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To BYU or not To BYU; That is the Question

Picture this: A sleepy morning stumbling around in the bathroom in my new apartment at college. Just a few weeks in, and things are going well. My path has been different than many around me. Getting here has not been easy, life has sent me many challenges, but I am here now. I work full time and squeeze in classes, it’s demanding, but it will be worth it. I am starting the rest of my life. It’s nice. I feel secure and safe for the first time a in a while.

In walks my roommate, WAIT! that is not my roommate, it is her her boyfriend! Quick hide in the stall! Did he see me? What did he see? I certainly didn’t want to see that! What is he doing here at this extremely early hour of the morning? No one is awake but me. Did he sleep here? How could that be? What about the “chastity door”? What about the rules? What about the commandments? We are living in BYU housing. Is he mormon? Is my roommate Mormon? Does that mean anything? What about the contract we signed? Why is he in my bathroom while I am exposed and supposedly safe? What about…well, what about a lot of things.

Thus began my road of enlightenment in my delusion that BYU was the place for me to avoid the worldly nightmares at other schools. I happened to see many things that shocked me and had me on a road of seriously questioning image and outward appearance verses what’s really going on behind closed doors and in dark corners of our souls. It continued as I met with things on a large and frightening scale that had me questioning the same things, but on a church/BYU level. 

I am not talking about: forgetting to read your scriptures for a day, wearing a bikini to the beach, a skirt that’s a little bit high above the knee, or frequenting the local make out spot up the canyon with the latest returned missionary that had a vision of you while serving, and was now home to take you to the temple. I am talking about: not worthy to use the priesthood, take the sacrament, say a prayer in church, serve a mission, get married in the temple, excommunication types of things. Life altering decisions that are hidden, only to come out later when there are spouses and children pummeled by the shrapnel.

I was labeled a prude, among other things, and told so regularly by all 5 of my roommates, that just so happened to each have a boyfriend sleeping over regularly. I wasn’t the confrontational, whistle blower type, but I did eventually “tell” on them after attempts at resolving the issue through “apartment counsels,” failed miserably. Apartment counsels, that’s funny. They were good liars. I was then left in the situation with no help and 5 other girls that knew I was a snitch. It was Awesome!

What exactly are the odds and how did I somehow manage to get stuck on the wrong side of the line? My life seems to be a lesson in just that question as I regularly meet with the exception and not the rule.

Can this happen anywhere, you bet! Does it damage life more when it’s a part of secretive sub-cultures because appearances need to be kept up? I see great evidence in the affirmative with close friends and acquaintances.

It seems to me, that it would be easier to come out unscathed in a situation where things are out in the open rather than transpiring under the radar, in just enough secret to avoid being caught, but in your face enough to get tangled up.

Of course, I know many people that are completely unaware of all the hanky panky at BYU. I also know many that were once unaware and then married into the results of all the hanky panky. Their lives are definitely not unscathed anymore. And no, this does not refer only to women marrying men, it goes both ways.

If BYU is the standard then it is easy to understand statements such as, “I don’t know why I am getting sent home for it. Every one else in my ward was doing it.” This statement I heard first hand just recently from a BYU Idaho student. Of course the everyone part would be an exaggeration on her part, but the perception was there and it was not just her. She is happily back to her studies and free from sin.

Her statement illustrates a point. If BYU is the standard, and there is plenty going on at BYU that doesn’t actually meet, even closely, with gospel standards, then aren’t we giving a false sense of reality, or what to expect and prepare for, to our youth that so diligently work to get into BYU?

Are we creating a situation where it is difficult for the youth of the church to differentiate between loose interpretations of God’s laws and God’s actual laws. If it is so easily found, accepted, and lived under the radar at the school that is supposed to be like a little piece of heaven on earth, isn’t it more easily accepted by those that might have been able to see through it in another context?

