Things I wish people wouldn’t say in church, part 319

In a church talk, a member introduces herself or himself and includes this, presumably as a means of establishing their success as church members:

‘We have 6 children, and all of them served missions and/or married in the temple.’

How much empathy does it require to understand how a majority of parents and others might feel about themselves and their families when hearing this?

Comments

  1. “In a church talk, a member introduces herself or himself and includes this, presumably as a means of establishing their success as church members:

    ‘We have 6 children, and all of them served missions and/or married in the temple.’

    How much empathy does it require to understand how a majority of parents and others might feel about themselves and their families when hearing this?”

    Linked here: http://www.allbeliefs.com/showthread.php?t=8897

  2. “The World”

  3. This reminds me of a post that someone did a while back on the Gospel of Imputation or Implication or something—how we often imply lesser devotion on the part of others by the terms in which we couch our testimonies. “I knew that our prayers and faith would be answered, and they were!”

    Anyone remember what article this was? It’s a very valid point, that we should be sensitive to the ways our testimonies and phrasing can be (mis)interpreted.

  4. One of the things I hate MOST when it is said in church is along these lines, “Our family has decided to do XYZ, and we feel that it is very important…” with the tacit implication that this is what EVERYONE should be doing if they want to be “righteous.” It’s great if you want to get up at 5:30 every morning with your family and read the scriptures for half an hour, but that may not work for everyone.

    I heard corollary to this all the time at BYU, “I’ve prayed about it and I just feel that it is really IMPORTANT for me not to study on the Sabbath,” again with the implication that if you REALLY want to be “righteous,” you won’t do that.

    My problem with these kinds of statements is twofold: One is that it is kind of a way of showing off how very “righteous” you are for doing what you are doing. The second is that it implies that everyone else should be doing something that you have decided to do as a result of prayer and PERSONAL revelation.

  5. Norbert,
    While I agree that it is important to be sensitive, in the end, any factual statement about our lives may hurt others. That I grew up with two parents may hurt someone who grew up with one. That I have children may hurt someone unable to have children. That I have a job may hurt someone who doesn’t.

    It may be best that people don’t say all of their kids served missions and married in the temple. But if we were to prevent people fromsaying that, we would know less about our fellow saints.

  6. No need to hate. Do you know how much worrying, stress, (often) planning, and prayer goes into a child, whether one who does everything right or wrong? I haven’t experienced it myself, but most of my wife’s family is inactive, whereas my family is active, and our parents remark equally at the difficulty of raising a child.

    We’re saints. We need hides as hard as any armor. Don’t let the words of others pleased in their children become darts of the adversary for you. In the end, you are the one who lets Christ be the author of your salvation. Are you going to let negativity associated with others be what knocks you out of eternity? Or even a pleasant sacrament meeting?

  7. Among the qualities Zion demands is a willingness to earnestly strive to avoid offending others and an absolute unwillingness to be offended by others.

  8. Agreed Ranbato. How are we to live together in love as described in D&C 42 if we get into hissy-fits or get stung by the comments of others, regardless of their motivations?

  9. Mark Brown says:

    Norbert,

    I hope to live long enough to see that day that somebody keeps it real by following a testimony like the one you describe with one like this:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    We are so blessed. Our oldest son has finally chosen to go into rehab. We have been praying for years that he will seek the help he needs, and this is an answer to those prayers. We are so grateful for the good people in this ward. Since our daughter’s third marriage has failed, she and her children will be staying with us for the forseeable future. I know all of you will make them feel welcome, and do all you can for them. And you are all invited to our house tomorrow for FHE. We are having a party to celebrate our youngest son’s achievement. As you know, he dropped out of school 5 years ago, but he has now progressed to the point that he has earned his GED. We are thrilled with him and his efforts, and we couldn’t be more proud if he had been given a scholarship to BYU. We invite you all to come and share in our family’s happiness.

  10. Mark

    This happens in my ward nearly monthly. Come to Texas!

    We had an interesting one recently, where a guy gets up, says “It’s too hard. Being a member is too hard. I’m done with it. That’s all.” Then he left the stand and the chapel.

    It was touching to see so many people run after him.

  11. John Mansfield says:

    Kind of reminds me of the scene early in the ’89 Baron Munchhausen movie, where the city is under siege and under the leadership of the Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson, played by Jonathan Pryce. A soldier played by Sting did something very heroic—charged outnumbering enemies, saved his squad, or something like that. Horatio Jackson orders the heroic soldier to be executed because people like that are bad for the morale of ordinary people.

