Linda & Richard Eyre: First lady's conference on families is for all parents

Published: Sunday, April 22 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Jeanette Herbert discusses her upcoming "First Lady's Parenting Conference and Expo."

Laura Seitz

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On Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5, there will be a remarkable event at the Salt Palace that every parent within range should make an effort to attend. It will be a unique, one-of-a-kind conference that will benefit every mom and every dad who can get there.

We are blessed in this state to have a first lady of the stature and of the priorities of Jeanette Herbert. First ladies do have something of a bully pulpit and can pick whatever cause they want to promote, and we are lucky enough to have one who really grasps the fact that the family is the basic unit of this state, of this culture, of this society, of this economy and of this nation.

Jeanette Herbert understands, and so does her husband, the governor, that once problems spill out of the family into the welfare system or the criminal or juvenile justice system, they become impossibly expensive and expensively impossible to solve.

But by doing a better job in our homes and by becoming the best parents we can be, we can create stronger kids and stronger families, which in turn builds more stable neighborhoods, which establishes a stronger work force, which develops a stronger culture and society and state and makes life better for us all.

By taking aim at this basic level of society and by bringing attention, respect and expertise to the parents and families of Utah, our first lady is firmly on the right path — in fact, she is on the best path. The Herberts are our friends and we know that they come by their love for and interest in kids and families naturally, having raised six children of their own and with Jeanette having run a wonderful and successful preschool and day care center for more than two decades.

We have the opportunity to be keynote speakers at the event, so we have been in on planning the meetings and have watched Jeanette alongside Steve James, her executive director, and their whole committee put this thing together, and it has been inspiring. What is really brilliant about it is they have realized that it is family and parenting that can bring every part and every sector of our Utah society together. They realize that the commonality and similarity we have as parents and our common dreams and hopes and worries for our kids give us something pulling us together that is much more powerful than any differences that might pull us apart.

So the first lady has made sure this is a conference for ALL of the parents and families of Utah. Her advisory committee involves the widest diversity imaginable, with all of Utah’s churches and religions and all of our ethnic communities and neighborhoods involved and working together.

During the two days, there will be more than 100 different workshops presented, so every parent should be able to find the very subjects that are most relevant and needed in their individual families. The conference is all about specifics and about getting beneath the theory and talking about real issues and real solutions. In fact, it is about fixing things. So the theme is “family mechanics 101," and there will be all kinds of classic and dream cars in the halls of the Salt Palace to illustrate that theme. And wow, will there ever be some entertainment — ranging from Osmonds to children’s choirs!

On Friday evening, we will have the opportunity to be on the program with the governor and first lady as they kick things off and give their opening addresses, and then on Saturday morning, we will have the fun and the privilege of keynoting that day’s activities.

Take a look at www.upliftutahfamilies.org/ for more details, and we will see you there.

Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.

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