While teaching at BYU’s Church Education Week, I asked those in attendance at one of my classes to raise their hands if they were returned missionaries or had ever lived with a roommate. Almost every hand in the audience went up. I then asked how many had ever had a companion or a roommate that was hard to get along with. Again almost every hand went up. Next I asked, “How many of you were the ones that were hard to get along with?” Not surprisingly, only a very few hands were raised. It’s easy to see other’s mistakes but difficult to recognize our own.
Having a graduate degree in Family Studies, I love to research ways to strengthen families. For years I tried to discover things successful parents do to fortify their families. Over time, I realized that more research was needed to identify mistakes parents make that can damage family members. However, as I learned at Education Week, it is often difficult to get people to admit they are making mistakes. It finally occurred to me that I should ask individuals to identify the mistakes they see that other parents make. But for the most part, all we see is their public behavior and not what happens behind closed doors.
I finally came up with a way to identify some of the mistakes commonly made. Approximately 500 active LDS adults were asked to answer this question in a survey: What mistakes do you feel your parents made while you were growing up in their home?
Those responding were free to say anything they wanted to say and most said plenty. For many it was like opening the floodgates of their feelings. Pouring over the responses it became obvious that many of the respondents were identifying the same “mistakes.”
For example, hypocritical behavior was mentioned repeatedly. This statement was typical of those who identified this behavior. “My dad was a church leader, yet he had a terrible temper and you never knew when it would blow. My mom was, and still is, always right even when she’s dead wrong and knows it. You shouldn’t preach one thing then do another and expect to be believable.”
Ultimately 25 common mistakes were identified based on either the number of times mentioned or the negative consequences those surveyed perceived mistakes had on their children. One thing that became apparent is that modern prophets have repeatedly given counsel warning parents to avoid the mistakes identified. I decided to write a book with content gained from this research. My hope is that the information contained will help strengthen families.
Ed. note: “Power Parenting in the LDS Home: Avoid the 25 Most Common Mistakes” will be released on Jan. 14, 2014, and will be available in bookstores and from online retailers.
Wright has a B.S. and M.S., with an emphasis in the family area–and a Ph.D. in Family Studies–from Brigham Young University. He worked for many years as an Institute director for the Church Education System and taught at BYU in the religion department. He has written several books on family topics including “Families in Danger: Protecting Your Family in an X-rated World,” “Building Better Homes and Families,” and “The Case for Chastity: Helping Youth Stay Morally Clean.”