Strengthening my family

So last night I left my wife and three small children at home for three hours to go to the stake center to hear the message that I should spend more time with my family. (Irony level: 5.4 — surprisingly low because it happens about twice a year.)

I went with some questions about strengthening my family that, sadly, went unanswered:

  • My wife recently reorganized the books in the living room by color. What should I say first: that it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard, or that it actually looks really cool?
  • Is it my imagination, or are my children sucking the youth and vigor out of me, like incredibly cute little leeches?
  • Isn’t one of the aspects of presiding over my family to defend the honor of my family in competitive sports, online games and eating contests?
  • My three year olds like to pray in character, usually as Mr. Lion or Mr. Wolf, but Praying Elmo makes an appearance from time to time. Does Heavenly Father find that as funny as I do?
  • Was the phrase ‘wholesome recreational activities’ meant to be a euphemism for a married couple having sex, or is that just a hilarious accident?


  1. wholesome recreational activities

    Should aliens ever visit Earth and decide they want to know what Mormons are like, I would recommend they meditate on this particular expression. It will tell them all they need to know.

  2. I think Elmo will be one of those Left Behind.

  3. I really liked the message and tone of the Worldwide Training (an ominous phrase if I ever heard one). However, if they’re serious about us spending less time at church, they should have everyone bring the CHIs and instruct us to rip out those lists and charts of meetings that need to be held, like Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society.

  4. I loved this, Norbert.

    1) You should say whatever your wife wants you to say. Duh!

    2) Q: Where do kids get their energy? A: They suck it out of their parents. I’ve believed that for 20 years.

    3) Hadn’t thought of that, but I like it.

    4) I can see him laughing much more than we usually imagine – in appreciation at our kids and with incredulity at us.

    5) Probably hilarious accident, but I like to think it was the apostles brainstorming a funny way to reference sex. I can just see the 12 sitting around bouncing phrases off each other, and it’s fun to guess what some of the other options were.

  5. PS to #5: Neal A. Maxwell’s contributions to the list would be particularly interesting, I think.

  6. The WWT (Worldwide Training) has caused dissension in my fambly unit. I understood Julie B. Beck to endorse a family scripture period which lasts only two minutes. My eternal helpmeet does not agree. What is a presider to do?

    Norbert, I was at a meeting once where one of the apostles spoke, and he made pretty much the same point. He almost apologized to us for scheduling another meeting lasting multiple hours wherein we would be told about the importance of not having meetings which take parents out of the home.

  7. Awesome!

  8. Since the training was for all adults, why didn’t you let your wife go, and stay home with the kids?

  9. non-mormon-observer says:

    I have heard that with all the callings and such that the LDS emphasis on spending time with family is almost oxymoronic

  10. Naismith: She chose to send me and stay home, largely because of breastfeeding and exhaustion. (I have to laugh at your use of ‘let.’ Presiding does involve playing basketball, but not actually deciding who does what.) Generally she goes and I stay home, like stake conference, etc. A good question, though!

  11. Got a good one,

    Last year instead of going to some stake PH meeting I went Home Teaching.

    I got called on the carpet for not attending. I asked what the meeting was about…

    “Home Teaching”

    Laughing I said I had been out doing just that.

  12. MikeInWeHo says:

    Maybe this explains why I only ever see one active member of the Church on a semi-regular basis, and that’s only because he works for my partner (and happens to be amazingly cool, to boot). I assumed that y’all were shunning my ‘hood, but perhaps everyone is just at a meeting.

  13. Mike, it’s because you live in West Hollywood. Go to Burbank and you’ll see Mormons every thirty paces.

  14. The Meeting Ditcher says:

    I love the “stay home more” line. I ditch weekday meetings regularly in the name of that rule now. (2 hour monthly “round table” meetings for cubs?? Are you kidding me?).

    It obviously annoys some people but I figure the worst thing that could happen is they’ll fire me from that assignment…

  15. I got to stay home with the kids for this one.

  16. So I was having a pretty grumpy Monday morning till I read your post. This is hillarious. I’ll probably come back later in the day just to read the post again. Praying in character … it makes me laugh just writing it.

  17. great post!

  18. I got a friend of mine to record the WWB so I could watch it Sunday night in bed whilst the wife and kids learned even more about families and togtherness by watching Pride & Prejudice in the next room.

