Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » BTGOYD: IX. Can You Say No?

BTGOYD: IX. Can You Say No?

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 14, 2012

See here for overview.


Can You Say No?

The hardest questions are sometimes the “yes” and “no” kind. It is one thing to know when to say no, and it is something else to know how.

When you first learn to drive a car, you will find that it’s comparatively easy to keep rolling along when the road stretches ahead straight and clear, but when you get into heavy traffic or come to some really tough spots, it takes skill to avoid trouble.

It is somewhat the same with many other things. As you step out into a new type of social world, you’ll find that most of the going is very pleasant and the required skills come naturally, but occasionally you may hit a “rough spot” that could throw you off the road. Naturally you want to be in on what’s going on, but you don’t want to put any mortgage, however small, on your chances for life-long happiness.

Sooner or later you are apt to find yourself in a situation where members of the group suggest, or are doing, something contrary to your standards. (Smoking or drinking may be illustrations.) When you do, you will have to choose between three courses of action: (1) you may conform to the group and let go of your standards; (2) you may hold out, even if it costs you the approval of this particular group; or (3) you may try to change the group. The third would probably be the most desirable but we may as well admit that it’s practically impossible to do unless you are, or can become, a leader, as we shall see later.

You will have to make the choice yourself. You probably will have to make it on the spot and under pressure. Being forewarned and somewhat prepared will help.

What you do in the situation will depend on three factors: (1) your conscience, (2) your own feeling of adequacy or self confidence or personal security, and (3) the nature and extent of the pressure. Let’s analyze each of these.

How Would You Explain Conscience?

This is the force within you which lets you know whether the thing to be done is right or wrong for you.

This gift is probably inherent in every person and has been developed by what you have been taught, by your own observation of customs, behavior and the results. It has been strengthened by your natural desire to do what your parents and others who love you want you to do. It is your own personal code. It is also more than that. It’s a very effective police force. Even if you try to ignore it for a time, it has a way of plaguing you with doubts and regrets and undermining your peace of mind. You might argue with yourself, blame the other folks, make excuses, get angry, justify your behavior, but you can’t get away from your own conscience. It keeps lashing at you until it whips you into line again or until you change your code.

How Does Your Self-Confidence Make a Difference?

Your conscience and your personal standards or philosophy determine what you want to do or what you think you ought to do in a situation but whether or not you have the courage to do that in the face of any opposition or pressure depends on how you feel about yourself.

We are all influenced by what other people do because it is a normal desire for us to want to be like others and to win the approval of those around us. At the same time we each want to be individual and different. For instance, none of you would be comfortable in clothes that were conspicuously out of style or “different” from those your pals wear. Unless it were a costume affair you’d rather stay home than go to school in high button shoes, but if ever those come in style again, you’ll wear them willingly enough. On the other hand, you wouldn’t be comfortable if your mother insisted on having all of your clothes exactly like your younger sister’s, or if some girl you didn’t especially like copied that favorite skirt you designed for yourself.

Our desire to conform in matters of behavior is as strong as in matters of dress.

Most of us want to be different from others only in minor ways and then we want our differences to be in ways we consider better or superior.

If we have been able to be like the people we admire in enough ways that we feel comfortable and aren’t always struggling for prestige and worrying about what others think of us, we feel secure or adequate. That feeling gives us the self-confidence to say to ourselves, “In this matter, I can do as I wish. Even if my decision now makes me seem different from the others I won’t worry for this is a difference I have good reasons for – it’s a difference I like and my free agency gives me a perfect right to make this choice as I please.”

If your lack of security leads you to do something contrary to your own standards in order to remain inconspicuous and stay comfortable at the moment, the discomfort you feel later when your conscience – which you managed to throttle for a time – begins to nag you, will weaken your self-confidence and cut into your self-respect even more, so that unless you balance this with extra strong resolutions to resist whatever the temptation was, you will have even less security to help you next time.

How Does Another Individual or a Group Exert Pressure?

