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Scott G. Winterton, Dnews
Young men of the LDS Church gather for priesthood session of conference Oct. 4, 2008.

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

Garland, Utah.

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

big deal.

\"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.

Quick suggestions for youths:

Know the


Take notes on

the talks, recording the highlights.

For less

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.

E-mail: [email protected]