I love the church youth program

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I love how the church’s youth program prepares our children for real life by teaching them that:

  • There exists a social order based on popularity, physical appearance, and wealth
  • People love to talk behind your back
  • Leaders cater to the needs of the “in-crowd”
  • Token lip service to God is only required for 50 minutes on Sunday
  • The standards of the clique outweigh gospel standards
  • Rather than deal with problems, it’s best to just ignore the other person and leave them in the dark
  • Friendships change more frequently than you change your underwear
  • If your parents are in a church leadership position, you can get away with pretty much anything
  • If it appears to the leaders that there is nothing wrong, then dismiss anyone who says otherwise
  • Nice guys finish last

Funny how it really hasn’t changed that much since I was in the program 20+ years ago.

17 thoughts on “I love the church youth program

  1. Well precisely why I didn’t attend YW, Seminary, and Sunday School 20 years ago, and don’t really think that my kids are any less blessed or important for not attending today…..however, that is not the message they are getting from their member “friends” and leaders.

  2. What I don’t understand is how this atmosphere can even exist in the church.

    I get that a church should be a hospital for sinners, not a display case for saints… but in every hospital I’ve been in, I’ve never seen the patients trying to make each other sick or kill each other.

    I’m torn because on one hand, I don’t want my child to feel that she needs to put up with it. On the other hand, there is some character building when one is forced to confront these types of issues.

  3. Well what I have noticed, is that the attitude in the church, is that they are better than those not in the church or less active.

    Look…they are taught that. If you do a,b,c, and d you will go to the Best Place possible, and look at all those poor souls who will not. Why not teach that you should do a, b, c, and d becuase it is the right thing to do….not because you are better or are going to be rewarded.

    After all, it is the one and only true church, and how can any other person not attending or doing these things (according to them) possibly be happy or even know any better.

    Great things to be teaching the youth in the world today.

  4. Dar and JM: Your comments are oddly out of touch with the reality of the LDS Youth Program as I have experienced it.

    To put it simply:

    There exists a social order based on popularity, physical apperance, and wealth Every program I have been involved with Youth in has pushed for creating a sacred space where everyone is equally treated and loved, despite the outside influences.


    People love to talk behind your back

    The Church continually is anti-Gossip.

    Leaders cater to the needs of the “in-crowd”

    I’ve seen leaders make every effort to reach out to every single one and look for activities of interest to every person.


    Token lip service to God is only required for 50 minutes on Sunday
    This doesn’t even make sence in an LDS world view.

    The standards of the clique outweight gospel standards Again, I have seen numerous efforts to eliminate clique behavior and to promote inclusion.

    Rather than deal with problems, it’s best to just ignore the other person and leave them in the dark
    I can’t really respond to this, as I don’t know what sort of problems you are imagining.

    Friendships change more frequently than you change your underwear

    This has not been my experience.

    If your parents are in a church leadership position, you can get away with pretty much anything
    Not in any Ward I have been in.


    If it appears to the leaders that there is nothing wrong, then dismiss anyone who says otherwise
    I’d have to be given a situation rather than an assertion to have an opinion.


    Nice guys finish last
    Little slogans like this crack me up. Finish last at what?

  5. Matt,

    I guess since it hasn’t been your experience, then problems like this don’t exist?

    Actuall, I will submit that the program is not like this all the time. A current situation has me a little hot under the collar and it frustrates me that these attitudes can even be cultivated in any ward in the church.

    However, in the two years in this ward I’ve been in, my family and I seem to always be on the outside looking in, regardless of all the good faith efforts we have made.

    I’m glad things aren’t like that in your neck of the woods. Perhaps you could let me know what ward you live in so I can consider a move?

  6. JM: Come on down to San Antonio, Tx, and we’ll be glad to have you around.

    I am not sayign these problems don’t exist, I am saying they are not institutionally the fault of the LDS youth Program. I went to high school (believe it or not), and all these problems when I was a high school kid there to. And I was a Catholic at a Catholic school.

    If you give me some instances of issues, and some things you’ve tried to do to get past them, I’d be willing to shoot my mouth off and make suggestions. With teenage kids, what I have found doesn’t work is making generalizations and hoping the group would get the clue. I have found that you have to be blunt and to the point. If a kid is picking on my kids, I go talk to their parents, talk to the kid, talk to the Youth leaders. My wife was YW president, and I taught Youth Sunday School up until May or so, and I found you really have to repetitively focus on the anti-clique, anti-bully message for it to sink in.

    To be honest, the biggest problems I found where in siblings not getting along but being in the same class. That spilled over a lot and cliques formed around that. That was my biggest challenge.

  7. As someone who is currently in Young Womens, I agree that cliques exist. How malicious they are depends on your ward. The youth in my branch are simply comfortable with each other on a level that I’m not because I’m one of the newer members to the group. They aren’t doing me a disservice either. I like the way things are. To be blunt, if I wanted friends, I’d have them. And I didn’t need a leader to come in and rescue me, although they tried a few times.

    Our youth in Zion can’t be afraid to handle their own problems. If there’s bullying, the youth should be handling it themselves by either making amends, or agreeing to just leave each other alone. The latter doesn’t make for having an LDS social life, but is it really a bad thing for the youth to be able to be content by themselves? Why does being one’s own best friend have to be the road less taken? And if we as youth cannot handle our own misgivings without running to our parents and leaders over stupid petty differences, then what chance will we ever have at being mature adults?

    If you want your children to grow beyond high school drama, stop speaking for them and expect more from them.

