“Their Calling Helped,” Ensign, June 1994, 64–65
It was a bright, sunny day in early April when my daughter, Susan, then fourteen years old, rushed into the house in a torrent of tears.
“I always pick the wrong friends!” She said. She related that her “friends” at school had invited her to a party that night where they would be “doing drugs.” Afraid of missing out on something fun, Susan had agreed to go to the party. As she sat in her math class, it was clear to Susan that she had made the wrong choice, yet she wanted desperately to be a part of the group. Throughout that class period, she battled with her conscience. After class she told her friends that she wasn’t going to “do drugs,” and they became very angry. They informed her that if she didn’t, she could go back to being the nerd of the school because she wouldn’t be allowed to hang around them, and furthermore, they would actively make her life miserable.
Unfortunately, this came at a time when Susan was feeling particularly vulnerable. She was in the tall, gangly stage. Social skills didn’t come naturally for her, and she sometimes offended people with her loud, brash ways. Consequently, she was an extremely lonely girl. This had been the first group of her peers to accept her—and acceptance was so important to her.
“What am I going to do, Mother?” she wailed. “If I don’t go tonight I will be the nerd of the school, and I can’t be that again. I don’t have any other friends.”
I told her how I felt—strongly. I praised her for making the right decision in a difficult situation. But with a sinking heart, I could see my comments missing the mark. I could tell she was seriously trying to figure out a way to keep the friendship of these people, and I knew that if she did she would be pressured to make unwise choices.
I excused myself, telling her that I knew she would continue to make the right choices, but in my heart I was not so sure. I feared that peer pressure was too much for Susan at this time in her young life; she would crumple if she did not have help now, and she needed something more than her family’s love.
I sat at my desk praying about how to help my child. I thought of a dear friend’s agony when her daughter turned to drugs. I remembered this mother asking me why the youth leaders of our ward had not come to help her daughter. I also remembered making a decision that if that challenge ever came into my life, I would not wait for my children’s youth leaders to offer help—I would ask them for help. I picked up the phone and called Susan’s seminary teacher.
“Sister Cole, I am having a problem with Susan that maybe you could help me with. This is what is happening.” I laid my pride aside and told her everything, adding, “I would appreciate anything you can do or even a suggestion that might help Susan.” I then called Sister Dunn, one of Susan’s Young Women advisers, and related the story.
A short time later the phone rang.
“Mom,” an eager-faced Susan said as she rushed into my room. “It’s Sister Dunn on the phone. She wants to know if I have time to go for a soda and just talk. Can I, Mom?”
That night Susan stayed home from the party. The next day her seminary teacher called and asked for Susan’s help with a class project. I asked Susan later what her “friends” had said about her not showing up for the party.
“They were really mad, Mom,” she answered quietly. “It doesn’t matter though—I don’t think I really want them for my friends.”
The next two months, Susan was very lonely at school. But her Church leaders came over to visit often throughout those weeks, involving her in their lives. If it had not been for their help, my daughter may not have been able to stand by her decision.
That day in April when Susan decided not to go to the party seemed to be one of the major turning points in her life. The next year she became actively involved with band, choir, and theater. In Susan’s senior year of high school, she began to reap the rewards of her wise choices as she was recognized for her participation in and service to school, community, and church. The bud of both her inner and outer beauty fairly burst into bloom as she distinguished herself in many ways.
Now doing well in college, Susan still has no idea that I called for help that day in April. I may not tell her until she is a mother herself.