Thursday Morning Quickie #17

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the “M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 21

Being Successful Parents

MIMA Murdock and David Broadbent recognized in each other an outstandingly fine personality and as their courtship blossomed their love and respect increased rapidly. Their romance resulted in their marriage in the Manti Temple, May 1, 1901, after had made a careful study of the other’s family and sincerely felt they were in love and it would be good to combine their heritages. Each had been raised in outstanding families of eleven children. President Broadbent, in recalling these early experiences related that soon after their marriage, “we prayerfully planned the following objectives for our family. First, we would welcome and prayerfully prepare for the coming of every child; second, we would have each child baptized on his eighth birthday, and we would give him an account book for his individual record of all receipts and disbursements chiefly for the purpose of training him in thrift and industry, and so that he would fully observe the law of tithing; third, we would keep each child busy in all home and farm duties according to his age and train him for full participation in all church and civic activities, and keep before him the best in church and other literature; fourth, we would assist each child to secure a college education if he was academically inclined, or if not, assist him in vocational training so that he could earn a living and be financially independent of government or Church relief; fifth, we would strive to have all the boys fill missions for the Church, and we would encourage and assist all the girls who might be called to serve as missionaries; and, sixth, we would endeavor to instil in every child a desire to be married in the temple.”1

What have been the fruits of such a union? Forty-seven years of profound love, devotion, mutual give-and-take, service and sacrifice for each other and their family have resulted in an exceedingly fine family. They have reared to adulthood eight daughters and four sons. Two other children died in infancy. All twelve of the children have graduated from a college or university. This family has twelve missions for the Church to its credit totaling thirty-four years. Nine of these missions were abroad. All of the children were baptized into the Church on their eighth birthdays, and on this special day each was given an account book for learning thrift and industry. The twelve sons and daughters have all been married in the temple and each is active in Church and civic affairs. President and Sister Broadbent have been personally active in the Church continuously since their marriage in ward, stake, mission and temple executive positions. What amount of income allowed for such a family? This family has been reared on the modest income of a professional school teacher.

1 “A Forty-five Year Mission in Prepared Parenthood,” The Improvement Era 49: 504l5, August, 1946.

Quickie Questions

1. Why would you say that the Broadbents have been very successful parents?
2. What are other examples of outstanding parents?


Thursday Morning Quickie #17


  1. And we wonder why Mormons have lots of guilt.

  2. It’s really nice that their _plans and objectives_ totally overrode any agency their children might have had.

  3. Is MIMA an acronym?

  4. MikeInWeHo says:

    Yikes! Talk about social pressure.

  5. I think the Broadbent’s example shows the ideal of making goals and correct choices. This is not a bad thing, as planning and correct choices go a long way in raising a successful child/adult. What is needed, are examples of other scenarios that are not so perfect. For example, loss of a spouse (divorce/death), mental health issues, handicaps, way-ward children etc… How do successful parents react to these challenging situations?

  6. Those two who died? They were children who dared show some agency and FLAUNT THE PLAN!

  7. How did they managed to survive on that kind of income?
    Oh. “We would keep each child busy in all home and farm duties…” Guess they grew all of their own food.

  8. I’m with Emily U in #1.

    Essentially if you don’t have at least 12 children, baptizing them exactly on their eighth birthday, sending them all on missions, all on a teacher’s salary, then you’re doing something wrong.

  9. Looking for answers to the manual’s questions, I cheated by looking up the Improvement Era article cited in the first footnote. The moral of this story, according to the IE writer (text taken verbatim from the article): “Their married life bears out the truth of the value of prepared parenthood as opposed to artificial doctrine that is ruining the human race in broken homes and sensual association with childless homes and race suicide.”

  10. harpchil says:

    “race suicide?” Wow. I’m not sure what that means, and I’m not sure I want to.

  11. harpchil says:

    want to know, that is.

    But what artificial doctrine is it that’s ruining the human race?

  12. John Scherer says:

    ‘Nine of these missions were abroad’

    But.. they only had 8 daughters.


  13. harpchil says:

    Is it safe to assume that “Prepared” in “Prepared Parenthood” is not the same as “Planned?”

  14. Darwintroll says:

    Which GA wrote this in an attempt to diminish the selfworth of all the little cogs trying their darndest. Sounds more like propaganda from an Orwellian nightmare, wrrapped in LDS colloquialisms. I call BS.

  15. Darwintroll,
    I don’t think this manual, much less this excerpt, was written by a GA.


  16. “race suicide”???!!!

  17. John Mansfield says:

    It adds to the picture to know that oldest daughter Vida won championship honors at the age of twelve for being the best junior breadmaker in the state.

    (Utah Since Statehood, page 406)

  18. #13 :)
    Preparation is definitely not the same thing as planning!

  19. I’m not sure why it would be mentioned that nine of the missions were abroad. First of all, I’m not sure what “abroad” is, and second, if it means foreign, as opposed to U.S., missions then does that mean that the children who served stateside were somehow less awesome?

