Navigating Turbulent Waters


Using For the Strength of Youth, parents can help young people follow the channel markers that lead to spiritual safety.

The Ensign asked parents and youth leaders to tell of experiences in which their children or other young people were influenced for good by the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. * Following is a sampling of responses from parents, youth leaders, and youth.

Our family lived in England for six years. While there, our daughter Brooke turned 12. She was the only Latter-day Saint in the small girls’ school she attended.

Brooke began to study and use For the Strength of Youth, and her friends became curious about the pamphlet she carried in her book bag and studied at lunchtime. “Let’s have a look,” they said. Brooke shared with them the pamphlet and brought copies the next day for anyone interested.

As the girls began reading the pamphlet, they said, “Here’s why Brooke doesn’t swear,” and “Here’s why she won’t wear a miniskirt.” By the end of the week these girls were quoting sections of the pamphlet to each other. One girl in the habit of swearing decided against it; two girls who smoked resolved to quit.

Not only did the pamphlet help Brooke explain her standards, but the powerful message it contained touched the hearts of some young women not of our faith.Barbara Schwartz, Camp Hill Ward, Harrisburg Pennsylvania Stake

After inviting my seminary students to sign a large poster that stated “No R-Rated Movies!” I happened to be talking to a friend of mine. He told me he had been in a video rental store recently and noticed a large group of teenagers come in and start looking for a movie. They finally decided on a movie that was R-rated. Just then one of the girls in the group spoke up and said she needed to go home because she had made a commitment in her seminary class that she would not watch questionable movies. That got the whole group talking again. Because of this one girl’s stand, they decided on a different movie. Her courage and actions that afternoon made a difference in some lives that night.

Another day we discussed the prophetic principles in For the Strength of Youth and a student shared with me a personal experience: “My girlfriends and I were going to watch some movies, but when the boys showed up to join us, they brought only R-rated movies. We started talking about it, and the discussion turned spiritual. … We ended up bearing our testimonies to each other and feeling the Spirit so strong that there wasn’t a dry eye among us.” The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet can be a tremendous ally in giving youth the weapons needed to combat Satan in these latter days.David Meidell, West Bountiful 10th Ward, West Bountiful Utah Stake

As a 20-year-old convert to the Church, I arrived at my first dance dressed in a red leather miniskirt. Months later while visiting teaching, my companion gently suggested that I ought to wear Church-standard dress when we visited the sisters. I had no idea what she meant. I was wearing a sundress, and because it was a dress, I assumed it was appropriate. As my companion discussed Church standards, I felt foolish and wondered how one was supposed to know these things. I was trying to conform my life to Church standards, but there seemed to be so much I didn’t know.

Over the next few months I made a sincere effort to learn what was acceptable. Later, when For the Strength of Youth was published, I finally found the guidelines I had been looking for. I am grateful for the pamphlet and know it is inspired.Kim Deakyne, Arlington Ward, Jacksonville Florida East Stake

When the bishop presented each of the youth with the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, I, for one, took advantage of this gift and pondered, prayed, and applied it to my life. The blessing the pamphlet has bestowed on my life as a daughter of God makes me aware that Father in Heaven loves me and desires me to return to His presence.Jouna Hunt, West Meadows Ward, Melbourne Australia Victoria Deer Park Stake

One day while our daughter Danielle was helping with a junior volleyball game, she joined some of her friends in the bleachers during a break. While visiting, they began showing each other the collections of photos they carried in their wallets. As Danielle returned to the volleyball court, she left her wallet with her friends so they could look at her pictures. It was then they came across her wallet-sized For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Two of them read it cover to cover. When Danielle returned, she was inundated with questions: “What is this?” “You’ve never even tasted alcohol?” “What about music?” “And dating?” The questions just kept coming, and as they did, the remarks began to change. “I’ve noticed you never swear,” “I’ve never seen you with a short skirt or tank top.” “You really do these things!”

For Danielle, it was wonderful. She had been given a positive evaluation from an unexpected source. Danielle has since begun inviting these friends to Church activities.Lyanne Jaubert-Sanderson, Sidney Ward, Victoria British Columbia Stake

One night when our daughter Lori left to go to a friend’s party, she said she would be home at midnight. When she appeared at 11:00 P.M., I asked her why she was home so early. She said that when she got to the party, someone suggested they watch two videos, but neither met Church standards. Immediately her friends said, “Oh, Lori, we’re sorry. But we could fast-forward through any bad parts.”

