Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Everything here is copy written. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Becoming Your Own Person

Dear Bro Jo,

Unlike most Mormons I didn't go to BYU or BYU-I, I ended up going to a small Catholic university close to home. I can say that it has not been easy.

My parents don't want me to live on campus because they don't feel that it would be a safe environment.

So I have been living at home and commuting every day.

This has caused a couple problems.

1) My social life is basically non-existent because it is a 45 minute drive from home to school and because my mom wants constant updates about where I am and who I am with. I understand that she wants to make sure that I am safe, but it's a little much sometimes. I always have to get her approval to stay for something. I can't just text her and say I'm doing this and I'll be home later.

2) I have found it hard to make friends because everyone just wants to go out and party. I have a few friends from my major, but it's not like they are inviting me to hang out with them. I often feel very lonely.

3) Out of the few friends I do have, I have one great guy friend that is basically the only one who ever invites me to hang out. But my mom does not like him. She thinks that he is telling me that I don't have to listen to her because I'm 18 etc. That is only somewhat true, he was like that at first, but I explained to him that my mom is concerned about me and I need to keep her updated. So now he knows that I have to ask my mom first. This often causes me and my mom to argue.

4) My mom promised that since I was staying at home for college that she would give me more freedom and that I wouldn't have to do as much around the house so I could focus on school work. That promise has not really been fulfilled. Like I said before I can't even leave the house without telling my mom where I'm going, who I will be with and how long I will be gone. I'm okay with telling my mom all of that, but I'm not okay with having to get permission to go out.

I'm 18, shouldn't I be able to tell my mom that I'm going out and not have to ask if I can go out?

Especially since she promised that that's the way it would be.

Whenever I try and bring this up she always gets mad at me.

I tell her that if I had chosen to go to BYU-I (I was planning on going there, but plans changed) instead of the school I'm at now that I wouldn't have to inform her about every little detail of my life.

As for helping out around the house, that has not changed . . . I should tell you a little about my family.

My parents have adopted 8 kids, which turned our family of 7 into a family of 15.

For the last 5 or so years, I have been the main helper around the house.

My older sisters could always find ways to get out of helping.

Now back to today.

My mom said that I wouldn't have to help with the kids so much so I would be able to focus on my school work.

Yeah not so much. 4 out of 5 days I'm not home until 6 or 7, but I am still roped into getting kids in pjs, helping with homework, bathing, and getting them in bed.

Getting 8 kids ready for bed is no easy task, but we get done with it around 8:15 or so.

After this I usually have dinner and then it's time for homework before I go to bed between 10:30 and 11. 

More often then not, my mom asks me to help clean up the house.

So this means that I'm not free to do homework until almost 10 and by then I'm exhausted.

I try to get as much homework done during my breaks between classes, but I still have a lot when I get home.

When I try to talk to my mom about it she says that I barely do anything and that she and my dad do everything.

I don't know what to do.

I realize that this is a lot to take in, but these problems are making me think about moving up to campus (which is very expensive) or transferring to BYU.

I don't want to leave my current school, but I'm just getting so stressed out with everything that it's really hard to like staying here.

I could really use your advice.

- Stressed Out Commuter

Dear Stressed,

Look, I need to let you know that your email caught me in a particularly ornery mood . . . I don't think my advice on this is going to change, but it might come out more harshly than usual.

For that I apologize.

I think you need to start acting like the adult you are.

It's time to be your own person.

Take responsibility for your own life and your own education.

Transfer to the Y.

Get scholarships.

Get a job.

Support yourself.

Hug and kiss your parents.

Tell them you love them.

Then move away and become your own woman.

Your parents are the ones that adopted all of the kids, not you.

It's not your job to raise them.

Now is the time in your life when you need to find and make your own way.

If you're going to live at home, then commit to that choice and live that life.

But if you're as stressed out as you say, I think it's time to go.

- Bro Jo

PS:  For the record, "most" Mormons do not go to the Y OR the Y of I.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How Do You Deal with the Death of a Young Friend?

Dear Bro Jo.

Thank you for all you have written to me these past few days they have really helped.

I hate to come at you with another problem but when it rains it pours.

Late Sunday night or early Monday morning my friend passed away in her sleep. She was 32 and a wonderful member of our Church.