    “I’m sorry son, I guess the Lord just didn’t feel you were worthy to serve ‘abroad,’ but good luck on your lesser mission to Indianapolis, and try not to let us down any more than you already have.”

  20. You know, I get that we preach the Gospel is true today, yesterday and tomorrow, but I would never have joined the M-Men Gleaner-era church. There would have been no place for me or my “ilk”.

  21. “Race suicide,” I believe, is birth control, since accepting birth control is the beginning of a slippery slope that will end with white middle-class America refusing to procreate–effecting the suicide of the race.
    “Prepared parenthood” is therefore the exact opposite of planned parenthood. Preparing for parenthood seems to mean spending your small newlywed budget not on birth control but on a farm, because how else will you feed your hungry herd of children?

  22. I didn’t see where the social pressure to have 12+ children was in this lesson. I actually really liked the fact that the Broadbents’ goals included missions and college (or vocational training) for both the boys and girls. I’m no historian, but that seems pretty progressive for 1901.

  23. Mark B. says:

    Let’s see: teaching children to work and to be thrifty and encouraging them to serve missions and marry in the temple is a limitation on the children’s agency? Why?

    “Race suicide” was a term that came up regularly during the early 20th century–where it was feared that the practice of birth control by the “right” people (but not by the “wrong” ones) would lead to the degradation of the human race–and ultimately its dying out. Thus, suicide. The wacko anti-immigrant crowd (who are now about half of all Americans) are just the latest manifestation of the same ideas.

    Would “Your mileage may differ” at the end have saved the lesson–for those of you who find it so troubling?

    What about those of us who are troubled by the misuse of “flaunt” where “flout” is meant? Is that worse than “lay” for “lie”? Is there no balm in Gilead?

  24. Darwintroll says:

    If it’s coming from church approved liturature then precisely who wrote it is moot.

    However, I never used the Improvement Era books and I am not a historian beyond that of a casual observer and occasional digger. Therefore I don’t know to what extent…members of decades past, worshipped at the feet of these volumes.

  25. Am the only one who sees that they were married in 1901?
    Different world.
    You guys need to have a collective un-bunching of your panties.

  26. Darwintroll (24)
    My turn to call BS. Why on earth would it be moot who wrote church-approved literature? Do you really believe that anything the curriculum committee produces is canonized?

    On the other hand, because your handle includes “troll,” I probably should totally ignore you. So forget what I just wrote.

  27. #3 – No, it’s just a stylistic choice to capitalize the first word (or words).

  28. Darwintroll says:


    We both know the masses take as gospel most coming down the “church approved” pipe. Regardless of who writes it. It’s part of the over-desirous nature to “do the right thing.” My caveat – See end of post.

    And it’s okay that you wanted to say it, even if you lend no credence to my name. There is alway the backspace key if you really mean that last part.

  29. As Justine (#9) points out, the term “race” is used a bit, but it’s fairly clear from the entire first paragraph that “race” here refers to the entire “human race” and not skin color.

    An Interview With David A. and Mima Murdock Broadbent

    WHEN Oliver Wendell Holmes stated that if one wished to improve the race, one must begin with the grandmother, he did not realize that the suggestion would be independently worked out by David A. and Mina Murdock Broadbent. Before they were married in the Manti Temple, May 1, 1901, each had made a careful study of the other’s family and had felt that it would be good to combine their heritage. The Broadbents both came from families which boasted eleven children: seven girls and four boys in one, and seven boys and four girls in the other. Their married life bears out the truth of the value of prepared parenthood as opposed to artificial doctrine that is ruining the human race in broken homes and sensual association with childless homes and race suicide.

  30. Korey Horr says:

    What is the Church’s current official stance on contraception?

  31. DT,
    No we don’t. Most members I’m familiar with have (at least) basic critical reasoning skills, and are perfectly capable of separating canonized from uncanonized sources. There may be some difficulty on the margins, but I find a picture of Mormons as sheep accepting whatever is published as Truth both incorrect and offensive. YMMV, I guess, but I would be shocked if you could point me to a ward where more people than not believe manuals to be inerrant, divinely-approved statements.

  32. John Mansfield says:

    From Shaw’s Man and Superman:

    ANA. At all events, let me take an old woman’s privilege again, and tell you flatly that marriage peoples the world and debauchery does not.

    DON JUAN. How if a time comes when this shall cease to be true? Do you not know that where there is a will there is a way–that whatever Man really wishes to do he will finally discover a means of doing? Well, you have done your best, you virtuous ladies, and others of your way of thinking, to bend Man’s mind wholly towards honorable love as the highest good, and to understand by honorable love romance and beauty and happiness in the possession of beautiful, refined, delicate, affectionate women. You have taught women to value their own youth, health, shapeliness, and refinement above all things. Well, what place have squalling babies and household cares in this exquisite paradise of the senses and emotions? Is it not the inevitable end of it all that the human will shall say to the human brain: Invent me a means by which I can have love, beauty, romance, emotion, passion without their wretched penalties, their expenses, their worries, their trials, their illnesses and agonies and risks of death, their retinue of servants and nurses and doctors and schoolmasters. [. . .] Well, the means will be found: the brain will not fail when the will is in earnest. The day is coming when great nations will find their numbers dwindling from census to census; when the six roomed villa will rise in price above the family mansion; when the viciously reckless poor and the stupidly pious rich will delay the extinction of the race only by degrading it; whilst the boldly prudent, the thriftily selfish and ambitious, the imaginative and poetic, the lovers of money and solid comfort, the worshippers of success, art, and of love, will all oppose to the Force of Life the device of sterility.