  12. I find members of the Church are way, way too sensitive. If you say something, you are showing off..if you do not say it, you are not doing something right. I say, grow a thicker skin.As a mom of a special needs child who I do not know whether he will ever serve a mission or marry in the Temple, when I hear things like that I feel HAPPY that my brethren have such a blessing and wan to share it with others.

  13. Amen Maria. You’re a breath of fresh air in a stale, rehashed topic.

  14. David Kitchen says:

    I read that a guy at his son’s baptism said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

    Can you believe the nerve of that guy?

  15. I read that guy said it a few times.

  16. When asked, my MIL is fond of saying she has 7 kids all married in the temple blah, blah, blah. What she doesn’t say is that three of the kids were ex’d at one point in their lives. All of the kids have returned to the church and all marriages are still intact. My point is that what may come across as bragging may, in fact, just be a sigh of relief.

    I could not agree more with #9. That would be a breath of fresh air, imo.

  17. Mark Brown says:

    Tom Rod,

    Speaking of stale and rehashed, you have said the same thing now 5 times in the space of 15 total comments. I think everybody gets how you feel, but is it OK if you give a rest for a while?

  18. Sam B, I’m not suggesting that we keep truth from others, but the tone in which I’ve heard this from pulpits implies that this is a reflection of their faithfulness. It isn’t.

    Mark Brown: exactly.

  19. Mark, #17

    Was that intended as an object lesson, in the context of this post?

  20. Tom Rod:

    Do you know how much worrying, stress, (often) planning, and prayer goes into a child, whether one who does everything right or wrong?

    Yes.

    I haven’t experienced it myself,

    Well, there you go.

    but most of my wife’s family is inactive, whereas my family is active, and our parents remark equally at the difficulty of raising a child.

    I encourage any and all to talk about the difficulty of raising a child — but don’t claim that the statistical measure of some spiritual choices those children make means you are more righteous or a better parent than those who cannot make that claim.

  21. I think people generally feel less hurt if the information about someone’s children or family status is given in a context where it helps to make a larger point or illustrate a gospel principle, rather than as a sort of Saintly Resume bullet point. So, for instance, if your daughter is really great at living principle x, and learned that on her mission, no one’s going to mind if you talk about her mission as an illustration of principle x. Probably, no one will be hurt even if you say “all of our children seemed to learn this lesson most easily on their missions,” where the fact that all of your kids served missions is secondary to the principle learned.

    Besides, boasting about how perfectly your children have conformed to your ideal as evidence of your parenting prowess demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the major gospel principle of agency. I think we should feel sorry for people who do that, not threatened by them.

  22. Mark

    One can’t hear enough good, positive things in life. However, inviting negativity into thoughts is a surefire way to stay negative. This topic seems to bring out the pessimism and sarcasm of everyone who agrees with the premise in the slightest.

    Norbert

    You sound upset. Not sure what you meant or where you gleamed the idea of statistical measures out of my comment. The children are inactive by choice, not because of the teachings of the parents.

    Not having experienced something doesn’t mean I do not understand something. Hence, the reason a person who does not commit a sin can empathize with someone who has. I have a mentally imbalanced relative–I do not have to be mentally imbalanced myself to relate. Same principle applies to parenting. Sure, I will not claim to know exactly what the parent experiences. But I can understand. I can feel. Marginalization and classification of people do not result in a Zion society, nor does claiming offense at every juncture possible. Eccl. 10:12 has good advice on this. Now lest I become a fool, I will hold my words to myself.

  23. Rameumptom says:

    My parents were extremely inactive while I was growing up, to the point that I was converted by high school friends. I ended up going on a mission and being sealed in the temple, etc. Does that mean my parents are wonderful, dedicated, celestial people????

    I think we miss the point of what a testimony really is, when we give travelogues or endless genealogies about ourselves. Testimony meeting is to share our witness of Christ, not ourselves. But hey, what good is narcissism, if we can’t share with others how wonderful we are?

  24. John Mansfield says:

    Kristine, just pretend that parenting is a musical activity, and then you’ll have more regard for those who actively pursue excellence in that endevour, and won’t feel threatened at the notion that success takes more than happenstance and good luck.

