49: Mormonism’s Messages about Motherhood

This panel discussion examines the wonderful gifts of Mormonism’s strong emphases and teachings about the divine role of motherhood as well as the external and internal pressures that come with these messages and how they sometimes work against the more basic gospel goal of helping women fully flourish and grow in godlike qualities. In this far-ranging and insight-packed conversation, panelists Chelsea Fife, Chelsea Strayer, and Jennifer Finlayson-Fife all maintain the utmost gratitude for their own role as mothers and for church emphases on motherhood’s many joys while also examining ways we as Latter-day Saints might change some of our messaging about motherhood, especially taking it from its “institutional” status as a static ideal and making it more real for today’s women. They discuss ways to place motherhood more squarely in the context of women’s intrinsic worth and recognize how this value cannot be so fully tied up in motherhood. The period of intense mothering of children through early adulthood occupies a relatively small portion of a woman’s lifespan, so her sense of worth must be centered in something more. Furthermore, since many, many couples struggle with infertility, and many women never marry nor have the opportunity to be a mother,  “motherhood” cannot be the end-all, be-all of a woman’s existence, nor the primary way she measures her success, value, or femininity. So while honoring all the good and loving messages about motherhood, how might we bring about important changes to the current conversation? You don’t want to miss this episode!

After listening, please join in the conversation in the comments section below!

Comments

comments

92 comments for “49: Mormonism’s Messages about Motherhood

  1. Beatrice
    August 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    What a great discussion.  I especially enjoyed Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s insights from an academic or clinical perspective.  Listeners of this episode may be interested in Sybil’s interview of me on Daughters of Mormonism as it touches on many of the same themes. http://daughtersofmormonism.blogspot.com/2011/07/episode-19-i-have-found-my-violin.html

    Also, I LOVED Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s interview about her dissertation work.  I think it is insightful to look at Mormon culture from different academic perspectives.  Soon after I listened to her interview, I watched “Black Swan” and was really struck by the themes of female sexuality in that movie that Dr. Finlayson-Fife  had talked about in her interview.  I wrote a blog post about my thoughts here http://gbbothsidesnow.blogspot.com/2011/08/themes-of-female-sexuality-that-are.html.

    • Chyla
      September 2, 2011 at 5:27 am

      Beatrice, I LOVED your interview on Daughters of Mormonism!

      • Chyla
        September 2, 2011 at 5:28 am

        And I just realized that I did all caps LOVED just like you did in your comment without even realizing it.

        • Beatrice
          September 2, 2011 at 11:53 am

          Chyla, thanks so much.

    • Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
      September 3, 2011 at 1:03 am

      Beatrice, I’m glad you enjoyed the dissertation interview.  I look forward  to listening to your interview when I have a moment.  Thanks for pointing us to “Daughters of Mromonism” podcast series.  I was unaware  of it until now!

      • Beatrice
        September 5, 2011 at 2:15 am

        Daughters of Mormonism is great.  Sybil puts so much work into that podcast, and it definitely shows.  Hope you enjoy it.

  2. Jedvalson
    August 31, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Awesome! Happy to hear Chelsea Shields Strayer on here. Way to represent Anthropology! We need more public voices coming from this perspective in the church. Not that I’m biased or anything! 🙂 (I am a BYU anthro alum). I would have liked to hear a broader discussion on what motherhood means in different contexts around the world. I realize most of the audience is likely North American and LDS. I guess what I am saying here is it would be nice to see  less second wave feminism and a little more of the thrid wave concerns!

  3. Jedvalson
    August 31, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Or in other words. Experiences of motherhood vary a lot based on social class. An issue that gets suppressed a lot in American society. The experience of poor mothers in the inner city are different from relatively wealthy mothers in the suburbs. Not that this is a critique of the podcast so much as it’s another element worth exploring!

    • Chelsea Shields Strayer
      August 31, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      I completely agree! I was probably invited to this podcast as an anthropologist having lived abroad extensively in order to represent some of the other perspectives (cultural, SES, biological, evolutionary, etc.) of motherhood that you are talking about. I was given plenty of room to talk and completely got caught up in the conversation and forgot. You bring up a really good point and I’m so sad I missed that opportunity to express those thoughts. However, maybe we should do a whole podcast on it in the future. American Mormonim is very very different than the Mormonism practiced across the world in everything from motherhood all the way to Sunday worship and many of the things that we talked about are cultural and economically relative. Great ideas.

  4. Jacob M
    August 31, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Even as a dude I thought this was a wonderful broadcast. You gals spoke both movingly and eloquently about identity being separate from role, particularly as women. What was also very neat to hear was how your personal experiences helped you come to the conclusions you expressed. I was hit both in the heart and the head, which from D&C 8 indicates that you spoke truth.

    • Chelsea Fife
      September 1, 2011 at 4:22 am

      Wow–Jacob, thank you.  I’m so glad you enjoyed the podcast and that it was powerful for you.  I hope you’ll pass the link around to people you know and love who teach our young men and young women.  I don’t think it takes much for people to reconsider the way they are teaching gospel truths.  My hope is that this podcast will help all of us rethink the way we are talking about motherhood to our youth so that we can raise a generation of strong and confident young men and women who take seriously their opportunity to grow and change.

  5. John
    August 31, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    As a fellow dude I concur with Jacob.

  6. Sierrabaird
    August 31, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    This was fantastic and really spoke to me. I am a Mormon woman, married with no kids and getting a PhD in Counseling Psychology. Like one of the couples spoken of in the program, my husband and I, through prayer and personal revelation have decided to not have children yet. This is a hard concept for many people to feel comfortable with. And in an effort to not be bitter at the comments people make to me I try to remember the message given by Sister Okazaki, which is that there is no one right way to be a Mormon woman, which is something that resonates with most women that I have talked to about this topic.

    I also work as the YW President in my ward and feel the need to avoid the traditional rhetoric of what it means to be a woman. Instead I ask the young women what gifts they feel they have been given and how those gifts can be used to bless others and be the change that the world needs. These young girls know that those individual gifts are divine. And on the other hand they are also learning about what it will mean to be a mother and the wonderful joy that can come from that. And I trust these young women to make those decisions about if and when and how many kids when the time is right and they receive that personal revelation.

    Less is more when it comes to telling women how to be women.

    • Chelsea Fife
      September 1, 2011 at 4:17 am

      Sierra–I am so glad our young women have leaders like you to teach them that “there is no one right way to be a Mormon woman”.  Kudos!  I think you are so inspired to ask the girls to dig deep and identify what gifts they have been given and how those gifts can help them grow and change and become more like the Savior.  Motherhood is certainly a way for women to develop Christ-like attributes, but it isn’t the only way and it certainly isn’t the MOST righteous way.  The MOST righteous way is subjective to each woman’s experience and interpretation of her gifts.  Thanks for your comments–I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast.

