Monday, May 11, 2009

It Isn't a Youth Problem . . .

Tamathy is our excellent Sunday School teacher, so when I praise the lesson her substitute gave last week, please know that Tamathy is always fabulous, but my thoughts are specific to the topic from a couple of weeks ago.

Do you remember this lesson? It was on keeping the Sabbath Day and Reverence. Our teacher, a former stake president, gave a fantastic lesson. His take was that, as LDS people, the reverence area is one where we fall down a little bit. Many anecdotes were shared. The class discussion was helpful and interesting. I wrote two things in the margin of my scriptures in Chapter 59.

1--When the Lord says to rest from "our labor" he didn't meant that we should rest from "His labor."

2--Light-mindedness is the opposite of reverence.

The first is interesting--Sunday was hard for me on my mission. You would be together, feeling the love and fellowship of the Saints and then church was over and all of these loving families would go home together. We would just go back to work. Because, for that short span in my life, my labor was "His labor."

But it is not the first comment in my scriptures I want to talk about. It is the second. President **** talked a lot about the sabbath being a covenant between the Lord and his people from the beginning. A collective covenant. This idea of covenants got me to thinking about the temple and the nature of my individual covenants. We also discussed reverence not just being a collection of actions--though they are an important part of reverence--but an entire attitude of respect and awe for our Father in Heaven. It isn't what you do so much as how you think. Indeed, the opposite of light-mindedness. No wonder the Lord is so clear about the need to avoid light-mindedness.

In a culture of sarcasm, mockery, skepticism and the carefully delivered joke being the ultimate indicator of intelligence, keeping our minds away from indifference toward sacred things takes an active effort. Does this mean that humor is a problem? Of course not. But humor that depends on the disdain of others and a casual view of Diety is a major problem.

Yeah. I've got a ways to go.

The discussion took another turn in the class with a story shared by President ****. I don't know if he was referencing our last Stake Conference or one from a year or two ago, but he was asked to shuttle the visiting area authority to the airport. On the way, President **** took opportunity to ask for some advice saying, "there is such a youth problem in [the] stake . . . . "

The area authority shook his head solemnly and said, "You don't have a youth problem in your stake. You have a parenting problem." President **** backpedaled a bit on his unexpected response as the wise area authority added, "You might begin by teaching them some reverence."

Arriving just minutes later at the airport, that was basically the end of the conversation, but this good brother went home and gave it some serious thought. His perception was that the youth weren't all that noisy in the meetings (he obviously wasn't sitting in the back!), at least no noisier than the young children, but after some reflection he began to understand what the area authority meant:

That the youth were not being taught proper respect for their Heavenly Father. That their sloppy manners, sloppy dress and sloppy attitudes were spilling over into their spiritual lives.

And now I'm a youth leader and I see it too. But there is a fine line to walk, and for all that that most of these young women are old enough to make their own choices, I think many of them have been given too much freedom before they had the maturity in place to understand about the consequences of unfettered agency.

* Are most 14 year-old girls responsible enough/mature enough/wise enough to own their own cell phones? When we have 14 year-olds who spend their time text-messaging during their hour in YW, is this a youth problem or a parent problem? And, as leaders, when we set down a rule about no cell-phone use, but the parents don't make any effort to stop them from coming to church in the enormous scripture cases (also filled with goodies and distractions), how do we approach the girls firmly and with love, without undermining their parents?

* If we show a church movie circa 1980 to the girls and then get mad when they don't pay attention, haven't we set them up to fail? And if their lack of attention involves drawing in their notebooks then why is it okay for them to have a notebook in the class? Do we just keep staring at the kids, getting more and more bugged, when they may not even realize that they are demonstrating disrespectful and/or irreverant behavior? And if we afraid to call them on this behavior for fear of parents calling and getting after us, then how can we help to mold them?

* If we are bugged that our girls at church are constantly asking for treats, then whose fault is it? If they have come to expect to be fed junk food at church, it can only be because their teachers have given it to them. And if we bring two dozen of whatever treat is prepared and then continue to be surprised when everything is eaten and the girls are gaining weight, is that a kid problem or an adult problem?

