guess I don't live in a normal world either.
Ok - Now I'm just rambling.

Yvonne said...

Hopefully she will have a good YW President who will help her with her topics--I'm sure she means well, but some of the topics need a little work. Obviously, she is concerned about the young women, and hopefully with the help of the Spirit she will know exactly where to take her lessons, so that the girls will all be strengthened and uplifted.

Melissa said...

Wow. I can't imagine having my daughter (of course, my girl is only 4 right now... but someday) come home and say, "Today we learned about how to keep drunks away and wether it was okay to serve alcohol at our parties"... yeah. I hope that one of the other leaders talks with her before she starts teaching...

ganelle said...

The ideal teacher will teach gospel standards in the context of reality. I certainly think that her topics are more appropriate for Laurels than Beehives, but I sure could have used her 'gospel in reality' approach when I was in YW. I'm all for basics, but I think that as adult LDS women, we're on the other side of the storm. Today's YW need MUCH more than platitudes to make it through the hurricane. If, as advocates of the gospel, we are afraid to get real with the girls, what happens when the 'real world' refuses to fit so nicely into the manuals case studies? I'm cheering for her!

heather said...

I am totally intruding on your blog, but I read this post and HAD to comment. I am completely with "vern" on this. I spent several years post-high school as a single LDS.I can see exactly where this woman is coming from.

I also taught sixth grade for a couple of years and can tell you that I KNOW LDS Beehives who are confronted with sex, eating disorders, suicide thoughts (and attempts), and all the other stuff that Laurels are facing too. In Mesa, Arizona. Yes, some Beehive girls might be more naive than others, but you just can't fairly blanket that group -or simply avoid the hard realities they are facing because we (as the older generation) have a hard time believing (and are sickened by the thought) that these girls are having to deal with these things at age 12.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

i'm with you sister on this. you are right to be concerned. i share your take on this, kathleen

East of Eden said...

I know what blog you are talking about, and this girl is bitter and frustrated.....

I know the depth and breath of the YW lessons has changed with the times...go on line and read the Chastitiy lesson. But I fear that this girl is imparting too much to girls too young.

Some of the things she wants to teach, I feel, are in direct opposition to the Church. Hopfeully, her YW pres can work with her, and she will be moved on to follow the spirit and teach things that are in line with established doctrine and guidelines.

East of Eden said...

Just for the record as well....

I know beinga single in the LDS church in your late 20s early 30s can be hell.

I full realize that some RMs are creeps, and that having a temple marriage is not 100% guarantee of happiness, however......I agree with Wiz, starting off with these things is best.

I think it's admirable that this girl wants to impart her wisdom, but she needs to be careful about sharing too much.