At Women’s Conference this year, Sister Elaine S. Dalton, the General YW President issued a challenge to the conference participants, which she also reiterated at a recent youth conference in my region.
“The first thing we want to ask you to do is pray every day—100%. (ok, good)
The second thing is to read the Book of Mormon every day for five minutes—100%(hmmm … are we setting the bar kind of low? But they are teenagers ….).
The third thing we want you to do is to smile”( Meh. I hate it when people tell me to smile)
Despite my own curmudgeonly initial reaction, I have observed the most fascinating response to this challenge, which has been among many of the young men I encounter. Since the youth conference, I have observed at least 5 teenaged boys discuss the effect that implementing these changes have made in their lives. They’ve taken the counsel seriously. They don’t think it doesn’t apply to them because a female leader of the auxiliary for teenaged girls issued it. They don’t call her Elaine. They seem to accept that she is an ecclesiastical leader who can give them counsel worthy of following.
I know that there are still plenty of ways that we can help our young men to accept women as their equals – I witnessed some in my own family recently which caused me to almost drive off the road, but I think this is a good news story. Perhaps the most gratifying thing has been to watch my own 14 year old son start to make his own individual attempts at personal religious worship in the wake of female leader’s talk.
Last week, as he was heading out to work on a pile of dirt that he is transforming into a bike jump, he reported:
“I’ve prayed and read my scriptures already today.”
“Yeah, but have you smiled?”, I teased.
“Mom,” he said seriously, poking his head back inside, “I’m smiling all over the place”.
Even a curmudgeonly mother can’t complain about that.