  25. Norbert:
    Why do we have to assume that people are trying to say they’re more righteous than others? Is it not prideful to pretend to read thoughts and “know” that others are boasting? What about the “judge not” I hear so often from you all? Judge not, unless you’re on the bloggernacle judging others who say that their children have served missions and married in the temple.

    Kristine:
    Sometimes serving missions is about obedience as well as learning principles.

  26. I still remember fondly the Stake Conference where the AA70 spoke in length of his son who had struggled for years with chemical addiction. He didn’t gloss over things, and my oh my, he won the ears (and hearts) of the congregation. Keepin’ it real . . . and the Spirit was there in spades.

  27. Andrea,
    Is “tacit implication” another way of saying, “I’m a mind reader and know that they were telling me how to live my life.” Because unless they said: “All righteous people will do the same”, there is no implication that anyone should follow their lead. It’s all in your head.

    Imagine if I said, “I’ve prayed about it, and feel it is the right thing for me to go to graduate school.” If someone else, who decided to not go to graduate school, or someone who didn’t go to college, or even someone who didn’t finish High school heard this, and assumed, they were implying they should have done what I did, that’s proposterous. They would need to get over their own issues of inadequacy and regret and either come to terms with their situation, or change it, rather than *****-*** (it rhymes with witching) and complaining about it on the bloggernacle.

    If they had truly said, “everyone should feel the same way” “or do the same thing” or “believe what I just said” your complaining would be justified.

  28. Mark Brown says:

    DavidG,

    Perhaps a more charitable way to read Andrea’s comment is to say that she thinks personal revelation is just that, personal, and not to be shared over the pulpit. Would you agree?

  29. Tacit implication of Mark’s comment #17.

    Because you haven’t changed your mind after I’ve given my opinion, I’m going to ask you to be silent. This is the bloggernacle, after all, a place for Mark B to share his viewpoints, not where people with opposing viewpoints can share them.

    I didn’t do a very good job did I. Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder and shouldn’t judge Mark? Maybe I should grant him some charity? No, I trust my tacit implications better.

    How’s that for an object lesson?

  30. Norbert: I actually think that is a cool thing to aspire to, all my kids serving missions and marrying in the temple. Those are two of the greatest things I ever did in my life, and I would love if my kids did those things. I’d even be annoyingly proud of it, just like I am annoyingly proud of my 5 yo who is tall for her age and can read pretty well for a kindergartner and gets in trouble for sliding in the halls. Just like I am annoyingly proud of my 1 yo for being tough and for being stubborn. It’s not because I think it is something awesome I am doing, It’s because I love my kids and think it is awesome what they are doing.

    Yes, Lehi had some kids who were problematic. So did Spencer W. Kimball. So does God. I think we should still rejoice in the successes.

    And, while It isn’t necessarily true that someone who has inactive kids is doing something wrong, Is it bad of me to say I am more likely to take parenting advice from people who have successfully raised their children to the ideals I hold? Should I hold the advice of the woman across the way who taught her kids to be racists is equal to the woman who did not?

    I don’t think your statement should be the one and only criteria for assessing validity of advice, but it does have a place in the grand scheme of things.

    I guess it all depends on the tone and intent of the speaker.

  31. 28, Well I don’t know. Do you agree with my comment about grad school? Why do we have to get offended if others talk about lifestyle choices they’ve made as long as they never encroach on the “You all should do it too.”

    As long as it’s a suggestion, rather than a command, how is that different than us offering the gospel to our friends. We offer, we don’t command. “Would you like to read the BOMormon” not “All righteous must read the BoM.” “I’ve read the BoM and believe it is the Word of God.”

  32. Agreed, Mark, that personal revelation should not dictate lives.

    Sharing blessings that strengthen a testimony in Christ are perfectly acceptable during testimony meetings. Given that what has been stated previously, this last comment may not jive.

    And I drink Coke and Dr. Pepper and like it. :-D

  33. “When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.

    ….

    “Understanding that the Church is a learning laboratory helps us to prepare for an inevitable reality. In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless.

    “You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended.”

    –David A. Bednar, “And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” October 2006 General Conference

  34. 28 Norbert and #4 Andrea.

    I completely agree that people should not share their personal revelations with any intent to force, imply, or otherwise make people follow their personal revelation.

