Category Archives: Youth

The Teenage Brain: Under Construction

teen-age brain developmentThe brain; what an amazing computer. Divided into four lobes and two cortexes, each with specific job descriptions, is most undoubtedly the work of a divine Creator.

Anyone who has raised a teenager knows, even without going to medical school, that their brains are not yet completely developed. Some may wonder if their teen even has one. Having raised six children, I can relate. I had those thoughts too. Our six are within a six-year spread; three girls and three boys. Crazy! In fact, there were times that I understood why some mammals eat their young. But I promise, those of you still raising these budding adults will reach the time where you to will laugh, along with them, about those teen years. We have, and it’s just so wonderful and fun.

Believe it or not, science supports the desperate questions we ask our teens while flailing our arms in the air, “Why didn’t you think before you did that? Is there a brain in that head of yours?” Well, yes, there is a brain in there, but it’s not yet fully functioning. The teenage brain is still under construction. Smart people in white lab coats have discovered that the frontal lobe of the brain, the center that controls thinking, planning, organizing and problem solving, emotions, behavioral control, and personality, is not fully developed in the teenage children we love so very much. And in fact, it will not be fully so until those daughters are 25 and those sons are 27. (I don’t know if knowing this brings relief to you in some way or whether you are now slumped down in a chair exhausted at the thought of the years ahead until the structure between your teen’s ears is complete. It’s probably a blend of both.) Continue reading

When You Think You Are Beyond the Gospel’s Light

When You Think You Are Beyond the Gospel’s Light

Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.

Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.

I remember the first time I felt like I was in over my head. I had just graduated high school and the bishop of our congregation, or “ward,” had invited me in to his office during Church. As we chatted about my plans for college and other things, he asked if I would accept a “calling,” or in other words, a church assignment. I was expecting him to ask if I would be the ward chorister or something. But instead, he asked me if I would accept the assignment to be the teacher of a group of teenage girls, or “Young Women,” in our congregation.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when a girl graduates from High School or turns 18, she stops attending the teenage girls’ classes, and attends the women’s class, the “Relief Society,” in the ward. I had been really looking forward to attending the women’s classes.

Here Am I, Don’t Send Me!

I was surprised, to say the least. Though I had already graduated, I was still seventeen, which meant that there could technically be a Young Woman in the group of girls who was older than I—the teacher—was. I felt very young and unprepared. I had never taught before. And to make things potentially even more strange, because I had just left the Young Women program, that meant that I was now expected to “teach” the peers and friends I had been in the program with for years! I felt very uncomfortable giving any kind of counsel in such a formal setting to girls that I loved to chat and hang out with. Would they think I was coming off as “holier than thou?” Would it change my friendships?
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Julie B. Beck on Teaching the Doctrine of the Family

Julie Beck is among many of my LDS heroines. I absolutely love this woman and while we have never met, I remember wishing I could have worked for her during her time as the first councilor in the General Young Women Presidency, and subsequently as the General Relief Society President. I wanted to learn and be mentored by such a faithful and strong female leader in the Church. I still find myself drawn to her talks and tapping into reservoirs of her tremendous experience and wisdom.

In 2009, Sister Beck (while serving as the General Relief Society President) spoke in a broadcast address to seminary and institute of religion teachers. It was fantastic. Not long afterwards, the bloggers and news media began buzzing about it and it was easy to see why. It was a powerful and inspired speech that instructed parents, teachers and leaders about why the rising generation fully understand the doctrine of the family, and how we can most effectively do it. Continue reading

5 Ways Parents and Leaders Can Tackle Tough Social Issues with Youth


brick-wall-891312-galleryFor the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to work with youth and their leaders in a variety of Church callings in both North America and overseas. Through this, I’ve found that one of the greatest concerns they have is how they can help their youth understand doctrine and eternal truths in relation to current social issues—including the really difficult and often confusing ones. Here are a few things we might want to consider as we are teaching the rising generation how to stand strong against the world:
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