  33. Darwintroll (#28),
    You said that you’re not much of a historian, so you may not be aware of the different nature of curriculum materials during the early 1900’s, the mid 1900’s, and what we see today.

    Although Justin, Stapley, Ardis, or other educated folks are free to correct me, I don’t think it would be even remotely correct to think of the the M-Men/Gleaner manual from 1956 as being authoritative in any meaningful sense.

  34. Mark B. says:

    By the way, in 1900, farm workers constituted nearly 40% of the nation’s workers. Whether that number included people who provided much of their family’s food from their gardens, fruit trees and livestock is likely not measured very accurately by those who kept such records.

    I suspect, for example, that my grandfather would have been listed as a schoolteacher on the census records beginning 20 years after the Broadbents’ marriage, but the good food that their family had–fresh milk and eggs, fresh fruit in season (and bottled fruit the rest of the year), real corn and tomatoes, rather than the wretched things sold in markets today (only an economist could fail to recognize the difference)–and the patterns of work and responsibility their children learned were in large part the “fruits” of the family garden. So, make fun of the Broadbents’ choices if you will, but they ate better than you do.

  35. “…teaching children to work and to be thrifty and encouraging them to serve missions and marry in the temple is a limitation on the children’s agency? Why?”

    No. Not at all. My point was that they are taking credit -adding stars their crowns, as it were- for the fact that their children toed the line and did exactly what they had laid out in their pre-parenting planning stages. That’s bogus. No matter how well you plan, it does not guarantee or even reflect on your righteousness, how your kids will turn out. That’s what I meant.

  36. Darwintroll says:


    I don’t think I said anything about mindlessness regarding members. Again, the intent to do the right thing is usually somewhat surgical and deliberate ( not a preprogrammed knee jerk). However, I seldom hear ” I disagree with that” whenever concepts from manuals are discussed in second or third hour. Usually a sea of nodding heads and capitulating eye twinkling. Which lends itself to ignore the lines between “revelation” and just good sense. I don’t know many that make the distinction, either because it is too time consuming, hair splitting, or they are just too darn busy bringing up their multitude kids on a teachers income. And for the record, this is a very old name from long ago. I do not intend to be troll, albeit the name does shake the tree a little.

  37. Darwintroll says:


    That was my point from the first post. Much grass for the restate. I am always on the lookout for more info.

  38. Darwintroll says:

    Sorry…That was my point from the second post. Syntax [sic] alert. oops.

  39. John Mansfield says:

    In cause you missed Justice Ginsberg weighing in on the topic a year and a day ago in NY Times Magazine, take the link and scroll down to “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” If only she had acquired the wisdom of Don Juan in Hell, she would know that’s not the way it works.


  40. Darwintroll,

    No, what I said is the exact opposite of what you said in your second post:

    If it’s coming from church approved liturature then precisely who wrote it is moot.

    My point is that who wrote it makes a world of difference.

  41. You’re right, Scott. Materials written during most of the 20th century, when auxiliaries were entirely in charge of their own programs, had no review outside of the auxiliary committee that produced them — there was nothing like a correlation committee or “branding” or priesthood-leadership scrutiny of materials. Sometimes the published books of individuals were adopted as manuals for a given year, without any editing of points where idiosyncratic personal views might have been present. I don’t think it ever occurred to members of the ’30s or ’40s or ’50s to take a manual or other auxiliary material as the infallible word of God. Even today it’s only extremists like NDBF Gary, or trolls like Darwintroll who misrepresent Mormon life for their own twisted purposes, who would suggest that Mormons treated manuals as sacred revelation.

  42. It’s toed the line, Darwintroll, not towed the line. You aren’t referring to bargemen; you intend to refer to people lining up on a chalk mark as directed by their teachers or coaches or other authority figures.

  43. There were and continue to be lots of families in the rural corridor that live on “truck farms”. With a job somewhere and a large garden, a deer or 2 in the fall, and some livestock for a large part of their food. My family out West has been and some continue to be.

    What is unusual is that everybody seems to have been married in the temple and the large number of missions. Historically speaking you were much less likely to be married in the temple and go on a mission if you were raised in the church in the early 1900’s then you are today.

    Missions were really expensive. This family would have had a few kids who would have been of mission age during the depression. The depression really limited the number of missionaries for the obvious financial reasons.