  7. September 1, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Great podcast! What an amazing line up of women. I need to listen to it again to really absorb everything that was said but here are a couple points that struck me this time through… First when you each shared your story of becoming mothers and reconciling that with your identity as a woman. I most related to Chelsea Fife. I also always wanted to be a wife and mother more than anything else. I got a degree, worked in my field for a year and then married at 24 and had my first baby at 25. Although motherhood has come quite naturally to me, I definitely felt the lack at first of “something more”. I needed MORE than just motherhood. I needed something that was mine. I am so fortunate that I was able to develop my skills and talents as a photographer at this same time. I’ve been able to find my voice as an artist as well as a mother and it has made all the difference. Its given me confidence, self worth, a creative outlet, and the knowledge that I can provide for my family if needed. 

    The second thing that stuck with me this listen through was Chelsea Strayer’s story about hearing stories from other women about motherhood. This is something I feel very strongly about. Telling our stories is SO important. And in our culture today where we don’t live as closely to our families and neighbors, we need storytelling even more. We women need to share our experiences with each other and our children so that we can all learn from one another. My particular area of interest is birth and breastfeeding. Hearing birth and breastfeeding stories can literally change and save lives. 

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      September 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm

      So pleased you enjoyed this, Katrina! Hope you’re okay with my sharing the link to your Daughters of  Mormonism podcast interview here! http://daughtersofmormonism.blogspot.com/2011/08/episode-22-choices-and-options-katrinas.html. I loved learning a lot more about you and your background, and you really helped me start to open my eyes about the areas of birth choices and breastfeeding that you mention above and are so passionate about. Thanks for doing that interview!

      Let’s you and I start a conversation on FB or via email about getting a panel on these topics going for a MM episode down the road. Thinking also of Jedvalson’s comment above about taking a less North American-centric look, less focus on upper- and middle-class motherhood experiences, clearly there is much more to discuss about this topic!

      • September 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

        I’d love that, Dan. Shoot me an email and we can get the ball rolling: katrinabanderson@gmail.com

        • John
          September 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm

          I am not familiar with how organizing these things works. Buy my wife is a lactation consultant and is very passionate/informed about these experiences from a cross-cultural context. We just got back from doing 7 months of anthropological field work and welcoming our third child into the family in Guatemala. My wife’s name is Becky and her email is mamabecky81@gmail.com

          • September 2, 2011 at 5:17 am

            Thanks Jedvalson! We are currently in the planning stages and I’ll keep your wife in mind as we decide who to have on the panel. 

          • Msleetobe
            September 2, 2011 at 11:34 am

            Yes please do this topic in the future! I loved your interview on Daughters of Mormonism Katrina as I am currently pregnant and planning a natural birth (in Korea!), and it would be very helpful to hear a longer discussion from several people around birth choices and breastfeeding on this podcast! 🙂

          • September 2, 2011 at 5:17 am

            Thanks Jedvalson! We are currently in the planning stages and I’ll keep your wife in mind as we decide who to have on the panel. 

  8. Ashleymerback
    September 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you all so very much for your incredible insight.  Like Katrina, I will be coming back to listen to this again and again for guidance.  Jennifer Finlayson-Fife lit the fireworks for me at the end there with a Mothers self-worth being so tied up in who her children are as people.  I definitely have personal experience with this and the strain it brings to mother/child relationships and is my greatest fear for my relationship with my own children.  I stress immensely about carving out a space for my own life in the midst of being a mother to my children.  You hit the nail on the head with this final comment.  I see this as the biggest potential problem with full time motherhood.  

    My experience also echoes that of Chelsea Fife’s in that I always wanted to be a mother.  That “role” was defined for me as the “Good” choice and I wanted to do what was right.  While I am glad that I do stay at home and would do it again if I could choose again, I wish that I had been prepared, ALSO, for having a career.  I think my confidence and self-image would improve quite a bit with that confidence.  At this point in my life pursuing a career really intimidates me and I don’t like that feeling.   I resent the default position of “oh you don’t need to do all that, you’re going to be a MOm.”  And as I type this out I guess this is basically what you covered when you discussed the concept of “choice”.  Having that choice would have changed my life a lot, I think.  It’s definitely something I want to give to my daughters.  Thanks again.  I will spread the word about your discussion here!

  9. September 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I loved this podcast, It is one of Mormon Matters best yet!
    (The Heavenly Mother one is my favorite). 
    It would be very nice if there were some way to get all of the General
    and local Church leaders to listen to this podcast and the important concerns
    that the participants addressed.  I like
    to think that the concerns in this podcast are known and being addressed by the
    Brethren, but sometimes I wonder if they are. 
    While I feel that the Church is doing a vastly better job of involving
    the sisters and addressing the concerns that are important to them then it was
    doing 100 or even 20 years ago, I believe that we still have a long way to go,
    as is well demonstrated by this podcast. 

    I just finished a class for my Master’s Degree (in
    Counseling) that was on Multiculturalism and White Privilege in the United
    States.  When the participants quoted some
    of the Brethren who thought that they were complimenting women, but really they
    were not (and as the participants explained, were really placing more limits
    and guilt on many of the Sister in the Church), especially the, “Because
    you are a woman” comment from an old General Conference talk, it really
    brought home for me that just as there is White Privilege in the United States
    and many White people don’t realize it or refuse to believe it, there is Male
    Privilege in the Church and most of the men (and leaders) in the Church don’t
    realize it or refuse to believe it.  In my
    class we watched an excellent documentary film on White Privilege by Lee Mun
    Wah called “The Color of Fear.” 
    The Minority participants in that film explained to the Whites in it how
    often times when well-meaning Whites, especially White men, think that they are
    praising and/or equalizing Minorities, they are really putting them down
    because subconsciously and unknowingly they are forcing their views upon the
    minorities without really giving them a voice or equality.  I see the same condition existing in the
    Church.  

    Until we men can acknowledge and address our privileged position in the
    Church and the power it has historically (and is currently) giving us, Women’s
    voices and concerns will not be heard in the Church as they need to be.  I am neither a liberal nor radical, I do not
    think that there needs to be massive changes in the Church, but even I can see
    that there is an inequality (and cluelessness on the part of the men) in the
    Church that needs to be addressed.  Of
    course, I say this realizing that I am a man and that I am clueless (or mostly
    so, a good wife and three good daughters are trying to educate me) on Women’s
    issues, if my comments are clueless or contributing to the problem, I
    apologize.

    • Chelsea Shields Strayer
      September 2, 2011 at 1:59 am

      Well said, Andrew. Well said. “Until we men can acknowledge and address our privileged position in the
      Church and the power it has historically (and is currently) giving us,
      Women’s voices and concerns will not be heard in the Church as they need
      to be.”