* While shadow leadership is the ideal instructional tool for teaching our kids, if new Deacons and Beehives come in and have NEVER seen an adult conduct a meeting, then how will they learn the proper and yes, dignified way to do it?

*If we have a 30% attendance rate in Young Women among parents who are fairly active and ALL of these girls are under age 16, where do changes need to be made? And if a mother goes home each week after Sacrament Meeting, what does her daughter think when she gets chewed out about not wanting to go to Sunday School or Young Women's?

* Is it really love to allow kids to get away with whatever they want over the fear that they "might stop coming to church" even if it means that a sixteen year old boy is not even asked to stop laying underneath the bench in the foyer though his parents, the young men's president and the Bishop have all seen him there?

* At what age do you stop saying to your kids, "Going to church is what our family does. This isn't optional."? In a conversation I had with a friend this morning about this and related topics she quoted President Hinckley as saying that parents needed to be careful not to force their children--and that his own good and loving parents had never made him do anything when it came to Church. But as inspiring as this story is, I can't help but wonder how young Gordon's parents would have reacted if Gordon had shown any inkling to be rebellious. Every parenting and leadership method works on kids who want to basically toe the line.

I honestly don't mean for this post to sound like I have all the answers, and much of what I shared above is anecdotal and not all recent. I promise, I'm not taking notes in church each week of what everyone else is doing wrong. For all my observations of young people over the last 10 years, and my very close observations these last couple of months, I can say that I have as many questions as I do answers.

My heart aches and unpleasant memories are brought to the forefront when I see the funny teenage mixture of fear and faith in their eyes. They shoot in the dark "knowing" they have all the answers, but also attempting to diguise their terrible ignorance. They want to be grown up and they want to be children. They want too much independence, but at the same time, curiously, not enough. And just because a 13 year-old acts a certain way on Sunday, doesn't mean you have any clue how she'll be on Wednesday.

As I've thought more and more about Brother ****'s anecdote about youth problems being parenting problems, I've looked more carefully at my little brood. When they act in certain ways I'm trying harder to say, "what can I do differently" while still trying to remember that I cannot control each outcome. Kim Blue once said that parenting was the fine art of hanging on and letting go.

These thoughts about parenting problems have also given me another dilemma, one in which I need some advice. ALL of the sisters on my visiting teaching route are also women I see regularly because of Young Women's: either because I serve with them or I have their daughters in classes. Having had this same route for many, many months, I know these women fairly well. Like all sisters, they each have their own unique set of challenges and trials, some of which affect their ability to parent as well as each would probably like. As I come to know their daughters and see their challenges too, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me not to feel judgmental toward some very real parenting problems. (But even THAT phrase is probably judgmental! But how will I know how to be a parent if I don't try to learn from others' mistakes as well as my own?)

This judging thing is the great battle of my life anyway (along with my big mouth), but I feel like I'm in a very difficult place when I'm wearing so many hats in the lives of these families. It is hard to serve appropriately and meet everybody's needs when I feel the way I do. So do I just keep getting on my knees and praying like crazy that I'll work this out, or do I contact our wonderful Relief Society President and say "Please assign me to four old widows who haven't had contact with the YW program since the Carter Administration" in the hopes that I can better serve those I've committed to serve? And if the answer is the former, then give me some advice on maintaining my objectivity in this situation so that I don't go mad.

21 comments:

Nerd Goddess said...

You always have such thought-provoking posts, but I'm afraid I'm not quite experienced enough myself to be handing out advice.

However, it sounds like you're trying hard to figure out what the Lord wants you to do and I'm sure that He'll continue to guide you on your way.

loradona said...

I work with the YW in my ward, and sometimes they are very tough to deal with. We have to work through their desires to simply talk through every bit of the lesson. We struggle with girls who, for no reason we can figure out, get up and walk out of a lesson. We have a class president who is less than active. And I struggle with getting along with other leaders as well.

