In 2012, I was serving in the Stake Young Women’s presidency and my oldest turned 12. Between my calling and my oldest child, the lives, interests, and struggles of youth were in the forefront of my mind, and thus the forefront of my study.
Years before, struggling with small children, I asked a bishop why the Book of Mormon told us to not let our children fight, yet offered no concrete advice on how to prevent or stop the quarreling. He motioned to the credenza behind his desk, which had a stack of books on various topics, including parenting. He reminded me that other LDS scriptures (some of my favorites) admonished us to seek wisdom from the best books. I already knew from a lifetime of reading that there are countless “best books,” and was glad of this reminder. I continued my lifelong pleasure of seeking truth and learning from all the sources where it can be found.
Thus, as a studious mother and youth leader, I became aware of “best practices,” methods that have been proven through research and experience. Another LDS teaching is “by their fruits, ye shall know them.” Best practices with great fruits suggested to me that children should not be interviewed alone by a single, untrained adult. My bishop at the time was and is a good man and a friend of mine, and I wanted to protect him as well as my children. It takes just one hint of inappropriateness to drag down a good man, after all.
I told my bishop we had a new family policy in the area of interviews for my children, and he had no objections to it. Neither did my best bishop. The third and fourth bishops pushed back on my family policy a little, but I held firm and will continue to do so, and my wishes have been respected. My children are not interviewed without a parent or trusted adult of their own choice in the room along with the interviewer.
I do enlist my children in their own protection as well. They are instructed to never be interviewed alone by any adult in the church (lay leadership being untrained) and that the only question the leader is allowed to ask is “do you keep the law of chastity?” If any other sexual questions are asked, I teach my kids to say “that is not appropriate” and walk out of the room. Since our policy is respected, this training has not been used in real life.
As one final note, my best bishop ever was a branch president in an “experimental unit” in Utah, a brainchild of Elder Scott’s. He was a retired therapist and family counselor, with years of education, qualifications, and experience, and the difference was striking.