  10. Adelaide
    September 2, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I loved this postcast, thanks! The point about opening up and actually being open with each other about the hardships and realities of motherhood reminded me of a cute little book I read before I had my first child… 

    http://www.amazon.com/Was-Really-Good-Before-Kids/dp/081185650X

    Thanks again!

  11. September 2, 2011 at 4:13 am

    I really enjoyed this podcast – I was informed and uplifted 🙂

    I am a stay at home mom (though I work part-time some nights) and I absolutely love it.  But I waited until I was 28 and had traveled and become educated and learned a lot of lessons about patience and humility before motherhood.  I think if I became a mother between 18 – 24 I would have felt burdened and resentful.  It’s unfortunate that church encourages women to become mothers at such an early age – I think they would have much more satisfied mothers in the church if the mothers were able to take sometime to get to know themselves before they are required to put themselves on hold.  I can give everything that I have to the raising of my daughter because I left nothing on the table before I had her.  

  12. Msleetobe
    September 2, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I just read this over at blue milk a few days ago. “A mother must put on her oxygen mask first, in order to be able to
    help her children” – I see this instruction on airplanes as an
    appropriate metaphor for feminist mothering. Mothers, empowered, are
    able to better care for and protect their children” (Andrea O’Reilly).

    How true is that? Mothers need to have their own sources of energy, fulfilment, and life in order to pass on these gifts to their children. I can’t wait to be a mother in a few months time, but ‘mother’ is not the one and only identity in my life (just as ‘father’ is not the only identity my husband will be known by). I think that all the experiences and blessings I have acquired thus far will help me to be a better mother, and after giving birth, I know that I need to have other identities and experiences in order to continue to nuture my ability as a mother (just as being a mother will have positive affects on informing my other identities).

  13. Jacob Brown
    September 3, 2011 at 12:52 am

    What a great discussion. I really like encouraging women to have an identity that is not anchored in motherhood. This just makes sense these days when even if women choose to be a mother, they only act predominately so for a minority portion of there mortality. It really is unfair how little fatherhood comes up, and how little meaning it has. I’m afraid that the host society has done much better at encouraging men to get involved in family life despite the institutional emphasis on projecting itself as a family-centered faith.
    I think this situation is really just a reflection of how traditionalist and conservative Mormon culture has become. It is a preservation of the social norms of the recent past falsely perceived as the divinely appointed structure for the human family. This is not the first time this confusion has happened, right? Mormons adapt well, but they adapt very reluctantly.This prescriptive approach to family order also has another raison d’etre. The false symmetry between motherhood and priesthood mentioned helps Mormons mentally dismiss the inequality resulting from gendered priesthood. Thus, the patriarchy is self-reinforcing, i.e., one eternal round. Women are put in their place so that men have their space. How will men carve out an existence for themselves when the next revelation on the priesthood drops down on us? It will be crazy times, huh?

    Honestly, I just can’t wait. The contribution women will bring to the institutional church when they are finally let loose will be astounding. Another silent but real miracle transformation will happen among the living church.

    • Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
      September 3, 2011 at 12:59 am

      Excellent comment.  Thank you.

  14. Jacob Brown
    September 3, 2011 at 12:52 am

    What a great discussion. I really like encouraging women to have an identity that is not anchored in motherhood. This just makes sense these days when even if women choose to be a mother, they only act predominately so for a minority portion of there mortality. It really is unfair how little fatherhood comes up, and how little meaning it has. I’m afraid that the host society has done much better at encouraging men to get involved in family life despite the institutional emphasis on projecting itself as a family-centered faith.
    I think this situation is really just a reflection of how traditionalist and conservative Mormon culture has become. It is a preservation of the social norms of the recent past falsely perceived as the divinely appointed structure for the human family. This is not the first time this confusion has happened, right? Mormons adapt well, but they adapt very reluctantly.This prescriptive approach to family order also has another raison d’etre. The false symmetry between motherhood and priesthood mentioned helps Mormons mentally dismiss the inequality resulting from gendered priesthood. Thus, the patriarchy is self-reinforcing, i.e., one eternal round. Women are put in their place so that men have their space. How will men carve out an existence for themselves when the next revelation on the priesthood drops down on us? It will be crazy times, huh?

    Honestly, I just can’t wait. The contribution women will bring to the institutional church when they are finally let loose will be astounding. Another silent but real miracle transformation will happen among the living church.

  15. Guest
    September 3, 2011 at 6:25 am

    It’s a good thing this post wasn’t on Feminist Mormon Housewives.  They would be tearing it down left and right.

    • Ziff
      September 3, 2011 at 7:46 am

      Did you listen to the podcast or just read the title? They would love this over at fMh!

  16. Ziff
    September 3, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I loved this podcast! One point I particularly liked was made by (I think) Jennifer Finlayson-Fife about how difficult it is to be told by the Church not only *what* you should do (be a mother, right now, preferably a SAHM, have lots of kids, etc.) but how you should *feel* about it. How exhausting to have your emotional reaction prescribed too: You should *love* this experience, or else!

    One other comment that stuck out to me was something Chelsea Shields Strayer (I think) said near the end about being surprised that motherhood was so great. Am I remembering that right? Anyway, I was wondering if the surprise wasn’t driven at least in part by all the Church’s over-the-top rhetoric about motherhood. I mean, if they have to push it *that hard*, it kind of suggests it’s a horrible job. Kind of like parents telling their kids how *yummy* the broccoli is. 🙂 Kind of funny, then, that you found that it was rewarding in spite of all that rhetoric with the metamessage that it must be truly awful.

    • Chelsea Shields Strayer
      September 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Exactly Ziff! I was so shocked that it really was THAT great. I mean, if it was SO great why is it always discussed as a duty, role, obligation, calling, etc. I just wish it was discussed as a blessing, a gift, etc. I think attitudes, decisions, and approaches to parenting would be completely different if that were the case. In a  larger generational context, I often felt like the parents I knew were largely overwhelmed and that kids were a fulfillment of a covenant, not necessarily individually wanted or planned. Most didn’t necessarily choose when to start having kids or exactly how many they were going to have. As such, I wonder if kids really did become a wonderful thing but more of a duty or task that needed to be “endured.” I’ve seen the same rhetoric used to describe eternal marriage “enduring to the end” and I wonder if we are missing the point altogether. If we CHOOSE who we marry (and make it a wise choice) and we CHOOSE about our own fertility those things become a blessing not a trial to endure. I think we are starting on all the wrong premises in regard to family. If it really is the most important thing, why do we let the church get in the way of it sometimes, i.e. it can get in the way of great marriages (i.e. getting married young, not dating long, incomplete sexual education, breaking apart if one leaves the church, etc) and families (women feeling socially coerced into young motherhood, lots of kids, not working, men working overtime to provide enough, etc.) If the family really was the most important thing (which I think it is) then why isn’t the church the greatest supporter of great families encouraging the best/healthiest possible relationships, rather than 1950’s normative roles. What do you think?