The extent to which you feel you must be like others in any particular situation depends on how important these others are to you at the time. Some people you don’t want to be like at all. you don’t care whether or not they like you. No persuasion they could think of would put any real pressure on you. Other people mean so much to you, you’d sacrifice your personal preferences a long way to please them. Even a hint of disapproval from them could throw you into a state of confusion.

It is important to remember, too, that the pressure created on you to conform and behave like others is good as well as bad.

In your life, the standards and example of good groups and individuals have probably done more to help you to do right than all the instruction you have ever had, and no doubt you have been much more frequently influenced by good group pressures than by bad ones.

You run into problems, though, when the standards of two groups you admire are different. We all need to feel that we have status, or acceptance with the people we like. we like our parents and so we want to keep their approval. we often like our teachers and a number of other adults, too, and usually we can please them with the same behavior that pleases our parents. On the other hand, we like our own age groups, also, and sometimes pleasing them gets us into hot water with adults.

If this group exerting pressure on you doesn’t seem too important, you may conclude there are other groups that you can enjoy just as much, and it will improve your standing with them if you say “no” now. So you may decide to stick to your standards and risk losing your place with this particular group.

Now, let’s look at another angle on this. Holding out, may not cost you the approval of the group after all, but it’s hard to tell in advance whether it will or not. It may be that you can say “no” in such a way that you thereby gain prestige and a little of the leadership you will need if eventually you are to be able to change the group.

You can decide how you will react to the situation. The effect of your refusal will depend on some things you can’t always control. If the thing in question doesn’t mean too much to the group members themselves, the pressure they exert on you may be very mild, in fact, they may not say a word. With less emotion involved it will be easier for you, and they are more apt to accept your refusal without any offense. If, however, their own indulgence in this thing they are urging on you has cost them a lot of inner conflict, and you refuse in a way that points out their own weakness and folly, they may try to smother their own consciences and justify themselves by making fun of you. That is why you will often find young people who were reared with the same teachings you were, particularly with regard to such things as smoking and drinking, will be more unkind in their pressure on you than those who are not members of your Church, and respect your right to your own religious convictions in the matter.

If, in the face of ridicule, you can still maintain your poise, you will be able to help them in the end, but it’s hard to do. And if you get angry, too, and strike back with lectures, scolding, or tears, you may lose your status with them, not because of your own stand so much as because of the discomfort it causes them and the fact that right now they have the majority on their side to give support.

Some of the individuals in the group, however, may really feel as you do and rally to your side and, if so, there will be the beginning of a new group strength with its pressure in a different direction.

This may seem complicated, but these are the forces that are in operation whether you recognize them or not. If you do understand them it will be easier for you to be prepared to meet the test.

Now is the time to set your standards and prepare yourself to meet any pressure with regard to smoking or drinking.

So let’s consider some actual situations.


There are many reasons why young people take up this habit – effect of advertising, group pressure operating as we have described above, the element of adventure, etc. Some young people think that it is a symbol of adulthood and helps to make them feel they are grown-up. This reason is more apt to operate if they have had to struggle rather hard to prove their increasing maturity.

Ruth accepted a date with a boy she had met at a stake mutual dance. She assumed he belonged to her church, since he was at this party and had been introduced by a friend. She was quite surprised when he took out a package of cigarettes and said, “Will you smoke one with me?”

How might Ruth have answered? What attitude would be apt to antagonize him and put him on the defensive?

Here is the conversation that took place:

“No, thanks just the same. I’ve never smoked.”

“Never tried it once?”

“No, not even once. How long have you smoked?”

“Oh, a couple of years, I guess. Made my mother pretty sick at first, but I guess she’s getting used to it some.”

“You’ve had enough experience then to know about it. Do you think I should learn to do it?”

“Golly, no, I think it’s a lot better if girls don’t – boys, too, I guess. It surely gets hold of you. You’re just right the way you are. A fellow’s in a funny spot, though. If you don’t offer a girl one it isn’t very generous if she does smoke, but I didn’t mean to infer you ought to do it.”

This was a fairly easy situation to meet, because it is always easier to work it out with just one person, and boys seldom try to put any pressure on girls in regard to smoking.

