This is my first time posting/commenting, but this is an issue I've been thinking a lot about lately.
squarepeg wrote:I understand that bishops are not supposed to ask detailed questions about the law of chastity when interviewing youth, but they sometimes do. My mom, who was raised in the church and raised us kids in the church but is no longer active, wants me to insist upon being present in the room when my kids are interviewed in order to protect them from inappropriate questioning by priesthood leadership.
True, they aren't supposed to, but with such a big church and thousands of leaders, there's no standardization of understanding, so there will be differences in behavior. I think protection from inappropriate questioning is wise, as these early interactions form the basis of a relationship with the church. I think we need to do everything we can to make it a positive one.
squarepeg wrote:But, I am concerned that this will make the bishopric member feel that I do not trust them, when that is not the case, at least not on a personal level.
Maybe I should just explain my reasoning to the bishopric member. But I thought I'd post here and see if anyone had any alternate suggestions or thoughts about this issue.
I understand you not wanting to make a leader feel as though you don't trust them, but I think this could open a very needed discussion in the church on not trusting men/women blindly and on appropriate interview discussions.
When I was young, I was assaulted by a boyfriend. We were kissing, we were alone, but those things by themselves aren't breaking the LoC, they're just inadvisable because they could lead to it. Now, as an adult, I can see that. As a youth in the bishop's office, I was made to feel as though I had sinned, because somehow I was asking for *his* behavior.
My s.i.l. had a similar circumstance of inappropriate interviewing. She 'confessed' to inappropriate petting in a bishop's interview, and her bishop questioned her in explicit detail about sexual acts she's never even heard of, despite her saying early on that nothing further had taken place. She felt violated by his using authority to question her about sexual acts.
The imbalance of power and authority in a questioning setting can lead to intimidation and foster an environment where inappropriate questions don't feel inappropriate to the questioner, and make it difficult for youth (or anyone) to call those questions out as such, especially if they don't have the knowledge to identify what is inappropriate and what isn't.
Here's my solution so far:
Talk to your kids about what questions might be asked, and give them options for answers, i.e., "I'd rather not discuss that with you, but I don't feel it impacts my worthiness", "I'd like to bring my parents in for the rest of the interview" "I don't need to go into detail", etc.
Talk to your bishop about what you feel could be inappropriate questions, and ask what takes place in interviews. Ask if it's standardized throughout the bishopric, and if not, ask them to standardize it.
Talk to your kids about what you feel is appropriate behavior in interview question responses. Is caffeine breaking the WoW? masturbating breaking LoC? etc., and ask them to get their own answers so they can set and answer to standards of behavior that they understand and agree to long before an interview.
Talk to your kids about consent. In my situation, I strongly feel that I did not break the LoC because of another person's behavior, and now I wouldn't feel the need to divulge that information to a bishop unless I felt the need for counsel or healing. I carried a lot of guilt and hurt for a long time about that.
squarepeg wrote:In truth I don't know them remotely well enough to make that determination.
I think so many people trust too lightly. A few years ago, we moved into a new ward and after only 2 days there, there was a 11yo scout campout. I told the Primary President my son wouldn't be going to campouts for a while till we got to know people in the ward, but she still felt it appropriate to pull my son aside just out of my earshot and whisper to him that if he wanted to go he needed to tell me and that she was sure he could trust the leaders.
I wasn't okay with a leader trying (even with good intentions) to coerce my son into trusting a strange man his parents have never even met, in the name of church activity. I informed her again that we restrict sleepovers in our family to people we know well, and that includes campouts.
No amount of adult hurt feelings are worth the safety and health (emotional, physical, spiritual) of your children. We need to empower ourselves to be advocates for our kids, because the stakes are too high.
This doesn't mean it's helicopter parenting, especially when you empower your kids to advocate for themselves as well.
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