  17. Guest
    September 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Ziff:
    Hello, they are feminists.  Their job is to tear down motherhood and the church.

  18. Guest
    September 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I realize that it talks about equality but when I read that a woman loves being a mother that’s when I knew FMH would not like this post.

    • September 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      What? Since when was it a requirement to hate motherhood to be a feminist? Certainly not in 2011 and most definitely not at fMh. 

    • Chelsea Shields Strayer
      September 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      I said on the podcast that I completely LOVE being a mother but forgot to mention that I’m also an ardent feminist, the acting president of WAVE (a feminist advocacy organization http://www.ldswave.org) also LOVE and participate regularly at fMh.

  19. Ziff
    September 4, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, I loved where you said this:

    I think one of the privileges I have as a therapist is I get
    to hear the other discourse, day after day after day. And I get to see how normal it is—that we all struggle with self-doubt, we all struggle as parents. We struggle to
    know what it means to love. We struggle to know what it means to believe. And
    it’s so universal, and yet sometimes when you sit in a church meeting, it feels
    as if everybody’s got all the answers and they know exactly what they’re doing,
    and it’s just absolutely wrong.

    I think your point about how normal struggles are is probably true of many different types of struggles. Your experience that people won’t say anything at church because they fear their experience is “wrong,” but will clearly say something to you when they see you for therapy reminded me of Apame’s post at Zelophehad’s Daughters about her experience opening up in a talk about her crisis of faith:

    http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2011/08/31/the-talk-i-always-wanted-to-give/

    • Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
      September 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      Loved the talk!  Thank you for pointing me to it.

  20. Guest
    September 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm
  21. Guest
    September 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm
  22. Guest
    September 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm
  23. Jake
    September 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I have heard women (men too for that matter) both in and
    outside the church (even celebrities) say that being a parent has given them
    the greatest satisfaction in life. However, I have never heard anyone say that
    because of this, they want to focus on raising children to the exclusion of
    everything else. Parenthood, like anything else, is rewarding when it is part
    of a healthy, balanced life. Everyone – both men and women – have a need for professional
    accomplishment, artistic expression, a full social life, a healthy romantic
    life, a healthy diet, adequate exercise and sleep, opportunities for continuing
    education, cultural development, intellectual stimulation, etc., etc. Of course
    the mix will be different for every person. It seems to me the problem with the
    LDS church’s defined role for women is it denies them this necessary balance. Such
    a narrow view of women harks back to early Christian debates as to whether
    women even had souls!  Unfortunately, in
    such an authoritarian, patriarchal institution, I don’t see the LDS church
    changing its stance on this topic anytime soon. However, as the current reigning
    generation of general authorities die off and are replaced by more forward thinking
    leaders, this position will likely modify. However, the tragedy is how many
    young women will have left the church by then?

    • Chelsea Fife
      September 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      “…being a parent…the greatest satisfaction in life. However, I have never heard anyone say that because of this, they want to focus on raising children to the exclusion of
      everything else.”  Jake–this is such a great point!  Excellent comment all the way around!

  24. Anonymous
    September 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    There is a point in the podcast when one of the panelists says that womanhood is defined and packaged and given to women but manhood just IS.  I completely disagree.  I think there is just as much pressure on men to be a specific way and fill a specific role.

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      September 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks, Heather. This came up for me during the discussion, as well–though I wouldn’t have said I “completely disagree,” for I think the definitions and packaging are not nearly as well laid out as they are for motherhood. In the works: an episode on Mormon messages about men’s roles!

    • Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
      September 8, 2011 at 3:55 am

      Hi Heather, I agree that men’s roles are very defined also.  My suggestion, though, is that men’s roles are not communicated as a natural expression of masculinity/manhood the way that women’s roles are taught as a natural expression of femininity/womanhood.  For men, the fulfillment of these roles are understood more as a moral choice whereas for women, the fulfillment of their roles are seen more as an indication that they are being true to their nature.  

      • Anonymous
        September 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm

        Men are taught that their natural place is at the head of his family.  They are taught their natural role is that of a provider.  I don’t see the distinction.  Men who aren’t living up to the proscribed standards are told to “man-up” or “be a man.”  The implication seems the same to me.  Men are also expected to naturally be strong, driven, masculine, and have a certain set of interests or goals.  Sure, I’ll agree that men are told they are being immoral when they don’t live up to the expectations.  (The recent criticism of young men postponing marriage, is a good example.)  But women who don’t desire families are also told they are being immoral.  For example, Julie Beck’s talk didn’t claim women who don’t want children are not being “natural” women.  She was calling them out as sinners. 

  25. Guest
    September 7, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Heather, that’s the point.  Feminism is all about women.

    • Anonymous
      September 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      Don’t try to team up with me.  We’re not on the same page.

  26. Nonny
    September 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    This is one of the best podcasts I have ever listened to.  I was skeptical at first, as you led with rationalizing motherhood and  priesthood, but when you moved into the second part, you really had me.  This discussion really revealed how the institutional message shapes the way we view the role of motherhood.  I had never realized that before.  This completely resonated with me and explains the struggles I had over the  years as a mother.  Excellent information that I would like to share with all my daughters and nieces.

    • Chelsea Fife
      September 8, 2011 at 12:00 am

       Nonny, I appreciate what you said about never realizing “how the institutional message shapes the way we view the role of motherhood”.  That was my experience for many years before I began to understanding the cultural context I had been raised in.  It has been helpful for me as a mother to better understand how and why children develop the ideas the do.  My hope is that we will be able to raise a generation of strong and confident young men and young women who recognize that their value and worth are intrinsic and not contingent on their roles or their output.

  27. September 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for the podcast. It stimulated a rather lengthy response from me that I put on my blog: http://zvirzdin.blogspot.com/2011/09/on-womanhood-and-motherhood.html. Thanks again! I have many interests outside of taking care of my child, and I’ve always felt guilty for wanting to do them instead of intensely mothering my child. I obviously take care of my child, but I am seeking a balance.

  28. Paperpigeon
    September 8, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Dan invited me to post this here so here goes:

    As the Young Men’s Secretary in my ward, I sat in on Teacher’s Quorum on Sunday. The lesson was “An Aaronic Priesthood Holder Cherishes Womanhood.” After reading the “Cleave unto his wife” scripture (Gen. 2:24) the teacher read this quote from Victor L. Brown: “The Lord defined some very basic differences between men and women. He gave the male what we call masculine traits and the female feminine traits. He did not intend either of the sexes to adopt the other’s traits but, rather, that men should look and act like men and that women should look and act like women” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 56; or Ensign, June 1971, p. 55).