Can you imagine a situation where it would be a group of girls trying to persuade Ruth to try it? What would be the probable reaction to each of the following attitudes?

1. No, I don’t smoke, and I don’t like girls who do.

2. I guess I’m quite old-fashioned, but can you tell me some really good reasons why I should?

3. I would, but it would probably make me sick, and I’m going out tonight and want to feel good.

4. I like you girls a lot. Please don’t mind if I don’t do this. I enjoy doing other things with you very much.


Drinking may be a far more serious problem because of the things that may happen when people are under the influence of liquor. You might be taking your very life in your hands when you go riding with a boy who has been drinking even a little. You may have to be quite drastic in your dealing with situations involving drink, for your own protection.

But how might you say “no” if you unexpectedly find yourself in a place where the pressure is on you to drink with the group?

Joan had gone with Ken twice before and had a very good time. When he suggested they go with two other couples to the lake for a swim and a beach picnic, that seemed to promise fun, too, and she accepted. She offered to help with the lunch, but he said no, the boys would arrange that for once, something simple, just hot dogs and melons maybe.

The group was quite congenial and all went smoothly until they were ready to eat. Then Jack, one of the fellows, brought several bottles of beer from the car to go with the lunch.

As he set them down he said, “We didn’t bring any sissy drinks tonight. Is everybody game?” The girls looked at each other. He seemed to feel sure of his partner, Janet, because he said, “I know you like it.”

She laughed and answered, “Sure, I can take anything you can.”

“What about you, Madge?”

She had seemed a trifle doubtful, but followed Janet’s lead. “Okay by me.”

“Like beer, Joan?”

Joan answered, “No, I don’t drink it, but thanks just the same.”

She hoped they would let it go at that, and perhaps they would have done, but Jack apologized. “Well, gee, that’s too bad. We should have brought something else along.”

Janet saw a chance for a wisecrack. “Yeah, maybe some milk for the baby.”

That seemed funny to everyone but Joan, and since it went over well, Janet tried another joke. “Are you afraid mama might spank?”

The others had to add their bit, too, then Jack said, “Ken, you should have warned us that you were bringing the Sunday School teacher’s pet.”

Their remarks were light and bantering and punctuated with laughter, but Joan could feel the tears welling up and was glad it was dark. She had counted on support from Ken, but he weakened and said, “Oh, be a sport, no one’s going to tell on you, and one little drink of beer won’t hurt you.”

She had to face it alone and was on the verge of making an angry retort, but realized that would only make things worse and the party would probably break up in a quarrel. So she attempted a joke herself.

“Jack said he didn’t like mustard on his hot dogs. Why don’t you tell him what he’ll be missing if he skips some of the refreshments?”

Jack himself saw the logic of this. “You’ve got something there. If beer tasted as bad as mustard, I wouldn’t blame you.”

Joan felt encouraged. “Then let’s let Jack pass up the mustard, and I’ll pass up the beer, and please let’s forget it and go on having fun like we were before.”

It cost her a lot of effort to be as gay and sparkling as she had been, but she was determined to prove that she could have fun without joining in the drinking, and in a little while the tension had subsided and they were all joking together again.

When they arrived home, Ken asked her for another date. She liked Ken, but felt he had let her down at the picnic. “I guess I’d better not. You see, I’m really not a very good sport by the standards of your crowd. I’m afraid I embarrassed you in front of your friends.”

“No,” he said, “I’m the one who should apologize. You were the best sport there. Every one of them admired you, if they’d admit it.”

What do you think of the way Joan managed this situation?

You may never find yourself in a place where liquor is the only refreshment served. At least it isn’t likely that you’ll meet a problem similar to the following for several years, but if you ever do, you will no doubt feel that you are in a difficult spot.

Millie was only a sophomore in college, and so she was very thrilled when Gary, a popular senior, invited her to the Military Prom. As they left her home he explained, “We’re going to stop at Warren Brown’s first and a group of us are going on to the party together from there. Is that all right?”