    But I am equally uncertain about silencing people sharing the testimony they have. In some cases, people are sharing a testimony that God hears and answers prayers, and has helped them make a decision. We don’t need to make implications for people that others don’t. If others are making implications about their personal revelation for us, by all means, ask the Bishop to set them aright?

    Sorry if I was a little annoyed earlier. I recognize snarkiness doesn’t help.

  35. Kind of makes one wonder what is really important. Is anyone ever asked in a bishop’s interview whether his kids all went on missions or attended BYU or married in the temple?

  36. If I heard this from the pulpit I would watch that set of parents more carefully and see what strategies they used in the childrearing. I might even ask them for tips/advice.

  37. Good insight bbell!

  38. Dan #35. I didn’t know we were supposed to give our answers to Temple Recommend interviews in our church talks and lessons. My talks are going to get a lot more interesting after learning this principle from you. {g}

  39. DavidG #35

    What does that mean? How does that relate at all to #35? I don’t see it. For my and others’ sake, can you flesh out that comment a bit?

  40. StillConfused says:

    I don’t really feel any animosity towards them because they are just saying what makes them happy. Go for it. When I get up and talk about being a 21 year old air traffic controller and having independent children, it may rile them a bit too. So it is all good. We all take different courses in life and should not only be grateful for the path we have chosen but rejoice in the happiness of others. If you are familiar with the Warm Fuzzy book, remember that there are always lots of Warm Fuzzies to go around; no need to reach into the cold prickly bag.

  41. #40 Still Confused

    Agreed.

  42. David Kitchen says:

    I recall President Hinckley saying that his greatest joy came from knowing that all of his children were sealed in the temple?

    I wonder why he didn’t have more empathy?

  43. I don’t think they necessarily meant to boast or say they’re doing something everybody should be doing but isn’t. They could just be expressing gratitude or letting you know a little bit about their family.

    I’d say your reaction has more to do with your own feelings than their desire to boast.

  44. Tom,
    I (incorrectly) responded to a comment that must have been removed. If something makes no sense, chances are that’s why, and it’s best to ignore it (like I should have done).

  45. John (#24), do you really think I’m that dumb, or are you just in a bad mood?

  46. DavidG–believe it or not, I also realize that missions are more complicated than a throwaway 2 sentence example in a blog comment might cover. Of course it’s about obedience, too. My point was merely that there’s hardly ever a reason to say “my children have all served missions and married in the temple” unless you’ve been specifically asked to give a talk or workshop on parenting techniques that may be helpful for Mormon parents who share those goals. (Which I would happily attend, being exactly such a Mormon parent).

  47. Hey, I haven’t been following this thread at all, but I just noticed that another David G. is commenting. Not that I’m all that territorial about my name, but I just want to be clear that DavidG is not the same person as David G.

  48. Mark Brown says:

    Oh sure, David G.

  49. I think we need to examine our own hearts when reacting to this post. To be honest I am happy and hopeful when I hear stuff like this either from the pulpit or in person.

    Happy for the parents

    &

    Hopeful for my own young family’s future

    I also want to learn from success so I have lots I want to hear from these folks.

  50. Mark Brown says:

    bbell,

    And that’s great, as far as it goes. I think we all want those things, and we’ll need all the help we can get.

    But we also need to remember that we can be outstanding parents and still have children who will meet none of those benchmarks. And we can be terrible parents whose children are wonderful in spite of us.

    If the only people whose advice is good enough gor us are those with perfect children, we would miss out on some good insights. For instance, Spencer W. Kimball has some interesting things to say about some of his regrets.

  51. When I hear something like that, it doesn’t bother me, though it makes me a tad wistful — of our nine children (combined marriages), 4 served missions and were married in the temple, 4 are completely inactive, and 1 is semi-active.

    On the other hand, I’ve had no problem stating that over the pulpit or while teaching class, just as I’ve also stated in those same venues that I’ve been through divorce, unemployment, bankruptcy, and foreclosure.

    I don’t begrudge the people who can say that; I admire them. I also know that life has plenty of other heartaches, so you have to take your joy where you can. ..bruce..

  52. @Andrea (4), Mark Brown (28), David G (34): I think Matthew would love to hear you expand on your thoughts about keeping personal revelation personal.

