Katelyn Suneson and Faculty Mentor: Dennis Packard, Philosophy
The purpose of this project was to complete and publish an LDS family relations text, which is now in its second year of development. The text draws on some of the best resources developed in and outside of BYU in the last three decades123 and applies them to some of the most serious family problems now facing members of the Church, including failure to marry, divorce, addictions, and pornography.
Our text prepares people to teach lessons about common relationship problems, from communication to disciplining to handling finances, with attention given to overcoming resistance and exercising moral agency. These basic problems, taught with discussions and stories and videos, prepares people to teach lessons about serious problems like marital conflict, addictions, and pornography. The stories, which are primarily collected from participants, are about people exercising their moral agency, seeing themselves as moral agents capable of acting on their environments and not merely being acted upon (Nephi 2:26). These stories are about people denying their moral agency and feeling stuck and helpless. And perhaps most importantly these stories are about the move from denying moral agency to affirming it. Through these stories, people are able to see how they, like the characters in the stories, have denied their moral agency and can discover starting points for working through their problems.
For example, some of these stories illustrate a proper way to correct children. Often, in correcting children, we stop searching for solutions once we have techniques to apply. Yet, it is crucial that we go beyond that. Sometimes we realize that we need to teach our children correctly in the first place. We must first examine the husband/wife relationship to see if it is healthy. This ensures that the children are not playing off the contention between husband and wife. It is then necessary that couples go further and examine their own quality of heart. Once they do, they will be more creative in the ways they correct their children (Figure 1).
I had many roles throughout the course of this project. My primary roles included writing the text and editing the completed manuscript. By the time I joined Dr. Packard on this project, the primary research had already been completed. At that point, Dr. Packard and I reviewed this research, and we organized the materials for the book. As part of this, we discussed possible objections to the text and possible responses to thoseobjections. For example, during Dr. Packard’s research, many of the participants found our approach’s simplicity disconcerting. In response to this concern, we inserted the comments from past participants and our responses to these comments into the final text (Figure 2). Our actions anticipated the concerns of future readers and resolved the concerns of those who had previously read the text. After the manuscript was completed, I thoroughly examined and edited it for typographical errors and cohesion. I contributed 110 hours to this project.
Our ultimate goal was to publish our text with Deseret Book and make our work accessible to families by August 2017. Unfortunately, due to some complications, we were unable to publish the manuscript. We did, however, complete two more drafts of the book.
As the project progressed, I developed more confidence in my abilities and better leadership and cooperation skills. Through this project, I gained a stronger sense of my divine identity. I discovered how rewarding it is to serve God’s children, and I hope to be able to do more service like this in the future. With help from my mentor, I gained a greater appreciation for how much BYU professors contribute to the LDS community. I am grateful for my opportunity to have participated in this project.
1Warner, C. Terry. Bonds That Make Us Free—Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves. Shadow Mountain, 2001. Print.
2Arbinger Company. “The Parenting Pyramid.” Web access from arbinger.com, 18 Oct. 2016.
3 Flyvbjerg, Bent. Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed
Again. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print.
4Arbinger Company. “The Parenting Pyramid.” Web access from arbinger.com, 18 Oct. 2016.