This delightfully thorough post at By Common Consent today about a Young Women stake activity that taught the girls basic coding skills brought to my mind a question I've received numerous times over the past few months. I'm presenting here just one iteration of the question that I've been asked in various ways and by various people. It comes down to this: What can we do to make our girls' entrance into Young Women as meaningful a rite of passage as the boys' entrance into the Priesthood? Stephanie writes: "I'm in charge of New Beginnings this year in my ward (as personal progress director). We are welcoming two new girls into the YW program. Rather than focusing on the decor and such, I really want this event to be special as these girls enter into the LDS sisterhood. I'd like it to feel as important as when 12 year old boys get ordained to the priesthood. Any ideas that you have come across of how to make New Beginnings fulfill its potential?"
As my first daughter will be entering Young Women this year, I am particularly interested to hear others' ideas here. In my book Women at Church, I cite the touching example of a bishop awarding Personal Progress awards:
"My bishop went out of his way to make an appropriately big deal of [the girls' Personal Progress] awards. He had the girls, their parents and their Young Women's president sitting on the stand at the beginning of sacrament meeting. He gave a sort of mini-talk, explaining the program and its requirements. Then he called each girl up and had her speak about what she had learned or her favorite part of the program. There were hugs with parents and leaders. I would estimate he devoted a full ten minutes of our meeting to honoring these young women, and frankly I have never seen anything like it. But it occurred to me that of course that's the way she should be doing it." (p 134)
How can we make the transition into Young Women a memorable, meaningful and individual rite of passage for our girls, the way this bishop did for these older girls? I would love to hear your ideas here and, with your permission, I may share them at the Mormon Women Project's Our Cooperative Ministry site too.
What I Am Reading:
Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. Sometimes, I pick up one of the scores if not hundreds of books my daughters traffic in and out of my house. And some days, I'm convinced the great literature of our age comes in the form of young adult novels. I'm not talking Twilight; I'm talking about the only books today that seem interested in exploring what characters and values make a functional life. Daniel Handler, the author (as Lemony Snicket) of The Series of Unfortunate Events, once told the New York Times Book Review, "I am mystified by the appeal of novels showing us the Way We Live Now. I am interested in the Way We Lived Then. I am interested in How Some Other People Live, and I am interested in the Way We Might Live Some Other Time. But most of all I am interested in the Way We Don’t Live Now, a book with the essential strangeness of great literature. The strange illuminates the ordinary. But somebody tell me, please, what the ordinary is supposed to illuminate." I couldn't agree more, and I've read enough adult contemporary literature to know that I only need a small dose of the Way We Live Now. It's too depressing. But how children live, how we all might live if we had the resilience, resourcefulness, hope and imagination of children... that is a book worth reading. And one of those wondrous books is Wonder.