    Also most members in this peroid were married outside the temple first by the local Bishop and got sealed later (if the hubby did not have a WOW problem) Temples were not as available to the masses and the social pressure was not as great to initially get married in the temple.

    To top this all off activity rates were much lower generally in the corridor during this time period then today. So 12 for 12 seems to be a bit of a miracle/maybe an embellishment.

  44. Mark B. says:

    I don’t mind if someone is towing a line–especially if I’m on water skis and hanging onto the end of it.

  45. John Mansfield says:

    Brother Broadbent’s financial means were not so modest as the writer felt a need to imply. He was county superintendent of schools, and together with a couple brothers and his father-in-law, he owned 12,000 head of sheep and 42,000 acres.

  46. JM #45

    That explains the missions

  47. Darwintroll says:


    Pick and choose…I was referencing that latter potion of the post. But sounds like I hit a nerve so I’ll leave it alone.

    quoted just for you:
    ” Justin, Stapley, Ardis, or other educated folks are free to correct me”
    You have your following so good luck with the honors of men there.

    I’ve no twisted purpose beyond understanding better the philosophies I have spent my entire life living with, observing, studying and laboring with. But apparently even the ‘nacle’ hates it when one calls it as they see it. sigh… no port in a storm…not here anyway.

  48. I can accept all of what bbell says except this:

    Also most members in this peroid were married outside the temple first by the local Bishop and got sealed later (if the hubby did not have a WOW problem) Temples were not as available to the masses and the social pressure was not as great to initially get married in the temple.

    Although there were large groups of church members in distant parts of the Mormon Corridor, with pockets very far away, the overwhelming majority of church members in the early 20th century lived in Utah (or near enough to Utah over the Idaho and Arizona lines) that they had relatively easy access to temples. Also, the lessons published monthly in all the church magazines — which I’ve been studying page by page for several years, even moreso now that I need blog fodder — lead me to believe very strongly that the expectation of marriage in the temple (marriage the first time, not after a home wedding) was every bit as strong then as it is today. That wouldn’t have affected much the large number of purely cultural Mormons, perhaps, but it would have been a constant refrain in the ears of anybody who made much of an effort to practice Mormonism.

    This family’s record of mission service is, I agree, extraordinary. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to identifying the children and looking up their mission records for a post.

  49. Darwintroll, I admit that I love the honors of men — of honorable men, at least.

  50. The item neglects to mention that their daughter Margot was awarded a $50,000 Braverman grant for a play that she wrote in the ninth grade.

  51. John Mansfield says:

    Ardis, use the link at comment 17 if you want the names of the children.

  52. Heather says:

    A) I agree with the person who noted that this was written in the late 40’s. It was a different world. People really should unbunch their panties.

    B) I don’t understand why people feel the need to get knee jerk angry over things like this. These people had a good family. They worked hard. On the simplest level they are a good example. I see nothing wrong with discussing good examples in the context of teaching gospel principles.

    C) In relation to B, above: a good example for discussion does NOT = an indictment of every parent whose children have taken a different path than the parent would desire.

    D) In relation to C, above: People need to quit taking things so personally. Not everything in the world is about the proverbial “you”.

  53. Ardis,

    Can you be more specific about your disagreement with that paragraph? Do you disagree with the idea there was less pressure for Temple marriages only or that there were less initial temple marriages?

    My understanding of reading a lot of material about this time period is that chapel and home weddings were really much more common then Temple weddings. To me that seems to indicate less social pressure. What I mean by social pressure is that so many couples got married outside the temple initially that it was the in practice norm. I am sure that from the puplit and in church literature the idea of a temple wedding was pretty prevelant

    I am open to being educated further on this topic.

    I do think unless you lived close to Logan, Manti, St George or SLC it was not so easy to get to the Temple. Its not like you jumped into your Camry if you lived in Pocatello and drove to Logan

  54. D) In relation to C, above: People need to quit taking things so personally. Not everything in the world is about the proverbial “you”.

    Well, actually, it’s a manual–so it is by definition precisely about the proverbial you.

  55. Michael says:

    Baptized on their eigth birthdays? My parents had some friends who’d had this tradition for three or four generations. When it came time for chile #4 to be baptized, their bishop told them they’d have to wait until the herd Stake baptismal service rolled around. No amount of protest or appeal worked – they wouldn’t even be allowed to find a deep spot in the creek.

    So, I call B.S. on this story.

  56. John Mansfield says:

    What I liked most about this lesson is the cold-eyed pragmatism. Reminds me of my second mission president once: “Some people express their love for others by hugging necks and saying sweet things. I show my love by getting things done, sometimes with a sour, stern look on my face.” (paraphrasing from memory)

  57. I’m not crazy about these sorts of stories for reasons already mentioned, but the thing that strikes me as most at odds with the tenor of our times is the fact that the couple investigated each other’s families and decided to combine their heritages. I’m all for a careful consideration of one’s future in-laws, but at the same time it seems that what made both of their families outstanding was their sheer fertility.

