Your Friday Firestorm #30

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

(Proverbs 22:6)



  1. I guess Adam failed to train Cain up properly and all…

  2. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Lehi, a pretty good prophet, but a poor father.

  3. Peter LLC says:

    Props to the kid from Melbourne for sticking to his guns. I reckon it’s the talking head who owes her parents an apology for being so pedantic on national television.

  4. Or, as Brigham Young said more perceptively, “Train up a child, and away he goes.”

  5. The passage distinctly skips adolescence and early adulthood, going straight from “child” to “when he is old” so this proverb is clearly a tacit admission that 13-40 years old is a period of rebellion and indiscretion.

  6. I give King Solomon (and/or his ghost writer) a score of about 84 on the PPP scale for this Proverb. The “Proverb Predictive Point” scale (my own invention) gauges how well the proverb reflects the outcomes of real-life situations in which the beliefs of the proverb are put to test. It does seem that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, and that families with a “full quiver” tend to be tightly bound straight arrows. However, there are always those bishop’s kids…

  7. A couple years back, my wife and her brother sought out and invited over for an evening a bunch of people living in the Washington, D.C. area who come from their small town in north-central New Mexico. The half dozen they rounded up were in their mid- to late-20s; my wife had babysat some of them. She and her brother were really more familiar with older siblings of the people who came over.

    After the guests had all gone home, my wife and her brother marvelled over how perfectly each person functioned as a representative member of his or her family, behaving and conversing as their siblings do. We think we’re all unique self-guided individuals; we’re not.

  8. In my experience, when a child grows old and becomes increasingly immobile, it becomes increasingly difficult to elude the grasp of the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after him or her.

  9. Trace the Hebrew word for “train” and for “child”.

    And remember parents: the way he should go, not the way you think he should go.

    I think the rich proverb has often been abused.

  10. This is one of those teachings that has the potential to either inspire and comfort, or cause guilt and regret, depending on how the hearer takes it.

    A mother I know takes comfort in the fact that she did the best she could raising her now-inactive son, and she “knows” that he will come back to the church someday because of good seeds planted in his youth.

    However, a parent could alternatively assume that they did not adequately “train up their child in the way he should go.” This passage could allow a parent to blame themselves for a wayward child.

    As a side note, I think we run the same risk of guilt and blame when we overemphasize sayings like “Isaiah/Revelations/endowment ceremony (etc.) are easy to understand if you are righteous and have the spirit.” It leaves the potential that a person will feel inadequate for “not getting it” like everyone else apparently does, and possibly blame herself for it.

    Sometimes bad stuff happens despite our best efforts, and questions go unanswered even for the faithful.

  11. StillConfused says:

    If he were my child…..

  12. So in other words, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and you’ll take away his agency.”

  13. It is my personal belief that HF sends some rather rebellious spirit children into strong LDS families to give them all of the advantages of the gospel should they choose a more righteous path.

    Look no further than Cain who could have been sent to Noah right before the flood but instead was sent to Adam. Our choice to follow good or evil had to be physically tangible instead of merely intellectual or emotional.

    Becoming clean in a telestial world with physical evil is a challenge and trial all of HF’s sons and daughters must overcome regardless of age.

  14. Mark Brown says:

    I’ll heart Paul H. Dunn 4evah for saying this:

    The solution to the problems of inactivity among our youth and juvenile delinquency is simple. We should all exchange children with each other. After all, we all know what needs to be done with the neighbor’s kids.

  15. How about, “just do the best you can, and have faith that things will work out in the end and stop feeling guilty about the mistakes you might have made.” Not surprisingly, I think that’s what the Lord meant.

    #2 –
    Perhaps. But he also raised Nephi, Sam, Jacob, and Joseph. In the words of a friend of mine: “Four out of Six ain’t too bad.”

  16. What jon (#13) says is consistent with my experience. I’ve known so many strong, well-grounded LDS parents with utterly bonehead, aimless teens and young adults. And the parents smile, shrug and say “they’ll come around.” I admire their faith and surrender to the notion that they see what I don’t (nor am I entitled to).

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Train up is the Hebrew chanak, which literally means “to narrow” [IE the jaws], and so “to put something in the mouth/taste something,” and from the common metaphor in which taste is applied to understanding, it becomes “to instruct, train up.” But the verb also can mean “to dedicate, consecrate” [EG an altar, a house, the temple, the walls of a town, etc.].