However, after months and months of fearing we would never get through to any of these girls, we experienced a major breakthrough with one of the girls yesterday. I could see it on her face: the softening, the understanding, the influence of the Spirit. It was amazing, and this former prickly pear left church that day with a spiritual experience she hadn't been having before.

I guess what I am saying is: Yes, keep praying, keep working, and sometimes the Spirit can break through, whether with those girls or the women on your VTing route.

chris w said...

I learned something very quickly working with my at-risk kids that I have learned applies to all of us(kids and adults of every level). It made a world of difference while I was in YW.

If we go into a serving capacity with the attitude of "I am here to show you the 'right' way to do things", we will be dead in the water. If we go with the idea that we are just there to love and respect them, then they will feel that love/respect and an opportunity will present itself for you to open their eyes to a new way of doing things and because they know you love them, they will be very open to the ideas you give them. If they have felt like you are there to fix them, nothing you say will ever be internalized.
It's human nature to want to please those we love but to rebel against those we feel are critical of us.
Those of us who are control freaks (me)and want things to be a right way also need to remember to let people progress on their own journey at their own pace. We try to take away their trials/mistakes and we also take away their learning.

Just love them and nothing else. It will happen.

FoxyJ said...

This was a great post and gave me a lot to think about. My kids are only 5 and 2, but I feel like I always struggle with trying to figure out what is my problem and what is theirs. Am I teaching them enough? Are they just not listening? It's hard to decide who needs to change, them or me. But like you said, I think it's good to figure out how we can do better. I'm in the primary presidency in my ward and we've struggled a lot with reverence, and this gave me some ideas to think about how we could do a better job having clearer expectations for the kids and teaching them more clearly what we expect them to do.

Jenny said...

STM: You know it's a rich, thought-provoking post when reading it distracts you from the breakfast you were making for the early morning seminary students trying to get out of the house on time...
Great clarity of thought, and some wonderful insights to ponder. Your questions are part of the reason I resent Mother's Day to whatever degree I do each year; I reflect on how I've fallen down as a parent, rather than basking in the gooey affection poured out all in a single day. As the RSP in our ward, I would welcome an open, candid conversation with ANY sister regarding VTing. You ought to place your queries into the lap of your RSP, and ask if she might ponder on it, and then the two of you could come up with the right answer together.
Great post.

Jenny said...

I'm apparently fond of the word ponder. If I'd read it three times in one post, I'd probably start gagging on my tongue.

Brian and Courtni said...

I totally agree with the others that this is a great post. Great questions posed and the youth problem/parenting problem was very interesting to me, especially since my husband and I were having a discussion a few nights ago about teaching and raising our kids (and they are only 3 and 1!)

About the VT -- I would seriously do both of your suggestions...I would keep praying that things will work out and I would discuss your concern about playing too many roles for the same family with the councilor over VT. The councilor and coordinators don't know to even look for alternatives if they don't know there is a concern (and maybe talking to them would be the answer to your prayer.) Also, just keep in mind that if they really feel that you are to be a VT to a certain person, they will leave you there.

emandtrev said...

Good questions and great post. I teach the girls in Primary that are on the brink of heading in to Young Women. I have asked myself many times how I can makes the lessons and activities more engaging, while still sticking with the doctrine and lesson manual. It is sometimes really difficult to be patient and focus on making the lesson for *them* rather than being annoyed they aren't quiet and attentive 100% of the time. Reverence, in every definition of the word, is a huge part of it. As their teacher, I need to remember that as well!

The Grahams said...

You can never go wrong with prayer. These thoughts have been on my mind lately as I've really struggled with our youth in the ward. My very inspired bishop gave me this awesome talk to read. "Unto the Rising Generation" by Neal A. Maxwell, 6 April 1984. It's amazing, go read it and tell me what you think. It's all about the youth, their parents and where we fit in as leaders.

mstanger said...