    I looked across the room at my friend Mark, an assistant leader and the thought came to my mind that we are both the primary cooks for our families. And then I just became bothered at the statement. Especially when I read that it came from a Conference Report from 1971. Do we not have any more current discussion points for our day than 40-year-old comments which in this case were obviously the result of previous decades steeped in chauvinism? (I won’t even touch the anti-homosexuality references by this sort of statement).

    What themes and traditions are being taught to our Young Men (Young Women) by using these archaic lesson manuals? And sending these kind of messages? 

    In my family, I do the cooking and the meal planning/shopping. The grocery list I use at the store is the one I’ve made—it’s not an errand list from my wife. I also do a lot of clothes shopping for my four children. I love to bake. I studied floral design before my mission. I owned and operated a stationery company for a few years. And yet I’m a huge sports fan and love to work in the yard and lay tile and build things. I would consider myself a very well-rounded heterosexual Momma’s boy. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel that according to Victor Brown, that I’ve “adopted” too many female traits.

    I get tired of the incessant bravado and machismo from my other male friends as if they have to prove that they aren’t effeminate in any way.

    As the Young Men’s Secretary in my ward, I sat in on Teacher’s Quorum on Sunday. The lesson was “An Aaronic Priesthood Holder Cherishes Womanhood.” After reading the “Cleave unto his wife” scripture (Gen. 2:24) the teacher read this quote from Victor L. Brown: “The Lord defined some very basic differences between men and women. He gave the male what we call masculine traits and the female feminine traits. He did not intend either of the sexes to adopt the other’s traits but, rather, that men should look and act like men and that women should look and act like women” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 56; or Ensign, June 1971, p. 55).

    I looked across the room at my friend Mark, an assistant leader and the thought came to my mind that we are both the primary cooks for our families. And then I just became bothered at the statement. Especially when I read that it came from a Conference Report from 1971. Do we not have any more current discussion points for our day than 40-year-old comments which in this case were obviously the result of previous decades steeped in chauvinism? (I won’t even touch the anti-homosexuality references by this sort of statement).

    What themes and traditions are being taught to our Young Men (Young Women) by using these archaic lesson manuals? 

    In my family, I do the cooking and the meal planning/shopping. The grocery list I use at the store is the one I’ve made—it’s not an errand list from my wife. I also do a lot of clothes shopping for my four children. I love to bake. I studied floral design before my mission. I owned and operated a stationery company for a few years. And yet I’m a huge sports fan and love to work in the yard and lay tile and build things. I would consider myself a very well-rounded heterosexual Momma’s boy. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel that according to Victor Brown, that I’ve “adopted” too many female traits.

    I get tired of the incessant bravado and machismo from my male friends who seem to have to prove that they aren’t effeminate in any way.

    But then I think of Christ who to me possesses very effeminate qualities. The one who embraced, touched and healed, was gentle and unassuming. I think of the Heinrich Hoffman painting of Him that hangs in my home with the soft face and forgiving eyes. 

    But let’s make sure our boys know that they are to beat their chests and roar like lions? I know this statement applies as much to the women, too. My neighbor below me built and installed her new kitchen cabinetry—and they are beautiful! And her husband is the fire chief of a neighboring town.

    On why a young man should respect his Mother most of all, the manual continues: “…She (Mother) also washes and presses his clothes, cooks his food, keeps the house clean, nurses him when sick, and does much to establish the quality of the home he lives in.”

    I’m probably rambling on, but I guess in the end a lesson on cherishing womenhood really has nothing to do with gender roles.

    I thought it was cool that my children didn’t run past me to Mom to have a wound dressed or to have a diaper changed. Rather, they saw us both as their helpers and leaders equally. I think my kids have a healthy example of mixed roles, but how do I compete and “undo” what they are being taught every Sunday? After all, I can’t sit in on every class they attend. Sigh. Thanks for letting me vent.

  29. Guest
    September 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Paper Pigeon
    Will you grow a pair? 

  30. Guest
    September 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Paper Pigeon:
    No disrespect intended but I read an article on the feminization of american men and your post hit it on the nail.

    • Anonymous
      September 9, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      Guest, getting close to deleting comments from you. You can’t tell someone to “grow a pair” and then think it’s okay if you say “no disrespect intended.” I don’t sense you have a real desire to engage the issues here. Am I right? What I am seeing as a theme in your posts is that you like to look at exceptions and things on the fringe and pretend they characterize the middle. Seems a strategy to avoid thinking. To keep life in boxes. Certainly not my temperament, nor a good match for the main audience for Mormon Matters podcasts. How accurate are my observations? Can you actually engage us? Will you make arguments? If not, please know that I’m (and I’m guessing many more readers are, as well) very tired of reading your quick hits that seem to me without genuine substance but not without a sneer….

  31. Ms. Paper Pigeon
    September 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    As his wife, I will attest that he already has “a pair.” And he bakes a mean blueberry coffee cake. (Sorry, Dan Witherspoon. I couldn’t help myself.)

  32. Rhonda
    September 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    This has been an interesting podcast. Thank you. There is so much that is really good. I hope that my comments are helpful to explore other perspectives on the topic.

    Defining the role of women in terms of motherhood in relation to the church is important. As important is the defining of womanhood/women’s roles that do not include motherhood in relation to the church.  

    I have so much sadness; I’m tired of trying to put it into words but here I will share the facts. I am happily married (not to an LDS man), and I am not a mother. I was baptized at 19 years old. Like most lifetime members I attended as many YA activities and sacrament meetings as I could. I don’t think I missed a Sunday in 15 years. I served a mission. I had HUGE hopes that I would marry LDS and bare children. In fact, I never doubted that the opportunity would be there. I was deeply invested in my walk as an LDS person. 

    None of the hopes I had as a YA came to fruition. My life is good for the most part, but church shows me from almost every angle that much of my life is incompatable with church culture and norms; the crux of that being that I am married to a man who is adamantly opposed to organized religion of any kind but who supports me being involved, and I have no children. The church’s emphasis on the importance of being a mother opens up wounds for me. My mother found it difficult to parent and when I told her several years ago that my husband I were talking about adopting (I have health issues that I discovered in my mid-twenties that would prevent me from having children), she told me that I would make a horrible mother. Even though I think she was projecting this still brings tears to my eyes. I really felt like I was bombarded with the impossibility of parenting from all sides physically, mentally, and emotionally. I can’t be at a church that emphasizes the glaring impossibility of motherhood in my life. It creates so much conflict that I don’t know how to resolve within the church. If motherhood is my devine destiny then it should be assumed that there are children waiting for me whom I’VE turned from and abandoned. That grief and guilt can be overwhelming. I think I cope with that by asking myself from time to time if I really wanted children and saying to myself that at least my health gave me an excuse not to have them. Then that makes me feel guilty. Much of my thinking is tied up in whether or not I am a mother. For instance right now I am spending an hour putting my thoughts together on this blog when I have skills and abilities that I could be working on that don’t revolve around the subject of motherhood. But here I am, drawn to this subject and the only thing that the subject has given me; pain. This is a never-ending conflict for me and I find it a huge struggle to stay invested in a church that constantly reminds me, not if I fit the mould of RIGHT parenting, but that I am simply not a parent. The glare is a constant reminder that whether I think that I could have done it or not there is something deep down inside that gives me overwhelming sadness that I was never meant to even try to be somebody’s mom.