  8. I have to say I don’t think they are inherently a part of the youth programmes either but yes they do exist. I have to admit that I didn’t learn my self worth from attending Young Women. But Seminary was another story. I had two wonderful teachers who truly loved each and every young man or woman who came through and showed this in their actions towards us.

    I don’t think it is the job of the church programmes to teach my children how to be, how to live etc, that’s my job. And if they see these experiences (which they no doubt will at various times) I hope I can prepare them enough to rise above it. I just wish I had been able to do that when I was young and I wouldn’t have wasted so much time disliking myself.

    However, I have to agree, it isn’t an LDS youth problem it’s a problem period. I was one of VERY few LDS in my high school and I had a worse low self worth and these issues were bigger there, than at church. At church it was relatively minor until we got into a stake level. On hindsight I see that some of the so called cliques were more likely to be more shy, insecure youth. Teenagers are so wrapped up in their own world it is hard to see that when in it. This isn’t a knock on teenhood. It is pretty much reality, teenagers (at least when I was young) do think that most of the world is focussed on them (hence the prevalence of embarrassment) so of course I thought everyone thought I was a dork. Of course many did :) But not as many as I thought.

  9. We had them to a small extent when I was in our ward’s YM presidency, but certainly not anything extensive and a far cry from what one would see in a high school. We tried our best as a presidency to nip things in the bud, and encourage the brethren to work together. I was able to work with four deacons quorum presidents and they were all excellent and trying to make others feel a part of the quorum.

  10. Leaders need to enforce and encourage the children to behave properly as Kim and his presidencies did, but the parents need to start this teaching long before.

  11. JM and Dar, the church is perfect the members are human beings each and every one of us. We can not blame the leaders and the church because our children don’t fit in, or something is not right. We raised 5 children and although we made way more then our fair share of mistakes, we still took on the whole responsibility of making sure we taught our children the correct principles. We taught them the Golden Rule and about choosing the right. They have/had their agency and if they chose a different path then the one we had put them on, all I can do is still love them, be an example, and wait for them to snap out of it.

    Kim pointed something out to me last week when he was here. I was making some frustrated comments in regards to a church leader who wasn’t seeing things my way and my inside voice let out this comment “Well if women were the leaders then we wouldn’t have to wait so long to get things done I hate waiting”. Kim pointed out that just as there are good men and not so good men in leadership positions so are there good women and not so good women. Having a woman as a ward or stake leader would not guarantee that things would run any smoother.

    I can empathize with you when you say you are having a difficult time right now and are frustrated. But just as you would not expect all your children to be the same you should not expect all the leaders to be the same worldwide. Leaders are not really trained to be social workers, psychiatrists, den parents, child councilors etc. Most times they are given a manual and a here you go sort of thing. People make mistakes. But the oneness of how our children react to situations needs to come from themselves and from us as their parents.

  12. “We can not blame the leaders and the church because our children don’t fit in, or something is not right.”

    So with whom does the blame lie, Sally?

  13. when you have children, the responsibilities lay with us to train them. The role of teaching Primary children and YW/YM programs is that the leaders are to reinforce what is ALREADY taught in the home. Sit down with your children and have several heart to heart chats with them about bullying, cliques, etc. Role play different situations that help reinforce what you are already seeing in place. Good Luck

  14. Matt W. said: “JM: Come on down to San Antonio, Tx, and we’ll be glad to have you around.

    I am not sayign these problems don’t exist, I am saying they are not institutionally the fault of the LDS youth Program.”

    San Antonio has the same types of problems YM/YW programs experience in other places. The children of church leaders are alloted preferences all the time.

    I would suggest one of the problems with youth programs is the leadership of these groups are not much older than the kids themselves. Usually they are mid 20’s and newly weds. What life experience do they have other then basketball abilities?

  15. No one mentioned the big North Carolina Youth Study group from just last year at
    http://www.youthandreligion.org/.

    It showed that nearly 80% of LDS youth that participated actively in Mutual, Seminary, Church, Scouts, etc. went onto be active adults in the same religion.

    This compared to only 10% for Catholics and 40% for most other Jews and Protestants.

    The LDS Church studies also confirm that about 80% of youth that complete Mutual, Duty-To-God, and earn Eagle Scout will go onwards to serving a mission and marry in the temple.
    This number drops significantly for those youth that do not complete those youth programs.

    I hear this a lot in many of the stake and general church youth leader training meetings that I’ve been to.

  16. Another huge factor in why some wards have better youth programs than other wards is the training of the leaders.

    A major corporation demands someone be a college graduate and then afterwards have years of on-the-job training before they made responsible for major corporate assets.

    In the LDS Church our biggest asset is our youth and yet frequently we get youth leaders who have not a clue of what to do.

    My first couple of times as a leader went miserably. Then I moved to another ward and stake that had a very well established program and training support.

  17. “when you have children, the responsibilities lay with us [the parents] to train them.”

    So the offended members should be mad at the other parents then, correct? What happens when one of the kids who is giving everyone the most difficulty is, in fact, the bishop’s son? Can I then heap my blame upon the leadership?

    Additional consideration should be given to the following questions:

    Who is teaching the principals which the parents are supposed to teach to their kids? Who is encouraging that this teaching be done at home? Who is responsible when both of these actions fail?

    I would suggest that the church leadership is at fault, and if the chain of responsibility is traced it leads directly to a failure of the church leaders themselves. In fact, if the failure traces itself, systemically, back to the leadership then the whole body of the church is to blame.

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