Pet issue/topic of mine was broached here, so let me first add a thought that relates to the GA's comment: why does it have to be one or the other, the parents or the youth? Why can't it be both? We get caught up in so many conversations about whose fault it is and fail to acknowledge the collective nature of our covenants (I think your former Stake President got it just right in talking about collective covenants--I think most of them fall in this category).

Two obvious examples that get bantered around all the time:

1) Lulu the Laurel wears an outfit to Church that does not conform with the standards set forth in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Upon observing Lulu, Pete the Priest has an inappropriate thought. The tendency in our discussion is to blame one or the other for the inappropriate thought. Either Lulu is at fault for wearing the provocative ensemble (many will cite Elder Oaks here: "Young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you." ("Pornography," Ensign, May 2005, page 87) ). Others will instead shift the blame to Pete, who should not be having those kinds of thoughts.

2) Dudley Deacon wears a blue shirt to pass the sacrament (and while we're at it, just to make it interesting, Pete from the above example, will bless the sacrament while wearing a tiny diamond stud in one ear, and occasionally leering inappropriately at Lulu). The typical discussion here runs along the lines of some saying that Dudley and Pete need to be certain to wear their white shirts, remove their jewelry, and reverently administer the sacrament, because they have a responsibility to the members of the congregation not to serve as distractions during the administration of this sacred ordinance. The counter argument is then made that the members of the congregation ought to be focused on their own spirituality during the sacrament, and if they get distracted by a blue shirt and an earring, it is their fault, not Dudley's and Pete's.

I wonder why we are so eager to assign fault to only one party. Don't Lulu and Pete both share a bit in the fault here? Can we truly say only one has sinned? Similarly, don't those of us who get distracted by the blue shirts and earrings share a bit of blame with those who wear them?

My thoughts on collective guilt/thought are shaped by two primary sources external to the gospel: my legal training, and my German studies.

There are lots of different ways in which the law allocates fault among multiple parties. For certain wrongs, all the parties who are at fault are held "jointly and severally" liable for the entire wrong. I.e., If Ann is struck by a car driven by Bob, who was served in Charlotte's bar (and the state has dramshop laws), then both Bob and Charlotte may be held jointly liable for Ann's injuries. The jury determines Ann should be awarded $10 million and that Bob was 90% at fault and Charlotte 10% at fault. Under joint and several liability, Ann may recover the full damages from either of the defendants. If Ann sued Charlotte alone, Charlotte would have to pay the full $10M despite only being at fault for $1M. Charlotte would then either have to join Bob as defendant in Ann's suit against her or would have to pursue a separate action against Bob for $9M. Regardless of the outcome of that action, Charlotte would remain liable to Ann for the full $10M. In contrast, other states, or types of wrong, may employ a comparative fault regime. In such a scenario, Bob would have to pay $9M and Charlotte would have to pay $1M. If Bob is judgment proof, Ann only gets the $1M from Charlotte.

My German studies have exposed me to almost endless discussion and debate of the concept of the collective guilt of the German people for the Holocaust. While Goldhagen was clearly over the top/dead wrong in his "Hitler's Willing Executioners", I have met many, many Germans who have expressed to me the sense of national shame they continue to feel for this.

Moving to gospel application, we know that "all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God." We are all part of one sinful family, all of whom have access to the Atonement. Christ suffered, atoned and died for all of us, not just for Pete or Lulu or any one individual. The sacrament that Pete blesses is sanctified to the souls of ALL those who partake of it. (Maybe we need to add a few verses to Oh it is Wonderful: "...that he should care for you, enough to die for you..." and more importantly "...that he should care for us, enough to die for us.")

It isn't a parenting problem, or a youth problem, it is everyone's problem.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Well, friends, I can honestly say that the responses here were not at all what I expected.