    On the other hand, I suppose if one’s future in-laws have eleven children, any meddlesomeness will be have to be divided eleven ways. And thus the young couple’s marriage succeeds!

  58. John Mansfield says:

    Well, Michael, the Broadbent children would have been contemporaries of your parents’ friends’ previous generations, and the article does refer to Brother Broadbent as “President.”

  59. bbell, of course there were people who married outside the temple, then as well as now. My chief disagreements with your paragraph were the assertions that *most* Mormons married outside the temple, and that encouragement for first-time temple weddings was tepid. While I don’t have statistics right at hand to compare temple- to civil-weddings (they exist for many years, compiled through the old annual Form E’s), my reading of the documents is that the pressure was just as great then as now, and that first time temple weddings were extremely common, so much so that it isn’t fair to say *most* Mormons married elsewhere. I don’t know how else to state my objection.

  60. I’m sorry to comment so much, but Eve, the story doesn’t say they investigated each other’s family fertility, but their heritage. That’s something else that is a constant part of the lessons and magazine articles from the turn of the century: the idea that in some sense you married a family, not just an individual, and that it was wise to consider the grandparents and aunts and uncles and their beliefs and habits and the influence they would have with your children.

  61. Sorry again — I misread your comment, Eve.

  62. Mark B. says:

    Of course, anybody who heard the lesson and thought that having 12 children (or 14) was the goal for them would also have inferred that to be really righteous they should have two children die in infancy.

    As Aaron and Heather suggest, there’s a need for a general unknotting of knickers.

  63. I don’t think it’s wrong to rejoice or be happily amazed when someone is dealt a royal flush, if the story above is true. As long as we recognize it as such. We aren’t all dealt royal flushes.

  64. I think I can detect a Keepa post developing!!!

  65. I don’t think it’s wrong to rejoice or be happily amazed when someone is dealt a royal flush, if the story above is true. As long as we recognize it as such. We aren’t all dealt royal flushes.


  66. It does not seem 100% honest to say that he supported his 12 children on “the modest income of a professional school teacher,” since he served most of his career as an administrator (principal, superintendent, elected member of the board of education). But I suppose that’s quibbling. This is certainly a remarkable family. I wonder how the kids felt about their parents’ methods. I wonder what the methods were, besides having goals and tracking income/expenses.

  67. And PS, if the common Mormon pre-Earth narrative is right, when Heavenly Father unveiled HIS plan, a third of his kids ran away from home.

  68. Wow, I understand the world of my great grandparents, and my grandparents much better now. This discussion is most interesting. I didn’t get the whole, pressure to have large families vibe that some have gotten. I really like Syphax’s comment about people being dealt royal flushes. To them, I am sure this was a royal flush, and I think that there are many good qualities to be gleaned from this story. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).
    I see this as showing some very positive ways to approach marriage and family. Talking with your intended, understanding each others families and the expectations deriving there from, planning on how to care for your family.
    I agree they probably provided their own food from farming and what not, and for most now days, that isn’t possible.
    I think many people could learn from their example.

  69. Cynthia L. says:

    there are many good qualities to be gleaned from this story.


  70. I truly and sincerely honor this couple, but I am conscious of how marginalized these stories make many people feel who were just as careful in their preparation but whose lives didn’t measure up to the ideal.

    That balance works for me – but it is much harder to achieve for those who struggle in ways in which I don’t.

  71. britt k says:

    are we allowed to have collective panty unbunching parties?

  72. Thomas Parkin says:

    “I see nothing wrong with discussing good examples in the context of teaching gospel principles. ”

    Among the many problems I see in what this kind of social pressure did to our culture is exactly the fact that no ‘gospel principles’ were taught. Good advice doesn’t rise to the level of gospel principle.

    ” a careful study of the other’s family”

    What happens to all the young men and women who do not come from a family that would lend itself to being ‘studied’?

    I don’t have a problem with being happy for people who are dealt a royal flush. What I object to is very fortunate people claiming that they made their royal flush … and that anyone else might by following their example. I’ve got no end of problem with what this kind of modeling has done to the conscience of the average member of the church. Unwarranted pride on one side, unwarranted shame on another. There is One good example … ~

  73. #66:
    “It does not seem 100% honest to say that he supported his 12 children on ‘the modest income of a professional school teacher,’ since he served most of his career as an administrator (principal, superintendent, elected member of the board of education).”


    Not only that, I’d say it’s dangerously misleading; the lesson is basically telling those who want large successful families that such a family is possible (including paying for missions!) on a school teacher’s salary. Not a good message for those considering the career of teacher. One of the key factors in my decision to leave the teaching field was the realization of the difficulty of affording a family on a single income with such a career.

  74. Martine says:

    @#50 gst


  75. Mommie Dearest says:

    My initial reaction to the OP was this: This is too depressing to muster up any cynical wit, but I’m enjoying everyone’s comments.