She said it was, but as soon as she got inside the Brown home she realized he had brought her to a cocktail party. It was too late to back out or explain. The crowd was already welcoming Gary and she was being introduced to his friends. There were only two girls there she knew and it was something of a shock to her to see that they were drinking with the rest.

Several people were helping to serve the drinks, and someone called, “Come and get yours. The party’s on the house – don’t hang back and be bashful.”

Millie didn’t mean to accept a drink at all, but before she realized it, a glass had been thrust into her hand. “Oh, well,” she reasoned, “if I refuse this one someone else is apt to think I haven’t been served and bring me another. If I make a fuss, it will spoil our fun at the dance.” She looked around. One of the girls she knew was watching to see what she was going to do. “I’ll hold it,”she decided, “and won’t apologize to anybody, but I won’t drink it.” She carried it as she moved through the group at Gary’s elbow visiting with his friends. She chatted and smiled, but she didn’t drink. Most of the group had several refills, but as soon as she noticed some of them were returning their glasses to the table, she handed hers, untouched, to Gary to return for her.

As soon as he had a chance to say a word to her alone, he said, “I’m sorry I got you into something you didn’t like. You were awfully sweet about it, though. I’m sure you can count on my friends understanding how you felt.”

What else might Millie have done?

Do you think Gary could have managed the situation in a better way?

Reckless Driving

Another time girls need to be able to say an emphatic “no” is when they are in a car and the driver is risking life and property with too fast or reckless driving. It isn’t being a fraidy-cat or a spoil-sport to realize that no amount of thrill or excitement would balance the sorrow and suffering that could result from an accident. You are not only gambling with your own lives, but other motorists or pedestrians might be the victims. a driver with no feeling of responsibility for the safety of his passengers is either mentally incompetent or else just not grown-up enough to handle a car.


It isn’t smart to risk life and property to prove you are a sport.

In this case, it isn’t a matter of doing or not doing something someone else wants you to do, but you are the one who needs to create pressure that is effective in persuading the driver to use more caution. You may have to do this by saying a definite “No” to riding with him. You may have to remind the driver of the frequently quoted statements, “The reckless driver acts as if he owned the road, the careful driver as if he owns the car”; and “reckless” seldom means “wreck-less.”


Another of the areas in which you must decide what your standard of personal conduct will be as you begin dating is with reference to physical expressions of affection – kisses, hugs, holding hands, and so on – commonly referred to as “necking.”

Others can advise you and here again it’s wise to do some thinking beforehand about the “whys” and ‘why nots” and the different way you might deal with the issue, but when it actually comes up you’ll be on your own – the decision will be up to you.

Parents, teachers, youth counselors, church leaders, books, unanimously advise you against casting your kisses and caresses far and wide and making a habit of “necking” on your dates. Why? And if the “voice of experience” says to go easy why does it continue to be a problem and why do questions like “Is it all right to kiss a boy goodnight on the first date”? come up in practically every question box or discussion of dating problems? Here are two of the reasons.

1. Young people beginning to date often say they don’t know just what their responsibility is on a date, what is expected of them, or how to make the date successful.

Girls say the boys expect them to “neck” and since the boys make the dates the girls are afraid they won’t be asked again if they offend them; or they say that since the boys pay the expense and provide the entertainment they feel some obligation.

The interesting thing is that when groups of boys discuss this, they say about the same things. Many of them say they would rather not “neck” but they are anxious to do the right thing, to be liked, and have the girls willing to accept if they want to ask them again. They don’t want to give the impression that they “don’t know their way around”: and they say the girls seem to expect it. They snuggle against the boy’s shoulder, they sit in the car instead of suggesting that they go in the house, or they linger indecisively at the door as if waiting for something.


– and the boys say the girls expect it.

Perhaps sometimes the girl or the boy in the case does expect it, and perhaps other times either one might misinterpret the desire of the other and assume an “expectation” which was never intended, but it should take part of the pressure off to know that “necking” is never a social obligation.

Kisses and caresses are very personal gifts, meant only to express sincere and deep affection. Each partner on a date does owe the other courtesy, appreciation, respect for the other’s standards, and an honest effort to make the date enjoyable and worth while to both. But neither is ever obligated to indulge in “necking.” You wouldn’t want to be kissed and feel it was merely a duty in payment for entertainment, rather than an evidence that someone liked you very much.

