I heard a member of our ward discussing “youth success stories.” He stated that the goal for youth is to “get the boys on missions and the girls married in the temple.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard these life events set as the benchmark for success.
This has always bothered me, though. First of all, why is a woman’s life a success if she is married in the temple? This adds fuel to the “women’s work is to get married and have babies” fire. And why are the goals different for young men and young women? Why not set a goal to have both genders married in the temple, or to have both genders serve a mission? I don’t understand why serving a mission is so important for young men that it becomes the standard for success but it’s not as important for a young woman.
Also, while it is useful and advantageous for leaders to set goals for the youth, we need to be careful about the rhetoric we use to describe the goals. The youth hear us speak like this, and the last thing we want is for someone to feel as though they are “a failure story” if they don’t accomplish our stated goals. There are plenty of active, committed members of the church who chose not to participate in one or both of these events.