I mean none of this flippantly. I am genuinely representing what I see happening in a lot of families I am personally involved with. From the cradle, it is ingrained that BYU is, not might be, but is the only place to go to school, and will, not might, but will be safe and secure and ensure you temple marriage, successful careers, and a life of relative ease. It’s not my view, but I see it prevalently all around me and I don’t know how to navigate that with my children. And just to be clear, these parents I refer to are wonderful people and parents, that I care about, and they are doing what they feel is best for their children. I am not questioning whether or not they are harming their children, just earnestly seeking the best approach for mine.

I honestly have not even approached the subject yet. They hear it from friends and in the culture of the church. I tend to shy away from wanting to give absolutes to my children in matters such as school choice. I don’t happen to believe that BYU is the only place you can get a great education and fulfill all those things that are important to eternal salvation. My children are hearing these absolutes from others and I wonder what my role is. I also don’t want to paint a negative picture of BYU because I know that, as a whole, it is a great school with a lot of wonderful opportunities to offer.

How much of what was applicable to my life and those I am associated with, is needful for my children. I believe that children are born to parents for a reason. We are in our family units (however they are defined) to get the greatest good and best opportunities for individual progression and growth. I don’t know that the idea behind that means that I need to share all I know about BYU because it would be directly applicable to my children. I also don’t know that it’s not. Have I been made aware of these things because it is applicable to my children? Is it just life? Life happens, there is not always a reason. Or is there?

I realize that percentage wise we are talking about a very small number that bite the dust at BYU. I just happen to care deeply for quite a few that have been caught in said dust. Of course, personal accountability trumps all, I get that. I do however come from a place of seeing that circumstance can have a great deal to do with opening our eyes and minds to temptations that otherwise would have been better left shut tightly out of our lives.

How many times have we heard things like: don’t look ever, not even once, not one drop of alcohol, 1 time is enough to get pregnant/diseases/and take away a piece of you, keep the stagecoach as far away from the edge of the cliff as you can. Statements like this run through my mind as I wonder how to best prepare my little birdies for life out of the nest.

“In your face,” seems easier to navigate than, “stumbling upon in secret.” in a trusted place.

Now, while I am sure we could have a rousing go at “my alma mater is better than yours.” My suggestion would be that it’s not school pride or alumni integrity I am questioning here. It is simply the question of how to shove our little birdies out of the nest with the best options for soaring to their greatest heights, rather than getting stuck in the mire that is everywhere, and in every school. Does silence result in a false sense of security that will end up having lasting effects that could have been avoided?

How many of those momma birds have heart attacks when they push those precious babes into the abyss? I just might be one such momma bird.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Steve June 18, 2012, 8:54 pm

    I think many Mormon parents are naive. Their lttle darlings are doing all kinds of interesting activities.

    When I was at BYU, I saw ..

    Walked in on the EQ President dryhumping a girl he home taught, both with minimal clothing.

    Off campus alcohol parties run by campus clubs.

    Coed groups nude sunbathing up the canyon.

    A stereo theft ring run out of the dorms.


