Raising five boys, Leslie Frandsen has heard every possible excuse
for skipping out on general conference.
It's boring. I have a soccer game. My
friends don't have to. Why should I?
\"Sometimes we talked about it, they were
going to do it, then they would just disappear,\" said the mother from
Getting them to clean their room was
But contrary to what some parents may
believe, it is possible to get teenagers to listen to general conference
without using straightjackets, handcuffs or the clove hitch knot.
Brad Wilcox, a popular speaker, author,
former seminary teacher and mission president, offers four suggestions
for helping youths become more engaged in general conference.
First, get to know the speakers. When
youths can put a real face on these special messengers, they will become
human, Wilcox says.
\"A lot of people connected with Elder
Joseph B. Wirthlin, including my son, because he was a football star
when younger and always was an avid fan,\" Wilcox said. \"Elder David B.
Haight came to my mission and meeting him gave me a personal connection.
Every conference from then on, I always paid attention to what he said.
\"Help youth learn about and understand
who they are. If they can feel a connection with the brethren, then they
are going to tune into what they are teaching.\"
With church leadership expanding around
the globe, Wilcox also suggests learning about the countries and
cultures of international church leaders.
\"When leaders are called to represent the
Lord, we can feel closer to them when we understand more about the
countries they come from,\" he said.
Second, take notes on the talks.
Recording the highlights of each talk, especially if youths know they
have to report on what they learn, provides purpose, Wilcox said.
\"Wherever you are, taking notes helps you
focus and keep your attention on the speakers,\" Wilcox said.
For the less attentive youths, try a
\"When my children were young we would
throw out a puzzle and do it while we listened to conference,\" he said.
\"It may not be ideal, but it kept the children in the room. It also gave
them something to look forward to during conference.\"
Finally, seek personal revelation by
becoming engrossed in the messages of each talk.
\"Prior to conference, think about a
personal question, problem or a friend who needs help or encouragement.
Then listen seeking some sort of help,\" Wilcox said. \"Your topic may not
be addressed directly, but usually, as you listen in faith, something
can be said that might be helpful.\"
Anthony Sweat, an
author and the seminary principal at West High School in Salt Lake City,
says it's important that youths understand why general conference is a
\"They are not just regular speakers,\"
Sweat said, before referencing Doctrine and Covenants 68:4. \"When the
prophets and apostles speak, it is the mind of the Lord, the will of the
Sweat likes to ask students if they are
prepared to answer friends of other faiths when they ask, what is the
latest instruction given by LDS Church leaders?
\"If we can't answer that question, it's
our fault,\" Sweat said. \"In essence, this is the Lord speaking to his
worldwide church saying, 'These are the things I would have you think
Another effective method Sweat likes is
assigning students or children to listen to and prepare a short report
on every speaker of the conference. (For example, student A takes the
first speaker, student B takes the second speaker, etc.) When class
resumes the following week, a report on the topic, theme or presented
gospel principles of each speaker is given. On average, 20 of 25
students come prepared, Sweat said.
\"If most kids are given a (conference)
responsibility, I think we would be surprised at how many would fulfill
it,\" he said. \"Most would be amazed.\"
A final idea by Sweat is studying the
conference talks like one would the scriptures.
\"I am always interested to ask students
if there was a common theme that seemed to be repeating,\" he said. \"In
seminary we teach all these scripture study skills, like look for this,
read these chapters and tell me what common theme you see. We can do the
same to general conference. It's always interesting to see what common
thread is woven through conference and what students see. It is also fun
to have the kids look for how often scripture mastery scriptures are
If none of the above works, parents can
always go with the handcuffs or try various Boy Scout knots.
Take notes on
the talks, recording the highlights.
attentive youths, a jigsaw puzzle will keep everyone in the same room.
conference, think of a question or problem you need answered.
Give youths a
responsibility to report on a talk, session or theme.