She was very active in theater and the community that we live in.

That being said, she and I shared many mutual friends who are non-members.

They keep asking me why someone who seemed so healthy and happy would die so suddenly and why God would allow such a good person to leave this earth, and I don't have an answer.

I am asking myself the same questions.

I have been looking for talks or scriptures to help give myself and those around me comfort, but I can't seem to find anything that can explain to our non-member friends why these things seem to happen.

Do you have anything in mind?

Thank you,

- A

Dear A,

There are many things that happen in this life that we just aren't going to understand here . . . but I do believe that we'll understand them later.

I am grateful that life is eternal, and that our time here, no matter how long we live, is but a blink of an eye compared to our whole existence.

You will get to see your friend again, and she will greet you with love and joy as a fellow Daughter of God. 

Sometimes I think that people die before we're ready for them to because Heavenly Father wants us to remember how precious life is, how important it is to Be Good and Do Good during the short time we have here, and how important it is that we all live our lives in such a way that we can all be reunited again in His kingdom.

Death is not a test for those that have died, but a reminder of what's important to those that remain.

We are sad because we miss those that have moved on, but they are not sad. If it helps, consider this: your friend got to live 32 years here instead of 31 . . . or 25 . . . or 1.

Rather than morn that she didn't get a 33rd year, let us be grateful for the time that we got to spend.

Let us not blame God for her passing, but thank him for the blessings we get every day.

Let her early death remind us to hug those we love, be a little kinder, smile a little more.

One of the wonderful things about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what it teaches us about our Eternal Nature:  we came from our Heavenly Parents, and because of the Atonement of the Savior we can return and live forever with our Friends and Families.

I find that gives me a lot of comfort . . . and motivation.

Now is a good time to be sharing the message of the Gospel with your non-member friends.

Well . . . anytime is . . . but you know what I mean.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 21, 2014

Should She Have Told Him How She Feels Before He Left?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am in a situation that I am not quite sure how to deal with.

I am 18 years old and I am starting to prepare for a mission.

The problem is that there is a Young Man you I have very strong feelings for who has been out in the field for about a month now.

I want to tell him how I feel but I feel if I tell him now that I would just be a distraction for him and that is the last thing he needs right now.

On the other hand I feel if I do not tell him soon I may not get the chance to.

We both know that we like each other but because I knew he was planning for a mission I did not press on trying to make a romantic relationship out of it. I wanted to keep us as best friends and hang out as friends to better know each other before he left.

When I found out officially when he was leaving for his mission I made a promise to myself that I would wait for him because I care that much about him.

I somewhat told him I would wait for him because I wanted him to know that I am always here for him.

I know that I would never send him a Dear John letter because my father had a Dear John sent to him on his mission and I definitely do not want to be "that" girl.

What advice do have for me that would help me in this interesting situation?


- Girl Who Waits

Dear Girl Who Waits,

My standard answer is that no girl should "wait" for a guy while he's on a mission, and no guy should ask her to wait. (For that matter, no guy should wait for a girl that's on a mission, either.)

You're right, it's not good to tell a guy while he's on his mission that you have feelings for him.

It's a distraction at best, and could be quite confusing.

What you're supposed to be doing is going on dates with other guys, not waiting around for something that may never happen.

These are some of your best dating years!

Go out and enjoy!

Then, once you submit your mission papers, stop dating until you come home.

"Having strong feelings" is not the same as "being in a relationship"; you can't "Dear John" someone unless you had some sort of commitment before he left.

Your father's experience is another reason why I tell young people that "all bets are off" once the paperwork is filed.

I think you should "un-promise" yourself.

People change . . . A LOT . . . in two years apart; while it occasionally works out, most of the time it doesn't.

Even couples that are, at the time, convinced that they've found their One True Love discover that they're in love with the idea more than the person, that they don't really know the person like they think they do, and that what they're clutching to is Security and Comfort much more than a potential Eternal Marriage.

(Long separations, IMHO, really only work when a marriage-level commitment is already in place.)

A Good Guy will understand that you’re focusing on Dating and then, if it's right, a Mission, while he's gone. 

Ergo, any guy that doesn't understand is not a guy you want.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo