Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Page 7 of 33

Harold B. Lee Library

The Harold B. Lee Library has been a part of Brigham Young University’s campus for decades. On top of providing a gateway to knowledge through its book collections, the library also has some fantastic exhibits. These exhibits change every few months, but they never fail to put some pennies in your knowledge bank.

One exhibit the library has going on right now is their Life in Happy Valley exhibit. It’s an insightful exhibit about the history of Utah County. It’s a great exhibit for a study break for students or a fun field trip for any little ones who want to know more about where they live. This particular exhibit ends this month, so make sure to check it out before they shut down.

If you don’t make it in time for this one, there are several others to check out now. You can see a list of the current exhibits here, and you can learn more about the Happy Valley exhibit here.

Happy exhibiting!

—Jazmin Cybulski, Stance

Learning from the Open Minds of Children

Recently, in the General Women’s Session of General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emphasized the need to reach out to serve refugees and others who may be facing significant life challenges. These challenges may include finding employment, adjusting to a new culture, learning a new language, and making new friends. As I was pondering this invitation, I remembered an experience that had taught me how to love a stranger.

little-boy-766653-galleryA few months ago, I rode in a carpool with a friend, her young son, and an older woman I was acquainted with. I knew that this woman had some irregular social behaviors, and I was worried that my friend’s son would be a little afraid of sitting next to her in the car. As time passed, she began to teach him little songs and tricks for counting, and she shared some snacks with him. To my surprise, he warmed up to her easily—acting more friendly than he has ever acted toward me.

A few days later, I carpooled with my friend and her son again, without the woman this time. The little boy sweetly asked, “Where’s my friend?” and we realized quickly to whom he was referring. In just a couple of hours, he had come to love a person that I had had trouble loving.

We can learn so much from children about accepting others and looking past their differences. I remember times in my life when I have met people and immediately begun to categorize the person, based on appearance or speech, into the type of person I believed he or she was. Most of the time, after getting to know the person, I have realized my gross mistake and misjudgment.

In contrast, most children are unassuming when they meet new people—they seem to see everyone as equals, including strangers. They don’t jump to making comparisons or casting judgment as some adults are prone to doing. For example, when I have taught children for the first time in church settings and public school settings, they have usually welcomed me with loving hearts, not caring what my background was or how well I delivered a lesson.

The little girl in this video from October 2015 General Women’s Session of General Conference shows another example of childlike acceptance of another who sometimes feels left out. If only we could all be that open-minded toward others and their circumstances!

Accepting others, seeing people as equals, and being open-minded are qualities that I know will help me better reach out and help my neighbors. I hope to follow the example of children who see others with such genuine love.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Image and video from



Sister, Sister

Nikki 174

We had just taken second place at a volleyball tournament


Thus far in our voyage through the waters of society and the family, we have looked at the family’s role as a whole: the reasons, both small and large, that society is essential for the benefit of society. Of course, there are numberless reasons why the family is critical to our civilization, but for now we are leaving those shores and journeying to a smaller island, in which we will consider the family in parts. By parts, I mean we will consider the family by each of its members.  May we first consider the role of sister. As with my other posts, the sister’s role
will be based on my own experiences. If you have others, please share.

The Spirit of Contention

Experience 1: In my youth, I religiously went to bed by 9:30 pm. I must have had a phobia of fatigue or something, because what normal child would ever go to bed that early? Anyway, I shared a room with my older sister, Nikki. Night after night, after I had already been snuggled in my covers for at least half an hour, Nikki would barge into our room, flip on the light, and cry, “Jessica! Wake up! It’s time for school! You’ve overslept! Get up!” She apparently thought it was really funny to try to make me think it was the next morning, when in reality I still had eight hours to sleep. Never did this deceitful ploy work (well, maybe once or twice). Because she did this so often, I remember these encounters vividly from our childhood. I did not particularly enjoy them.

Experience 2: My sister and I never argued…well, except about clothes. In fact, it’s the only thing we ever argued about: if I could wear her clothes, if she could wear mine, why didn’t I ask if she had caught me wearing them without her knowledge. It was the main source of our contention. It was a blessing when I grew too tall to wear most of the things in her wardrobe. Because of its regularity, fighting about clothes is something I can recall vividly from my youth, just like my sister’s waking-me-up-for-school pranks. These roles—as mischief maker and wardrobe withholder—shaped had an influence on how I viewed my sister’s role. She was someone to roll my eyes at and also someone to fear.

