Out of the Mouths of Babes: Weekend Poll

By: wheatmeister
August 11, 2012

“I like ta bury my testimony.  I know this church is true.  I love my mom and dad.  I like ice cream.  NameofJesusChristamen.”

Should kids under age 8 be encouraged to bear testimony in Fast & Testimony meeting? (Choose the answer that most closely fits)

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Discuss.

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23 Responses to Out of the Mouths of Babes: Weekend Poll

  1. KT on August 11, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Also, it creeps me out. I’m STILL trying to figure stuff out and I’m a lot older than 8 -it’s a journey. To say you “know” anything seems a bit naive and ridiculous to me.

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  2. prometheus on August 11, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    I will make an exception for a child who is able to go up and testify honestly without any prompting from an adult. I have seen the odd one who is able to do so. Whispermonies, though, are just plain wrong.

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  3. Bonnie on August 11, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I love fast and testimony meeting, but I know I’m the oddball for that. It feels so much like the 18th century and I can often feel the early missionary spirit, new converts, people trying to figure things out, lots of mistakes, uncomfortableness, everything. For me it’s one of the things that keeps the gospel real. The other meetings (though it seldom happens in my present ward, thank heavens) can devolve to rameumptom preaching so easily. There’s something raw about saying what you feel and listening to what people say. I love it.

    I love the boy who has borne his every month in the 4 years I’ve lived in this ward. I love how he’s grown more confident, less wordy, less inclined to rat his brothers out publicly. I love the people who wander a bit, searching for words. I love the Polynesian gentleman whose words are very hard to understand but worth struggling to catch. I love the weepy mothers who are trying very hard to keep their heads above water, or diapers and fractious children. I love the older folk who tell stories from their youth a bit wistfully.

    Perhaps I have a high tolerance for testimony wanderings because I know that I figure out what I think by talking (I do try not to wander, but it’s been known to happen.) It’s an intimate thing to be part of someone else’s trying-to-figure-it-out.

    I suppose it makes a huge difference if you really love the people you share that meeting with.

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  4. LovelyLauren on August 11, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    My parents let us go up when we were ready, but did not ever encourage us. I think I was probably about 8, maybe 9 the first time I got up to bear my testimony. I will probably take the same approach with my kids. When they are ready, that’s fine, but I won’t be whispering anything in their ears.

    Family home evening and primary are much more appropriate places for children to share their testimonies.

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  5. Stephen M (Ethesis) on August 11, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    If it makes them happy then “suffer the children” I always say. But then, where I am it is rare and endearing. Your mileage may vary.

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  6. Ray on August 11, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Before age 8? I’d move it to before age 12.

    Encouraged? Generally, no, but, as #2 says, there have been some exceptions I’ve heard that were as articulate and moving as any adult testimony I’ve heard.

    Allowed? Yes, but not those that are whispered by an adult or older sibling. That’s not a testimony.

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  7. Sean on August 11, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    I have seen many beautiful, seemingly unprompted testimonies by young children that didn’t begin with things like “I’d like to bury my testimony that I know Joseph Smith is true…” There’s this boy in my ward who has slight asbergers, but bears a truly beautiful, unscipted testimony as often as he can.

    However, I think bishops need to HEAVILY discourage the moms-whispering-in-the-ear thing. This is not elementary school. This is a gathered body of believers who come to be spiritually fed and to feed others. Many, like me, don’t find it cute at all when mothers do this, but embarassing to watch and frankly very annoying. The poor child doesn’t even know what’s going on.

    Sorry, this is a pet peeve of mine. A huge one.

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  8. ji on August 11, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    The First Presidency already suggests that little children bear their testimonies at home or in Primary, rather than in Sacrament meeting. But an eight-year-old can be a baptized member, and he or she is welcome to bear testimony, such as it is.

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  9. mh on August 11, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    My little girl has Borne her testimony since just before she turned seven with no encouragement from us. Her ten year old brother still hasn’t and seems to have no inclination to do so.

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  10. Badger on August 11, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    When I was a little under 8, I was on the program to give a talk in Junior Sunday School. Almost as soon as I started talking, I found I had forgotten the beginning of the Bible story my mother and I had picked out as the centerpiece. I announced that I had forgotten the beginning of my talk and I would try again later, after the other speaker. The adults went along with the plan. When I got up the second time I still could not remember the beginning of the story, so I gave a quick summary of the situation at the point where my memory was still good, and continued from there.

    It was one of my earliest experiences of public speaking, if not the earliest. Today I value it as the single most important formative experience in the development of a skill that has served me well and provided satisfaction and fulfillment over many years.

    But it could so easily have gone wrong. Its evil twin in my childhood memories is a very unfortunate introduction to team sports that had exactly the opposite sort of effect on my participation in and enjoyment of that kind of activity.

    I’m sure my insight into child psychology is below average, so I won’t offer a general yes-or-no opinion on prompted testimonies. However, if there really are parents doing it solely because it’s cute here and now, I would urge them to consider whether, given the child and the circumstances, the experience is likely to become a source of confidence or anxiety in the future.

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  11. FireTag on August 11, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    I know that “I know” is a form of testimony in the LDS that isn’t normally practiced in the CofChrist. It is practically non-existent to have testimony meetings now in which children are even present, but it does seem easier to begin participation at a young age by the “prayer” part of a “prayer and testimony” meeting.

    The Book of Mormon experience at Jesus’ appearance in Bountiful is certainly evidence that kids can relate experiences that they feel even if they don’t understand them. I certainly bore my testimony before I was eight, such as it was at the time, and I wouldn’t deny another child the same opportunity. But then, I don’t recall ever seeing a “whispermony”.

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  12. hawkgrrrl on August 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    LOL! Tried to read the poll results at the church, and the church’s filters blocked viewing this page because of the word “babes.”

