While serving in my ward’s young women presidency, I earned my own Young Womanhood Recognition and helped my daughter earn hers. Such a marathon of motherly multi-tasking taught me a couple of lessons and a few tricks along the way.
I had been blessed when my four sons earned their Eagle Scout Awards with active, enthusiastic Boy Scout leaders who pushed and pulled the boys along the Eagle Trail with little help from me.
A few PB&J sandwiches for Eagle projects and cookies for frequent courts of honor later, I awoke one morning to find myself with four Eagle Scouts.
Personal Progress, however, was a whole new ballgame. Counsel from our stake leaders and a reading of the Church handbook and personal progress book soon taught our presidency that the responsibility for earning their awards lay on the young women.
The Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth states, “Personal Progress activities may occasionally be held at Mutual. Such group activities should be planned prayerfully and selectively to ensure that the Personal Progress program remains personal for each young woman.”
Or, as we taught them, Personal Progress should be both “personal,” meaning they primarily do it themselves, and “progress,” meaning that they should indeed be progressing in it. Oh me. They wanted to come to church on activity night, do something fun, giggle a lot, and count that as an experience.
That might have been easier. The harder way, however (and right way, of course), was to motivate the girls to take responsibility for their own progress with their goals. Luckily, as a mother and as a leader earning my own award, I learned some tricks along to the way that actually worked.
Sunday is an excellent time to work on Personal Progress. It is a wonderful answer to “Is there something spiritual that I can do on Sunday?” Many of the experiences involve scripture reading and writing in journals, some of them over several weeks. After the dishes are done and a nap taken, a perfect Sabbath activity is to curl up on the couch with Sunday music on and tackle a personal progress goal.
Using What's Already There
Don’t overlook skills or talents you already have to fulfill the experiences and projects. My daughter and I struggled to sew a skirt for her last project under “Integrity.” When we had worked on it for fifteen hours (five more than the required ten hours!) and it still was six feet across with no zipper, we felt inspired to look again at the handbook.
One of the choices in the handbook was to “identify and keep your commitments to others as you participate as a member of a team . . . in your school or community.”
She had been cheerleading for eight years already and was able to use her practices and performances during that current year to fulfill the requirement. (The skirt is still not finished!)
Take it seriously. Personal Progress is an inspired program. I was held up on finishing mine because I had to keep restarting the experience requiring me to go two weeks without gossiping (I actually did two weeks, but it took me eight months!). When I finally got serious and prayerful, however, I accomplished it.
Using Time Management
Along the same lines, support your daughter in her efforts to earn her awards. The Church Handbook of Instructions states, “Leaders, parents, and other family members are encouraged to work with [the young woman] in selecting Personal Progress experiences and projects.”
See that she has the materials she needs and take her to where she needs to go. Ask her frequently to show you her book and report on the progress she is making. And help her earn it early before the many privileges that come with being a busy sixteen-year-old collide with her Personal Progress goals.
Using Family Resources
Likewise, enlist the aid of extended family members to teach skills or to participate in experiences and projects. Her grandmother helped my daughter finish one project by arranging for her to go with her and work several afternoons at the local food bank where she volunteers. Her grandmother was delighted to show her granddaughter off, and my daughter finished her project.
Earning a Young Womanhood Recognition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your daughter, and her beautiful necklace will always be a reminder to her of her accomplishments and a witness to the world of what she stands for and who she is.
The best part will be that when she receives her necklace, she will understand more of the principle of eternal progression and be proud she took personal responsibility to earn it.