    The noun na’ar “boy” can refer to an age range anywhere from an infant to a young man of marriagable age (according to the Talmud, 1-24).

    The expression ‘al-pi darko lit. means “according to his way.” Cf. NEB “start a boy on the right road.” Saadia (10th century C.E.) suggested that this meant according to his inclination or bent of mind, and some modern readers have taken it that way. But in the context of the proverbs it seems more likely that “the way he should go” conveys the original intent. In Proverbs, there are only two ways: the way of righteousness and the way of foolishness.

    Anyway, if you wanted to give this passage a Mormon spin you could read it as talking about endowing a young man on the way to his mission!

  18. I say never trust the childrearing advice of a man with 1,000 wives and probably as many royal nannies.

  19. my wife and her brother marvelled over how perfectly each person functioned as a representative member of his or her family, behaving and conversing as their siblings do. We think we’re all unique self-guided individuals; we’re not.

    Either that or we all suffer from confirmation bias…

  20. Mark, # 14,

    That may be the best truest statement ever attributed to Paul H. Dunn!

    When my wife and I went to our 30 year HS reunion back in Utah, the major common ground all of our LDS friends had were the stories of stupid kids, doing stupid things. I’m not immune, clinging to the “four out of six ain’t bad” maxim.

    On a more positive note, some good friends had a son that had gone way off the deep end after high school, and had pretty much, with his wife, stated they would never ever have anything to do with the church ever again. 10 years down the road, he’s served in a bishopric, and now has a stake calling in the YM. He found his way back, and so I have hope.

  21. kevinf (#20),

    Was your 30-yr. HS reunion this past year? I only ask because mine was. Brighton Class of ’77. (sorry everyone for the aside)

  22. This certainly has little correlation with fact-memory, since the students I see in upper division classes seem to recall about 25% of what they got burned with in the prerequisite courses. Neighbors down the street, most of you would know them, had major problems with every kid. And they (parents) are ‘good people.’ And of course there is always the inherited defect – and wow, the youtube thing. Ouch.

  23. # 18 — LOL!

  24. If you think about it, the greatest father we know of (God) lost 1/3 of his children to the other side.

    And I think, deep down, if a child is raised with love and faith – he/she will always have a little seed of “knowledge” – it may take the eternities for it to blossom, but I hold firm to that belief.

  25. David T,

    I wish!

    No, actually my wife and I both graduated from Ben Lomond HS in Ogden in 1969, so the 30 year reunion was actually 8 years ago.

    Kristine, # 18, although I love my wife dearly, I would seriously doubt the wisdom of any man with 1000 wives. The smartest thing I have done in my life is marrying only one, and specifically, the right one!

  26. I became inactive in the Church when I was 17 years old. I took the road to the wilderness using drugs, alcohol and tobacco. I went to Vietnam at nineteen instead of a mission. I searched for a spiritual base in other religions western and eastern. I was involved in starting a New Age cult. The list is long and to time consuming to recount. But through the haze and confusion, I got married (still am to the same person), held down jobs and did a lot of volunteer work in the communities where I lived.

    At age 52 I returned to activity in the Church. I am almost 60 and currently the Elder’s Quorum President. What do I credit my survival, my grandfather, father (a basically honorable man who had problems with alcohol) and other good folks I met throughout my life. Do I believe that if you “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”? Yes I do, the strong foundation my grandfather gave me as a child and teen has seen me through many hard and wild times, saved my life and brought me back to the fullness of the Gospel.

  27. This is really just a classic nurture vs nature debate. Nurture has a huge effect, but there are just some things so strongly programmed into the genetics of an individual that no amount of upbringing (or the lack thereof) can have an effect.

    This can go both ways, positive and negative. There are many people who become criminals from good families. But there are good people that come from criminal families as well.

    Another point is expectation. Many people use the Proverb to mean that your children will be perfect, active, upstanding members. Heaven forbid they become inactive, but otherwise absolutely great human beings.

    Finally, “old” can be a long time. Old can be when the person is 60 years old. There is a 60+ year old man in my ward who just recently reactivated. He left the church as a teen, but recently got ordained an elder, went to the temple for the first time and is absolutely enjoying his newfound activity.

