“If we had it to do over, would we raise our kids in the Church?” George and I, no longer believing Mormons, discussed this question recently. And the first thought each of us had was, “What else was there?”
Neither of us is particularly outgoing and we moved several times during our child-rearing years. Church was a place where we found a built-in social group. Of course, we would have taught our children values without Church programs, but Church provided social opportunities for our kids and the support of other caring adults in their lives.
I believe Wort’s ease at public speaking began with his first talk in Junior Sunday School at age four. He also enjoyed camping and water skiing with the Scouts—activities we didn’t do as a family. Lolly and Jaycee gained leadership experience in the YW program. Both of them served missions which enriched them personally. Our younger kids probably received fewer positives from their Church experiences. Victims of burned out parents, they didn’t connect with youth leaders as easily as their older siblings. Still, Techie has wonderful memories of dirt clod fights with Scout leaders at camp.
Since our kids grew up to be responsible, good-hearted people, we probably didn’t do a terrible job raising them—and Church influence upon them was mostly positive. Still, if I had it to do over, I would not insist the younger two participate in YW/YM activities they hated. And I would offer broader reasons for avoiding alcohol, drugs, and premarital sex than Word of Wisdom or temple worthiness.