    On the other hand (which is a place I always go to, unfortunately) I actually know families like this one in real life and I have always tried to value them being part of the church. (And mostly succeeded) Families like this one haven’t committed any crimes by being who they are, and they are essential to a healthy church, the more the better. Although I have to admit sometimes I find it insufferable when they overdo the crowing about being grateful for their perfect family.

    I wonder what it’s like to be a person from such a family. I wonder if I would be sensitive enough to understand the pain that the mere existence of my family’s apparent perfection causes to the rest of those with ordinary screwed-up families. I wonder if it would piss me off to be put in a position to feel guilt for having blessings that others don’t have. (blink, blink)

    I wonder because I don’t know. Instead, my challenge is unbunching, er— controlling my negative feelings of envy and unfairness, and allowing that such lucky, blessed people should be able to enjoy their blessings. It’s just kind of hard not to feel inherently inferior when your family wouldn’t measure up to the wise scrutiny of such royalty assessing if you and yours are fit to associate their family with.

    Has there ever been a blog post discussing the topic from this angle?

  76. Thomas Parkin nailed it. The only reason for lauding families like this in a gospel lesson for young men and women is the “go thou and do likewise” message that it supposedly imparts. Then, when they can’t measure up to the results of this model family, they feel like failures. That’s a serious problem, folks, and one we shouldn’t lightly dismiss in the name of unbunching our panties.

    I also object to this:

    “recognized in each other an outstandingly fine personality and as their courtship blossomed their love and respect increased rapidly. Their romance resulted in their marriage in the Manti Temple, May 1, 1901, after had made a careful study of the other’s family and sincerely felt they were in love and it would be good to combine their heritages.”

    which sounds like a very clinical approach to courtship and marriage. If someone was dating my daughter and said they were making a study of her family for purposes of discovering if he should combine his heritage with hers I would probably throw him out on the street. If you’re interested in my daughter, you better make her the focus of your interest rather than making a genealogical study to determine if her breeding is proper. Otherwise, you’re a creep in my book.

  77. #76. I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure the modern conception of courtship and dating was invented by the Valentine’s Day Corporation in 1946.

  78. Kevin Barney says:

    I misread MIMA for MMA, and was disappointed to see that the lesson wasn’t about Mixed Martial Arts.

  79. By The Rules says:

    “That’s bogus. No matter how well you plan, it does not guarantee or even reflect on your righteousness, how your kids will turn out.”

    Agreed. But I htink it is much more likely to have “good” children when:
    1. Parents desire that which is good for thier children;
    2. Parents jointly develop a plan to convey that which is truely good for their children;
    3. Parents prepare to impart that which is good to their children; and
    4. Parents jointly follow through on the desire, plan and preparation.

    That they had 100% success with this process does not guarantee it for everyone, but it will have a statistical advantage over no process. With this in mind, perhaps the “Royal Flush” may have come from a stacked deck.

    I believe the concepts in the story can be culturally adapted to present circumstances thoughout much of the church today, at least for those who are willing to give the seed some good soil.

  80. By The Rules says:

    “Then, when they can’t measure up to the results of this model family, they feel like failures. That’s a serious problem, folks, and one we shouldn’t lightly dismiss in the name of unbunching our panties.”

    Are you advocating that we should only teach telestial, and maybe pick and choose some terrestrial principles? Then everyone would be happy? Since none of us are celestial people here, we ALL can never achieve happiness because we are aware of our own shortcomings and faults.

    I find that the old “shoot for the stars, hit the moon” approach is better than the “shoot for the treetop and hit the mud” approach.

  81. By The Rules (80),

    I agree with your last sentence in most cases, but for Mormons such an attitude can have an unintended–and insidious–consequence. For whatever reasons, we have a culture in which–despite the knowledge that no one is perfect–we members will go to silly lengths to project a happy, model-Mormon-family image to everyone around us. In other words, there is a great cultural pressure to appear perfect, even if none of us are, which results in an unhappy outcome for a suffering individual (read: all of us) who gazes around the chapel and sees nothing but smiling, (fake) joyful faces.

    I may be overstating certain elements of that idea, but the basic framework is real: we impose perfectionism on ourselves relative to our fellow members.

  82. By The Rules says:

    With greater knowledge comes greater responsibility, and associated opportunity for joy in obedience, and sorrow in disobedience.

    I find it is better to pass through pain that we may know the joy….

  83. What does it mean to be perfect, anyway? If your model is perfection is a baker’s dozen of children, all of whom are returned missionaries, married and sealed in the Temple, and well on their way to having their own baker’s dozen of children, then you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment. If your model of perfection is a family that loves one another, despite all of the individual and familial imperfections that are explicitly a part of our human existence, then I think we have greater chances of achieving a level of perfection here and now.

    I worry about the members of the church who think they need to model their lives after CES videos in order to be righteous. Life is a lot messier than that. After all, most families don’t wear khakis and three-button Henley-style shirts at the dinner table. Kids fight. Parents have disagreements. The dog sometimes pees on the carpet. And yet they all love each other. Sounds perfect to me.