    The passage of time can do wonderful things for people. You’ve seen the prison reality shows. Some people in there are quite insane, but others, you can feel the regret just emanating from them. Many committed their crimes as young people, now 10, 20 years later they realize their full extend of their mistakes. Many former gang members work hard, now much older and wiser, to correct their mistakes and work with the youth who fall prey to criminal lives.

  28. As a great man once said:

    …men cannot be forced to believe. Religion is a matter of the inner man. Conviction is of the heart. Forced conformity breeds hypocrisy.(Hugh B. Brown, “MORMONISM,” an address delivered Monday, Feb. 26, 1962, to the students at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pa.)

    #4 Terry:

    The whole statement is great, as follows:

    The old Indian adage is rather the most applicable to the present practice of many, viz.: “Train up a child, and away it goes, as it pleases” (Journal of Discourses 3:327).

  29. Josh Smith says:

    I work in a courthouse, in small Mormon community that will go unnamed. There happens to be a university in town, that will also go unnamed. A couple times a month, I witness a sad event that essentially the same each time: parent sits in the back of courtroom while the child they have rained care and attention on for 18 years sits in a jump suit and handcuffs in the defendant seat.

    It’s horrible. Now no doubt, there are many more people who sit in the defendant’s chair who were abused and neglected. But, a couple times every month the eagle scout, the prospective missionary, the lovingly-reared-and-nurtured Mormon youth does something outrageously stupid. My heart breaks for the parents; I pray God that it’s not me someday, but there are not guarantees–even if the child is trained up in the way he should go.

  30. Latter-day Guy says:

    Hey, it’s just a proverb. They’ve been known to be faulty. How many people do you know with hairy palms? Yeah, me neither.

  31. Haven’t read all the comments yet, but Todd Wood’s #9 echoes my first response to this scripture.

  32. This is really just a classic nurture vs nature debate. Nurture has a huge effect, but there are just some things so strongly programmed into the genetics of an individual that no amount of upbringing (or the lack thereof) can have an effect.

    Now wait a second….I’ve had many LDS members tell me that when it comes to acting differently than the LDS church teaches, there is no such thing as “born that way.” (cough)

  33. We had a good friend when we lived in Boston who used to say that this scripture says absolutely NOTHING about what the child will do before they get old – so she had hope for the 1 of 8 who was rebelling. I believe the proverb wholeheartedly – as a generalization.

    We can mention God, the Father, Lehi, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Brigham Young, Ezra Taft Benson, Hugh Nibley as examples of righteous parents who had children rebel – but we also can mention every single one of them as examples of righteous parents whose children *generally* did NOT rebel. We can say they prove the proverb incorrect, but we also can say they prove the proverb correct. Imo, 4 out of six proves the proverb as a general rule.

  34. #32–But Nick you’ve hardly departed, have you? Speaking both of your being on this blog :-) and your conduct as a moral/ethical person.

  35. Having lived in the same small town for most of my 54 years (except for time spent on a mission and education) I’ve noticed an interesting thing that generally bears out this proverb. By and large, the families that were active (regular church attendance, regular church service, etc.) are the ones that are still active. Their children, children’s children, etc. Another interesting thing is that altho many of us made detours along the way, many have returned to the fold, so to speak.

    It says in the scriptures that the sins of the fathers will be visited unto the third and fourth generations. I believe that the opposite is true. I believe that the examples of faith and dedication set by us (and those before us) will benefit later generations.

    Of course, there are always exceptions. In one multigenerational family the great-grandparents were pillars of the church and community. The kids were not. And their kids struggled. But the later generation (great grandkids) have many that have returned (to varying degrees). I could ramble on about this, but I’ll give it a rest.

  36. This scripture is the basis of the Pearl’s evil child rearing program. People can make the most amazing oragami creations out of a little rectangular scripture verse.

    In spite of parents best efforts, kids do stray. I know of very few large families where they haven’t had at least one child who struggles with the way in which they should go. It makes me look at my six precious monkeys and pray hard. The whole conversation takes me back to our works/grace discussion. We do our best and God does what we can’t and hopefully it all turns out OK.

  37. I’m troubled by the frequent LDS trap of labeling “active” kids as good kids, and “inactive” kids as bad kids. This false dichotomy is embedded in many of the comments to this post.