    There is a BOM scripture somewhere that says the words “Our joy is as exceedingly great as is our pain”. This is my experience in listening to the panelists as they talked about the breaking open of their hearts that no other experience other than motherhood and fatherhood can do. As joyful or life-changing as that experience was for them, hearing those words, as I’ve heard those sentiments for many years not just in mormonism, is equally devastating. Where does a person like me fit into a church like this? I don’t even LOOK like I COULD fit the mould. I sound pitiful, yes. I hope, though, that I speak for someone out there who is experiencing the same thing who wonder where they and their experiences fit in.

    I want to express that even though I was a convert my experiences and feelings about the church are no less intense as the feelings and experiences of others who have been lifetime members; I know this because I can closely relate to the joy AND frustration and anixety that has been expressed on all of these sites. 

    Thank you giving me an opportunity to share my perspective, queries, and pain without judgement.  

    • Chelsea Shields Strayer
      September 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story Rhonda. I wish we had devoted a little bit more time to this. I mentioned, albeit briefly, in the podcast that it is a harmful system when you tell someone their worth is wrapped up into something that they have no control over. Social, physical, economic, and mental issues all influence when, how, how many, and if of motherhood and often we can’t predict or plan for many of these. I have many friends that are trying to navigate their social role in the church as women who are single, infertile, transgendered, and/or those choosing not to have children. In my perspective, and I may be wrong, the solution is to approach our religion from a less-gendered view. If we all focus on eternal progression, being Christlike, serving others, etc. would it matter so much if we were male or female? Mothers or providers?

  33. Sarah
    September 14, 2011 at 4:14 am

    What a great podcast!  I’m a single 38-year woman who has spent a lot of time pondering and trying to understand what (in my opinion) has almost become an obsession with motherhood in the church.   There’s nothing I want more than to have children (and no, I do not feel that way because the church has told me that’s what I want most), but it is apparently not in the cards for me.  I am embarrassed to admit this, but I have had to re-examine all of my beliefs over the last few years, and have had to teach myself that I am inherently valuable EVEN IF I NEVER HAVE CHILDREN.   Not cramming into the mold I was told I should cram into threw me into a bit of a depression and I deeply regret every buying into the idea that “motherhood is next to womanhood.”   I recall a YW lesson on our “divine roles” where the teacher used me as a poster child and told the girls how wonderful it was that I had a job and a house and was a contributing member of society EVEN THOUGH I’D NEVER MARRIED OR REPRODUCED.  Needless to say, I was horrified.  I’ve also always resented being told that I’m nurturing or a natural mother simply because I’m a woman (trust me, I’m neither of those).  I’ve ALSO always found it a little weird and very unsettling that we (the male church leadership) put mothers on such a pedestal.  I expect that if I had children I would find it hard and rewarding and such an opportunity for growth.  I do desperately want the experience, which I see as one of the greatest manifestations of womanhood. But I refuse to believe that my life is a failure if I never have kids. I could rattle on, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated all the different perspectives.  And Dan, you are about the sweetest thing around!  Love what your personality brings to these podcasts!

  34. Chelle
    September 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I’m half way through and I’m PISSED!!!  I’m angry because of the misery I’ve had to deal with and the misery I see in women around me.  I’m about ready to never take my daughters to church again.  I don’t want them to grow up with these ideas and expectations that are going to make them miserable and depressed and angry and frustrated.
    Please tell me there is a way around this.  I’m hoping suggestions are given in the podcast about how to deal with these stifling ideas and how to counter the messages and create healthy environments for my girls to grow up in.

    • September 20, 2011 at 4:27 am

      When I have felt frustrated with “the Church,” I try to remember that a church—any church—is largely based on members of the society, and those members are flawed and society has to build on what they were given. I am currently living in a country where domestic violence towards women is very much the norm, and it is part of the culture. It is extremely hard to watch this without exploding. I spoke to a woman yesterday whose husband beats her and expects her to wait on him hand and foot. I told her that my husband does the dishes and irons his own clothes and she was amazed. However, they have progressed significantly as a society from the time they practiced infanticide. So they’re on a good trajectory. They’re progressing.

      These experiences have helped me see that the culture in the United States and many other places has indeed come a long way. Progression should be the key word. It takes a long time to change perceptions, so some people keep teaching stuff that is outdated. We as a society have to learn line upon line as well.

      As you teach your daughters about this life and how to be happy, you can open up channels of communication so that if they hear weird things from folks in church, they can come to you and you can talk about it and set them straight. I think that the blessings, knowledge, social skills, life skills, faith, and testimony that we get from church outweighs the occasional (or even frequent) false ideas and false expectations that are floating around. The Apostle Paul spent a huge portion of his life putting down false doctrines—we have to do the same thing. ‘Course, even Paul got a few things wrong…

      • rah
        September 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm

        Chelle,

        I think about these same things. We have two daughters now (and a couple of boys) but the only thing that has given me pause about my involvement in the Church is thinking about raising young girls in a potentially hurtful environment.  However, after thinking about it long and hard I have come to the conclusion that it is more than possible to raise strong, balanced women in the Church. I think this because first I see so many of them around me.  Second, at the end of the day it is the parents that have the most influence on their children, not the YW programs or church discourse in general.  It will be you that will help provide the interpretive lens by which your children filter their church experience.  Third, I believe things are changing within the Church, slowly but appreciably. Right now I would imagine there is a significant minority of wards with Primary/YW leaders/teachers etc. who are sensitive to these issues and would teach my girls in ways I am comfortable with (Chelsea, Chelsea and Jennifer or others like them for YW leaders!).  Even if we were faced with the situation of being in a ward where I thought the Primary/YWs programs etc were on the hurtful side I feel pretty confident in my ability as a parent to shield and educate my daughters from this and to help change the local practice/rhetoric (I dare them to try licking the cupcake or chewed bubble gum chastity lessons!).  In the event that doesn’t work we will just opt out.  I also figure that by the time my daughters hit YW that their leaders are far more likely to come from a generation of much more progressive women.  Finally, I do recognize that the messages about womanhood etc. that they will be inculcated with outside the church through media etc. may be different but equally or even more damaging in some instances to my girls.  I honestly think the church can help me in actively combating those.