“No, I wouldn’t feel good about that,” Lori said. “I really can’t watch these.” Then came the response from her nonmember friends. “Hey, let’s play games instead. We don’t need to watch videos.”

Later, around 10:30 P.M., Lori excused herself and headed home, tactfully giving her friends time to watch the videos without her. Because Lori took a stand years earlier based on the teachings in For the Strength of Youth, and because she did not waver from that stand, she had won the respect of her peers.Sharlene T. Barber, Farragut Ward, Knoxville Tennessee Stake

My nephew was invited to a girl-ask-boy formal dance at a school he doesn’t attend. He had seen a photograph of the young lady taken at a previous formal dance and felt uncomfortable with her choice of dress.

Before accepting her invitation, he asked if she could choose a dress that was modest and had sleeves. The girl agreed, and they attended the dance. It took courage to stand up for standards taught in For the Strength of Youth. Donna Counts, Bethany Ward, Cedar Mill Oregon Stake

When our 17-year-old daughter wanted to date a young man who was not a member of the Church, we got out For the Strength of Youth and reviewed it together.

Our daughter informed us that this boy had high standards. We decided if he did, he wouldn’t mind hearing what our standards were. I sat down with the young man, and we went over the standards one by one.

Initially our daughter was embarrassed. However, the young man respected our standards and thanked us for being open with him. Our daughter dated the young man in group settings. She learned that others outside the Church can respect our standards too.Debbie Snyder, Apple Valley First Ward, Victorville California Stake

After reading For the Strength of Youth with my seminary class, I asked how their lives had been influenced for good by the Lord’s standards. One 15-year-old boy responded: “In seventh grade I sneaked out of the house with a friend at night. We went to meet some of his friends, and they were drinking beer. My friend started drinking as well. I didn’t know what to do. I refused a beer, then decided to go home. It was a hard decision, but I felt Heavenly Father was proud of me. I was proud of myself because I knew I was vulnerable, but I still made the right choice. Without these standards, I don’t know what I would have done.”Robert E. Lund, Oakridge Second Ward, Farmington Utah Oakridge Stake

Our daughter Kerri entered the Young Women program just as our ward was dissolved and we became part of an inner-city branch. As she completed middle school, her nonmember friends began experimenting with the ways of the world, but they soon became aware that Kerri had different standards. We were in awe the first time she told us that some of her friends are careful not to use foul language or smoke around her. She has become known as the girl who watches only clean movies, won’t date until she’s 16, and can always be trusted.

As Kerri continues to navigate through the turbulent teen years, For the Strength of Youth will continue to be her channel marker.Roland H. Huebner, Montebello Branch, Baltimore Maryland Stake

One day Andrea, one of my seminary students, stayed after class to talk to me. She had been asked to the homecoming dance by a nonmember boy, Jeff, and wasn’t sure if she should go with him. During our long conversation, Andrea said she felt like going with Jeff could be a good missionary opportunity. As we chatted, the thought came to me to open For the Strength of Youth and read what the prophets had counseled.

As we parted I didn’t know what she would do. Later Andrea told me she went home, prayed about it, and finally decided to go to the dance with Jeff in a group with other friends. During the evening she invited Jeff to hear the missionary discussions in her home. He accepted and was later baptized and is planning on serving a mission.Brady Nixon, Snowflake Third Ward, Snowflake Arizona Stake

Our daughter made a skirt for herself that was very short. Up to that time our daughter had been quite modest, but now she started wearing short shorts to school. My husband and I prayed for guidance and planned an evening when we could talk with her. We read For the Strength of Youth and discussed it with our daughter. Then we presented a plan. If she would be willing to set aside her inappropriate clothes, we would travel to a larger city several hours away and look for more suitable clothing. We made the trip, and I let our daughter choose clothing she liked that was also modest. We felt Heavenly Father knew of our needs and helped us realize our desires to do what was right.Ruth H. Haslem, Roosevelt Seventh Ward, Roosevelt Utah West Stake