    Whereas the activity rates of Baby Boomers is quite high, the activity rates of their offspring, Gen X and Y, seems to be more around 50%. (Pulled that number right out of the air, folks.) When I talk to parents about their adult children, their faces fall when talking about their inactive kids. Meanwhile, said child may be a solid citizen with a great job, a spouse, and children, a person embodies all of the attributes of a Christ-like human being.

    So instead of taking pride in having properly “train[ed] up” their child, they feel like failures because said child does not believe the same things the parent believes. The child is seen as disobedient, maybe lazy, not able to “hold to the rod”; not admired for following the dictates of his/her own conscience. The child may have departed from his/her parents’ beliefs, but has not departed from being trained up in “the way he should go.”

  38. Matt,

    Good point. While my wife and I agonize over two of our five sons (our one daughter is practically perfect in every way, including providing us with the world’s most beautiful granddaughter and future WNBA star), I have to admit that they both appear to have learned how to treat their spouses with respect, how to work hard, and generally be good citizens. But we still feel like failures due to their rejection (not just inactivity) of the church. So I’d have to say that they are 80% there. Their three other married siblings, though, are pretty close to 100%, so they also suffer from comparison. You love them all equally, but the emotional investment in the 80%ers is significantly higher. I know which ones I lose sleep over.

  39. Too often, in my opinion, we parents want our children to succeed by our own measurements to make us feel worthwhile. And I think too often we look to outward measures (grades and other accomplishments, for example) of our kids’s success to bolster our own egos. We want our kids to be the best athelete, the straight A student, etc., but not just for them, but also for us. This is pride.

    Instead, perhaps both parent and child would be much better off if we focused less on the actual results (winning, grades) and more on learning and becoming. If our love for our kids fluctuates based on their performance, we place them in a precarious position of having to continually perform for us.

  40. Well said, my2cents (#39).

    kevinf (#38), unless I am mistaken, it seems that all five of your children are solid citizens, good people. What separates the 80%ers from the 100%ers is their individual religious beliefs. I guess what I was saying is: Is it fair to think of those who do not believe in Mormonism as 80%ers?

    Maybe the analogy needs to be flipped or reversed. Maybe all five of your children are 100%ers, but you are still only 80% of the way there towards accepting your two non-believing sons as equal in personhood or achievement to their believing siblings?

  41. Matt Thurston, is it really so hard to comprehend that for some it has great value that their children be faithful Latter-day Saints, that should the children not be, then something important is missing in the relationship, notwithstanding what solid citizens they may be?

  42. No success in life can compensate for failure in the home.

    Losers. :)

  43. Matt,

    Fair question. I’m pretty liberal in a lot of things, understand agency, and know for sure that of these two boys, the one certainly had his own agenda, and started making those choices early. Not sure what we could have done different. The other was due to outside circumstances just after his mission, and other factors I won’t mention here.

    But for me and my wife, as accepting as we try to be, the reality of our knowledge of the plan of salvation and other aspects of the gospel leave us no other paradigm. We are happy they are nice, responsible citizens, and if they weren’t my children, I’d be totally accepting of them. They are wonderful people.

    On the other hand, if I felt towards everyone (my missionary responsibility) the way I do my sons, then I would be 100%. Our grief lies in knowing in a very real way what they are missing in their lives. I should feel that way about my morning basketball buddies who are all non-LDS. That’s what I need to work on.

  44. John Mansfield, the idea of “something missing in the relationship” hasn’t been brought up. Matt pointed out, wisely, that there is a problem with a parent considering a child only “80%” acceptable, based on whether the child shares their religious beliefs. If that affects the relationship between parent and “80%” child, the fault doesn’t lie with the child for not accepting his/her parents’ beliefs. The fault lies with parents who condition their love and acceptance on conformity to religious dogma.

    I can only imagine having a parent determine I’m 20% unworthy of their acceptance, just because I’ve not followed their religion.

  45. Queuno, # 42, somebody had to bring that up! If I’m losing a couple of kids, you’d think I would have more wealth and the accolades of the world than I do!

    No offense taken, BTW.

  46. Matt (#40) – God weeps for His children who do not choose to accept what He desires to give them. He loves them just as much, but He weeps for them.

    Maybe He is only 80% of the way to where they are?