Nerd Goddess--your experience may be the MOST relevant. You have been on the other side of this (the YW side) the most recently. Perhaps you can help shed some light on which leaders helped you the most and how. In your moments of rebellion or odd-man-outness (c'mon, everyone has 'em), what made you stick with the gospel?

loradona--thanks for your anecdote. A girl's face came exactly to my mind as you shared and the message of patience was heard loud and clear.

chrisw--your thoughts have been the foremost in my mind since reading them yesterday. I expressed some of this to my husband this afternoon and he summed it up the best. "You ARE compassionate, STM, but you are also very no-nonsense; you have a hard time with people who you think SHOULD know better." Hmm . . . it is sometimes hard to have such a mirror put in front of my face. I also think of the old love and logic mantra: love me enough to put limits on my behavior. How do we set clear limits and yet not alienate our prickliest (our most 'at risk') kids? This is the hardest question in the world to answer. I need to think less about being called because I have something to offer and more about being called because I have something to learn.

FoxyJ--A funny and helpful trick I learned when I was in a PP for a short time was that the kids really were distracted by extra chairs. One of our counselors was vigilant about having the correct number of chairs set up exactly for each class and would pull chairs off the ends if they were extra. We were also amazed at how many teachers needed gentle reminders to sit in the middle of their kids. Little things sometimes make the biggest difference. Another thing we found to be very effective? We frequently identified the Spirit and testified about the gospel during sacred moments. We also cut out a lot of the gimmicks and nearly ALL the treats.

Jenny--Thanks for your sweet response. I was hoping you, one of the few respondents here with teens at home, would tell me that you had all the answers. :) I did get a great tip from YOUR blog this week however--if you worry that your son's hair is too long, volunteer to give him a "trim" and then do a rotten job. ;)

Courtni--I'm sure you'll have about a million more of those conversations in the years to come!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Em--I had a college professor once say about going into teaching, "You aren't here to teach lit-ra-ture, you are here to teach kids!" So while we are called to teach the gospel, our focus needs to be the children and not just the material.

Rainie--I am for sure going to read that talk. I admittedly sometimes find President Packer a little bit difficult, but it is usually because I am not measureing up in some way. I will check it out. Also, I thought about you today; it is my birthday and about 25 people wished me a happy, but it paled in comparison to my big 3-0 at your house. My sister called this morning and asked if anybody was making me a red velvet cake today and I just about cried. Besides my mum, you are the only one who ever has. I've never seen anybody pack it away the way your hubby can. I am thinking about making it for my baby's birthday in a couple of weeks, but doing blue velvet instead--what do you think?

Mike, mike, mike--I'm going to be thinking about your comments for days to come. You are right. There is a lot to be said about being the Lord's covenant PEOPLE. Hearts knit together as one. However, I can only control my OWN actions. I wasn't trying, in this post, necessarily to pit parents against leaders against kids, I was trying to define my role in all of this. What can I do better? How can I best meet the needs of the people I've been called to serve in various capacities? How can I love and support the kids and their moms at the same time without judgement? And while Lulu and Dudley could pretty much have come verbatim out of our ward (Lulu also likes to stand REALLY close to the elders, who don't exactly run away screaming a la Joseph in Potiphar's house), and do have a responsibility for their actions, we are the GROWNUPS. My mother always says, "Somebody is going to be in charge at your house, and it may as well be you because you are the grown up." Perhaps the same can apply at church, "Somebody is going to run your Young Women's Program; it may as well be you because you are the grown up." For all that the covenant is collective, it might also be true that some of us in the collective carry a greater burden of responsibility.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

One other thought. Really just one. ;)

In the book Stone Tables, OSC brings up a fascinating point about living the gospel. Some of the characters are talking about covenants being easy to make with God, because he is always faithful and trustworthy. When the gospel covenant becomes hard is in regards to OTHERS. We tell our Father in Heaven that we will give of our substance freely to his work and to help his people, but when we see Sister so and so go to a professional salon every three months for a new hairdo while complaining about being short on grocery money so that she needs to see the bishop, well, then it becomes harder to live the covenant. It takes a level of trust so contrary to the natural man that it isn't even funny.

Wait, wasn't this post meant to be about reverence? Teaching kids reverence? Are there more ideas along that line?

chris w said...

STM - you are one of the most compassionate people I know. I know exactly what plantboy means because that describes me too.