I was 14 when For the Strength of Youth was first published. By keeping the miniaturized version in my wallet, I had a constant reminder of the specific things our prophets had counseled us to do. Knowing it was close by helped me to choose wisely when difficult decisions arose. When I left for college, I thought I was too old to carry it in my wallet, but I was wrong. At the first Church Educational System fireside I attended, President James E. Faust counseled all of the college-age men and women to carry and frequently read the pamphlet. Through some of the most spiritually critical years of my life, For the Strength of Youth guided me in aligning my standards with Heavenly Father’s.Camey Andersen Hadlock, Short Hills Ward, Scotch Plains New Jersey Stake

While my husband was serving as stake Young Men president, he always made sure there were plenty of For the Strength of Youth pamphlets on hand so he could hand them out to our three teenagers’ friends. Soon it became known that if you came to our home, you would not only get a pamphlet but you might also unexpectedly get quizzed about it. “Are you keeping all 10?” or “Have you read the FTSOY?” (That’s our nickname for the pamphlet.) My husband’s openness about our standards has helped our children acknowledge the standards of the Church.Marilee Stringham, Brighton 11th Ward, Salt Lake Brighton Stake

I walked into my seventh-grade history class, where our teacher had arranged the desks in clusters of four. I happened to be assigned to sit with some loud and unpleasant boys. Right away they began joking and cursing.

A student teacher heard them and came over. “I’m going to write you all infraction slips,” he said. I had not been swearing and felt it unfair to be punished for something I didn’t do. I spoke up and told the teacher I had done nothing wrong.

“Sure,” he said sarcastically. I took For the Strength of Youth out of my wallet and handed it to him, calling it my little rule book. While the teacher skimmed through it, the guys in my group laughed at both my little rule book and at me. Then the teacher handed it back. His sarcasm was gone as he said, “OK, Kyle.” He didn’t give me an infraction slip.Kyle Pedersen, Bothell Third Ward, Bothell Washington Stake

When my daughter and I joined the Church in 1994, we were invited to attend a Standards Night. My husband, Vin, decided to attend with us. We were given the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. We all learned a great deal that Friday evening about Church standards. The final event was a scene of a temple wedding, and the bride and groom appeared in white. It really made an impact on us. We were very emotional, and that weekend Vin decided to be baptized.

At home we read For the Strength of Youth several times. We have all felt the impact of the change in our lives. I joked that my baptism was the most expensive in history because of the shopping I had to do. I didn’t have a dress, skirt, or blouse in my wardrobe suitable to wear to church or anywhere else. We have seen firsthand the difference between being in the Church and being of the world.Ruth Barr, Weston-super-Mare Ward, Bristol England Stake

One day our bishop called the youth together to discuss dress standards and read from the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. A few of the girls had been attending seminary in Church-approved styles, then changing into other, less-modest school clothes after. The bishop pointed out that if something was not appropriate to wear to seminary, it was not appropriate to wear to school either.

As our daughter, Allison, listened to the bishop that day, she made a commitment to change. This wasn’t easy because she had several favorite skirts and shorts that were too short to wear to seminary class. She was depressed because she felt she already had done many things right that hadn’t necessarily brought visible blessings into her life and now she would have to give up yet one more thing.

Together my daughter and I talked and prayed that she would have courage to do the right thing. Afterward, she decided that she would get rid of all her clothes that were too short. I assured her the Lord would bless her for her decision. Just after disposing of her cherished clothing, she got a phone call from a boy she liked inviting her to the homecoming dance. Although she knows blessings don’t always come immediately, Allison has never forgotten this lesson and has remained true to her commitment.Lenora Geyer, Palmdale Fourth Ward, Palmdale California Stake

Let’s Talk about It

You might review the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet in a family home evening, considering questions such as:

  1. 1.

    How does knowing the Lord’s standards help keep us safe?

  2. 2.

    What personal decisions do we need to make to more fully comply with the standards set forth in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth?

  3. 3.

    Where do we find opportunities to stand up for our beliefs among our friends?

[illustrations] Illustrated by Cary Henrie

Show References

  1.   *

    This free booklet and accompanying wallet-size summary card are available through local leaders and distribution centers.