  • Tracy Keeney June 18, 2012, 10:24 pm

    Neither my husband or I attended BYU, and though it’s an LDS school, we’ve never felt any sort of attachment or devotion to it. And as I mentioned it in another thread– I’ve never seen a BYU football fame. So all I know about BYU is what I hear from other people– and from published studies.
    I DO think that many are naive about what goes on among the student body. The school has pretty strict standards of dress and behavior, and though there’s a code of conduct students apparently sign, obviously, they don’t all live up to it.
    I also know however, that even according to outside studies, it IS one of the best college environments with the least number of problems. So while there ARE kids doing the things mentioned by Amy and Steve, it apparently happens alot LESS than at other schools. So if a parent wants to send their kid to a school where those things are least likely to happen, then BYU would be one of the better places to send them.
    However– I don’t think the school itself is really the issue—- it’s the “freedom” the kids feel once they’re out and away from home. Kids ALWAYS are more likely to do things they’re not suppose to do when they’re AWAY from home and a parent’s influence and oversight.
    I do agree though, that parents sending their kids to ANY college need to help brace their kids for the onslaught of bad behavior their likely to see. We worry about what happens in the highschools– but college is always worse.
    The more unique problem with BYU, as pointed out, is the EXPECTATION that those kinds of problems don’t exist there and the shock and painful disappointment that occurs when newcomers witness or first learn the sad truth.
    One of my best friends from highschool had a horrible experience when she attended Rick’s. She went there, expecting that all her dorm-mates would be “striving to live the Young Women values”. But in her apartment shared by 6 girls– 1 became pregnant and went home, and two others were having a lesbian relationship. She was heartbroken and really began to struggle– when one of the lesbian girls began hitting on her and making sexually suggestive comments, she finally couldn’t stand being there anymore and went home.
    Of course, very similar things could happen at ANY school– but from what I know about other schools, not just from my own experience and the experiences of others, but from the studies done, these kinds of thing are much MORE likely to happen at other schools. At other schools these things are likely to be the NORM.
    I have to add here— and I’ve mentioned this in other threads, but it’s very fitting for this article…
    Elder M. Russell Ballard visited our area when I was living in South Carolina. He spoke at a regional conference and SPECIFICALLY counseled the parents to consider sending their kids to their local universities and to stop sending their kids to BYU. He mentioned the unintended consequences— and actually lamented the high number of students going there, finding a spouse there and STAYING there, instead of returning to their home state or elsewhere to help build the kingdom outSIDE of Utah. He encouraged students (and their parents) to attend their local universitites, saying they NEED the strength and influence of faithful church members. He said that was part of the purpose of the Institute programs– and mentioned how much bigger and more influential the Institute program at USC would be if half of it’s potential particpants weren’t out at BYU.

  • Tracy Keeney June 18, 2012, 10:25 pm

    football GAME– good grief

  • Bradley June 18, 2012, 11:33 pm

    We all know a lot of Mormon kids who were kept on a very short leash at home. What did you think was going happen when they were turned loose at BYU?

  • Tracy Keeney June 19, 2012, 12:22 am

    SOME kids on “short leashes” rebel– it’s true. But some kids who are given plenty of freedom and AREN’T on short leashes end up making really bad decisions as well. Kids who are given TOO much freedom almost ALWAYS do. Though parenting styles certainly have an significant influence, whether or not kids rebel when they get to college is MOSTLY a personal agency issue, and how cemented they are in their own personal testimony and how committed they are in their HEARTS to keeping the whichever standard is the one in question.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2012, 11:56 pm

    Steve and Bradley, welcome to MM.

    I “grew up” at BYU. My dad finished his PhD at UCSB when I was three. We moved to Utah where he became a math professor at BYU. I visited dad, attended camps, started attending football games when Gary Sheide was the quarterback, crashed classes with my sister when I was 15. I honestly never wanted to go anywhere else. Not even so much because of the religious aspect of the school, but just because it was “my” school.

    I met Sam there when we both lived at the Elms. I graduated from BYU, Sam got his BS, MS, and PhD there. He was an adjunct professor there after we came back from Florida. My oldest graduated from BYU and is now in grad school there, my son-in-law will graduate from BYU in August. My next two kids are undergraduate students there.

    Having grown up in and around BYU, I never had any delusions about the school. And, heck, if anyone measured BYU or Mormonism from my own behavior, it would not come out untarnished. But I love BYU. I just do.

    By that I don’t mean that I think every Mormon should go there. I don’t care where people go. Let them go to the school that fits them best. But I love BYU and I bleed blue.

    Go cougars!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Simulated LoveMy Profile

  • Darrell June 19, 2012, 2:26 am

    I think it’s like your local high school. Mine is full of drugs and gangs and bullying and teenage pregnancy. But it also has people who are trying really hard to make good choices. I think you find what you look for. Maybe I was lucky. Intellectually, I knew that this stuff happened at BYU, but I never saw it when I was there.

  • Angie Gardner June 19, 2012, 6:24 am

    Darrell, your point is excellent. You do find what you look for. Having said that, sometimes with roommate situations you don’t have control over that, and then your choice becomes to spend less time at home, turn roommates in, join the crowd, suffer in silence, etc.

    I am trying to count up how many roommates I had at Ricks and BYU. I believe it was somewhere around 20 total. Sure, there were issues, but they were very few and far between, luckily. I had one roommate who was spending nights with her boyfriend – not sure where they were, other than she just wouldn’t come home, but at least she wasn’t attempting that in our apartment. My second year at Ricks I had a roommate who became pregnant, but up until that point she had hid that part of her life from us very well – I had no idea (now, I would probably recognize the signs but at the time it went right over my head). Most of my roommates married in the temple, a few served missions, and most of them as far as I know are still active in the church.

    One roommate after I had graduated from BYU but when I was still living in BYU approved housing had a lot of problems, but she was pretty up front about them and not trying to involve anyone else in them. She did her thing outside of the apartment and was otherwise a good roommate. The worst that happened was she went to a concert in Salt Lake, got drunk, and her “friends” left her there. The police called us to see if we would come get her. We wouldn’t, so she spent the night there. When she got home, she apologized and that was it. She never tried to get us to participate or lie for her or anything like that.

    Come to think of it, my husband has never mentioned any major issues with roommates either. I think Amy just had very bad luck or won the bad roommate lottery. 🙂

    As for my own children, we are 5 years away from our oldest going to college. She really wants to go to BYU at this point, and that’s because that’s where her parents went and where most of the older girls in the ward have gone and she really looks up to a lot of them. As her mom, however, I am supportive of her going wherever she wants. I think you can find great experiences and great kids wherever you are.

    I have a good friend who has blogged about her BYU experience (1 semester, awful) and how she ultimately found her spot at a state university in the midwest and had a much more positive experience there. BYU is not the best fit for everyone.

    Having said that, I bleed blue too. Go Cougars!

  • Amy Lockhart June 19, 2012, 11:03 am

    Thanks for all your comments! I was sleeping and momming and have been dying to see how all the blue bleeders would take what I wrote! I am elated to see that my words didn’t betray me in this post, and so far none have seen that I meant there was something inherently wrong with the family of Cougars that worship the ‘Y’ on the mountain! (That was funny (at least to me), so just laugh and don’t comment about me suggesting you worship golden (or bright white) images, okay?!) 🙂

    Darrell: I hear you loud and clear. I agree to a certain extent, but I assure you there are some cases (mine and all the people I am personally involved with) where there was no “looking” whatsoever. That is not to say that there was not some predisposition, or tendency, on the part of those that ended up becoming involved with the things they stumbled upon, it’s simply to say that I think there are many people that are exposed to things quite innocently. And personal agency and responsibility are always ultimately responsible. As a mother I think a lot about how to give my children the best chance to succeed in their journey.

    I am curious about people in general and often find solutions to my own situations through the experiences of others, whether they are the similar to me or not. An exploration of the harm that may or may not come from stumbling upon in secret vs knowing exactly what you are up against, was what I was hoping for.

    It would be highly subjective, of course, and quite relative to individual circumstance, but I was hoping to see a common thread running through to hold onto in my own journey in how to best prepare my children for college choice and college life.

    I happen to be one of those people that has stumbled upon many a thing in secret and not been the least bit tempted or scathed. I don’t think that makes me any better than all the people I love that have not resisted and are most definitely scathed. Different maybe, but better never, and what exactly is the difference that ended up keeping me safe from certain things?

    Perhaps the answer I am seeking is more, how to be the parent that raises children with character so strong and values so permanent, that nothing can shake their foundation or pull them in, no matter what their exposure, or how they came upon it. Any of you super moms out there with that recipe?

    Tracy: I really appreciate you siting what Elder Nelson said. I struggle with going against the crowd sometimes and I think that has been underlying all the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head about this particular issue. Having different things to consider like what you said, and Angie mentioned as well, helps my “need to be validated” side feel like it’s okay to do something different than the “cultural norms” in the church. You know the thought or question of, “how can I possibly be right in doing something different that is so right for so many other people that believe and hope for the same things I do?”. Perhaps that is the reason I came upon all that I did while at BYU. But then again, I met with the exception regularly, but I stayed the rule. Where is the law of moses when you need it, really!

    Steve: Do you have any thoughts on whether it matters how we are exposed to these types of situations? Do you feel like it had influence in your life during, or after, college? Most importantly, are you still able to bleed blue, or was that robbed from you? (Now that was funny too!) 🙂

    Alison: Are you one of the parents that preaches from the cradle that BYU will be it for all of your children or is it more of a “cultural norm” within your family that is followed, and has, obviously, worked incredibly well for you? What advice do you have from someone who hasn’t pushed any baby birds out of the nest yet 🙂

    College seems to be one of those experiences that can make or break somebody. Sure there are lots of them, but it seems to be of more significance, to me anyway.

    I am enjoying what has come so far, and have already found many points that I am grateful to have for consideration. Keep ’em coming!
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  • Amy Lockhart June 19, 2012, 11:13 am

    I should proofread and edit better. Alison: I meant ‘for’ someone, not from!

    I am sure there are more but that one could mess with meaning.
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  • Amber Mae June 19, 2012, 1:38 pm

    When something shocking happens to us personally, we automatically assume that it’s happening more often than it actually is. It’s just human nature. On the reverse, when we only hear about said shocking thing we think that it happens less than it actually does.
    In reality I think it’s somewhere in the middle. As a BYU-I grad, I love BYU-Idaho (sorry Provo – I think you’re arrogant). But I don’t think it’s the only place to go to school. It better not be, since I got my bachelor’s somewhere else.
    Choosing a school is a big decision for youth, and as young adults the experience will have a lot to do with their own decisions. Sure some parents might think that their child will get in less trouble at one school over another, but in the end it all depends on what decisions that child has already made before going to school. If they have a lukewarm kid, they might want to send them to BYU and hope they happen to get in with the right crowd, but there’s no guarantee either way.
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  • jennycherie June 19, 2012, 1:44 pm

    This is a great topic. BYU is not a big deal for us, as my husband and I are both converts who did not attend BYU so we have no family precedent. That being said, I think that the two most important lessons we need to teach our children, in preparation for leaving the nest, are:

    1. how to grow and nurture your own testimony, independent of the bad behavior of other members. If the person in church next to you is a lying, thieving, abusive creep, that doesn’t change the doctrine of the gospel or affect its truthfulness. I get so nervous when people bear their testimony that they knew the church was true because everyone was so nice. Those are dangerous words!

    2. how to respond when people around (especially your roommates and your best friends) you do things you believe are wrong. I had a roommate in college whose boyfriend routinely slept over (in a dorm ROOM, not a suite or apartment – just one small room with two twin beds and two desks) and I HATED it, yet I said NOTHING. Now, I just can’t believe that I never got ANGRY enough to DO anything about it. How ridiculous. I was living in a college dorm and I had a write to feel safe and comfortable in my own room. All I had to do was tell my RA, and yet I didn’t. I don’t want my children to be so concerned about ruffling feathers that they live like this, whether they go to BYU or MU or Harvard.
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  • Amy Lockhart June 19, 2012, 2:43 pm

    Thank you Jenny. I appreciate the perspective 🙂

    What happens when you do tell, but there is an intense need to keep things on the down low so “help” never comes?

    I suppose I just make sure to be the kind of parent that my children want to talk with and confide in. That way there is always some help even if it’s not anything that can directly relieve the suffering in a certain situation.
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  • Amy Lockhart June 19, 2012, 2:48 pm

    Bradley: The short leash idea is probably worthy of its own post and a healthy debate I am sure.

    My take on that would be, there are many ways to hold the leash, be it short or long, or somewhere in between. For me, the hold matters much more than the size.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…A Trip to the StoreMy Profile

  • Oregonian June 19, 2012, 4:11 pm

    gah! can we please stop with the baby birds, baby bunnies, baby animals thing? children is a perfectly good word.

  • Tracy Keeney June 19, 2012, 4:48 pm

    🙂 Oregonian, you crack me up. Thanks for the giggle.

  • Amy Lockhart June 19, 2012, 4:54 pm

    Amber Mae:

    You said, “in the end it all depends on what decisions that child has already made before going to school. ”

    The reason this is so much on my mind, is that I have seen the exact opposite. The perfect child with the perfect grades, morals, values, character, always choosing the right in whatever situation, and on, and on, meets with unexpected in a place of trust. Of course, there really is no perfect child. But do you see what I mean? Seemingly all the right stuff to survive any storm, and then BAM, the storm hits. It was so unexpected and “out of context” for them that it gives the impression that they must have been the extremist and this is normal and really what is right. Does that make any sense at all?

    Do I download all the “stuff” I know about BYU because the standard, or expectation, is so high? The effect hopefully being a more prepared child. Or does that just taint their view unnecessarily, and remove a great school from the running. It seems to me it would be the later, but then again having seen such horrific results because of the difficulty to handle the unexpected in a circumstance that was supposed to be safe, I wonder.

    The inability to discern what is actually right, from the perceived right, because of the hype or build up of BYU. Your thoughts on that would be greatly appreciated.
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  • Amy Lockhart June 19, 2012, 5:30 pm

    Oregonian: Now look what you’ve done, you’ve issued me a challenge to make sure there is at least one reference worth a gag from you in each of my posts. As if I don’t have enough on my plate already.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to laugh at myself today. 🙂
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  • jennycherie June 19, 2012, 8:17 pm

    Amy – I think that’s an important question and I wish I had a wise answer:

    “What happens when you do tell, but there is an intense need to keep things on the down low so “help” never comes? ”

    It is often the case that there are more repercussions for telling that something is wrong than there are for the person who did wrong! Our culture seems to have a ferocious need to punish the ‘narcs’ – why? And why do we feel a need to protect wrongdoers (is that a word?) with confidentiality and ‘keeping it quiet’? The only answer I can come up with is to be bold, speak up and KEEP speaking up until something happens.

  • Amy Lockhart June 19, 2012, 9:36 pm

    That seems plenty wise to me 🙂 Simple is good. It’s quite possibly not wether me make a measurable difference with our voice, but rather that we use it always for the things we believe to be right and good and true, and not stop, ever.

    Thank you 🙂
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  • jks June 19, 2012, 11:40 pm

    My husband and I went to BYU. We are pretty sure our oldest will get in. Not sure about our soon to be 7th grader, maybe BYU Provo will accept him, maybe not. BYU-I doesn’t have a big engineering program so we would probably encourage UW and BYU as his main choices.
    I plan to be realistic with my kids. I will try to give some pros and cons. The huge pros would be they are growing up without a lot of Mormon kids. It can be lonely. BYU is a great chance to make friends and be with other Mormons.
    I want to be realistic and help them realize that they need to decide if it will bother them to much to have a dress code and be required to go to church, etc. If they think they aren’t ready for that kind of commitment, I would rather they not go. I don’t want sullen, resentful BYU grads for kids.
    I also assume they will already know that many Mormons drink and have sex. It will not be a surprise to them I’m sure.

  • Tracy Maurer June 20, 2012, 12:05 am

    Amen, to all that has been said. But I would like to say a couple of things.

    Firstly, when I hear someone state that there are parents out there who are naive about what their children get up to really gets my goat. If anyone knows a child it is the parent. As a mother of four children, I know every little detail about each of their personalities, their capabilities, and their weaknesses. But that doesn’t mean I know everything they get up to when they are outside the home. Honestly, some people seem to think that as parents we have this obvious ability to control every choice our children make, and if they make a wrong choice then it is because we as parents are naive.