               

        • Chelle
          September 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

          Thank you for your thoughts. 

      • Chelle
        September 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

        I agree.  Thanks for sharing your exprience and perspective with me.

        And regarding Paul, some of the things attributed to Paul were not Paul.  Especially the “women should cover their heads and be quite”  http://mormonstories.org/?p=1476

  35. Adam
    September 23, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Wow!  So many incredible insights in this discussion.  The Church could benefit from having any and all of these ladies on the General RS Board.  Thanks Dan and panel for another great podcast!

  36. Jessica
    September 27, 2011 at 2:55 am

    I haven’t read all these comments, but I just listened to this podcast. I am 34. I have been married for 7 years and have 2 kids, ages 3 and 7 weeks. These podcasts are like free therapy for me, undoing so many years of indoctrination. Thank you! I feel empowered by this insight I’m getting from you all and excited for my future, where once I felt confused, depressed and out-of-place. I thought this podcast was so helpful. I just have one comment that will come across as a critique, but hear me out.
    Chelsea Fife begins the podcast explaining how she had been thinking about this topic; that a woman’s purpose for this mortal life shouldn’t soley be placed in motherhood but rather as an individual who’s purpose is to return to Heavenly Father. She says that *this* is what the gospel (meaning Mormonism’s definition of the gospel I presume?) really teaches. I wish it was! I see this idea taught a little in our doctrine, but not stressed. I feel that Mormon doctrine actually *does* place motherhood at the core of a women’s identity and the goal to acheive (same applies to a man/fatherhood) by teaching that our eternal progression leads us to become gods/goddesses…to become heavenly parents. We are not taught that we will live in the eternities as individuals, but as spouses and parents. This wasn’t really addressed in the podcast. As I see it, such a main focus of Mormonism is about familial growth, not so much about individual growth as other faiths, Christian and non-Christian do. Of course this is a somewhat damaging-to-self teaching that leads to the depression, guilt, unhappiness, et. al that was discussed in the podcast. Beyond the Young Women value of Individual Worth, where in Mormonism does Chelsea Fife find this stressed?

  37. Jess
    October 1, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Thank you so much for this – it resonated with me very deeply. I wish that all my female friends could listen to this – and hey, my male friends too. Enlightenment for everyone. I just wish that all of you were in my ward, how fantastic would it be to have the three of you in my Relief Society? Thanks again, this discussion was something i really needed to hear right now.

  38. Embracing Light
    November 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I am so grateful for this podcast. To give a little
    background… I was raised in a very orthodox Mormon home. My husband and I
    were married in the temple after he served a mission. I am still a
    “believer”. My husband, although he attends with us, does not believe
    in the Church anymore. Our marriage has grown through this experience and so
    have I. One of the really important things that I have been able to do is
    finally embrace all of the struggles that I have had with the Church since I
    was a child (to name a few: blacks in the priesthood, feminist issues, stance
    on homosexuality). I may not know the answers yet, but I feel comfortable admitting I don’t
    have a “testimony” of the way the Church has dealt and continues to
    deal with these and other issues.

     

    Recently, my feminist ideas led a couple at Church and myself to have a small discussion. I left the discussion realizing
    that you can’t be friends with everyone. They left the conversation and
    explained to others in our acquaintance that I was an apostate that didn’t appreciate
    motherhood and thought all stay at moms were simpletons. Before I continue, I
    need to add that I am a stay at home mother. I also homeschool my children. After graduate school I decided to stay
    at home, but I enjoy working part-time.

     

    After I discovered that some people at Church were “afraid”
    to talk to me because I was a feminist (you know, it’s contagious) and others
    said I thought all stay at home moms were “stupid”, I seriously
    considered that maybe Mormonism wasn’t for me after all. My husband was hopeful, but told me he thought I shouldn’t leave the Church because I was offended (there are so many other reasons! :). After struggling for a
    while and talking to some very good friends, I realized that Mormonism is supposed to be about believing in Christ and I did want to be Mormon. I had every right to practice Mormonism in my way and left others to do
    the same.

     

    I
    was still trying to figure out how to best be “me” when I listened to this
    podcast. Any lingering thoughts of “I am alone in the way I feel” immediately
    left me. I am so grateful for Chelsea, Jennifer, Chelsea and Dan for the optimistic
    and open views they expressed. Each individual said something that touched me, at times using the exact phrases that
    were part of my recent discussion with the Church members. What a relief to know that out in
    the broad Mormon world there are other women and me like me. I felt empowered to
    attend Church and be me… an authentic me. I was even able to express
    my lack of testimony in Ephesians 5:22 in Sunday School a couple of weeks ago.
    Turns out there are other people (women and men) that feel the same and still
    believe in Christ… imagine that!

     

    Thank you all for “giving a hug” to a Mormon woman that felt very alone.
    I will be back to Mormon Matters for more.

  39. Embracing Light
    November 14, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I am so grateful for this podcast. To give a little background… I was raised in a very orthodox Mormon home. My husband and I were married in the temple after he served a mission. I am still a “believer”. My husband, although he attends with us, does not believe in the Church anymore. Our marriage has grown through this experience and so have I. One of the really important things that I have been able to do is finally embrace all of the struggles that I have had with the Church since I was a child (to name a few: blacks in the priesthood, feminist issues, stance on homosexuality). I may not know the answers yet, but I feel comfortable admitting I don’t have a “testimony” of the way the Church has dealt and continues to deal with these and other issues.

    Recently, my feminist ideas led a couple at Church and myself to have a small discussion. I left the discussion realizing that you can’t be friends with everyone. They left the conversation and explained to others in our acquaintance that I was an apostate that didn’t appreciate motherhood and thought all stay at moms were simpletons. Before I continue, I need to add that I am a stay at home mother. I also homeschool my children. After graduate school I decided to stay at home, but I enjoy working part-time.

    After I discovered that some people at Church were “afraid” to talk to me because I was a feminist (you know, it’s contagious) and others said I thought all stay at home moms were “stupid”, I seriously considered that maybe Mormonism wasn’t for me after all. My husband was hopeful, but told me he thought I shouldn’t leave the Church because I was offended (there are so many other reasons! :). After struggling for a while and talking to some very good friends, I realized that Mormonism is supposed to be about believing in Christ and I did want to be Mormon. I had every right to practice Mormonism in my way and left others to do the same.

    I was still trying to figure out how to best be “me” when I listened to this podcast. Any lingering thoughts of “I am alone in the way I feel” immediately left me. I am so grateful for Chelsea, Jennifer, Chelsea and Dan for the optimistic and open views they expressed. Each individual said something that touched me, at times using the exact phrases that were part of my recent discussion with the Church members. What a relief to know that out in the broad Mormon world there are other women and men like me. I felt empowered to attend Church and be me… an authentic me. I was even able to express my lack of testimony in Ephesians 5:22 in Sunday School a couple of weeks ago. Turns out there are other people (women and men) that feel the same and still believe in Christ… imagine that!

