Deseret News best of 2012: Family life

Published: Monday, Dec. 24 2012 10:09 p.m. MST

Courtesy of Theresa and Luke Jordan

Josh Stauffer, Megan Pilling Kemp and John Pedersen don’t know each other. Their stories don’t seem to have much in common.


Stauffer is a high school student trying to undo mistakes after nearly losing himself to substance abuse. Kemp has advanced breast cancer and is trying to build lasting memories with her young daughter. Pedersen is a young dad trying to do everything right with his own kids despite the lack of powerful role models as he grew up.


Their stories, which are among those I’ve had the privilege of telling this year, share a theme. They are all about family. That's my beat at the Deseret News.


Families are the glue that holds society together. Though those bonds can be fragile, broken, mending or strong, the human experience with family resonates, and we can learn from and help each other.


We’ve offered our readers stories that cross the spectrum from practical advice about when it’s time for an elderly person to relinquish the car keys to an in-depth look at the pressures facing boys and young men today in school and from the media. We have dealt with sensitive topics like suicide and shared the sorrow of a mother whose toddler fell from a window to his death.


The pressures on family have never been more intense or the stakes higher. From a purely structural perspective, fewer couples are getting married, though sociology experts say that’s the best family structure for children to thrive. Moreover, fewer couples are having children, and many are having fewer children. Look to middle age and beyond, and more people are choosing to go it alone. Safety nets are being strained and sometimes tattered. Governments wrestle with the very definition of what family is.


What happens in families writes the future.


The stories they've shared this year have left me pondering the meaning and impact of family and what we learn from each other. I can't wait to see whom we all meet in 2013.

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salt lake city, utah

Agreed, families are the glue to society..but what is it about families that binds. To me it's love, trust, and commitment. These three characteristics engender many binding behaviors but none of these characteristics are dependent on gender, age, demographics, or any combination thereof so if we are truly concerned about family we'd concentrate on how to build a society that encourages and enhances love, trust, and commitment, and drop the fascination with who and how...it really doesn't matter.

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT

I believe that feeling the love of God towards mankind in general, and to me personally, helps me in my role as a son, husband and father. I am acutely aware of my imperfections. But, as a father, I have learned that though I am also acutely aware of my own childrens' imperfections, I love them, and want the best for them.

This has helped me to understand how God, whom I believe is literally the father of my spirit, likewise, loves imperfect me, likewise wanting me to be happy. True happiness never comes without goodness. Being honest, loyal, kind, and showing consideration for others' feelings, desires, etc, helps me or anyone to be endeared by and to others.

I did not always like what my parents said or did. But I knew they loved me, and wanted me to be happy. Learning to forgive them for all the wrongs I felt they had done me (many 'wrongs' were just my perceptions), helped me a lot as an adult to get on with a happier life as an adult. Trying to be just and fair to others, and also being merciful to others are important things for that glue.

Durham, NC

No,civility hods society together. Be the best dad, but hate your neighbor because they are a Democrat, or a Ute.... or a foreigner... society suffers regardless of how you treat your family, or what calling you have.

American Fork, UT

Family is the glue that keeps society together, and these families come in all shapes and sizes. Some have only one parent, some have two adults of the same gender plus kids, some families are made up of grandparents with a couple of grandchildren living with them. Shame on people and news organizations that demonize families who look differently than what their narrow minds allow. God bless the families that are persecuted by narrow-minded.

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT


IMO, one is civil because one has love for one's fellow beings, beginning with one's closest, one's family. How can one love their fellow beings whom they know less, if they can't love the ones they know more?

I like this refrain from the song, "The Farmer and the Cowboy (Should Be Friends)" (from OKLAHOMA)—

I don't say I'm no better than anybody else,
But I'll be (darned) if I ain't jist as good!

Both, not just one or the other, go together. One who acts lovingly towards their neighbor should also love one's family (though that at times seems difficult for many to do).

And BlueDevilDemon, who said anything about one's 'calling'. I have relatives and friends who can't get along with their family, and have seen many a celebrity who claims or feigns love of all men, but can't stay married to one person.

But, I'm not advocating one over the other. Both are necessary. You're beating on some straw man in your mind, evidently.

Durham, NC

@Diligent Dave - not sure how my comments were offensive, but evidently they are offending you some how. Now sure how they became "straw man" , but what the hey.

My comments come from for a while I had a calling where I served people out at a local federal prison, Butner. This is the current home of notables like Bernie Madoff. And he is an excellent example. He deeply loves his family.... and yet had no respect for his fellow man.

I would contend that if one respects there fellow humans, the chances of having a loving family life is pretty much assured. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of good "family" men, who while appearing to being good family men, act in ways that create deep hurt and pain in their families.

If you honestly have respect for all, and act civilly, you have great odds of a good family life. The inverse on the other hand, eventually dooms most marriages and families. Placing self above others will destroy our society... we superiority complexes here, all the time.

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT


Bernie Madoff is indeed a prime example of what I mean. You said, he loves his family dearly, and yet his actions apparently led to so many problems for one of his sons that that son committed suicide. Again, as I said, loving one's family and loving one's fellow beings are neither mutually exclusive, nor can ultimately be done to one but not the other (or shouldn't be).

But, tell me, what makes you have respect "for all"? I'd like to know. Because I have my motivations for what I do. And I know that they flow from my feelings of myself, and toward my family members, as well as to all others. I feel all are important. But, I repeat, again, that how can one truly love one's more distant neighbors, as it were, whom they know least, if they do not correctly treat respectfully, even lovingly, their closest neighbors, so to speak, their family?

I was not offended by your comments. But, for lack of other commentary, I gathered your remarks were supposedly somehow in response to mine. That I responded, doesn't mean I was offended. I was merely trying to clarify.

Durham, NC

@Dave.... no worries.. comments were not aimed at anyone in particular, simple my musing from my life experience. I travel to the far reaches of the world right now - I am the middle of doing analytics for of all things, deep well exploration for oil and gas companies. I get to travel to such locals as UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Angola. The one key thing I have found to feeling very safe in all these locations, it to smile at everyone, and show respect to all. You don't need to know someone to assure them that you respect them no matter their faith, economic state or politics. Many locals think I am crazy, but they clearly understand I am no threat.

Where you and I differ, and it is a nuance, is I think civility leads to a strong family, and is a circular action. One doesn't need to have a family to be civil, but being civil can lead to a strong family. Thats all I was trying to say, all be it very poorly.

Merry Christmas......

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