However, as we grew older, the influence for good that Nikki was in my life has greatly eclipsed the bad, as you will see with the following experiences.

Love One Another

Experience 3: My sister always looked out for me. We had the opportunity to play volleyball together in high school. When some of the older players didn’t include us lowly freshman in their activities, my sister wielded her power as Senior captain and invited them to change.

Experience 4: My sister, who worked all through high school, would always treat us to shakes or hamburgers. She showed me what it meant to be generous.

Experience 5: Once when I was in elementary school, I got hurt on the playground. Fortunately, my sister was at recess at the time. She and her friends made sure I was okay. I don’t think I’ve ever told her, but I really appreciated that.

Experience 6: On my eighteenth birthday, Nikki insisted that I do something crazy. I am pretty reserved, so I didn’t really want to do anything out of the ordinary. But with seemingly no effort at all, she rounded up some friends, and we were headed to jump off a nearby bridge at midnight. My sister helped me break out of my shell.

Nikki 143

Back when we were Aggies together. (Don’t worry, I’ve converted to the Cougs.)

Experience 7: I am most grateful for my sister, however, because of the trail she blazed in serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If she had not chosen to serve, I am not sure if I would have had the courage to do so. Serving a mission helped me become the person I had always wanted to become.  It has given me the tools to know how to continue to reach my potential. I don’t know if I would have felt empowered enough to step so out of my comfort zone if it hadn’t been for my sister.

I am really grateful that I have a sister. Even though our relationship isn’t perfect, she has really changed me for the better. Her role has been to empower me, push me, and protect me. What a blessing to have a sister.

—Jessica Neilson, Stance

Goal-Setting with Children

eiffel towerWhen I was a sophomore in high school, I found out about a school trip to France that would take place about 18 months later. As a French 1 student and a less-than-frequent traveler, I was eager to go on the trip. Staying with a host family, dining on the Eiffel Tower, visiting WWII beaches, attending a ballet at the Paris Opera House, and exploring art museums were all included in the cost. The $4,000 cost, that is. I turned to my parents for their advice—hoping for their wallets, too. They helped me realize that I would find the trip much more valuable if I saved my own money. They agreed to pay for half the cost if I would pay the remaining $2000.

My parents helped me set goals to reach this seemingly impossible amount. First, I needed to get a job. I approached several adults I knew who owned companies about obtaining a job for that summer. After my first-ever interviews, I was hired to work part time at a fast food Mexican restaurant and part time at a home furnishings store. I continued babysitting for families when I could, and I saved rather than spent my paychecks.

My parents supported me in these endeavors to reach my goal. Since I still lacked a driver’s license, they dropped me off and picked me up every day from work. They helped me open a bank account in which to place my savings. They even paid for my first-ever passport and continued to pay for track and choir activities I was involved in that year.

Looking back, I would not have met my goal of going to France without my parents’ support.

When parents work with children to set and reach goals, children will be motivated to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve those goals. Whether the goal is related to saving money, building character, improving in athletics, learning to play a musical instrument, achieving good grades in school, completing family duties, or planning a service project, children will need help in forming consistent habits that will lead them to that specific goal.

A free online course from Glenn I. Latham, Ed.D. of Utah State University teaches parents how to help children achieve success in their education. The following six suggestions apply to helping children meet other goals, as well.

  1. Spend time talking with children. I think this means that parents need to listen and share ideas regularly in order to find out what a child wants and needs.
  2. Encourage learning. Many times children get discouraged at the length of time it takes to reach a goal, but parents can help by reminding children to do their best to improve.Family_Reading_Hour
  3. Read daily to and with children. Not only will children be exposed to more ideas and world views, but parents can see what is important to their children.
  4. Share (realistic) hopes for what children can do and become. The author of the course describes how he and his wife helped their children imagine what kind of car and house and clothing they hoped to have in the future. Then they doled out money—to the children’s delight—and let them pay for each desired thing in order to see how each of those things required money. The discussion turned to the need for education in order to earn the money necessary to fund those dreams.
  5. Provide direct help. Parents can help children with homework, model and give feedback on catching a ball, practice lines for a play, and so on.
  6. Organize time and space. In the course, this directive specifically refers to organizing time and space to do homework, but it can apply to any kind of goal. Children will need time to work toward goals, and they may need specific materials and places to use or store them. As parents plan for and work with these needs, they will accommodate their children in reaching goals.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Images from Wikimedia Commons

Bowls for Humanity

I know we often think about Christmas as the season of giving, but as Easter approaches, I’ve been feeling a greater need to follow the example of the One who gave His life for our happiness and well-being by giving back in whatever ways I can in this Easter season and forever after.

Friday, March 25, 2016, Utah County’s Food and Care Coalition is putting on their tenth annual Bowls for Humanity event.

Bowls for Humanity offers locally made pottery from students and professionals and invites the community to support programs offered for the homeless and low-income of Utah County.

It’s free admission, so the only thing you are paying for is the bowl and the soup and roll that come with it ($5 and up). It’s a great opportunity to give to those who are struggling, just as our Savior did and continues to do.

All the information for this event can be found here.

—Jazmin Cybulski, Stance

Book Review: The Big Leap

As I believe I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I am a new and very avid consumer of self-help books. I love having those “aha moments,” and when you read (or listen to) a self-help book, you get them all of the time.

But I think there’s an unspoken stigma about this type of literature—that it’s only for middle-aged women and prospective businessmen. At least, that’s how I saw it. Reminding myself that I actually used to think self-help books sounded about as dry and lifeless as the DMV, I’m realizing I can’t remember what caused me to actually start reading one. But I did. And you know what I found? You don’t have to wait until you feel bogged down by flaws and negative life experience to seek improvement. We all started as infants, unable to talk or walk—life is an uphill climb from the beginning!

I’m taking a while to get to the book review, aren’t I?

My point is, I have the humble opinion that self-help books are for everyone. And I want to start you off with a good one. So without further ado, let me tell you about The Big Leap.

The Big Leap book coverGay Hendricks, the author, (who, by the way, has appeared on Oprah), discovers a problem with us as human beings: the Upper Limit Problem. He claims that we subconsciously seem to limit our success and happiness, and he finds ways to counteract this limitation.

The book is filled with ways to actively participate in the self-improvement process. He asks you to ask yourself, “What do I most love to do? (I love it so much I can do it for long stretches of time without getting tired or bored.)” He gives you a personal mantra: “I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.” He tells you the truth, ” . . . if I cling to the notion that something’s not possible, I’m arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them.”

Now, with books, I am not a re-reader. I feel like there is so much out there to read, it would be silly to revisit what you’ve already finished and closed. But the minute I finished this book, I started it right back from the beginning again. There is so much wisdom here—so many keys to a happy and successful life. On top of that, I just felt feelings of positivity and hope throughout my journey into the book.

So, if I’ve convinced you, and you’re ready to give self-help books a try, try this one!

—Sophie Parry

Dare to Dream


Kids can surprise us every day. After teaching in an elementary school classroom for almost a month, I learned unexpected things about the students and their dreams for the future.

We had just learned in social studies about the dreams of African Americans in moving to the North during the Great Migration. We listened to a song and a poem with the theme of dreams by great Harlem Renaissance artists Louis Armstrong and Langston Hughes. Then, I asked students to write about their dreams. I was impressed at what they shared.211400445_056515d22c_o

One student wrote that she dreamed of playing in the WNBA. Another explained her hope of publishing piano music she had written.

Another girl wrote that she wanted to invent hovercrafts—because no one has been able to do it yet.

A third student described his goal to become a millionaire, and a fourth discussed her intention to become a paleontologist—and a doctor.

8168942173_9cc853509a_oStill others revealed their interests in creating video games and holographic rooms, publishing piano music, playing professional football and soccer, becoming entrepreneurs, and entertaining as famous actors, singers, and dancers.

Finally, a student explained her desire to help resolve conflicts in society and create world peace.

What powerful responses. What amazing dreams!

I remember as a child, at different times I wanted to be a zoo keeper, a dolphin trainer at Sea World, a children’s book author. I didn’t realize until college that I wanted to be a teacher, to helps others make their dreams come true. I want these students to know that they can do anything they put their minds to—and more.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Next week, I'll discuss how parents can help their children 
set goals to reach their dreams.

All images from Flickr Creative Commons. indecisive, “dream”: Link to license NFL News Desk Football, “NFL-Football”: Link to license Will Powell, “Piano”: Link to license


I’ve been thinking a lot about the epidemic in our society of pornography addiction. I have seen its effects on the relationships of people that I love that struggle with it and it’s devastating to witness. Whether in a dating or a marriage relationship, the ability to maintain a healthy relationship is difficult enough without this addiction added to the mix, but the addition of it is an added measure of immense struggle.

