"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
June 02, 2015
Family, Parenting Help in New Titles
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Several new books on the LDS market are focusing on families at various stages.

How frequently we've heard the name of Camilla Eyring paired with that of Spencer W. Kimball, Emma Hale with Joseph Smith, or Frances with that of Thomas S. Monson. In fact, it's common knowledge that every modern-day prophet has a wife. Less familiar, however, are the circumstances of their meeting.

Church history professor Mary Jane Woodger and retired teacher/writer Paulette Preston are trying to change that with Courtships of the Prophets, an accessible little book covering a number of "first couples" among LDS Church presidents.

In a conversational tone on footnoted pages, the two have teamed up to relate stories of budding romance and sometimes years-long engagements that led to the altar. Much of the book contains insights and information not likely to be found on the pages of any official Church study manual.

For instance, picture George Albert Smith during a youthful stint as on onstage comedian, or Howard W. Hunter as a cruise ship entertainer whose college career began with a marimba won in a store's contest.

Courtships of the Bensons, Hinckleys, Kimballs, Joseph Fielding Smiths, and McKays are also featured in this enlightening and entertaining read (Covenant 2015, about 130 pages in softcover, $11.99).

Darren E. Schmidt, father of eight and a seasoned teacher of seminary and institute, offers some straightforward and uncomplicated tips for family success with Table Salt and Testimony. Inside its roughly 100 pages can be found, as its cover states, "ideas, object lessons and practical parenting tips for creating teaching moments in the home."

Rather than an in-depth analysis of child or even parent psychology and the traits and behaviors that correspond with success, Schmidt's approach consists of sharing "small and simple things" that have worked for his family and that parents may find helpful.

Among the topics: enhancing family scripture study, helping children recognize the Holy Ghost, finding joy in the journey of parenthood, and having consistent yet uncomplicated family home evenings that leave room for spontaneity.

The "big idea" is to learn to take advantage of teaching moments that tuck in ample doses of parental love as families establish a Christ-centered home (Cedar Fort 2015, 107 pages in softcover, $11.99).

Randal A. Wright uses his Ph.D. in family studies and his own sometimes comical experiences to offer a look at the pivotal role of parents in Power Parenting in the LDS Home (CFI 2014, 297 pages in softcover $17.99).

He also offers some serious info and advice, addressing such essential topics as teaching about intimacy and chastity, seeing the warning signs of youth who are struggling, and the essential importance of families having fun together and helping children feel loved.

How to help kids deal with peer pressure and inappropriate media are among the topics he treats, in an overall tone of helpfulness rather than condemnation. While I don't doubt the appeal of the subtitle, Avoid the 25 Most Common Mistakes, it's a little late for many of us. Just sayin'. Yet, there's a final chapter to address that, too: "Hope and Help for Hurting Parents."

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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