    Secondly, when a child becomes a young adult and steps out into the world, no matter how they have been raised in the home, they are always going to be faced with greater choices in their lives than they have probably ever had to face before. There is certainly some preparation that needs to be made prior to this in the home, but generally speaking, it is a time where they are going to excercise their adulthood in different ways and learn as they go along. Some do it more wisely than others. It saddens me when I hear people using these experiences to try to denegrate something that is on the whole good.

    As parents it is our duty to teach our children to be agents unto themselves. A catchphrase in our home has always been, ‘That might be the way they do it in their home (or life), but in ours, this is the way we do it’. Then we emphasise the ‘why’ of what we do, and talk about the consequences of not doing it that way. Many times this would be mentioned in relation to other LDS families. It is all about establishing confidence in our own choices, without being influenced by others with differing standards. It is then our hope, as parents, that once they leave the nest (sorry Oregonian) they are prepared to face any situation placed before them – be it a roomate who breaks the law of chastity, or a personal relationship that tests their resolve.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 20, 2012, 12:33 am

    Alison: Are you one of the parents that preaches from the cradle that BYU will be it for all of your children

    Of course. They all know they will be both disinherited and disowned should they choose not to attend the true university. They have their agency — and it has a price.

    What advice do you have from someone who hasn’t pushed any baby birds out of the nest yet

    Blackmail, brainwashing, threats, bribery. Whatever works.

    Tracy Maurer, some very wise stuff there. First, even though I’m kind of a control freak, I’m learning to let go and actually enjoy watching my adult kids make choices. I don’t agree with all of them, but I’m actually pretty amazed at how well they handle their own lives. Awesome stuff. Second, God himself lost a third of his kids completely. I figure if our kids are just making common dumb choices, we can be consoled a bit. I know I sure gave my parents their share of grief.
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  • Angie Gardner June 20, 2012, 7:35 am

    Alison, you are funny.

    I have a friend who has 4 children. The oldest 3 have gotten in to BYU and she was lamenting to me a while back that she wasn’t sure the youngest would get in. He is not as academic as the others are. Moment of truth is coming up, as he will be a senior this year.

    What is funny though is that when she told me this, I asked her if he even wanted to go to BYU or if somewhere else might be a better fit. She said, “Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’ve never really asked him because I always assumed he would go to BYU.” 🙂 Oh, a mother’s dreams.

    Tracy, your words were extremely wise and I agree completely.

    I also just want to say that I do think we are blowing the sinning at BYU out of proportion a bit. While things certainly happen there (as jks said, many Mormons drink and have sex, and most children by 18 are well aware of this) I think an entire apartment full of it is atypical.

  • Amy Lockhart June 20, 2012, 8:01 am

    Angie: You said,”I also just want to say that I do think we are blowing the sinning at BYU out of proportion a bit. While things certainly happen there (as jks said, many Mormons drink and have sex, and most children by 18 are well aware of this) I think an entire apartment full of it is atypical.”

    Thank you! I was concerned that this could turn into a bash BYU session. Having a clear understanding that what I saw and had to deal with, and those close to me, were atypical, is what has caused the confusion for me. Wanting to be careful and not taint my children’s views unnecessarily was what drove the post. Thanks for clarifying that again.

    I did see quite a bit more than drinking and sexing, but through this discussion and exploration of my own feelings, I am not sure that it matters on a whole. That is where I was hoping to come to. Yipee!

    Tracy, thank you for joining us 🙂 I appreciate your words, especially the common phrase you mentioned in your family. We have one similar to that and it was in hearing you say it and relate your views that a light bulb went off in my head. I just might be hitting the most important things already. It makes letting go of all the rest quite easy.

    Alison: Would you consider short term foster care? I can send them on over to your well oiled machine anytime 🙂 Thanks for the laugh!

