Questions and Answers


Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy.

What is the family’s responsibility in a home teaching situation?

Eric Stephan, home teacher and Sunday School teacher, Edgemont Eleventh Ward, Edgemont Provo Utah Stake.

That’s an excellent question! Sometimes we think of home teaching as the home teacher’s job. We may think that the family’s only responsibility is to enjoy a few minutes of social conversation with these two visiting friends, then lapse into passive listening for the duration of a message.

Actually a home teacher is “a resource to be used by the father in assisting his family toward perfection.” (When Thou Art Converted, Strengthen Thy Brethren, Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, 1974–75, Duty Lesson II, paragraph 2 under “Using the Principle of Respecting the Father as head of the family in Home Teaching Visits” p. 220; italics added.) Thus, the home teacher has a responsibility to seek direction from the father or, if there is none in the home, from the head of the household; but the family also has a responsibility to give direction to the home teachers to make their visits effective.

The head of the family can help the home teacher select the message by providing him with information about the family’s daily needs. He can encourage the home teacher to watch over the family and strengthen it. If the head of the household is an inactive father, the mother can follow gospel principles by discussing family needs with her husband, planning with him and getting his approval for all family activities, and by encouraging the home teacher to go to the father first for directions.

The happiest home teachers I know are those filling genuine family needs. I know one father who gave his home teachers a list of each person’s goals for the next six months and asked the home teachers to help each child and parent gain the motivation and understanding to achieve those goals. This father was helping the home teacher be a guardian and resource. Since the home teachers are to be the first source of help in problems, it’s also up to the father or family head to confide in them and enlist their help.

I know that tea and coffee contain substances that are harmful to us, but what exactly do they do?

Dr. Clifford J. Stratton, associate professor of anatomy, University of Nevada School of Medical Sciences; high councilor, Reno Nevada North Stake.

The effects of tea and coffee come from the caffeine and theophylline they contain—two alkaloids, or natural compounds, that occur in plants throughout the world. Collectively, they are called the “xanthines” because they are so closely related chemically and because they have almost identical effects on the body. Aspirin (and many other common medicines) also contain xanthine compounds. 1 While xanthines do have value when used as medicine, they have harmful effects when used indiscriminately.

The xanthines stimulate the brain and spinal cord, increase heart action, constrict blood vessels feeding the brain (that’s why extra-strength aspirin compounds help a headache so dramatically), relieve respiratory distress by relaxing certain muscles, strengthen the contractions of arm and leg muscles, increase the production of urine, increase the amount of acid secreted into the stomach, and generally increase body metabolism. 2 Obviously, their carefully regulated medicinal uses are many and varied; just as obviously, abuse of them can cause serious side effects.

Some people may think that the tannins found in tea and coffee are the reason to avoid them. Again, tannic acid is medically useful for causing tissues to contract and thus controlling bleeding and also for treating diarrhea. But tannins are not xanthines.

A xanthine overdose can cause many harmful symptoms, including diarrhea, dizziness, anxiety, trembling, frequent urination, and insomnia. Xanthine withdrawal can cause painful headaches. What constitutes an overdose differs with different individuals. Some researchers report that between 50 and 200 mg. of caffeine will produce perceptible effects. 1 Two major pharmacology texts label doses exceeding 250 mg. as being large. 2 One six-ounce cup of coffee contains between 100–150 mg.; a cup of tea the same size contains 65–75 mg. 1

    Notes

  1.   1.

    J. F. Greden, “Anxiety or Caffeinism: A Diagnostic Dilemma,” American Journal of Psychology 131 (1974): 1089–92.

  2.   2.

    J. C. Ritchie, “Central Nervous System Stimulants, the Xanthines,” in The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, ed. L. S. Goodman and A. Gilman (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 367–68; E. B. Truitt, “The Xanthines,” in Drill’s Pharmacology in Medicine, 46th ed., ed. J. R. Dipalma (New York: McGraw Hill Book Co.,1971), pp. 533–56.

  3.   1.

    J. F. Greden, “Anxiety or Caffeinism: A Diagnostic Dilemma,” American Journal of Psychology 131 (1974): 1089–92.

  4.   2.

    J. C. Ritchie, “Central Nervous System Stimulants, the Xanthines,” in The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, ed. L. S. Goodman and A. Gilman (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 367–68; E. B. Truitt, “The Xan-thines,” in Drill’s Pharmacology in Medicine, 46th ed., ed. J. R. Dipalma (New York: McGrawHill Book Co.,1971), pp. 533–56.

  5.   1.

    J. F. Greden, “Anxiety or Caffeinism: A Diagnostic Dilemma,” American Journal of Psychology 131 (1974): 1089–92.