II. There is another reason this is a problem, and that is the very strong element of physical attraction which creates for both boys and girls the urge to express even mild affection and the excitement and enjoyment of being together on a date, in caresses. It’s very important to understand this for there are several dangers you need to guard against.

In the first place it’s so easy to misinterpret your own feelings and imagine you like a person much more than you actually do. Two young people dressed up and looking their best, wearing their party manners, who have spent an enjoyable evening together can easily fall under the spell of music and moonlight and imagine they are expressing a great deal of affection in a goodnight kiss because they feel romantic, when they aren’t congenial personalities who could really love each other at all. They are merely thrilled with being young and having fun and with the glamor and excitement of dating.

Another reason it’s wise to avoid “necking” is the danger that you’ll spend too much of your dating time at it instead of using this time to learn to understand boys as personalities and to discover what qualities you eventually want in a mate. One important purpose of dating is to learn how to fall in love in a mature way and how to choose the right partner for a successful marriage.

Love that is a basis for a good marriage must include companionship, mutual respect, sharing of interests, ideals and goals, and the kind of understanding that appreciates a person as he is without expecting perfection. You have to know a person very well and see him in many kinds of situations to love him that way. Physical attraction is one element of love but alone it isn’t enough and many young people decide they are in love merely because they want to do a lot of petting when they are together and they never discover until after they are unhappily married that they were only infatuated and not suitable for each other after all.

Another danger is that you can so easily drift into a habit of necking so you do come to expect it. The more you do of it the more difficult it is to control your own emotions and your partner’s.

It’s hard enough to resist the pressure of another person’s persuasion on any issue. You have a much more difficult problem when you also have a conflict between what you think you should do and what you yourself want to do at the moment. But this is one of those questions on which it’s especially important to take a long-range view.

There is still another reason for caution. Most young people are sensible enough to realize that it’s much wiser to do very little necking (and no petting at all).

So an almost universally accepted standard among young people themselves is that you don’t kiss every date and that necking merely for the sake of the physical sensation produced when it doesn’t express genuine affection is cheap and to be avoided. Now in this matter as in many others already mentioned, whenever you yield to the pressure of the moment and do something contrary to your own standards you are bound to regret it afterward and you will suffer a loss of self-respect. You are apt to blame the other person and feel less respect for him. Likewise the boy who comes to feel that you are the reason for his not abiding by his standard of conduct may resent you and you lose the respect of even those boys who urge you to indulge.

Boys place about the same value on your caresses that you do. Each boy would like to feel that he’s the only one you like that well, but if you give your kisses freely to any and every one you go out with, the news soon spreads and they won’t seem very special or important to anyone.

When a man chooses the girl who is to be the one and only for him, he wants to think her caresses mean something very special to him and haven’t been practiced on every boy she ever went out with before. Just ask your Dad or a big brother.

“Don’t you have to pet to be popular?” girls ask. The answer decidedly is, “No, of course not.” The only girls who have to pet to keep boys ringing their doorbell are those who haven’t the personality to be interesting and attractive any other way. But let’s face this issue honestly. In this, as in other areas, you can set your own standard but you can’t be sure that everyone you go with will see the situation just as you do. There are some boys who may seem to like you better if you are “game for anything.” There are some who will put considerable pressure on you. There are some who brag about how many girls they have kissed just as some Indians collected scalps. There are some who might declare all kinds of devotion when you two are alone in the moonlight, but whose interest is in your kisses, not in you as a person. Some of these same fellows would later pass you up and give their candy and flowers and invitations to the prom to girls who haven’t been half so generous with their affection.

It’s nice to have lots of dates and it’s good experience for you to get well acquainted with quite a number of different boys. But if you have to give up your standards for popularity it can’t be the lasting kind and probably won’t be with a group who will satisfy you for long.