    This has all been most helpful, thanks to all who participated, and of course anymore that might have something to add.
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  • Amber Mae June 20, 2012, 8:26 am


    I do see what you’re saying, but when I think about this stuff I am drawing more from my experience as the child than as the parent. I’m still young and it will be a good seventeen years before I’m dealing with this as the parent. I really think that it is a rare thing for someone who has decided before hand what their values are to just change them that quickly because “everyone else is doing it”. The people I knew that did that may have seemed perfect on the outside, but that doesn’t mean they had decided for themselves what they believed. It’s not like your children haven’t encountered plenty of crap in high school already. The difference is that they’re not coming home to you afterwards.

    It seems like what you want is reassurance that there’s a way to prepare your kids to leave the nest. I’m not the right person to help with that one – like I said I’ve got a ways to go. But I do believe the prep starts when they’re the same age as my one-year-old: teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.

    Again, I’m not trying to be argumentative – I don’t know the people who you saw change their values, and I could be totally wrong – this is just my perspective as someone who experienced it pretty recently.
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  • jennycherie June 20, 2012, 8:36 am

    “Then we emphasise the ‘why’ of what we do, and talk about the consequences of not doing it that way.”

    Tracy M, I think that’s an important part of the teaching! My (non-LDS) parents did such a good job of teaching me their values, in some respects, but I didn’t understand the “why” enough to internalize it. They probably taught it, I just didn’t “get it,” and that is what really led me astray in college. I understood “no sex,” mostly because I was terrified of getting pregnant and three forms of birth control weren’t enough to ensure that I could avoid pregnancy. That got me through most of college. “No smoking” I totally got because I did not want sick, gray lungs like my family members who smoked, and I just didn’t like the smell. That kept me away from cigarettes and other related drugs. No drinking? I had a hard time with that one. A lot of my extended family drank, and had a great time doing it. The only thing I really internalized there was “don’t drink and drive.” Beyond that, I just couldn’t see a good reason not to do it, other than that some people are uptight. 😉

  • Amy Lockhart June 20, 2012, 8:51 am

    Amber Mae,

    I don’t see you as being argumentative at all. I see you adding your experience and voice to the matter. Your perspective is quite valid in my search to do the best things for my children. It helps me to have a range of things to look at as I am generally able to find something useful in all that is said.

    Outside vs inside, perception vs reality, is something that has deeply affected my life since I was very young. I hope always that I am building the inner character, but you really do never know. There is no guarantee in parenting (blast!), that’s for sure. I seek perspective from others as this is my greatest work and I am striving to do it to the best of my ability.

    You are so right that the prep starts when they are young. I appreciate your comments and perspective, thank you!
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  • Amy Lockhart June 20, 2012, 9:07 am


    Okay so this is completely off topic but I just couldn’t resist. Typos can be fun, and sometimes an ‘h’ can be really important.

    whether: expressing a doubt or choice between alternatives

    wether: a castrated ram

    Who knew?
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  • Amy Lockhart June 20, 2012, 9:08 am

    Great addition jennycherie!
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  • MB June 27, 2012, 10:00 pm

    “Statements like this run through my mind as I wonder how to best prepare my little birdies for life out of the nest.”

    The problems is that many parents teach their children the parameters of acceptable behavior but not how to discern truth on their own. Teach your children true principles (not just best behaviors) as you best understand them with much love. And teach them how to recognize the Holy Ghost and enjoy the peace that it brings as they make decisions. Appreciate their strengths, respect their agency, express real confidence and counsel with them calmly and clearly. Cultivate the ability to discuss anything with them honestly and charitably. Listen without anger. Seek to understand them. Never lecture. That is what is most likely to enable them to know and trust the Holy Ghost, know the power of your support and love (no matter what!) and have experiences with discussing their questions without fear If so, they will have learned what they need in order to make their own best, honest decision about where to attend school and will be able to figure out how to manage the challenges they will encounter there and where to find the resources to do so.

  • Amy Lockhart June 28, 2012, 8:08 am

    Thank you MB! I love how you said that 🙂
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