  53. In a talk at BYU, Jack Marshall said, “In the Church, we most persecute families right from the pulpit, with some of the testimonies: we have 12 children, all married in the temple, etc., etc.” He then quoted a story from The Teacher Within by a Dr. Clark: Elder Marvin J. Ashton was being introduced by a stake president, who managed in his introduction to include information about his own children and how well they were doing. Elder Ashton, as he got up to speak, turned to him and said, ‘President, you go home and kneel down in your closet and express thanks to your Heavenly Father, but don’t burden the rest of us with your successes.”

    Nobody kept is real like MJA!

  54. Sorry, “kept it real”

  55. I think I get Christmas letters from those people you’re talking about. As for #38, I guess you’ve never given a talk about Joseph Smith being a prophet or whether it’s a good idea to be honest in our dealings with our fellow men. I took #35 seriously. Sending a child on a mission is a good goal and ambition, but if that child does not go, for whatever reason, we can still be considered worthy members in good standing. Not so, for example, if one affiliates with groups hostile to the church or if one has committed adultry.

  56. Standing along, a statement that “all my six children are returned missionaries, active in the Church, married in the temple, and each of them has six children who are on that same path” can mean a lot of different things. And it can be received a lot of different ways.

    Similarly, a statement “both my children have dual Ph.Ds, teach at ivy league schools, and have consulting contracts for countercyclical hedge funds that put them in the top 0.01 % of wage earners” can also mean a lot of different things, and can be received a lot of different ways.

  57. Steve Evans says:

    Tom Rod: “Now lest I become a fool, I will hold my words to myself.”

    Too late, buddy.

  58. Martin Willey says:

    I initialy chuckled at John’s comment #24, but I have decided Kristine is right. When I listen to someone perform music really well, it is uplifiting and inspiring, even though I am not a great musician. If someone stood up and told me how well they perform music, I would find that a little annoying.

    That said, I agree with those who say we should be more sensitive and those who say we should strive not to be offended. Is that wishy-washy?

  59. Um, interesting comments.

    I am the youngest of seven children, and all my older siblings married in the temple. Before I got married my parents often reminded me of the fact that they didn’t want their track record messed up by me.

    It was funny…sort of.

  60. StillConfused says:

    #57. That was a cold prickly.

  61. What I see in this specific example, that I take objection to, is that having children who married in the temple or served missions is not the parent’s success. The parents probably helped, but ultimately it was the kids who actually did it.

    If everyone who ‘helped’ along the way gets a feather in their cap then how far back does that go? Do my YW leaders get to claim my happy temple marriage as their success? How about my primary teachers? Nursery leader? My mom’s OB/Gyn?

    Certainly parents put in a ton of work and effort on behalf of their children. The fruits of the parents’ work is only sometimes seen in the children’s actions.

    I think it is fine to be happy for the success of your children, but not to take pride in the success of your children, and there is a difference.

  62. Martin Wiley (58)

    That said, I agree with those who say we should be more sensitive and those who say we should strive not to be offended.

    I feel much the same way. But. . . I have stopped bearing my testimony at church because the couple of times I did another woman in the ward would get up right after me and make statements in her testimony that basically there was something wrong with my testimony.

    I have since gotten to know this woman and we’ve become friends. I understand now why she did it; she needed to validate her experience that is different from mine. Still, I will not bear my testimony at church. Of course right now it’s a moot point as I’m not even sure I have one.

  63. I guess this falls under a similar category. A fellow EQ member who was the instructor used to go on about how grateful he was to be a father. Not being able to have children, I grew to not care for it to much. Now having a child (through adoption), I realized that because he wasn’t being malicious about it, it was really up to me to just let it go.

  64. And we can be terrible parents whose children are wonderful in spite of us.

    This is how I feel. My kids appear to be endowed with divine gifts that have nothing to do with me. I think the part parents play is pretty minimal, especially in the long term, and the success of your children is absolutely nothing for a parent to ever boast about, but just be thankful for.

    I also agree that if anyone gets to take credit for a kid’s success, then everyone should get to. Teachers, grandparents, babysitters, YM/YW leaders, coaches, friends, relatives, neighbors. They all contribute.

  65. I also think the best parents are often given the most difficult children and vice-versa. God gave me perfect children because he knows I can’t handle anything else.

  66. I guess I’m just out of step with church culture. Fair enough.

    How this got into being offended is unclear to me. This is not about being offended: it is about people feeling like spiritual failures because their own children didn’t hit the benchmarks of church success for whatever reasons.

