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How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 05 Jan 2018, 16:51
by Roadrunner
Do any of you have awesome advice or insights that I can share with my son about why he should attend early morning seminary?

My 14 year old son is a freshman in high school and is begging to not attend seminary. He has a lousy teacher (I agree with him on that) and says he doesn’t have friends in the class (which I find hard to believe because he’s outgoing). I’ve never forced him to go to seminary and in fact he gets himself up at 5:30 am and is out the door on time with almost no pushing. I’m not a fan of early morning seminary for many reasons but I don’t think it’s all bad either. It can be a good social network and it is possible to learn things if you have a good teacher. My son is my 3rd child and both of my older children actually like seminary and my oldest was influenced a good deal for the better by her excellent seminary teacher.

My son is lukewarm about the church – he wants to serve in the armed forces instead of a mission which is fine with me. He says he doesn’t want to attend BYU or BYU-I which is also fine with me, but my deal with all my kids is that they’ll have to figure out how to pay for college through scholarships or work because I can’t pay for all 4 kids college.

The best reason I can tell my son to stay in seminary is because if he changes his mind about BYU or BYU-I (seminary graduation is required) that the tuition is so inexpensive that it’s almost like everybody gets a scholarship. Plus there are a lot of attractive girls at either school. Also, both of my older girls have scholarships through LDS benefactors that they wouldn’t have earned if they had not attended seminary and I think my son could also. One daughter attends ASU on a private full ride scholarship provided by an LDS man – if not for seminary she wouldn’t have received it. My wife points out that if he had an open mind he might learn something from seminary, so there’s that too…

I strongly dislike early morning seminary because teenagers need the sleep and I hate that I’m coercing my son to go because that type of stuff is what turns me off of the church. It’s almost like I see myself turning into my parents not giving me a real choice. Important note – I think if it were my choice alone I wouldn’t push it but my wife is much more stalwart than I am. Ugh.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 05 Jan 2018, 20:55
by Curt Sunshine
Our first five kids attended early morning seminary. Our youngest does not. She isn't a morning person (at all), and she is crazy busy in school. She is doing the reading, but she has no interest in the classes. It helps that she also has no interest in attending a church school.

This is one you have to handle individually. I can't advise one way or the other.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 06 Jan 2018, 18:25
by NightSG
Unless he's in a wheelchair or a swing, I'd not recommend pushing him.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 07 Jan 2018, 10:31
by SamBee
Better for him to serve a mission than go into the military and come back dead or disabled.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 07 Jan 2018, 11:11
by Roy
One of the best things my parents did for me is to believe in me. I remember the moment my mother said something like, "This is not an easy situation where I can give you the answer. You have a good head on your shoulders I have every confidence that you will figure it out."

Also with my 12 year old daughter sometimes we make her do something for a period of time long enough for her to better understand what she is deciding. If after a few months she still feels that way then we honor her agency without guilt or recriminations.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 07 Jan 2018, 12:57
by nibbler
Roy wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 11:11
One of the best things my parents did for me is to believe in me. I remember the moment my mother said something like, "This is not an easy situation where I can give you the answer. You have a good head on your shoulders I have every confidence that you will figure it out."
I'm not sure how I feel about that approach. Your variant takes a little pressure off but I imagine that on the receiving end it can feel manipulative. There's the right thing to do, which isn't stated but is obvious, then the parent says, "It's your choice, I know you'll make the right decision." And the kid comes away feeling like they really don't have much of a choice. In other words, the guilt does all the work.

I'm in the same boat as you Roadrunner. I've got a kid that doesn't want to go, a mom that is going to make them go, and a dad that is concerned that the kid isn't going to get enough sleep, will resent being forced to do something they have no interest in, etc.

You already outlined the pros, if you want to go to BYU or keep your options open to go foreign on a mission when you play the mission lotto, you've got to do seminary.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 07 Jan 2018, 13:59
by SilentDawning
My son was like your son. He doesn't have to go I have a few reasons....

1. Anecdote. TBM friend of mine has two sons who he pushed into Seminary. They hated it and rebelled against the church as a whole. That influenced me in just how pushy to get.

2, My own commitment to the church. I resented lying in a cold car with a pillow in the backseat while seminary was held in someone's home, and then the hike across town with my daughter to her high school because a) the parents wouldn't include her in the car pool and b) the timing of seminary meant missing the bus to school. I really resented that, and thought it might hurt my own commitment. It wasn't the primary reason, but it factored into the decision about how to handle the seminary issue.

