“Comment,” Ensign, Apr. 1991, 80


My Heart Aches

I read with interest “Vandalized! What to Do?” in your December 1990 issue. My mind went back some ten years to when our son was a bright, active eleven-year-old. Our son, who had begun to take great delight in making life uncomfortable for another eleven-year-old boy who lived in our neighborhood, had resisted our attempts to convince him that his behavior was inappropriate. He even succeeded in organizing other neighborhood children to pick on this boy.

What began as a “boys-will-be-boys” incident soon escalated to a miserable situation. The boy’s father called the police, and our son was taken to a juvenile detention center and charged with assault. Thinking that a few hours in detention, an appearance before a juvenile court judge, and some service hours as a fine would be a good lesson for the headstrong lad, we allowed him to suffer the consequences of his behavior.

Many hours in counseling sessions, parenting classes, and juvenile court sessions have followed that fateful day. After years of soul-searching, studying, and praying, I still have no answers. Who is to say whether what that father did—and our reaction to it—was right or wrong? I only know that as I write this, my heart aches for my son, now nearly twenty-one years old, who sits in a county jail serving a year’s sentence for repeated illegal consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

I wonder if a plate of chocolate chip cookies rather than a call to the police might have made a difference.

Name Withheld upon Request

Examples of Appropriate Language

I read your recent article on vulgarity and profanity (February 1991) and would like to share an observation. For the most part, I’ve seen Latter-day Saints refrain from profaning the Lord’s name because of their respect for him. But some aren’t so careful when it comes to other forms of verbal vulgarity. Why don’t we teach each other frankly about what is base and not acceptable in polite society? Unless we use some examples in teaching and firmly but lovingly correct others’ usage of such words, how will the next generation understand?

The Spirit whispers that a better way to fight vulgarity is, for the most part, to ignore the negative and emphasize the positive that replaces it. This is most effectively done by correcting our own children when they use bad words. We need not obnoxiously correct others; a positive example will go far.

The Church teaches us as the Savior would—by not offending, and by placing enough trust in us that, because of our divine nature, we will choose the right, given enough positive exposure. Christ had followers not because he punished or chastised them but because he showed love and set a positive example. He knew their faults would fall by the wayside as they strove to live by the principles he taught. Those people truly came to him. If we handle vulgarity in the same way, people in our day will come unto the Savior as well.

Christopher S. Miasnik
Mendon, Utah