  84. They lost two children. Not everything was smooth sailing.

  85. If I would have carefully studied my future in-laws I might not have married who I did. In fairness, I suspect my wife would say the same thing…..

  86. Back when I was faithful, these kinds of stories made me feel like crap. Now that I’m not so much, I see them as much more encouraging. Plans are good things. I should have more plans. But I need to play Desktop Defender right now.

    I think the reference to foreign missions is a subtle financial one. Back in the day, when families paid for their own missions, I think foreign missions probably cost more just because of the additional transportation costs.

  87. The good news is that this message of “all the kids on missions and all the kids married in the temple” is not universally touted as the success of parents. For instance, this quotation from Elder Packer:

    “It is a great challenge to raise a family in the darkening mists of our moral environment.

    “We emphasize that the greatest work you will do will be within the walls of your home (see Harold B. Lee, Ensign, July 1973, p. 98), and that “no other success can compensate for failure in the home” (David O. McKay, Improvement Era, June 1964, p. 445).

    “The measure of our success as parents, however, will not rest solely on how our children turn out. That judgment would be just only if we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment, and that now is not possible.”

    Boyd K Packer, “Our Moral Environment,” April 1992 General Conference (ENSIGN, May 1992, p. 66).

  88. Yay for TMQ!

    I always knew there was a reason for this nagging in the back of my head that tells me I am a failure if I stop having kids now. I think attitudes like this get passed down from generation to generation. I hope to pass a healthier attitude to my kids.

  89. I was going to say alot, but I think Mommie Dearest’s introspections in 75 kind of nailed the sentiment I was going to try to express.
    I think Question #2 (and a good discussion which SHOULD develop) should diffuse a lot of the frustrations that people seem to have with this story. This is supposed to be A good example, not THE good example. And since we’ve already trodded through examples about how we shouldn’t run off and marry serial-theifs after rollerskating, this good example seems almost necessary.
    I don’t want my family to mirror the Broadbents, but I can be very happy for them and their “success”.

    are we allowed to have collective panty unbunching parties?

    Not without transgressing the Word of Wisdom (and probably the Law of Chastity, depending on how we “collectively . . . unbunch” them).

  90. britt k says:

    The problem I have with this concept is that we get this idea that we get to choose the blessings of our obedience. I’ve been under the assumption that heavenly father is a good parent…yet 1/3 of his spirit children left…and if you look around on earth…it’s not all roses here either.

    I’m glad they had a plan, a big family and he’s a teacher…I’m glad so many of their children served missions and married int he temple…but the former doesn’t garauntee the latter. I wish we could talk about good parenting as the choices the parents make…not the choices their children make. Like the stories of tithing that end in faithfulness and foreclosure.

    The only certain blessing of good parenthood is the spirit. The choices of the child are independent.

  91. It's a series of tubes says:

    further to 67 and 90’s points – last time I checked, a plan that supposedly guaranteed “success” to all was A) put forth by Satan and B) a lie, as it was impossible.

    In light of that, I’m not sure how anyone can stretch the choices made by the agency of those who constituted the “third part” ( i.e., three distinct groupings, not necessarily a fractional third) to impute some negative reflection on the parent in question.

    When the children make good choices, the perfect parent rejoices. And when the children make poor choices, the perfect parent maintains perfect love and does all that can be done to rescue them while respecting and preserving the agency of the children.

    Not sure why so many in this thread seem to be squawking that a reference to certain successes, in a very different social context, supposedly require us to believe that these are the ONLY acceptable successes (and only in a short-term timeline, as well).

    To get upset about these kinds of examples, you have to A) deliberately take them out of the context in which they were originally given; and
    B) ignore all the related and more current, more authoritative messages emphasising that we hold certain principles as ideals, and work toward them as best we can in light of the VERY, VERY different environments and circumstances we find ourself in.

    Seems like we’re just looking to find a reason to get in a huff. Why has no one mentioned Question 2 in this manual entry? The implications of its presence seem pretty clear.

    Case in point that I recall – Sister Beck’s talk from a few conferences back – she shared the example of the women who put in effort to ensure their kids were neatly dressed for church, despite poverty and long travel.

    Rational takeaway: these women were showing the Lord that church worship and renewing their covenants were important to them. This is a good thing. It’s also important for me to show the Lord that these things are important to me. I should try to do that, recognizing that in a church of many millions of people in dozens of countries, this doesn’t mean that I have to mimic one particular example or person as the “one true way”.

    Irrational takeaway – if your kids are not spick and span, pressed and prepped, and little angels throughout the meetings, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! Covenants are not important to you! Don’t you feel awful?

  92. 91

    Ummmm, I’m pretty sure I mentioned Question #2 in comment 89.

    Oh well, thanks for noticing me.

  93. It's a series of tubes says:

    !!!! Poorly done on my part. Well played, 89, and sorry for the oversight.