Being loving does not mean having no limits. When my YW (and my at-risk students as well) knew that I REALLY loved them and also LIKED them, they were willing to live up to any limit I gave them. I was able to set extremely high expectations because they wanted to do what I asked.
One of my highest points in my teaching memories was when a student was being disruptive and all the others turned around and told him to be quiet because he was "disrespecting" me.
Once the YW know you love them and enjoy them as a person, they will bend over backwards to live up to your expectations.

mstanger said...

So yeah, reverence.

Reverence starts with the Bishop. He sets the tone for the ward, and has many options to do this. He can address the topic in sacrament meeting, or in a 5th Sunday adult meeting. He can make it the topic of any number of firesides, or Sunday lessons with the youth. He can then address each of the specific issues raised in your opening post. If the concerns you have are serious enough that they need to be addressed, he has to lead out, and could be politely requested to do so. He can plead with the various quorums and auxiliaries to emphasize this as well.

My Stake President (until just a few weeks ago) was very concerned about reverence, and mentioned it time and again. Regardless of the key subject of his address, he found a way to speak about reverence for a few minutes.

I also think you could effectively use part of one the many YW fiestas (New Beginnings, Evening of Excellence, etc., where you have both parents and girls present) to address reverence, including notebooks, cell phones, etc.

Moving on to your specific bullet points:

Cell phones. Schools are now installing cell phone scramblers. Maybe the church ought to look at that. It may help just to have a cell phone basket (maybe festively decorated with all the YW colors) that everyone, leaders included, deposits their cell phones in at the beginning of the meeting.

1980s movies: agreed, unless the movie is The Award, in which case they will be enthralled (and probably even learn an interesting lesson).

Notebooks: this seems to me to be fairly unique to the feminine gender. My wife has several doodlers in her Laurel class. Maybe a notebook basket?

Treats at church: AAARRRGGHHH! This is another sore spot for me. I have never been accused of being svelte. I exercise like a mad man, and have a very health conscious wife, who cooks incredibly healthy meals. My daughters have not inherited the best set of genes, and filling them full of junkfood in primary does not help. Inevitably, one of my girls gets a superior treat to the others, and fighting ensues. STOP STOP STOP the madness. We are a church, not a Winchells.

Conducting meetings. Your new Beehives have seen literally hundreds of meetings conducted by adults (unless of course they are converts): sacrament meetings and primary. To the extent they are having trouble conducting meetings, it isn't for lack of proper modeling. It is a case of expectations and capabilities.

Poor attendance. You weren't clear on whether this is on Sunday or weekdays. On Sundays, you have to deal with the "take refuge in the Ladies Room" crowd. Why do we insist on making those rooms so darn comfortable? Do they really need sofas? I guess if they are doubling as a mother's lounge, they probably do, but then you should let the mothers sit on them, not the sluffing Laurels (and by the way, the fact that we still have buildings with the mother's lounge in the women's bathroom shows a glaring lack of sensitivity). I've always thought a few well placed stinky diapers in the garbage can should be sufficient to drive them out, but then you have no guarantee they are going to seek refuge with their YW classes, and you make an already uncomfortable situation for some poor nursing mother even worse, so strike that. Really, this shows the need for two deep leadership--one to make sure the class is running, and one to round up the lost sheep. If you're worried about weeknight attendance, and parents aren't able to drive, some strategic carpooling assistance from leaders may help. I've seen attendance increase markedly where efforts were made by leaders to pick the kids up. (And yes, in areas like yours where things are a bit far flung, this can involve considerable sacrifice on the part of the leaders).

Parents not attending. Mom needs to be spoken to by someone, or maybe more than someone, and made to understand she is missed and loved. Maybe she needs to be given a calling that keeps her there through the 3rd hour.

Kid under the bench in the sofa. Lots of ways to approach this--only the Spirit can tell you which is right, but it needs to be done. Every ward needs a few bouncer types (a bishop's counselor and a member of the Sunday School presidency) to clear out the halls (of course, part of the reverence theme pushed by the Bishop should focus on the need for all of us to attend class--and this has to start with leaders--if a YW's leader is prepping for her lesson in the foyer on the couch during Sunday School, she loses the right to complain that there are people skipping her lesson in the third hour).

