Tis the season. Not for decking the halls and trimming the tree (though that is right around the corner) but for our daughters and sons. They’re leaving the structure and security of our homes and venturing off to the halls of ivy covered buildings to begin not only their college career, but also their lives as autonomous adults.
We raised six children: three girls and three boys. We have pushed six baby birdies out of the nest. It got easier and we got better at it with each one spreading their wings. Below is a list of ten things we talked with our daughters about before they left our home.
1. Continue the personal spiritual behaviors that have been modeled to you and you have developed at home (i.e. studying the scriptures and personal prayer)
It’s great to do these things together with family, or roommates, or friends. We can receive great strength in worshiping together. But a personal testimony is born from personal spiritual behaviors. You must continue to take personal responsibility for your testimony and continued gospel learning and understanding.
2. Attend your Church meetings
All of them. Go to your assigned ward/branch, not the ones in the afternoon because you were too tired after a late Saturday night to go to your own in the morning. And don’t go ward/branch shopping. The Church units are organized in a way that give us the best opportunity to serve those nearest to us and be known and shepherded by those called to do so. If you aren’t happy with your ward/branch then you make a difference. you turn things around or turn your attitude around.
There is still an awfully lot for you to learn about the gospel, the Church organization and Church History. There you will find others who are on your same path. It can be a safe haven for you during your crazy week.
4. Keep a current temple recommend
Go as often as your circumstances will allow. There is no where on earth you can feel closer to your Father in heaven than in His house. Temple attendance is like paying tithing. If it is not a priority the month runs out and you haven’t gone. Schedule time, a set time, when you will go to your Father’s house.
5. Remember to treat sacred things sacredly
We have been saddened by the way we see things we recognize as sacred treated very casually and often disrespectfully by some young adults and older folks too; the way our buildings are treated, how our leaders are many times addressed by first names instead of using the titles of their sacred offices, people of all ages, and even returned missionaries attend Sunday meetings and other ordinances dressed very casually, arriving late to meetings, and cellphone use during those meetings. How you treat sacred things shows the Lord, others and your level of understanding and appreciation of the truths you have been blessed with.
(Side bar: In Nov of 2003 Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave an address entitled “A Sense of the Sacred”. He explained that he hoped to encourage more appreciation and reverence for sacred things. Let me give you a powerful quote from his address just to wet your appetite – but I recommend you read it in its entirety:
“We spoke of immodest dress as dishonoring the body, God’s most sacred creation. I speak now of immodest, casual, or slovenly dress and grooming that in particular times and places mocks the sacredness of what is taking place or of the place itself.”
“Some say dress and hair don’t matter—it’s what’s inside that counts. I believe that truly it is what’s inside a person that counts, but that’s what worries me. Casual dress at holy places and events is a message about what is inside a person. It may be pride or rebellion or something else, but at a minimum it says, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand the difference between the sacred and the profane…. You are Saints of the great latter-day dispensation—look the part.”
Great words, huh? Believe me, you want to read the whole thing.
6. Friends: Make them. Be one.
Be kind to everyone, but be very particular who you will give your time to. Those are the ones that you are allowing to influence you, for good or bad. Your life will be less complicated if you chose friends that have the same standards as you, or at least respect your standards. Look for ways to serve your roommates. Create a positive caring atmosphere. You’ll need the Spirit to feel welcome in the home you now share with them.
Enjoy making friendships with young men. Encourage those who have not yet served a full time mission to do so by not attaching yourself to them. Make it easier for them to focus on their preparations that way. Returned missionaries are a different story.
Dating a variety of young men will help you determine what kind of personalities are a better fit for you. Always be kind and gracious when invited out. From “For the Strength of Youth” standards still apply in many ways – especially this one:
“Choose to date only those who have high moral standards and in whose company you can maintain your standards. Remember that a young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to protect each other’s honor and virtue.”
Modesty goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Be modest! In your dress, words, and actions. And smile for goodness sake.
8. Remember what your role is in God’s plan
We are women. Women have a special place and purpose. The Lord tells the off-track world in “The Family, A Proclamation to the World” that our divinely appointed role is to be wives and mothers. Educational goals are wonderful and should be made and worked towards. Other personal pursuits such as travel, career opportunities, and service work are all worthwhile too. But none of the above are to come before your stated purpose. The Lord has told us our greatest joy will come by following his plan, and that plan has at its core marriage and raising a family for most of his daughters.
9. But for heaven’s sake, don’t sit around and wait for your prince to ride in
Make realistic goals and do what it takes to achieve them. Improve yourself through education, financial pursuits, talent and cultural improvements, and spiritual development. All these things will be of benefit to you – single or married, mother or childless. Your life does not begin with a marriage. Your life begins now.
10. Remember we love you
You can call home or call on us always, anytime. We will not jump in to solve your problems, but will talk through your options with you or just listen. Your life is now your life. We have faith in you and are excited to see what you create of it. Great things await you. Your life will be full and joyful if you’ll not lose sight of who you are, why you are here, and what your divine potential is for the eternities.
These are very similar to the things we spoke with our sons about also.
There she goes!
Sending a child, daughter or son, off for the first time to live away from home can be stressful for you and for them. Prepare them with the training, advice, and modeling you deem most necessary for them. You know them best. Begin earlier than later.
Help them set up their dorm room, walk around the campus a couple of times with them, have some pizza together, and say goodbye. They’re going to do great. And you are too. Eat chocolate as you drive away. It will help.