Everyone doesn’t appeal to you in a special way and you can’t expect to be everybody’s favorite. What you really want is to be in on some interesting activities, and to have a few good friends, and above all to have congenial friends who share your ideals and standards, your tastes and interests. After all, it is the quality, not the quantity, that counts in friendship and in fun.

Susan went roller skating with two other couples. As soon as they started out to the car to go home, she suggested: “We have some ice cream in the refrigerator at home, and I have a new recipe book with some interesting ideas for fancy sundaes. What do you say if we go experiment with some of them?”

No one had suggested any “necking” yet, and no one did later; each was too busy having fun, but Susan believed that was an issue you could deal with best before it came up at all.

Do you agree with Susan?

Remember, it’s easier to keep a little fire under control than a big one. A tiny spark of anger if fanned can set off quite a blaze. So also if you spend a dreamy hour looking at the moon, or listening to mellow music you’ll both have a lot more petting urge to deal with than if you spend that hour playing ping-pong or fixing a snack in the kitchen. You owe it to your date and to yourself to keep his emotions and yours under control.

It had been an exciting evening for Evelyn: a new dress, a date with the very boy she liked best, a corsage – and the dance had been wonderful. By the time she arrived home, she and Tom were both in a sentimental mood.

At the door she said, “It’s too late to go in, so I’ll tell you good night here, and it’s been one of the nicest evenings ever. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.”

“Then don’t I rate at least one little kiss for all that?”

She knew he really didn’t mean it that way, so she picked up his joke. “I thought the bills were always sent the first of the month, but you’re acting like a taxi-driver and want to collect at the end of the ride.”

“The time to collect is when you can get it,” he answered, “and I’d like mine now.”

“One little kiss for such a gorgeous evening! That would only open an installment account. Come around some Saturday evening and I’ll make you a batch of fudge to pay in full.” And she blew him a kiss from the tips of her fingers as she opened the door.

What do you think of Evelyn’s way of saying “no”?

You Can Say No

Can you say “no” in a way that won’t detract from and may even enhance your popularity? You might not have to put your refusal into words at all. Necking is a game that takes two to play. If you don’t want to, just don’t, or suggest something else. Be considerate about it. If he’s a nice boy just trying to find out what you expect, or if he’s expressing sincere affection for you, you needn’t freeze up and infer that he’s insulting you. The trick is to be firm, don’t give the impression that you’ll yield on a little coaxing, let him know where you stand, but be gracious and light-hearted about it.

You will avoid a lot of need for discussion on the subject if you can keep things moving, and have plenty of ideas of what else to do for fun – and if you make it a point to get in, in time for your beauty sleep.

Some Suggestions

Here are some suggestions to help you be prepared to say no gracefully on issues which involve your standards:

1. Decide definitely what your own standards will be.

You can’t keep swinging back and forth. Get as much information as you can about why the things you’ve been taught to avoid aren’t good for you. It might help to write down on paper some of your own reasons for your decision.

One young girl was asked by her mother to write down as many reasons as she could think of why girls might start using cigarettes. Here is the list she wrote:

Because they think it’s smart and grown up.

Because people they admire do it.

Because advertisements make it seem sophisticated and glamorous.

They may not really want to, but start because their friends coax them to.

Just to be rebellious and show that they can do as they please.

Then her mother asked her to write down the reasons why she didn’t want to take up this habit. Her second list included these ideas:

Because I’ve been taught that it isn’t good for me.

It gets to be a habit that is hard to break.

Current scientific material shows that it’s injurious to health.

Some boys don’t like girls to do it.

It’s expensive.

Lots of people I like, especially my parents, would be hurt if I smoked.

I couldn’t go to the Temple when I get married.

My doing it might encourage someone else to do it.

My best friends don’t do it and don’t like it.

The leaders of our Church advise us not to.

As she discussed the lists with her mother and talked about which were the better reasons she felt that the understanding between them on this matter would help her stick by her standards if she were ever tempted.

2. Let other people help you.

Not only will the support of your parents help you, but talking over your problems with teachers and others in whom you have confidence will help you to get more information and strengthen your convictions. Listen to the advice and counsel of your Church authorities. Pray for courage and strength and inspiration. Make an agreement with your girl friends about what you will and will not do. Even when you are away from them, knowing what they would do in your spot will give you courage.