  19. I missed the Saturday night meeting and watched some kids of friends, but the “Family” theme continued the next day at our Stake Conference, where I sat next to two middle-aged never-married women who live in my ward, and wondered what they and the other 50% of us who don’t live in “normal families” thought about it all (the concessions made that “we know that not everyone doesn’t live in this ideal situation…” don’t help really, because they still suggest second-class). That made me wonder as well about two friends at BYU (unmarried female professors) who were instructed by their dean to announce on the first day of class that although they were single they fully supported the church’s ideal of marriage, and then I wondered about a third female professor friend with one older child who was told during her GA interview that she didn’t have enough children. Overwhelmed by all the un-normalness around me, I just decided to read a little more in Carol Lynn Pearson’s No More Goodbyes.

  20. Mike, I would LOVE to be your Visiting Teacher!


    1) I want to do this too, but I fear never again finding the book I’m looking for!

    2)Dh and I will soon be dried husks of human beings- and the munchikins just keep getting stonger and brighter and their hair redder. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    3)What kind of eating contests does Finland offer?

    4)Beanie finds praying while standing on his head in the living room chair inviting to the Spirit. Who am I to say he’s wrong?

    5) Hmmm…

  21. I have heard that with all the callings and such that the LDS emphasis on spending time with family is almost oxymoronic

    You are correct.

  22. In my opinion, with a few obvious exceptions, it is not our callings that take us away from our families as much as it is other interests that we have. And when we are home, do we give our families the attention that they deserve, or are we in our own world?

    I do enjoy the irony though of a meeting with the topic of spending time with the family while such meetings obviously preclude the very thing being encouraged. It seems to me that the church is making an emphasis of fewer meetings and more family time, but of course some meetings will always be necessary (and some unnecessary meetings will always be held too).

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    I lived the spirit of the law and didn’t attend the meeting in the first place.

  24. Amen, Kevin. I entertained kids so that the ladies could have a Pride and Prejudice marathon (the 5 hour A&E Colin Firth version, not the big screen one).

    I have always announced that if ever called as a Young Men president, I will give everyone the last week of every month off from activities as a “bye”. This is the only way to squeeze in enough time to spend time with the family, home teach, and maintain “wholesome recreation” as a viable option. Having outside interests is a good thing. It keeps everybody real.

  25. I went to the morning session. When I heard that it was about something along the lines of “Raising a Righteous Posterity,” I started walking out. I stayed in the foyer for a bit, giving the theme a second chance. Then when I heard the “everyone isn’t in an ideal situation” line and realized that was code for “we don’t have anything here for you [our situation, childless, not by choice]”, I knew my morning would be better spent helping my wife work on one of her art projects.

  26. I loved the last point on sex. I actually taught a relief society lesson emphasizing the fact that your naked body is the only one your husband can morally enjoy, so he needs to see it more often.

  27. Wow, it sounds like I’m missing something by attending priesthood meeting instead of RS.

  28. 27: I was thinking the same thing, or actually more along the lines of “I wonder when they’ll have that kind of lesson in our ward’s RS??”

  29. annahannah says:

    Sr. Beck said that if your children are very young, a 2 minute family scripture or FHE lesson is quite appropriate. Or maybe you were joking and I just didn’t get it.

  30. i had the same question–ours in utah was broadcast saturday morning, almost impossible for both parents to attend–if it was for all adult members, why not just cover the same material at Gen Conf? what is the point? cancel the meetings and have love at home!!

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 24, I would have been in there with the ladies. Doing a BBC P&P marathon is one of my favorite things to do. And I always do it by myself, cause I don’t really know anyone else who digs it that much.

  32. Within 2 weeks the video should be available on the church’s website. In addition, all stakes, wards, and branches (for the 16 supported languages) do have or will have a copy of it on DVD. Many of them already have it.

    There will also be a booklet for everyone who gets the Liahona or Ensign in those languages.

    From ldsWebguy

  33. I am unmarried with no children, and I actually enjoyed the broadcast. Elder Oaks seemed to keep it pretty real, emphasizing that it is up to the individual person to make the best choice for their family. In fact, it felt like the whole thing was pretty focused on the fact that there is NO perfect family, and everyone is going to live the gospel a little differently. I have raved about it in other places, so I won’t do it again here, but it really was a breath of fresh air for me.

    (Ironically, meetings about how to raise children are probably easiest to attend by those without them…)

  34. Gosh. I sense that some people weren’t willing to give this thing a chance. : / I found it highly worthwhile and felt encouraged by it.

