“Establishing a Righteous Identity: A Conversation with Ardeth Kapp, Young Women General President,” Ensign, Feb. 1986, 78–79
At the Young Women’s Fireside broadcast last November, young women were called upon to “stand for truth and righteousness” and were introduced to the Young Women Values. In conjunction with that fireside, the Ensign visited with Sister Ardeth Kapp, Young Women general president.
Here is part of that conversation:
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing our young women today?
A: Many of our young women seem to have an unclear sense of identity. They don’t have a sure understanding of what it means to be young women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This leaves them susceptible to the negative influences of the world. Advertisements, entertainment, and the media promote the idea that to be physically attractive and popular with young men is of utmost importance. Thus, the more dates, the more boyfriends a young woman has, the greater her worth.
If this is the only standard by which a young woman judges her worth, the result is often low self-esteem. As young women come to better understand who they are and gain a sense of their divine destiny, they will be better prepared to withstand the temptations of the world. They will also find fulfillment through gaining knowledge, rendering service to others, and making decisions based on their knowledge of right and wrong.
Q: What image or identity would you like to see our young women have?
A: I believe all women, younger and older, should have the desire to become “righteous women.” Such a woman is grounded in gospel principles and understands that the Lord has a purpose for her life; she desires to discover and magnify her God-given talents.
We sometimes look at a young woman in a very narrow way, usually in terms of what she should do—becoming a mother, for example, or preparing for employment. But what a young woman should do foremost is to become increasingly more righteous, so that she will be in tune with the Lord’s will for her.
Becoming a wife and mother should be an important goal for every young woman. Still, the realities of our day are such that many of our young women won’t have that opportunity at the time they may have anticipated it.
Every young woman can prepare to enrich, protect, and guard the home. For some, and we hope for most, this will mean being at the hearth with their family. But for others, it may mean being in the chemistry lab fighting disease or in the political arena defending eternal values. All of this contributes to and guards the home.
Q: What are the Young Women Values mentioned in the fireside and how can they help young women?
A: The Young Women Values—Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, and Integrity—serve as a guide to every young woman. These values can help a young woman understand who she really is and give her an identity apart from the world. The gospel principles expressed in the Values help her to increase her faith in Heavenly Father and to realize that the qualities she possesses are part of her divine nature. These understandings will guide her in setting goals, in evaluating her progress, and in making her life purposeful.
The Values do not represent a change in the Young Women program; rather, they are meant to be integrated with the existing program. When a lesson relates to one of the Values, the lesson should be identified with it. The Values should also provide a guide for planning all activities with a purpose—that of strengthening young women in the gospel.
Q: How can youth activities do that?
A: I prefer the word experiences to the term activities. All our experiences ought to provide us with opportunities for learning and growth. We need fun times, but even in the fun we need experiences which bring the warm and satisfying feelings that come when living the gospel—experiences that provide opportunities for serving others, learning leadership skills, and developing and sharing talents.
Q: What can we as parents and leaders do to help?
A: The Young Women Values have been selected to help young women know who they are and what to stand for during a time when peer pressure and acceptance by others exert a major influence in their lives. Understanding the values expressed in the Young Women program can help parents reinforce these principles as they help their daughters realize a righteous, happy life and strengthen their commitment to the gospel.
It is the responsibility of Young Women leaders to assist and support the parents in strengthening the youth. The purpose of the Young Women program, in fact, is to provide experiences that reinforce the values parents teach their children. Thus, parents who become familiar with the programs of the Young Women organization encourage participation in it because they see it as a resource that supports and strengthens their own efforts.
Q: What of those who have problems reaching the youth?
A: We are very much aware that these are not easy times. But we are confident that youth can be reached. We need to show them unconditional love and forgiveness and teach the principles of faith and repentance, showing them the clear, narrow path to a secure happiness. We need adult leaders with strong testimonies of the restored gospel who provide examples of righteous living.
Our goals are to keep the spiritually strong youth growing in testimony and to reach out to those who are not as strong. We need to let those who stray know that there is a way back and that we truly want them back. Whatever time or commitment it takes is worth the sacrifice if even one young person is guided safely home.