    As Kristine mentioned, making this comment in some context — a talk on child rearing or eternal marriage, for instance, makes sense. But I have seen several visitors from the States introduce themselves generally this way, and while I should give them benefit of a doubt, I have trouble seeing how this is anything else but false pride.

    As for learning from these parents: I know of a couple who could make this claim — all three of their kids went on missions and married in the temple — but they would have to do so from prison, where they are serving sentences for child abuse and dissemination of child pornography.

    And I love BJohnson’s story in #53.

  67. John Mansfield says:

    “And we can be terrible parents whose children are wonderful in spite of us.”

    Favorable outcomes for six out of six children of terrible parents would be unlikely. There are countless ways to fail—a broad way that leads to destruction.

  68. Things I wish people wouldn’t say in blogs: Things I wish people wouldn’t say in church.

    It’s a vicious circle.

    I strongly disagree with your #65, MCQ.

  69. You can fail as parents and have 6 kids that serve missions and marry in temples precisely because serving missions and marrying in temples are not ends in themselves but means to ends — to making us more christlike people. We all know way to many people who both served missions and married in temples but who are still, ahem, not especially wonderful people for us to treat those things as infallible benchmarks of parental success.

    Then again, I suspect that those people for whom serving missions and getting married in temples are the ultimate barometers of parental success might be the same people who are most likely to wear such success on their sleeves from the pulpit.

  70. The Marvin J. Ashton quote in #53 is awesome.

  71. #47 David G, sorry. Didn’t know that. I’ve only seen David H. Is this better?

  72. Starfoxy,

    #61. Very well said and I agree completely.

    Seems like a solution is to work on being less offended while simultaneously work on being less offensive. Which may be another (less elegant) way of stating Ranbado’s comment in #7 (Among the qualities Zion demands is a willingness to earnestly strive to avoid offending others and an absolute unwillingness to be offended by others)

  73. Susan, I was speaking toungue in cheek on that comment, but what’s your quarrel with it? You have perfect children and want to take all the credit, or you know people with difficult children and want them to take all the blame?

  74. John Mansfield says:

    Spencer Kimball, General Conference, October 3, 1971:

    “When the eternal marriage was solemnized, and as the subdued congratulations were extended, a happy father, radiant in his joy, offered his hand and said, ‘Brother Kimball, my wife and I are common people and have never been successful, but we are immensely proud of our family.’ He continued, ‘This is the last of our eight children to come into this holy house for temple marriage. They, with their companions, are here to participate in the marriage of this, the youngest. This is our supremely happy day, with all of our eight children married properly. They are faithful to the Lord in church service, and the older ones are already rearing families in righteousness.’

    “I looked at his calloused hands, his rough exterior, and thought to myself, ‘Here is a real son of God fulfilling his destiny.’

    “ ‘Success?’ I said, as I grasped his hand. ‘That is the greatest success story I have heard. You might have accumulated millions in stocks and bonds, bank accounts, lands, industries, and still be quite a failure. You are fulfilling the purpose for which you were sent into this world by keeping your own lives righteous, bearing and rearing this great posterity, and training them in faith and works. Why, my dear folks, you are eminently successful. God bless you.’ ”

  75. To me, it isn’t so much that all the children are married in the temple, have all gone on missions, or whatever. What bugs me is that it is so important to mention how many children there are. Is there a special Celestial Kingdom bulk discount for the number of children you have? Is anything over three or four evidence of personal righteousness?

    We have a counselor in our bishopric who takes every opportunity to remind us all that they had seven children. Part of me wants to point out that the reason he and his wife moved into our ward was that one of his sons was already in it and they wanted to live close. That son moved out of state about a year after his parents moved in. I think that reflects a little about the real success of their parenting.

  76. DavidGou, no worries. I just thought a little bit of disambiguation would be helpful.

  77. MCQ: I know plenty of crappy parents who’ve had difficult children and plenty of good parents who’ve had difficult children. And crappy parents who’ve had easy children and etc.

    I myself am a pretty crappy parent yet my kids are amazing.

  78. The comments in this thread brought to mind this exchange in the seminal film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy:

    Ron Burgundy: Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

    Champ Kind: It jumped up a notch.

    Ron Burgundy: It did, didn’t it?

    Brick Tamland: Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart.

