“Inspire, Not Require,” Says Alaska Young Mother of the Year

Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer

  • 11 June 2015

The Owens family: Dan, Emily (11), Valerie, Jason (14), and Jessica (18). Not shown is Nathan (19), who is serving a mission in Canada.  Photo courtesy Valerie Owens.

Article Highlights

  • Valerie Owens, a member of the Lazy Mountain Ward, Wasilla Alaska Stake, was recently honored as Alaska’s 2015 Young Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc.

“There are a lot of parents who would choose to force their kids to choose right or to do the right, whereas we really pushed to inspire our kids to do it themselves.” —Sister Valerie Owens, Alaska’s 2015 Young Mother of the Year

PALMER, ALASKA

Valerie Owens, a member of the Lazy Mountain Ward, Wasilla Alaska Stake, was recently honored as Alaska’s 2015 Young Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc., with the motto “inspire, not require.”

The second of four children, Sister Owens was raised in Anchorage by Dick and Shirleen Noble. She served a mission in Virginia before attending BYU, where she majored in education. She met her husband, Dan, in Alaska; they now live in Palmer, Alaska, and have four children: Nathan (19), Jessica (18), Jason (14), and Emily (11).

Sister Owens has homeschooled each of her children with the theory that “learning should be fun. It shouldn’t be a dreary thing.” Her children have been involved in theater, drama, choirs, and music. Additionally, she teaches community theater classes, including a two-week theater camp to be held this summer.

The idea for the classes came from a desire to teach her own children. “I wanted them to learn about Shakespeare, which is not always the most exciting thing,” she said. “I thought the easiest way to do that is to teach them the class and make it fun. I decided that I would offer a class. We did a whole year-long class and invited half the community.” About 20 local teenagers joined the class, which culminated in a Shakespeare play performance for the community.

Dan and Valerie Owens attended the American Mothers National Conference in Washington, D.C., which took place April 23–26. Photo courtesy Valerie Owens.

Elder Nathan Owens, oldest son of Alaska Young Mother Valerie Owens, is serving a mission in Canada. Photo courtesy Valerie Owens.

“I love to teach. That’s definitely my favorite thing,” Sister Owens said. A few years ago, she was called as a seminary teacher. After teaching early-morning seminary for a year, she began teaching a new online seminary program. “The kids that are rural or not able to attend a local seminary class … can get online and do seminary that way. … We’ve got a good program.”

When it comes to teaching her children, either academically or spiritually, Sister Owens keeps in mind the motto “Inspire, not require.”

“There are a lot of parents who would choose to force their kids to choose right or to do the right,” she said, “whereas we really pushed to inspire our kids to do it themselves. … We want them to learn to choose the right rather than be forced into it.”

Her oldest son, Nathan, is serving a mission in Canada. Her other children have been involved in Church theater and choir productions.

Sister Owens is happy to represent young mothers in Alaska. “A lot of people are making jokes, ‘Oh, my word, here comes the Mother of the Year!’ I always laugh and have to say, ‘OK, listen here. I am not a better mom than anyone else.’”