    I’ll echo my2cents in #39.

  47. #44 – Nick, I understand what you are saying, but do you propose that I not let my children know how much I hope they gain a testimony similar to or deeper than mine? How do you propose I express how deeply I believe something without expressing a desire that they come to understand and believe it?

  48. Crap, Nick, that’s cheap.

    I won’t take any cheap shots in return. 80 % was meant to be symbolic, but in terms of emotional involvement, as I pointed out before, these two got more of our attention as they have struggled, and we work overtime to try and make sure they know of our 100% love for them and their spouses.

    Give me some credit. I even offered to stay outside the temple during the last wedding we had to be with them, but they wouldn’t allow that.

    Bad form, Nick.

  49. We are happy they are nice, responsible citizens, and if they weren’t my children, I’d be totally accepting of them.

    So because they’re your children, and they’ve not followed your faith, they’re not “totally” acceptable to you? Yet if they were not your children, they’d have your “total acceptance?” I think that’s truly sad.

    Our grief lies in knowing in a very real way what they are missing in their lives.

    You describe these sons as upstanding, successful, responsible men. You seem confident that they are “missing something” in their lives. I can’t help but wonder if they really feel that way. I can’t help but wonder if it’s really you who is “missing something” in your lives, since you’re unable to have that “my children have all been faithful” satisfaction.

  50. #47:
    Ray, I propose that you would respect your non-believing children (if you had any) as responsible adults who are capable of making their own decisions about what brings them happiness. I propose that you would respect their decisions, and still love them for who they are, rather than decide they’re somehow flawed, or not living to your expectations.

    Given how you’ve always behaved toward me, I have every confidence that you would behave that way.

  51. Nick,

    After a few minutes reflection, I totally understand what you and Matt are saying. I’ve seen those situations, but even in those cases, there is certainly love on the part of the parents.

    My reaction shows just how deep the concerns run. You worry about what others are thinking of the kids when they make these choices. You worry about consequences.

    No more percentages. Bad choice on my part.

  52. 80 % was meant to be symbolic, but in terms of emotional involvement, as I pointed out before, these two got more of our attention as they have struggled, and we work overtime to try and make sure they know of our 100% love for them and their spouses.

    I don’t get it, kevinf. You’ve told us what great, successful people they are, but now you say they’re “struggling.” It doesn’t make sense. Are they “struggling” over their choice not to subscribe to the LDS faith? To be honest, it seems that you are the one “struggling” here.

  53. Nick,

    Let’s not escalate this. I really don’t want this to be adversarial, and I don’t want to have to watch my word choices like a politician. Just because we converse here, we think we know each other, and in reality we don’t.

    What I want is for the enjoyment, love, and good times we share as a family to really be eternal. I have noted in these pages before the good things that these two do. But I won’t second guess your motives, if you won’t second guess mine. I love them, and want them to have the same happiness that my wife and I have, and my hope is that someday, they’ll have it.

  54. I think the semantic back and forth of the last few comments illustrates a problem of communication between those who remain in the Church and those who have chosen to leave. I have friends who are closer to the latter group than the former, and I have a hard time broaching the subject with them. On the one hand, I want to convey that their choice doesn’t make me like or love them less or not want to still spend time with them. On the other hand, I do care, and I wonder if I could do anything to “help” them. More than anything, the problem is linguistic. I can’t speak in an idiom that reflects my position — words like “struggling” and “help” and “support” — without sounding condescending and judgmental. On the other hand, I can’t pretend their choice to leave Mormonism doesn’t exist because, like it or not, it is an omnipresent dynamic in our relationship.

  55. I know I’m coming off as a complete ass here, but it’s not really my intention to beat up on you, kevinf.

    I guess I’m reflecting my own experience as a parent who has rejected the faith of his children. Believe it or not, I have some of the same anxiety for my children being in the LDS church/culture, as you do for your sons not being in it. Still, I feel it’s my duty not to criticize their choice to believe. I’ve already experienced what it’s like to have one of them reject me because I don’t believe in the LDS faith. It’s painful, and it’s frustrating. It’s all the more so when I get hints of their pity toward me, or when I think about how they probably pray that Jesus will fix daddy. At least one of my girls respects our differences, and is glad for my happiness. I wish they could all feel that way.