    Ron Burgundy: I saw that. Brick killed a guy. Did you throw a trident?

    Brick Tamland: Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident.

    Ron Burgundy: Brick, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. You should find yourself a safehouse or a relative close by. Lay low for a while, because you’re probably wanted for murder.

    Really only the first 3 lines are applicable, but it would be a shame to not quote the whole thing.

  79. StillConfused says:

    Are we really this cranky? What can we do about all of this crankiness? FMH is having a Manuary; maybe we need a Luvuary over here (okay lame title but wouldn’t it be nice to have some good Christian love over here? Am I going to have to throw a revival on you guys?)

    Also, do you realize that you are getting worked up over something someone else said and they don’t even know you care? You are carrying that rock around for no reason.

  80. So Susan, it seems your personal experience proves my point. Your other observations are merely anecdotal and are the exceptions that prove the rule.

  81. StillConfused, nothing makes people crankier than a good nagging.

  82. StillConfused says:

    #81 I love you; you love me; we’re a happy family; with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you… (sorry, my youngest is 18 so I am too old to remember the rest of dorky, get-stuck-in-your-head, lame songs by hip-heavy purple dinosaurs). Oh and there is more where that came from. Don’t make me have to go all My-daddy-is-my-favorite-pal on ya!

  83. Isn’t there a difference between being annoyed that someone introduced themselves with their resume of kids married in the temple, and being offended by it?

    I don’t see where anybody here said they were offended by it. I’m not either. But when someone trots out the family celestial resume as a point of introduction, I am certainly annoyed.

    And I find few things so annoying as being told not to be annoyed. So don’t.

  84. Norbert (way back in 18),
    You may well be right. I haven’t been in a ward in years with anybody old enough to have 6 kids, all married in the temple.

    My problem is, in a vaccuum of context, I don’t know if the person is self-aggrandizing, preaching, or introducing. And you’re certainly right that, even if they’re introducing, it’s not necessary. But (unless it’s the preaching or self-aggrandizing) it’s probably relatively harmless. People like to boast about their kids; I do about mine (although at their ages, my boasts include, She’s sitting up without help), and I know my dad loves to tell where all of us attended school/grad school/work/whatever. It is bragging, but it is also a view into what he sees as being important.

    But I totally agree that someone who is setting themself up as an example because of the outcome of their kids totally sucks. Unless the outcome is that their kid can sit up by herself, in which case that person is totally justified.

  85. Not one to quote scripture and aware there can be fault and strength on both sides of this debate, I am reminded of a favorite verse, Romans 12:13. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” And isn’t it easier to do the latter than the former? Don’t we identify our real friends as those with whom we can share and celebrate our triumphs? It’s a small group. Seems many more would be happy to hear of our failures and challenges and an even larger group just wants us to keep it impersonal.

    That said, you might also have been amused by the two elderly sisters who rose every month in my husband’s childhood ward, each competing with the other on numbers of grandchildren and of progeny in bishoprics, stake presidencies,on missions and married in the temple. They kept count so the entire ward had to too. Boring, but, a memory exercise and comic relief.

  86. You can fail as parents and have 6 kids that serve missions and marry in temples precisely because serving missions and marrying in temples are not ends in themselves but means to ends — to making us more christlike people. We all know way to many people who both served missions and married in temples but who are still, ahem, not especially wonderful people for us to treat those things as infallible benchmarks of parental success.

    Yeah, do the parents ever brag about the unknown porn addictions, or the addiction to prescription drugs, or the bankruptcies that they didn’t know about …

    Whatever. The bragging is relatively harmless. I’d call them to the nursery to prep a new generation of missionaries and temple-marriers…

  87. I hope to shout that I can make a similar boast someday. At this point, however, I can only say that all six of my kids have (at one point or another) run screaming through the chapel during sacrament meeting. We’re working up to the temple marriages and missions.

  88. mondo cool says:

    If someone is offended by “The Spirit has told me the Book of Mormon is true,” does that mean we shouldn’t say that?

    Is the greatest sin offending someone?