    My stake showed the meeting twice, with explicit instructions that they hoped doing so would make it easier for parents with small children to attend. (By the way, Norbert, I have nursed a baby on the stand in stake conference, and you can ask the stake president’s counselor who was sitting next to me if he was even aware I had a baby with me! I recognize that few women are as brazen as I, though, so thank goodness for streaming video in the privacy of our homes.) Yes, it could be argued that the counsel to spend more time with the family is incongruous with yet another meeting, but on the other hand — come on, people! It’s two hours on a Saturday!

    I know it’s easy for me to say from where I sit, but I did think they paid more than lip service to people in other than the cookie-cutter circumstances. Elder Oaks, after all, was raised in a single-parent home.

    Sister Beck did say that if you have four children under age 6, it is insane to attempt more than a couple of minutes of scripture study at a time. I found that very sensible and compassionate. She also spoke about the need to be flexible. I appreciated her insight about our view of “support” being backward: rather than talking about how well ward members supported an activity, we need to ask how well the activity supported the ward members.

    When the discussion turned to homemaking (and Elder Holland’s sons changing diapers), though, my husband and I couldn’t have been the only ones thinking at Sister Beck, “Come on, you know you want to say something.”

    Oh, by the way, I have a daughter who sometimes prays as a pirate.

  35. re: 13
    Burbank? Is a visa required for me to get in there?

    And thanks for that thought, Tracy M (#20). If you were my Visiting Teacher, I’d serve expensive cupcakes ( and make sure we all had a good laugh every time. That’s about all I could offer at this point.

  36. Jennifer in GA says:


    My husband would love to watch a P&P marathon with you. He was home sick one day, and I went out to run some errands. When I got home, he was already up to the second disk. (Which makes me believe he put the movie on the second I walked out the door!) Ever since then he’s been more open about his love of BBC costume dramas. Which is reason #548 why I love him.

    Topic? Since I’m not in a “leadership” position for the first time in 7 years, I skipped the broadcast altogether and took my girls to the zoo instead. My husband missed it, too, but that’s because he was at work, working overtime so I can be a SAHM.

  37. It’s time to come clean about Pride and Prejudice. Kevin, and Jennifer’s husband, surely you’ve read and watched it more than once (how else to memorize all the great lines?), surely you’ve watched it in more than one version (how else to sit around with the likeminded and compare the various remakes in all the delightful details? I.e., Lady Catherine de Burgh was best in the 1984 version, although her coach in the A&E was far superior), and surely you’ve watched with your female loved ones when you might have been at a church meeting (how else to learn up close about the private lives of the male clergy?). I think I’m up to 7 or 8 times on the 1984 BBC version, 3 or 4 on the more recent version shown here on A&E, and among other things I’ve learned infinitely much about families from the effort.

  38. 1. I agree with another poster above… say whatever your wife wants you to say. However, I organize our books based on subject.

    2.Yes your kids are sucking the youth out of you because when you were little you did the same thing to your parents!As for keeping up with them…it isn’t possible, but they do help give you an excuse for exercise without joining a gym! :]

    3.Yes yes and yes! {so long as your family is also involved and enjoys it!} :}

    4.My son prays on the rocking chair upside down, rocking back and forth. He thinks better while he’s moving! He often prays pretending to be Bastien or Atrau from Neverending Story! :} {this is his most recent favorite character} I firmly believe Heavenly Father has a great sense of humor. Aferall, He created us didn’t He?

    5.I once refered to “wholesome recreational activities” as making love or having sex with my husband! LOL When we were watching the movie Charly together one night for FHE, my husband and I were busting up at Charly as she told the Relief Society sisters that making love with her husband is a great wholesome activity that they do to strengthen their marriage. I have said that before and we couldn’t stop laughing… the shock on their faces was hysterical! Only in the mormon church can you have an entire hour’s long lesson on strengthening your marriage without ever mentioning sex!! LOL Please!! We had a lesson like that just a week or two ago actually and it was like the pink elephant in the room! I still haven’t ever figured that part out…

  39. bookwormmama: Re: #5
    It is unfortunate that the church culture in general “dances around” this topic of sex. Again, I’m sure that there are some exceptions, but we teach our children to abstain and never help them realize that sex is an important part of married life.

  40. As long as the threadjack got started, I’ll fess up to watching the whole Jane Austen series on PBS this last month or so with my wife. Kevin Barney, I think you’re the man for watching it on your own. Wickedly funny stuff. I enjoyed the Emma Thompsen S&S, and the 1984 BBC P&P. But for sheer enjoyment of Jane Austen, Clueless is still a classic.

  41. Clue really is a classic. Oops, you said Clueless.

    OK, that was too much of a threadjack. Sorry.

  42. My husband and I often refer to “making a family home evening” around our other couple friends.

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