  56. Nick,

    I watched as our oldest returned from his mission, and dealt with issues regarding some very difficult things that all of us have had difficulty with. Yes, he struggled. We read Quinn and Eugene England and talked together about his concerns. Yes, he struggled in giving up the gospel. It was not easy for him. I don’t think it’s easy for him now.

    You and Matt have made your point, and it’s well taken. But I can’t avoid feeling at a loss for their choices, even while I recognize their right to make them.

  57. Nick,

    We’ve obviously been typing past each other here. I can totally understand your pain, as well. If it’s any consolation, I have respected your comments here at BCC over the last year or two as constructive and helpful, all the while recognizing that you have chosen differently than I have. My take has been that my oldest son has gone through the same kinds of issues that you have, and left the church for some if not all the same reasons.

    Sorry for calling it a cheap shot. I think for both of us the emotions are all pretty close to the surface.

  58. Ditto Brad. It’s a very difficult issue to discuss precisely because any word you use almost immediately is taken the wrong way.

  59. MikeInWeHo says:

    I hate to admit it, but Nick has a point. It’s a tragedy when families are ruptured because the members do not agree on theology, or which church (if any) to attend.

    This has been a huge challenge for my parents as well. It breaks my heart to think that such wonderful parents might blame themselves because I turned out to be different, and a crude application of Proverbs 22:6 certainly contributed to that guilt. I believe their Lutheran pastor referenced that very verse when I announced that I was getting baptized LDS.

    For me, Proverbs 22:6 is a highly problematic scripture, right up there with Matthew 10:34.

    (BTW: That video clip is hysterical, Steve. Definitely gave me my Laugh Of The Day. How do you find these things?)

  60. John Mansfield, No, it is not “so hard [for me] to comprehend that for some it has great value that their children be faithful Latter-day Saints.” I get that, and have experienced the feeling (i.e. from the parents point of view) first hand.

    But I still think it is something we should fight against.

    Religious conviction or belief is still 100% subjective. Parent knows his beliefs are true and his child is “missing something.” Child knows his beliefs (different from parent’s) are true and his parent is missing something. They are both right. If the child and parent each hold something back because the other doesn’t share his beliefs, the relationship is sadly compromised.

    We always shade our heads with regret or disgust when a convert tells a story about a parent being less accepting, or even rejecting said convert for joining the church. “How could the parent be so narrow-minded, so callous?” we wonder. And then we do it ourselves.

    Finally, despite what Elder Holland (or Maxwell?) suggests, I can’t help but think God’s love is unconditional for all of his children, depsite their disparate convictions and beliefs. Such a model of love and acceptance trumps a model that is somewhat contingent on children remaining active and achieving all of the necessary measuring sticks or sign posts (i.e. baptism, mission, temple marriage, etc.).

  61. Fwiw, the *conclusion* to the back and forth between kevinf and Nick is one of the main reasons why I love this forum so much more than most. There often is real dialog and understanding here that just doesn’t exist on too many sites.

    *end of gratuitous pandering*

  62. Ray, you can gratuitously pander any time you want. It’s kind of cute.

    Nick and Matt, however much I might emotionally disagree, you’ve held up a mirror that I probably always need to be looking at. I’m mortified (and have been for years) that these two sons and their spouses would think that I find them somehow inferior. Yet I know that probably all of us, looking from the different sides of the fence, are guilty of these kinds of things.

    Mike, I’ve enjoyed your perspectives too. I hope you always feel welcome. Now if I could just get over Jettboy. Good grief, now I’m gratuitously pandering, aren’t I?

  63. Just an observation:

    I try very hard not to hold someone to a standard I can’t live. If more parents AND children – both Mormon AND non-Mormon – would grant the other the same consideration they request for themselves (understanding and the elimination of unrealistic expectations), much of this discussion would be moot. (i.e., “Why can’t my child accept my convictions?” is no different than, “Why can’t my parents accept my choices?”)

  64. kevinf, I’ve always loved your contributions to the bloggernacle. Your concern for your children and fellow man, and respect for all points of view are always evident in your writing; I think your kids are very lucky to have you as a father. Though my one post was addressed to you, I was/am really just writing to everyone.