  94. Mommie Dearest says:

    I’m pretty sure I wasn’t in a huff in my comment, and I hope no one saw it that way. (If so, they have taken my meaning out of context.) I never ignore any current, authoritative messages that give me encouragement in the bushwhacking that I do as a parent. I am pretty good about keeping things in context, I have to be. I think in my comment, I made a point of defending parents who enjoy the blessings of children who are successful in church activity.

    #91, I don’t think I got the analogy of rational vs irrational at the end of your comment. People who are in pain because their families are struggling outside the church norm are most definitely NOT irrational, and it would be sorta like twisting a knife to say that they are. The ideas in the OP are something that has been taught in countless ways, from YM/YW lessons 100 years ago to last week’s pulpit, and sometimes with little sensitivity. Perhaps what you term “squawking” is a rational effort at correcting a few of the ways this particular example of excellence can be, for some, counter-productive.

  95. #94 — I agree with you — many do teach this sort of thing, though Elder Packer (see #87) has taught that we shouldn’t think that way.

    Still, many aren’t perfect in that, either. For years my mother (who was a convert and didn’t particularly like the Utah transplants always talking about how THEY did things…) also would freely comment how happy she was all of her children had married in the temple. When my sister divorced, my mother suddenly (and sadly) learned what it was like to hear that comment from a different perspective.

  96. living in zion says:

    This family sounds exactly like any of my Amish or Mennonite client families, minus the college education, mission and temple marriage. Living in a community of people who live/ believe the same way you do makes it much, much easier.
    Also helps when everyone wears the same outfit.

  97. Thomas Parkin says:

    “squawking”? ~

  98. It's a series of tubes says:

    re: 94 – I appreciate where you are coming from, and what you were trying to communicate. I face similar issues in my own family, including a brother who recently lost his membership. As you can imagine, this situation and the events that led to it are a source of great heartache for many, particularly parents and siblings.

    Nothing I posted was trying to suggest that people who are hurting, particularly in response to family situations, are irrational or that their pain response is irrational. Rather, the particular extreme response of certain people to this one statement in Sister Beck’s talk was what I was assessing as “irrational”.

    I have a follow-up question for you. If, as you indicate, certain examples of “success” (generally stated) are counterproductive for some, what is your suggested alternative? Avoid recognizing success for fear of causing additional harm to someone? Requiring attendant disclaimers and caveats (“this example may not be applicable to you” “your success may differ” “YMMV” etc)?

  99. 98: I think we need to stop teaching that the children’s behavior is any more than just that: the children’s behavior. And adult child who leaves the church (or a teenage child for that matter) is not a reflection on Mom and Dad’s parenting skills; it is a reflection of that person’s exercise of agency. He or she will enjoy / suffer the consequences of that choice.

    One of the first things that parents of drug addicted children learn is that the addicts whill choose when to go into recovery. And if they do, it will be their victory, not the parents’. Period.

    That parents can love and stand with arms outstretched still, just as the Savior does for all who sin (even me!) is true and good.

    Therefore, if this example were to be written today, we might praise the couple for providing for their large family, and for allowing an environment in which they learned the value of missions and temple marriage, but the praise for serving missions and marrying in the temple goes to the children, not their parents.

    This runs counter to the notion often cited that it’s really the mom who earns her son’s Eagle scout award.

  100. It's a series of tubes says:

    99: I agree completely with what you posted, and in particular with the sentiments expressed in your first and fourth paragraphs.

  101. Mommie Dearest says:

    @98 I am reluctant to suggest an alternative, because people are just who they are and they are all over the map in their sensitivity (or lack of) to the reactions they arouse in others. And sometimes the “reactees” go overboard in their reactions, no question there. You just can’t herd a bunch of cats.

    I think Paul’s mother (#95) is instructive to this question, in that she was oblivious to this rather common pain that people with loved ones outside the church norm feel, until one of her many temple-married children divorced, and then she saw the different perspective. I tend to think that everyone is on an individual learning curve to become like Christ, and understanding this is a rather small part of that learning curve. Some people can get it just by being gifted with empathy, some can read a bunch of blog comments and get it, some get it only after they have suffered it personally, and some may never get it.

    As I said before, my challenge is to give everyone the space they need for their learning curve, and to try to keep my cynicism in check, at least so that is doesn’t taint my testimony. The only way I know to do that is to attempt to feel about such people the way Christ would feel about them, and while he is not pleased with their smugness (when it truly is smugness) he is very pleased when a family is successful in that their children all serve missions and marry in the temple.

    I always appreciate when people at the pulpit are sensitive in the way that they use such families as examples, so as not to indict other good people who don’t have the blessing of their family all being righteous. But such sensitivity isn’t something you can always count on, so we all learn to deal somehow. It’s part of OUR learning curve.

    Also, I think it might help if we leave off much of the teaching of How To Have a Righteous Family that takes place in the church, and replace it with teachings of Christ and the atonement, and how to apply them in your life, which are a balm to all of us in our varying degrees of suffering.

  102. How great it is that this family didn’t have any significant physical or mental disabilities in their family to ruin a perfect record.

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