‘Parents, we need to be all in,’ Young Women general presidency says of new ‘For the Strength of Youth’ guide

‘I hope we listen louder than we speak as we’re hearing what they are experiencing,’ President Cordon says

As youth worldwide study and live the principles in the new “For the Strength of Youth” guide, parents and leaders have a vital role to play, the Young Women general presidency said.

“Parents, we need to be all in,” Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon said. “Some of these decisions will be lifelong decisions so we need to be there. Counsel together, help study with them, be on our knees together. Notice what the prophets have said. Have a standard in our homes.”

The shift to a principle-based approach is an opportunity for youth to climb a metaphorical mountain and understand the Savior’s perspective of who they are and what their standards are, President Cordon explained. “Sometimes we don’t see the whole perspective until after the work is done. So the Lord has asked us to do some work to understand how we can live these principles.”

Youth hike Ensign Peak as part of the worldwide youth event “I Can Do All Things Through Christ” broadcast Jan. 29, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Cordon — along with her counselors, Sister Michelle D. Craig and Sister Rebecca L. Craven — recently joined the Church News podcast to talk about how parents and leaders can best support youth as they use the new “For the Strength of Youth” guide to make decisions. 

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‘Not a relaxing of standards’

Though the new guide focuses on principles, “I think it’s important to know that it’s not a relaxing of standards,” said Sister Craig, first counselor.

Youth have always had agency; they’ve always been able to make their own decisions, she pointed out. “But now we hope that they’re very intentional about getting on their knees and praying to find out, ‘What does this look like in my life?’”

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Sister Craven, second counselor, said the new guide is not just about making choices but making the right choice. “We have heard our Prophet over and over in the last few years plead with us to connect with heaven and to know what the voice of the Lord sounds like in our lives so we can make good choices, so we can stay on the covenant path. …

“Our youth need to be willing to listen for what Heavenly Father wants them to do, and that sometimes is a little piece that they’re missing,” Sister Craven said. “This is not about what I want to do. This is ‘I’m going to do what the Lord wants me to do.’ And so it’s going to take a little bit of effort, isn’t it? It’s not that simple. It can be a wrestle with the Lord. Some answers come easy, some don’t. But it’s a process and it will be wonderful because, as our Prophet says, we’re not going to be able to survive spiritually without that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.”

The Young Women general presidency: President Bonnie H. Cordon, center, Sister Michelle D. Craig, left, and Sister Rebecca L. Craven.
The Young Women general presidency: President Bonnie H. Cordon, center, Sister Michelle D. Craig, left, and Sister Rebecca L. Craven. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Prophet’s invitation to youth

When President Russell M. Nelson invited youth in 2018 to enlist in the Lord’s battalion to gather Israel, he extended five invitations — one of which is to live and share the standards in the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. 

“Set a standard for the rest of the world,” President Nelson declared. “Embrace being different. The booklet entitled ‘For the Strength of Youth’ should be your standard. It is the standard that the Lord expects all His youth to uphold. 

“Now, as His humble servant, I plead with you to study this booklet again. Prayerfully read it like you’ve never read it before. Mark it up. Talk about it. Discuss the standards with your friends. Decide how you can live these standards, your standards, with even more exactness.”

Though President Nelson was referring to the previous iteration of “For the Strength of Youth,” President Cordon said his invitation can also apply to the new guide.

“Do you notice how he puts the choice in there? … I love the confidence he has in them to really make this their standard and live it with exactness,” she said.

In the same devotional, President Nelson told youth they have “the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during the worldwide youth devotional in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 3, 2018. | Deseret News archives

“We need these youth to step up,” President Cordon said, echoing President Nelson’s confidence in them. “There are a lot of families that are struggling, and these youth have the capacity to help bring light and truth to their own homes.”

Above all, she added, “we are being prepared as a people to greet the Savior at His Second Coming. We need a people that are prepared … and I think these youth are so much more prepared. … 

“The opportunity to learn how to stand against the wind is so important to them. … They need to learn how to stand in this society for a lifetime.”

What parents and leaders can do

Sister Craig shared an excerpt from a talk a young woman gave in a stake conference about the new “For the Strength of Youth” guide: 

“I have a hard time feeling spiritual things and an even harder time talking about spiritual feelings. I get embarrassed and self-conscious, and I worry when I’m put on the spot to talk about it. So what can leaders do? They can maybe help us learn what it’s like for you when you feel the Holy Ghost. Talk to us about that and tell us specific stories about it. 

“It’s not that I don’t want to feel the Holy Ghost, I just don’t know how. I think the whole point of ‘For Strength of Youth’ is to learn this lesson so we can make choices based on what the Holy Ghost is telling us. Help us take something mysterious like the Holy Ghost and help us see it as something real.” 

Sister Craig encouraged parents and leaders to help youth recognize when they are feeling the Holy Ghost — and when they are not feeling it. “They are probably feeling it more often than they think,” she said. 

Youth of the Herriman Utah Pioneer Stake hold copies of the revised “For the Strength of Youth” guide.
Youth of the Herriman Utah Pioneer Stake hold copies of the revised “For the Strength of Youth” guide. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Another thing parents and leaders can do, President Cordon said, is help youth “unpack” — or process — their decision after it has been made.

“I hope a week later, a month later, a couple of months later that you come back to visit this decision and say, ‘How has this impacted you?’ ‘Has this brought you closer as a disciple of Christ to the Savior?’ ‘What have you felt?’ ‘What power have you brought from this choice?’ …

“And I hope we listen louder than we speak as we’re hearing what they are experiencing.”

Sister Craven added: “We hope that … as they learn to make decisions and grow closer to Heavenly Father that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ’s restored Church, becomes their church and not just their parents’ church because they have sought the answers that are promised in the Book of Mormon — if you seek, you will find. You can know this is true.”

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