    So, one more thought, not necessarily intended for kevinf…

    As I approach parenthood (my kids are still very young), I wonder, who will God judge more harshly:

    1.) The parent who recognizes that belief/conviction is personal, ineffable, and subjective, and loves his child unconditionally, encouraging child to follow his spiritual muse, and sharing in his child’s spiritual highs and lows, developing an unbreakable bond of love and trust.

    2.) The parent who knows his church is true, and labors to the end of his days to convince his child of this incontrovertible truth and of the error of child’s ways, realizing that this is his solumn duty, that failure to do so will result in his family not being eternal, and result in a far lesser reward for his child… all the while driving a gulf between parent or child, whether acknowledged or not, one filled with pain, anxiety, regret, and misunderstanding, instead of love and acceptance.

    If God isn’t Mormon, I think Parent #2 will have some explaining to do.

    Does not scenario #1 resemble the relationship between Heavenly Father and us? We each follow our own spiritual muse, and He is there to share in our spiritual highs and lows, prodding us forward, developing a relationship of love/trust.

  65. Matt, with all respect, I see God as a 1.5 in your scenario.

    “How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”

  66. Sorry; that was Luke 13:34.

    This is a very difficult discussion precisely because it is intensely emotional and intensely personal – and the only “solution” of which I am aware requires a level of spiritual maturity that is not easy to obtain.

  67. Matt,

    Thanks, but as we often do here, isn’t there another choice? :)

  68. Ray and Kevin,

    Yeah, okay, so there are other choices and possibilities besides my crude dichotomy.

    I just think if all parents were inflexible in passing their beliefs onto their children, (and I mean all parents of all faiths), we’d have very little communication and love between the generations.

    And I can’t help but think that what we learn about ourselves and each other via negotiating through our differences is more important that the inherent correctness of our differences themselves.

    My parental advice: O be wise, what can I say more?

  69. Queuno, # 42, somebody had to bring that up! If I’m losing a couple of kids, you’d think I would have more wealth and the accolades of the world than I do!

    No offense taken, BTW.

    I wasn’t trying to offend, but I was trying to inject a bit of humor.

    And also poke fun at that statement, that I think has served to harm two generations of Mormon parents.

  70. Re the kevinf and Nick tiff …

    Please – every parent is justified in feeling a little put out when a child rejects a path that they feel to be a deeply core principle. You just have to decide how big of a deal it is. I know how my MIL feels about her daughters who’ve strayed. Is it justified? She thinks so, and my belief system agrees with her. Are they good women? Absolutely! Are they living their life in adherence to religious principles my MIL would prefer? No. That doesn’t change their accomplishments and their being good people. But their being good people doesn’t change the fact that my MIL feels she’s failed.

    The fact that kevinf and Nick don’t see eye-to-eye on this is, frankly, more of a reflection of kevinf’s and Nick’s differences regarding the importance of the Church, not a view of how they’ve raised their kids.

    My mother hates the fact I dislike living in Utah. She absolutely can’t stand it. She feels like she failed. (Ignore the fact I only “lived” there to attend school.) She’s *entitled* to her feeling. I can’t change that. She can’t change me. Do I wish she didn’t feel that way? Sure. But she’s *entitled* to feel she failed. kevinf, in my opinion, is entitled to feel his children are 80% or 100% or whatever, and is entitled to think he himself is 100% or 40% or 83.27% or whatever. It’s kevinf’s only measure, not mine or Nick’s or anyone. Nick can feel that kevinf’s children are 110%! But it has no relevance to kevinf’s judgment.

  71. ooh, you got my dander up... says:

    This is one scripture that when twisted, infuriates me to no ends. Debi and Michael Pearl wrote a book and have developed a flock of parents that follow the philosophy that one should use physical and emotional pressure on a child – especially infants – to bring about good behavior. Savvy child care boards, centers and early childhood institutions do not allow the practices taught by the Pearls – as many qualify as physical abuse in the child care setting. It is also a popular motto hung up in YMCAs and YWCAs throughout America. This is a popular style of parenting taught in churches, especially those that are Evangelical. Marriage first – children second, and happiness of the child does not count. Child of God? Agency? Neither apply.

  72. Just in case anybody misunderstands, not like that ever happens here, Nick and I are okay with each other. And Queuno, I totally got the humor. I hope you got mine.

    Thanks everyone for all your good thoughts.