On your last point--when to stop telling your kids to go to church--I don't know that I feel all that entitled to opine, as my oldest is nine. My current opinion, though, is that there are a minimum set of expectations we can have for our kids to "earn their keep." These should include doing their household chores, their homework and attending church. Violate those general principals, and all allowance can be shut off, you have no obligation to buy your kids new clothes, and you can start invoicing them for rent.

And, on struggling with being judgmental, I think it is safe to say that we all do that. This is probably the greatest barrier to spirituality I struggle with. I know you are a fan of President Benson's Beware of Pride, which warns so strongly against this. Pride (and the concomitant judgmentalism) is the great stumbling block to Zion.

Billable hours are calling. Jon says we're almost ready to launch.

emandtrev said...

I'm back. I loved this post so much that I came back to read all the comments. I just wanted to also add that I so completely agree with treats at church. My ward's Primary Primary has banned candy/treats outright because it got to be such a problem. The worst week I had in terms of both attentiveness and reverence was when I talked to my class about bringing their scriptures for several consecutive weeks in a row, instead of every now and then. It was like I flipped a switch! "Can we have treats if we bring our scriptures? My brother's class still gets treats! It's not fair we can't have treats!"

I was amazed--and a little appalled. I'm not really sure how what I've shared adds anything to the discussion, but I do agree it is everyone's problem.

I like the idea of a cell phone scrambler at church. :)

Slyck and Slim said...

I don't have any answers since my kids are still 8 and under and I haven't worked in YW since before cel phones were invented. :) Not really, but I can see how you'd be frustrated. Let me know what you figure out, because you are one who will figure something out.

CaLM RAPIDS said...

Since you asked for advice, I'll offer my opinions:

With your Visiting teaching route, I would suggest teaching from the Ensign and expanding that into the basic doctrines. This last General Conference (and many more before that) a great emphasis was placed on the basic doctrine of the church. Once a testimony is firm, the rest falls into line. If you can have a spiritual experience every month with each one of them, you might see some personal growth. You are probably already doing this, so also remember that as frustrating as it is, they can choose.

An opinion on your Sunday / Wednesday activities. Something that I learned from preschool conferences-- if something isn't working, change the environment. I think youth appreciate someone who is in charge and who is constant. They will feel secure participating with the group and know what to expect and what is expected of them. If they're pulling out doodling paper, phones, etc., change what you're doing so they are actively involved and don't miss their toys. This may not work with all of them but if it works for most, peer pressure might work on the rest.

Good luck changing the world! Don't forget lots of love!

CaLM RAPIDS said...

One more item-- treats need to be banned from church. Last year our building was remodeled and it was decided that no food was allowed except in the kitchen, gym, and nursery room. Not everyone remembers all of the time but it has made a HUGE difference!

Suburban Hippie said...

I **LOVE** Chris W's comment and agree with it 110%

Sherry said...

I've thought about this post for a few days, and then I just came and read the comments today. So, I'm behind.

I've only served in YW for a few months, and I had Beehives who didn't have cell phones. However, when I taught with the big group, I asked the girls to put their cell phones under their chairs and leave them there. I made it a matter of respect and explained to them that I had taken the time to prepare the lesson so they needed to be respectful and put their phones away. It worked for me, although it was a little difficult with one girl in particular who swore that she couldn't be without her phone for an hour.

I have such a problem with cell phones. My brother-in-law, who is seventeen and whom I utterly adore, is highly addicted to his. He texts during dinner with the family even when we ask him not to. If I were his parent, I would take the phone away from him, at least until he understood some basic cell phone etiquette.

I had a YW teacher (when I was a Beehive) who gave us a few minutes each week to gab. After that we were expected to be reverent and participate in the lesson. And it totally worked. We talked, and then we participated reverently.