It’s an addiction like any other–it hurts you (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), it hurts your family, it hurts your friends; it hurts everything. It misconstrues a person’s understanding of love and intimacy; it encourages violence; it messes with your brain . . .

Yet, it still rages on. We as a society must combat it with all the force and study that we have in the past with other drugs that seek to destroy our society. It is not something to be pushed aside or forgotten about because doing nothing will only allow its influence to grow stronger and wider. I challenge you and me to be the ones who combat this addiction of lust with the love that it seeks to destroy.

Become informed and help others do the same.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Overcoming Pornography program

Facts about pornography addiction

Inspiring messages about overcoming pornography addiction

—Jazmin Cybulski, Stance

To Save or Not to Save

cottage cheese containers

Don’t throw away; or you can if you want

Early on last Fall semester, my roommate asked me a question: “Does your family save cottage cheese containers?”

“Uh, what do you mean?” I asked.

“You know, did your mom ever save cottage cheese or sour cream containers to use as Tupperware?”


“Oh. My mom never saved containers. She just always bought Tupperware. I thought it was really weird the first time I saw one of my old roommates save one.”


You might be thinking that this is an absolutely pointless experience. It’s possible that you are right. However, while discussing potential food containers is pretty uninteresting, this story does illustrate a point about the role families play in society: our families shape our behavior.

Think of any differences you’ve experienced with roommates or friends: You choose the cheapest meal at a restaurant; your roomie chooses the most expensive plus dessert. Your other roommate leaves on all the lights in your apartment all the time, no matter how long he or she is away from the apartment; you compulsively flip lights off, whether there is someone in the room or not. Your friend hugs everyone he or she comes in contact with, while you won’t sit in a chair if a human being is sitting in the chair next to it.

Admittedly, some of these behaviors are unique to the individual. But many of them stem from the culture of a person’s family. The religious beliefs, financial choices, health practices, political associations, and social behaviors of parents and siblings largely affect us, even if we don’t realize it. It took me three years of living away from home to realize that I could get dessert if I wanted to (my family is morally against getting dessert at restaurants).

Our families help shape our behavior. Part of that behavior might be saving cottage cheese containers to store food. Some of it might not (ask my roommate).

—Jessica Neilson, Stance

Children Learning through Technology: Great Online Resources

As technology in education has gone from chalkboard to whiteboard to smartboard, children still typically learn best through examples and practice, not just lectures. Lucky for us in today’s technology age, many resources are available to help children, parents, and teachers with academics.

computer-boy-761176-galleryResources for children to practice skills and explore concepts


  • Kahn Academy is a site complete with video explanations, visual models, and practice problems that align with the Common Core State Standards. You can track your progress on concepts and get hints on tricky problems.
  • The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, a free website, has manipulatives—think cubes, blocks, graphs, and rulers—for students to practice with.


  • includes a lot of kid-friendly experiments, demonstrations, quizzes, facts, and videos about a variety of science topics. I learned about how electrical circuits work through an app on the site.
  • The Worldwide Telescope, a free downloadable application, helps students learning about space. You can see images and diagrams of the Milky Way, learn about astronomy, and take tours of interesting nebula (clouds of gas and dust).


Social Studies

  • Time for Kids is an online newspaper written by kids and for kids that includes current events as well as special interest articles about holidays and historical events.

mother-boy-using-computer-786649-galleryResources for parents to support children


  • offers several articles with great suggestions on supporting kids in math homework, finding creative ways to play with math at home, and maintaining kids’ math skills over the summer.


  • helps parents and kids with tips, directions, and supplies for science fair projects.


  • Project Gutenberg has many older classic novels that parents would enjoy reading to or with children at home.


  • is a free online learning academy that can help parents delve into subjects they want to study to help their children with school work or just for themselves.

Resources for teachers to use in teaching children


  • offers a way for teachers to encourage students to write. They’ll love writing for an audience, even if it’s just their class or their parents.
  • has selections from famous texts, filed by general theme. These would be great for shared reading with the whole class during upper-grades’ social studies periods.

Social Studies

  • includes games, readings, discussion topics, current event outlines, and curriculum units for teachers to use. I personally like the games section for students—you can practice your Bill of Rights knowledge, control the federal budget in People’s Pie, design laws and court cases in LawCraft, and determine if immigrants have the right to live and work in the US in Immigration Nation.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Thanks to Royce Kimmons and the IP&T department for pointing out many of these resources.

Images credited to Link to license.


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