3. Ultimately, we agreed to buy my daughter a car provided she used it to get to seminary -- that was the primary purpose of the car. So it wasn't really a bribe, it was more like -- we have a problem with getting you there at that hour, but if we buy you a car to get there, the expectation is you will use it to get to Seminary along with other places of interest to you.

My son actually started asking about the nature of such a deal for him if it meant he could have a car to use and get around in. It came up multiple times that he was willing to go provided the car was part of the deal. The precedent had been set. So, that was a powerful motivator for him.

Later I felt uncomfortable with him having a car like my daughter, as he is more of a wild card than she. And I am concerned about what trouble he would get into with it. My daughter -- she would sometimes disappear with it without telling us. And then we would find she'd been out proselyting with the missionaries or at a youth service project she forgot to tell us about. She would call if she needed to miss curfew, and used it for wholesome, church related activities. She even started going to a different Ward where she wasn't bullied with it, without us as a 17 years old. So it was all good.

My son is cold to lukewarm on the church, so I don't expect such good things. I expect wordly things, so we told him a) we had no expectation he would go to seminary if he doesn't want. If he wants we'll take him but there is no car in the deal.

Each person needs to be handled on their merits and strengths....

Good luck -- but I wouldn't force him to go if he doesn't want to. Have you ever heard of any youth's commitment going way up due to seminary? There is so much unpleasant about it that I think it has the potential to do more harm than good if you force someone to do something like that which they are clearly against.

If you do want to give him some reasons.....he has squelched the main ones -- mission and admittance to BYU. But you could indicate the freedom of choice he would have if he changes his mind about BYU-P or a mission. BYU-P is a good school and cheap, and they do look at Seminary attendance. And if you finish seminary you are qualified to go on missions to countries that require you to have graduated from Seminary. But if those reasons don't hold water, then you are stuck with moral suasion and it's a touch sell to a teenager....

Good luck. I personally wouldn't force him. Let him know what you would like to see happen, give your reasons, and let him make his own decision.

One thing that ticks me off is how the church won't embrace modern online learning systems to deliver these courses to our youth. I did an assessment of why using criteria for an online school, and given the fact that everything is free -- underutilized buildings, free seminary teachers, there is no business reason to invest in all the online infrastructure so students can work at it independently without all this early morning nonsense.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 07 Jan 2018, 14:00
by DarkJedi
I am for the most part opposed to early morning seminary as a relic of a bygone era. I understand there are people who love it, or at least say they do (having nothing else to compare it to). There is absolutely NO research to support that it's good for teenagers to get up early and do this, while there is plenty of research to support that teens need more sleep and physically/mentally can't get going that early in the morning. Educators have known this for years.

I had four kids, all of whom graduated from seminary. The difference is that the last one did some of his years online. Online is way better than its home study predecessor, and IMO even better than early morning because the kid HAS to interact. I've seen early morning - there are kids who literally sit there head down not participating (often sleeping) 4 years and graduate. The trouble is that here, and other places I know of that have it, you have to jump through hoops to get into online because of the dinosaur early morning lovers (many of whom did not suffer through early morning themselves). It essentially boiled down to us telling the leader "it's online or nothing." From his point of view it was better that my kid do online than no seminary. I have not been shy about voicing my support of online to him and others, and it turns out a third of our current high council has had children in online and support it as adamantly as I do. Unfortunately resistance is not futile.

That said, for our son online worked very well - but I also understand there are kids who are not self motivated enough to do it (which was the problem with home study).

Had I to do it over, I would not force my kid to early morning. Like RR, mine was not the only vote, however. It's a tough spot to be.

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 07 Jan 2018, 14:10
by Roy
nibbler wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 12:57
I'm not sure how I feel about that approach. Your variant takes a little pressure off but I imagine that on the receiving end it can feel manipulative. There's the right thing to do, which isn't stated but is obvious, then the parent says, "It's your choice, I know you'll make the right decision." And the kid comes away feeling like they really don't have much of a choice. In other words, the guilt does all the work.
I see your point nibbler. In my own situation it meant that my parent's were comfortable letting me make hard decisions on my own - hard decisions that do not have a right or obvious answer. Problem solving rather than moral decisions. Of course my parents and I did not see early morning seminary as a moral decision, so there is that. ;)

Re: How much to push son towards early morning seminary

Posted: 07 Jan 2018, 16:50
by NightSG
SamBee wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 10:31
Better for him to serve a mission than go into the military and come back dead or disabled.
Yeah, I bet Elder Patiole's family is thrilled that he got killed on a mission instead of in military service.