  73. 71. I heard about the Pearls on a natural childcare board. As in “We will delete any comments about the Pearls’ Child Training method.” This policy among pretty open-minded people and few disapproving comments made me curious. Surely people were just miffed because it was based on scripture. Nope, the abuse/training program is based on baiting then switching (as in with a switch) young toddlers. It’s horrifying stuff and the scriptural justification of it makes it all the more dangerous.

  74. kevinf, I love you man.

  75. [Weak attempt at political threadjacking, based on spurious and misleading e-mail making the rounds of partisan hacks deleted by admin. If you are curious about the referenced bit of trivia, see here:

  76. non-mormon-observer says:

    enough observing….

    This passage of scripture only makes me think of another passage….

    “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;” Ecclesiates 12:1 (KJV)

    Having been raised in a non-LDS Christian home by a pastor no less, I can remember both my fathers guilt for my misdeeds and my own for letting both my parents and God down…funny thing free will (agency) now I have a 13 year old son and await the guilt again….:)

  77. #75 Your statement sterotyping Muslum teachings give me a very nervous feeling.

  78. Thnaks for removing #75

  79. Josh Lawnmower says:

    Hello everybody! Long time listener, first time caller.

    I come from a family of eight boys. Born and raised in the church out in California. I was the child that strayed from the gospel when I was in my late teens. But after a few years I’ve returned to the fold. What is interesting is how my mother feels about my life.

    Having not gone on a mission, nor got married in the temple (later sealed of course, just not married in), she still feels like I never lived up to my spiritual potential. So often, when visiting or having her over I feel the saddness (in her eyes and comments) of having missed the great oppertunities and blessings of following a by the book path of life.

  80. Josh (#79),

    Sorry, man, I know what it’s like to feel the disappointment of a parent. I’m sure you’ve told your mom that your sealing is the same thing as a temple marriage; that you still have enormous opportunities in front of you to serve the Lord, including possibly even a mission in your twilight years. The Lord provides way too many contingencies for success to cry failure just because you haven’t followed The Book to a ‘T’.

  81. Josh,

    Thanks for your personal and insightful comments. Please make many more.

  82. In the ward I grew up in (SC) there was a prominent LDS family that had 8 children. These were some of the nicest people you’d ever met. Successful businessman, excellent sister in terms of giving and service, very well to do. In a sense you got the impression that they lived charmed lives. After the third kid had reached college age, the mother said that a while back she had come to the realization that not all of her kids were going to make it, and it almost destroyed her. She considered that if she couldn’t have them all, that it was almost not worth it.

    A hair’s breadth from falling away into despair she resolved that she had to stay the course for the remainder of her family and also the hope that her wayward children would return. For her, life was not so charmed as it might have appeared to an outsider. The issues of children and faithfulness are deep rooted in the LDS subconscious, and not just of this faithful sister.

    The prospect of losing a child to other path which contains heartache and misery is difficult for any parent to take. Inevitably some amount of internal blame is assigned and twinges of very real guilt surface for all of the times you could have been more loving, understanding, etc.

    We can’t make our children’s choices for them, though we sometimes try. Sooner or later every child makes a choice which disappoints a parent. I know I have.

    In times of distress and sorrow, even when children will want nothing to do with their parents, they will reflect back to the teachings of their youth which formed the core of their learning. If they were teachings of divine truth, they will eventually turn to a good path. It’s our duty as parents to provide as much help as they need on the way back. Even if they don’t come back into the church, we can provide meaningful service and love to them, because they are family.


    obligatory props go to #9.

  83. The idea that any given child is “not going to make it” based on some behavior or another is hearsay. The Church itself does not have a formal doctrine as to how much progression and repentance is possible in the spirit world or in the life after that, only that it is important not to procrastinate.

  84. #83 – I don’t seek to validate or condone any doctrinal interpretation in regards to the woman’s story as it relates to people “making it” or not. Perhaps a more accurate rendition of what she was feeling could have been “if they do not change their ways they aren’t going to make it”. This is conjecture about someone else’s opinion. When the angel visited Alma and the sons of Mosiah, he was certainly forceful in describing what would happen to Alma if he continued in his ways. Regardless, the story was meant to illustrate a parent’s feelings concerning wayward children, not to implicitly convey any doctrinal truth. I recognize that Christ is to be the judge of all men, and not me.

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