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November 05, 2013

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Kristine A

I have such mixed feelings! At first I was so excited, this is what I was hoping for, I don't want to attend PH meeting, I want my own women's meeting to be equated with it. Yay!

Then I was disappointed because we are losing the aspect of narrow, focused talks based upon specific needs (single sisters, postpartum depression, etc).

But then my friend pointed out that hopefully this will lead to teaching more just core doctrines of the church (and hopefully less of the good-intentioned-modesty-type-teachings reserved for YW that I have been dreading for my daughter) and leaving it to the Spirit to make individual applications. I felt better about that.

And then the note about Primary. My heart fell, mostly because being in Primary the last 7 years one of my frustrations is the perception that it is a women's organization. During my years as primary president I had to struggle to convince my bishopric to call men into Primary: often using the fact that half of the children did not have an active priesthood holder in their home. It's a mixed gender organization similar to Sunday School but expansive in breadth and scope. Coming from the Primary perspective, I would love to have a worldwide annual primary meeting, 1 hour long, accompanied with a service project. Alas, if wishes were fishes.

I admit, 8-12 year-olds these days need more advanced teaching than occurred when I was that age. I'm teaching my 8 year old things I was never taught by my parents. My daughter knows all the details about sex, why we never dress to please others - only God, etc. But speakers always consider their audience, and this will have significant changes as they address 8-98+ year olds in their messages.


And finally, I really am so SO excited to have a mother daughter tradition where we go out for ice cream afterwards and visit.

So all in all, I'd say my reactions is mixed - most definitely mixed.

Dave K

Good observations Neylan. If you are taking a poll, my ward began to implement YW as visiting teachers, but the stake RS presidency said to stop.

A Woman, not an 8-year-old

Visiting teaching should be chiefly about meeting the needs of the woman being visited -- her visiting teachers are there to help her; she isn't there to provide a ministering experience for her teachers. But see how quickly that consideration disappears when you bring up the idea of young girls as visiting teachers: The whole program becomes about the girls, about giving them opportunities, about having them teach and go into homes and ministering ... never mind that a woman who needs advice or practical help or a shoulder to cry on isn't going to turn to a child or teenager for that.

That's what I think is going to happen to the Women's Meeting when you bring in teenagers and children as young as 8. The meeting will become all about them, meeting their needs, speaking to their comprehension, making them feel welcome, ushering them into the community of adults. That's fine, I don't begrudge a welcome to young people. But where do adult women turn for advice and instruction suitable for their needs and stage in life? We'll all be figuratively enrolled in Primary, and our church life will become more than ever about catering to children at the expense of adult women.

Cynthia L.

All the purposes you mentioned could be achieved equally well or better without the 8-11 year olds.

Gemma

Sorry to say, it is very difficult for me to see this as a development towards true equality or even parity. First of all, the women will only be conducting (as they always have) and men will still be presiding over the women. Additionally, women are now being deprived of the opportunity to gather and discuss age appropriate topics and are now being grouped with children, whereas boys age 8-11 appear to be left out entirely, ignoring the fact that primary is just as much about the boys as the girls. Actual parity would have women presiding over their own meetings and not having to go to men for permission for approval and either including the 8-11 year old boys in the priesthood meetings as well, or having these meetings open only to adults and young women/young men. It is doubtful that an 8 year old has the kind of attention span to benefit from such a meeting in any case. A number of women I have had a dialogue with on this topic are not happy about this new development for these reasons. It is very difficult for me to understand what the leadership was thinking when they came up with this latest as it just seems to rub salt in the wounds of women who are already experiencing pain due to the inequality that exists in the church.

Tiffany L.

I thought the addition of primary girls was interesting, but I'm with you. The two changes I'm hoping for are combined RS/YW opening exercises and integrated visiting teaching. Both I think will bridge the chasm between young women's and Relief Society, and train the young women for callings and service, just as the teenage boys are trained in offices of the priesthood.

The most exciting part is knowing our church leaders are listening to and responding to the call for change in regards to women. There is real movement (though it may be slower/more measured than we hope) coming from Salt Lake.

Bryn Brown

Wow, I didn't even realize the 8-11 year old group was invited now! Where have I been? I'd heard the YW were invited but I didn't realize the younger group was too. I really appreciate the points that you made! I wonder why the 8-11 year old group was invited when that age doesn't attend Priesthood Mtg. There are some 8-11 year olds who who are serious minded enough to be interested but 4 General Sessions of conference is plenty for most that age - read most kids don't even have the attention span for one session! This will be interesting! I would love to see the bridge from YW to RS made easier. In one of my wards the YW and RS met for opening exercises once a month. I didn't think it accomplished much. Perhaps if it happened every week it would. I like the idea of Young Women being involved with visiting teaching. That could be very helpful in creating bridges between the generations and I think YW could be very helpful to women.

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My Photo
Neylan McBaine grew up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in New York City and attended Yale University. She has been published in Newsweek, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah, Meridian Magazine, the Washington Post, PowerofMoms.com and BustedHalo.com.
Neylan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Mormon Women Project, a continuously expanding library of interviews with LDS women found at www.mormonwomen.com. She is also a brand strategist at Bonneville Communications, the agency behind Mormon.org and the I'm A Mormon campaign.
Neylan is the author of a collection of personal essays — How to Be a Twenty-First Century Pioneer Woman (2008) — as well as Sisters Abroad: Interviews from the Mormon Women Project (2013). She lives with her husband and three young daughters.
Click here to purchase your copy of Neylan's book, How To Be A Twenty-First Century Pioneer Woman
I'm a Mormon.