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  13. andrew h on August 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    I’m bothered by the increasing trend I have seen in the last two areas I have lived for younger and younger children, including toddlers, to get up and “bear testimony” to the things that their parents are whispering into their ears.

    We have two or three 2 or 3 year old’s who get up every month in my current ward to bear “their” testimony. They always say “I KNOW the Church is true.” I have a real problem with a toddler saying that he or she knows the church is true when he or she is too young to know how to not poop him or herself.

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  14. sherry Johns on August 12, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    sometimes I think children bear testimony in SM because it brings the approval of adults, not just parents. Some kids like the attention. They’re trying to fit into the Mormon expectations. Saying “I know” seems silly, but how do we know if it’s sincere (discounting the whispering in ears of course). I have nine children who bore their testimonies at various times and places. What I really dislike is the almost mandatory testimony bearing at youth conference and yound womens camp. The kids feel weird if they DON’T bear their testimonies.

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  15. NewlyHousewife on August 12, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    It’s annoying. So are postpartum and menopausal women and their spouses when all they talk about is either the joys of being a parent (ok…you didn’t get any sleep last night), or something so off the wall you assume they’re suffering from an early case of dementia.

    Then again, I’m a big fan of bishops actively regulating F&T.

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  16. wreddyornot on August 12, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    People are diverse. Let them all display whatever thoughts of the heart, mind, or viscera they have and have enough charity to enjoy what you can. But always take a Kindle loaded with good reading material to Fast Meeting too.

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  17. Rigel Hawthorne on August 12, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    I have a son that for a period of time wanted to bear his testimony as a pre-school/kindergarten aged boy. He had spiritual experiences such as answers to personal prayers with childhood faith and wanted to witness. We had practiced this at FHE and he could do it independently at home, but wanted Dad to go with him and whisper it to him when he was at the podium at church. I whispered to him the things that he had experiences with, never prompting him to say ‘I know the church is true.’ I prompted him to express gratitude as well. The Bishop at the time did not discourage it. In fact, I was on the stand in the Bishopric and when he came up to bear his testimony and look at me for help, it was awkward to tell him ‘no’. Well, he passed that phase and doesn’t want to do that anymore so we stopped. We got a new Bishop who read in testimony meeting the statement from the handbook that discouraged what I had been been doing, and so I have not asked my children the question as to whether they feel like bearing their testimony during meeting. As we are in a ward with an older demographic and my child had been the only one to go up and bear testimony in that fashion, I really didn’t see the need to have the handbook pointed out in meeting, as my son had already ceased wanting to go up there by that point. I understand that whispermonies may seem inappropriate, and have no problem with limiting the encouraging of my children to bearing testimony at home. On the other hand, now we NEVER have testimonies from any children–and I do find that to be an unfortunate consequence.

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  18. Paul on August 13, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Rigel, thanks for sharing your experience. You lend an excellent viewpoint of a child who has prepared, but wants extra assurance. I’ll think differently about other children who do so with parents’ help.

    My kids have generally not volunteered for such things. I’ve been in several bishoprics and used to bear my testimony every couple of months as a result, and do so only occassionally now. My lovely wife rarely does (since she is terrified of public speaking), and the kids seem to take their cue from her.

    My now 12-year old daughter has been talking about bearing her testimony for about year, but has yet to get over her fear to do it. (It may become moot since I suspect she’ll soon have an assignment to be a youth speaker in sacrament meeting…)

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  19. Rhonda on August 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    I think it’s fine. I think some children do it for attention but that’s up to the parents to regulate. The only time it really bothers me is if the parents whisper or if it becomes a stampede, but generally speaking our ward has three or four a month, sometimes less.

    My 8 year old has been bearing his testimony, off and on, for about a two years now. We had a FHE about testimonies and talked to him about why he wanted to share his – his response was that he wanted to tell people how he felt about Jesus. Kind of hard to argue with that. His 11 year old brother has never gone up and shows no interest in doing so.

    As the Primary President, I encourage children to bear their testimonies in the closing of an assigned talk and some do. We don’t have general open mike testimony meetings in Primary so those can be few and far between.

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  20. SilverRain on August 13, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    My daughters have both expressed a desire to near testimony at very young ages, but became shy when they actually got up there. So, I have helped them by whispering things to say, which has always ended with them happily bouncing down the aisle after successfully bearing testimony.

    And I don’t care one whit if someone else thinks it’s inappropriate. They aren’t your kids.

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  21. SilverRain on August 13, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    *bear testimony

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  22. Douglas on August 13, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Considering some of the blatherings that I’ve suffered to hear in 33 years (yow, a THIRD of a CENTURY!!! Auuuggghhhhh!!!!!) from so-called adults, bring on the kiddies anytime.
    Hey, I seem to recall a certain somewhat itinerant preacher from this dusty, somewhat insignificant Roman province called Galille that said, “Except ye come to ME as little children, ye can in no wise inherit the Kingdom of God”.

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  23. Sean on August 14, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    A child bearing a testimony is fine. Getting help is fine. Having someone tell the child exactly what to say every time is not a testimony. It’s the mom trying to be cute, and it’s embarrasing. People can be offended by that statement, that’s their privilage, but it’s true.

    Little children can have powerful testimonies. I remember when I was a small boy and the impressions I felt (I was too shy to go up most of the time because I went on a tangent once and was embarrassed). I see kids get up and bear wonderful witnesses of the spirit. Christ did say that we should let the little children come unto Him and be heard. I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that.

    However, little kids going up and telling us about their weeks (same with adults) is probably not apporopriate for a meeting of believers supposed to be sharing their witnesses of Christ. It’s not cute, and it doesn’t invite the spirit.

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