  89. Usually I don’t mind when people talk about their mission-going, temple-marrying kids. I figure they are just pleased with how their kids have turned out. What I don’t like is when people say, “They’re a great family, (x) number of kids, all served missions, all married in the temple,” because to me what makes a family great is not whether or not the kids serve missions or get married in the temple. When I say a family’s great, what I mean is, “They’re good people. I like them.” Usually it’s just the couple I’m talking about. Their kids may or may not be suckheads. Well, most of the families I know intimately don’t have adult children, so I should say the kids may or may not grow up to be suckheads. Anyway, I esteem people according to what they do, not what their kids do.

    As it happens, last Christmas (as in 2007, not the very last Christmas) I had a big row with my older two children and left in a huff for the big RS dinner that evening, thinking that my kids had to be the biggest suckheads in the world and what that must say about my parenting, and needless to say, that was one big depressing RS Christmas dinner/program. One of the women there–she is older and her children are mostly grown–noticed that I was looking down and I told her that I’d fought with my kids, and she said, “I just love your kids. I had the best time that night I came over to babysit them. I couldn’t believe how well they went to bed. You must be doing something right.” And you know, that made me feel about a hundred times better–not about myself, but about my kids. I realized that they must not be complete suckheads, and I should cut them a little more slack. And I remembered that while no parent does everything right, no parent does everything wrong, either. That’s a helpful little aphorism, I’ve found.

    Very little to do with the OP, but it’s off my chest now. I feel good.

  90. It’s never occurred to me to be offended when people talk about how well their children have done. I would hope that they were mentioning it because it had something to do with their testimony or the gospel.

    It doesn’t bother me when people say they “know” things, although I often times wonder if they actually know or if they just think they know.

    It doesn’t bother me when people say that they feel it’s imporant for them to do XYZ because maybe it is. I receive personal revelation that I should do things all the time. If I tell someone about it, it’s not because I think they should do the same, it’s probably because I’m just sharing a personal, spiritual experience.

    The things that bother me in people’s testimonies usually have to do with them not actually bearing their testimonies, but rather going on about how great their family picnic was or how good they are at doing geneology. Not that it bothers me a huge amount, but people seem to miss the meaning of the word “testimony”.

  91. I don’t like it when people come right out and tell us that we should do something. We have one person in our Branch who thinks testimony meeting is a chance to give us a sermon. Makes me want to do the opposite just for spite.

  92. Mark Brown says:

    Even more than raising good children, I want to become a humble person someday. When I speak in church, I’ll introduce myself by pointing to all the evidence of my humility. Surely everyone else also aspires to be humble too, so they should be grateful to get the free benefit of my experience. If anybody objects, I’ll just hand him a copy of Elder Bednar’s talk and tell him to suck it up and grow up.

  93. Simply expressing thanks for a wonderful family would do just fine without stressing on why they are so wonderful.

    Generally this gets to the point which is consistently hammered in over and over again. You are not to preach from the pulpit when you give your testimony. And if you are assigned a talk, you should talk on what you were assigned, not proclaim your pride in your family.

    But the thing is… it’s easier to talk about these things for many of us than it is to simply talk about Jesus, the atonement, the plan of salvation, etc. So people just resort to quick and easy platitudes about family and “Feel good” analogy stories that make your skin tingle when you hear about little johnny almost falling into a river and then being rescued by a barking dog at the last minute.

    Ok maybe that last part was a bit too harsh…

  94. I’ve been around long enough to see babies grow up become young adults in our ward so I’m gratified to hear of successes. After all, I probably taught them at some point. I don’t cotton to “the Lord saved my life when I was prompted to not make that right turn” type speshulmonies. I wonder what they thought the Lord did to everyone else who just plain died. We lost a 16 yr old member in a car crash so those make me wince. Next on my list is “the Lord is my radar and helps me find lost objects” testimonies. But…what would life be without some weirdness on F&T day.

  95. Just responding to Norbert’s original post.

    You seem to be really pulling for a Church “where everyone is special – so no one will be.”

  96. Julie M. Smith says:

    “speshulmonies”

    love that

  97. Mollyn good scripture. We all need to just chill and find the good in others. What a miserable place church must be if we find offense in others’ joy. Or fail to fell others’ pain. Our testimony meetings run the gamut. Bottom line? Everyone is getting up because of some measure of commitment to the gospel and to God. Good for them. Chances are I can learn from them.

  98. I believe that the Savior said in best in the following:
    Matt. 6: 1-2, 4-6, 16, 18
    1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
    2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    • • •
    4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
    5 ¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
    • • •
    16 ¶ Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    • • •
    18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,783 other followers