There is strength in numbers. Cultivate the friendship of many wholesome, interesting people whose ideals are like yours. Go to the places and choose the activities that will keep you associating with people who will help you to live up to your own standards.

Every person must decide for himself which other people will influence him and how much he will be guided by their opinions. It’s not a good idea to be too dependent on others; neither is it good to be too headstrong. You don’t want to be so rigid and cocky and set in your ways that no one can sway you. You don’t want all advice and suggestions to slide off your mind like water runs off a duck’s back. Your own judgment may not always be the best. Neither do you want to be so easily influenced, in fact, so dependent on the opinion of others that you go along with anyone or anything, and can’t make a decision on your own. Some people are so easily led that the latest opinion they have heard is the one with which they agree. When they are in good company they are as fine as anyone but they are easily side-tracked by bad influences.

The people who are mentally and emotionally secure and healthy follow a middle path. They are tolerant and open-minded about suggestions and interested in new ideas, but they have standards and convictions of their own and goals for themselves that give them a basis for deciding which ideas they will accept and which they will reject. They want advice and suggestions but they appraise carefully both the people and the ideas that they let influence the direction of their lives.

3. Try to see the other person’s point of view honestly and fairly.

There is always a reason for the way people behave. Find out why others do the things you disapprove. Their reasons may not seem like very good ones to you but they must be strong enough motives for them. You can not only help your friends better if you see what they are trying to gain by doing this thing, but you can also find better ways of satisfying these same natural desires for yourself.

One attitude that will help you is to realize that there are some issues on which you have no right to make the decision for anyone else, and no one else has a right to make the decisions for you. If your friends or members of your family choose to do things you don’t approve you have a right to try to influence them to see your viewpoint if you can do it in love and kindness but it isn’t up to you to “pass judgment” on them. Don’t condemn them completely for the one thing you dislike. Appreciate and enjoy their good qualities. That will help them to respect your right to choose for yourself, too, and they will be less apt to put pressure on you to do as they do.

4. Satisfy your own desire for independence and to be grown-up in other and better ways.

There are plenty of other and more desirable ways to find adventure, to feel sophisticated, to act grown-up, to impress people. Do all you can to develop your abilities and talents, to win recognition for accomplishment and increase your self-confidence.

5. Try to anticipate some situations you might meet.

Get some ideas ahead of time about what you might do or say if —–. That is what we have been doing in this chapter. Discuss this matter with older sisters or friends. Find out how they met such situations.

6. Learn to be courteous and gracious but stick to your standards.

I’ve in to the suggestions of others as often as you can when nothing but personal preference is at stake. That will give you the right to have your choice respected when it really matters. When you must say “no” say it firmly but be sweet and courteous about it. Hang onto your poise and your temper and save your tears for your pillow when you get home and are alone. Have a lot of ideas about better things to do. Prove that there are other ways to have fun.



  1. Wow. There’s a lot of material here, but it’s a great read. I think one of the most important points you make, and something we just had a family home evening lesson on, is deciding what your standards are. If you don’t know what you stand for, it’s a lot easier for people to be able to knock you around, and unroot your beliefs. It seems like a simple thing, but so many youth don’t stop and just take some time to really define to themselves what they stand for, and what they’re just not willing to do. Thank you for your great thoughts on this.

    Comment by MaryAnn — April 20, 2012 @ 11:04 am

  2. Thanks, MaryAnn — but I want to clarify that I didn’t write this series; they are the words of Angelyn Wadley, whose “Be the Girl of Your Dreams” booklet was published in 1956 (well, the 3rd ed., anyway) for distribution to the 15-year-old girls of the Mutual.

    But despite the sometimes old-fashioned wording and examples, I agree with you that these pieces contain a lot of wisdom that is just as good today as 50+ years ago, and perhaps just as good for adults as for youth. I mean, I need to remind myself periodically what it is that I want to guide my life, and evaluate whether I’m living up to that standard, too.


    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2012 @ 11:13 am

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