Change in the Children and Youth initiative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Anticipating Change to the Children and Youth initiative in April 2019 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Hi! Welcome to Goals with Kids. Where we help parents raise resilient kids with home-centered goal setting. Today we are talking about the changes we anticipated with the Children and Youth initiative.

(Helping parents raise resilient kids with home-centered goal setting)

Begin! Just begin. Begin asking your kids what they want in their futures. Begin by listening to your kids on the way to school today. That was our first homework assignment from last week for parents who want to do Home Centered Goal Setting with their children. Begin! 

Last week we were on the edge of our seats waiting for the big new announcements in General Conference. And then . . . Drum roll please . . .  nothing – great talks, great spiritual motivation to act, to move, to welcome, to change, to repent. Just no big new changes except for a few new temple announcements. But a reminder again to buckle our seatbelts because more change is coming. We anticipated an outer change when the whole purpose for all of this is an inner change. That’s what the big message of conference seemed to be to me – it doesn’t matter what changes outwardly, all of this change is to promote another kind of change that is going to be inward. Each of us has to make our own efforts to change and become.

As we anticipate the changes that have already been announced coming in January 2020 with the Children and Youth Development Initiative, let’s look a little deeper into this initiative and what’s already been announced and published. When the initiative was announced last year in May 2018, they created a website called childrenandyouth.lds.org. That website has now been changed to childrenandyouth.churchofjesuschrist.org and has a section called Frequently Asked Questions. The very first question on the website is: Why is the Church changing it’s children’s and youth programs? First, it says they did an extensive review of every existing program and activity associated with the Church. Second, it reminds us that we are a global church with millions of children and youth and they need to address that diversity. And finally they want to help kids and youth build character, resilience, and life skills. That is precisely the same outcomes we see with Goals With Kids. 

The website is really clear that this effort is going to be home centered. It says the approach is intended to reduce burdens on families, with greater flexibility to adapt to the needs of individuals and families around the world in many different circumstances. So what does that look like for my home? Ironically initiating home centered goal setting can feel more like adding a burden than reducing one. I’m wondering if what they mean is that with a lighter load for church-centered activities, children and youth leaders will be freed up to do more at home. If every family member has a calling and the burdens of that calling are reduced it has the capacity to make a real difference. Especially for families who have multiple busy callings. 

Going on to the rest of that first frequently asked question on the childrenandyouth.churchofjesuschrist.org website it says this about home- centered activities and goals:

“In the new experience, children and youth will be encouraged to focus on setting and achieving goals to develop spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually as they seek to follow Jesus Christ.” 

They’ve already put into place the home-centered gospel study and next will be home-centered activities and goals. I don’t know what that means for personal progress, faith in God and duty to God programs. They may be going away too. I don’t know how often we will continue to have activities planned by church leaders. We don’t know all of the details, but we know enough. 

Here’s one more interesting piece of the puzzle that right now many people are overlooking. In the October 6, 2018 letter from the First Presidency. (You guys know how to get a copy of those letters, right? They are posted on letters.lds.org. Oops – by now it is letters.churchofjesuschrist.org. You just log in with your normal church login and there they all are.) Anyway – in that October 6th letter where they introduce two hour church and home-centered gospel learning, they also introduce a subtle change in Family Home Evening. Did you catch it? I’m going to read right from the letter so you have their wording. 

“The adjusted Sunday Schedule allows for, and members are encouraged to hold, home evening and to study the gospel at home on Sunday—or at other times as individuals and families choose. A family activity night could be held on Monday or at other times. To this end, leaders should continue to keep Monday evenings free from Church meetings and activities. However, time spent in home evening, gospel study in the home, and activities for families and individuals is scheduled according to individual circumstances.” They make it even more clear later down the letter what Sundays actually look like: “gospel study, family councils, home evening, family history and temple work, ministering, personal worship, and joyful family time.” Sounds like the recipe for the new Sabbath Day. The general idea is – we are providing more resources for you to engage with your Sabbath Day. Sundays can be more home-centered, active, and joyful. Let’s get going. Move your Home Evening lesson to Sundays if that works for you. Maybe try Monday nights as an activity night instead – leaders don’t plan anything Mondays. But families – you decide. What do you want your Sundays and Mondays and really the entire week to look like? When do you want to do Come Follow Me? When do you want to do fun family activities? And don’t forget you have a ministering brothers and sisters to help you implement this. Maybe they can plan a Monday night at the park. Maybe they can assist with a Come Follow Me activity. Give ‘em a job. Let them help.

So we know the Children and Youth Development Initiative is home-centered, church-supported, activity and goal oriented, focuses on child and youth development, and targets goals in spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual realms. 

Which brings us to Goals With Kids. That’s why we created this podcast. That’s why we are writing the book. That’s why we are doing workshops and coaching parents on how to work though goals with their children. Goals with kids aligns with this initiate by focusing on the development of the child. It aligns by focusing on building resilience and specific life skills. We are delving into the positive psychology research to find what motivates kids; what builds resilience; what makes a difference in the long run. 

All of this settles on change. We were waiting for another big change at conference, but the focus was on changing within. That’s the essence of Goals With Kids. Goals with Kids is about change. We set goals not because reaching them will change everything about our lives. We set goals because of the inner change that happens when we engage with goals. It’s less about arriving at goal mountain and more about changing the way we talk to our kids. It’s about changing the way we look at goals. Our first clients, both children and parents, have figured out that these small changes in how they look at and talk about goals make a big difference. 

To learn more about our workshop that teaches parents how to engage with their kids while they engage with goals, click here.

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