    Thank you all for “giving a hug” to a Mormon woman that felt very alone. I will be back to Mormon Matters for more.

  40. Embracing Light
    November 14, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I am so grateful for this podcast. To give a little background… I was raised in a very orthodox Mormon home. My husband and I were married in the temple after he served a mission. I am still a “believer”. My husband, although he attends with us, does not believe in the Church anymore. Our marriage has grown through this experience and so have I. One of the really important things that I have been able to do is finally embrace all of the struggles that I have had with the Church since I was a child (to name a few: blacks in the priesthood, feminist issues, stance on homosexuality). I may not know the answers yet, but I feel comfortable admitting I don’t have a “testimony” of the way the Church has dealt and continues to deal with these and other issues.

    Recently, my feminist ideas led a couple at Church and myself to have a small discussion. I left the discussion realizing that you can’t be friends with everyone. They left the conversation and explained to others in our acquaintance that I was an apostate that didn’t appreciate motherhood and thought all stay at moms were simpletons. Before I continue, I need to add that I am a stay at home mother. I also homeschool my children. After graduate school I decided to stay at home, but I enjoy working part-time.

    After I discovered that some people at Church were “afraid” to talk to me because I was a feminist (you know, it’s contagious) and others said I thought all stay at home moms were “stupid”, I seriously considered that maybe Mormonism wasn’t for me after all. My husband was hopeful, but told me he thought I shouldn’t leave the Church because I was offended (there are so many other reasons! :). After struggling for a while and talking to some very good friends, I realized that Mormonism is supposed to be about believing in Christ and I did want to be Mormon. I had every right to practice Mormonism in my way and left others to do the same.

    I was still trying to figure out how to best be “me” when I listened to this podcast. Any lingering thoughts of “I am alone in the way I feel” immediately left me. I am so grateful for Chelsea, Jennifer, Chelsea and Dan for the optimistic and open views they expressed. Each individual said something that touched me, at times using the exact phrases that were part of my recent discussion with the Church members. What a relief to know that out in the broad Mormon world there are other women and men like me. I felt empowered to attend Church and be me… an authentic me. I was even able to express my lack of testimony in Ephesians 5:22 in Sunday School a couple of weeks ago. Turns out there are other people (women and men) that feel the same and still believe in Christ… imagine that!

    Thank you all for “giving a hug” to a Mormon woman that felt very alone. I will be back to Mormon Matters for more.

  41. Matt F
    December 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    This was a excellent podcast!  I listened to it then had my wife then a few weeks latter I made my two teens (16 and 14) listen to it on the way to Utah for Thanksgiving.   Great discussion and thoughts!!  Great resource for my family.  

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      December 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      So awesome, Matt! Really pleased that this generated such a great discussion with even your teenagers! 

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  43. Danielle Smith
    May 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Hi there…. I just happened upon this post…..and well, you have a picture of my daughter and I right there… I find this strange because a) there is no attribution for the picture and b) no one ever asked permission to use it – I would love it if you would take it down please. Thank you very much. I look forward to hearing back from you.

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      May 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Danielle, I have been gone and away from my computer from early afternoon until now, and just saw this comment storm. I have taken the photo down. I don’t know where it came from originally, and certainly apologize for unauthorized use and am acting immediately to delete it upon learning of the situation. Completely unaware of origins of the photo. As far as deleting comments goes, I didn’t do anything in that area and even now don’t see any deleted comments. All comments seem to be here (at least the ones that came into my email account), including the one where you said things were deleted. All my best, Dan

  44. Danielle Smith
    May 6, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    So funny…. I left a comment a few hours ago about you using our photo UNAUTHORIZED and the comment disappeared. Strange. PLEASE don’t make me make a bigger deal out of this. The photo you are using in this post is my daughter and I and you are using it WITHOUT PERMISSION. That is copyright infringement. I won’t go away quietly. I have traced it and know EXACTLY which post from my site you took it from. Please take it down. Thank you.

  45. Danielle Smith
    May 6, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Please know…. you can continue to delete comments…. and I can continue to screenshot (as I already have) and I can continue to comment again. Thank you for showcasing your true colors and making my decisions easier. Remarkable that a religious site touting ‘motherhood’ is STEALING content and refusing to make the simple, right, easy, decision by removing the unauthorized content it is using. You could have claimed ‘accident’, and corrected it, but by deleting (which I can now prove) you are further implicating yourself and this site. A true shame.

  46. May 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    As a fan of this podcast I am very disappointed to learn that you have used the above picture of my friend, Danielle Smith, without permission. I am further discouraged to hear that when she asked her picture to be removed you deleted her comment twice.
    This is not how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should act. This is not how ANY Christian should act. Please take down her picture and do not take photos without permission.

  47. May 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Just a heads up, the picture you’re using on this post belongs to another blogger and is being used without permission. Can you please do the right thing and take it down? I’m sure there’s a free stock photo out there that can take its place. It’s just not okay to take someone else’s photo like that.

  48. May 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    How about you take down the photo that you’re using in this post. She asked nicely. Twice. This will be the only time I do.

  49. May 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    It’s really easy – you go to creativecommons.org, or Google “flickr creative commons” and find images of motherhood that CAN be used with attribution, and you swap out this stolen image you’ve used above. Or, be faced with DMCA takedown notices to your web host, and that would be WAY worse. Your call.

  50. Christi Williams
    May 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    You need to remove this unauthorized picture. You have been asked,
    more than once by the owner of that picture. Not only is it her property, she is the mother of the minor child in that picture.

  51. greeblemonkey
    May 6, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Please discontinue the unauthorized use of a copyrighted photo by Danielle Smith, (the girl and her mom biting an apple) above. Deleting comments on the subject is not the answer, because that unfortunately only makes the situation get louder. Not only is your use of the photo illegal, it goes against the message you are trying to convey.

  52. LeticiaTechSavvyMama
    May 6, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    It’s never ok to steal other people’s content. The photo in your post belongs to Danielle Smith and violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because it was used without her permission. LisaCrazyAdventuresinParenting suggested some great sources of free photos that can be used instead of Danielle’s.

  53. Jill Bender
    May 6, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Like the good people above me say… remove the picture that does not belong to you because using it without permission, which you obviously don’t have, is theft.

  54. Christine Irene Lockamy
    May 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    You need to remove the pictures that are not yours. I am Mormon and do you have any idea how bad it makes the church look in the blogging community? Stop deleting the comments requesting they be removed, and just remove them! Stop making me look bad.

  55. Christi Williams
    May 6, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Thank you for removing the picture.

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