Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Do You Get Your Kids to Go to a Church School?

Dear Bro Jo-

My daughter will be a high school junior this year so we talk about careers and colleges a lot.

She has never really wanted to attend a Church school but has been more willing to consider it now that the decision must be made.

I attended BYU when I was married so I don't think I can say how the school is socially.

I enjoyed my married wards but I don't know what the current spiritual and social climates are like.

The students attending BYU right now from our home ward are not giving BYU glowing reviews.

They were disappointed.

My daughter has been disappointed that some of our strongest young women are not posting things they never did here and were so strongly opposed to.

My only desire is that she attend a university with a strong single adult ward and good institute program.

We are looking at New York City, Boston, San Antonio, and Jacksonville Florida.

Is BYU still better than other universities when it comes to spiritual and social environments?

Are the singles wards outside of Utah getting bigger and stronger?

Perhaps you and your readers can give me on the ground analysis:)


- A Confused Parent

Dear Confused Parent,

School, like Church, is one of those things that you get out of it what you put in.

And no one magically becomes a different person just because they went off to school.

When someone goes to a positive place filled with Spiritual opportunities and they have a lousy experience its because if what they brought to the experience.

Wherever she considers going to school, visiting the student ward there, meeting the Bishopric, Institute Director and some of the students is crucial before she commits to a decision.

This is a tough transition time for parents, too.

Give her encouragement and support, but the choice will have to be hers.

Hang in there, mom!

If it helps, yes I think there are benefits to attending a Church school (or Church-based, like Southern Virginia University), but there are also many, many amazing University Wards and Institutes of Religion outside the Zion Curtain.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 28, 2014

Do You Keep the Presents After a Breakup?

Dear Bro Jo,

I hope this is the right way to contact you for the blog and getting a reply.

Okay, long story short the guy in this I liked 6 years ago and when he got back from his mission 10 months ago we got together after a week and within the second month we were both completely in love and he kept saying he knew we'd be together forever.

After 10 months he now says it’s not the right time, won't say exactly why, but we have both spoke and agreed to keep everything we have from each other, presents, photos etc. in boxes and we're still going to meet up every now and then.

I’ll see him every Sunday at Church and we both have the same friends which is why we are doing this, but we've said we're not going to draw a line in the sand yet because who knows what may happen when we've both finished college.

Do you think it’s the best idea to stay friends?

And keep presents and photos?

And to not draw a line in the sand just yet?


- Name Withheld

Dear NW, 

Actually, the best way to reach me for "Dear Bro Jo" stuff is to send emails to

And, no, I don't agree that what you're doing is the best idea.

After 10 months you deserve more of a concrete explanation than "now is not the right time".

You should be told why, and the fact that he's not coming clean is a huge red flag.

Whether he tells you or not, I think you both need to realize that it's over.

Presents belong to the receiver to keep, trash, sell, pass on, set on fire, or do with whatever they wish. They're presents, after all.

But, frankly, he has drawn a line in the sand; it's just that neither of you is willing to admit it. He ended the relationship and he doesn't trust or respect you enough to give you a reason why.

That's a deal breaker right there.

You can, and should, still be polite and cordial, especially among mutual friends, but you deserve much better than to be put into cold storage until he clues in that he never should have broken up with you in the first place.

That is, assuming he ever does.

The bottom line?

The guy isn't ready for marriage.

He wants to date (and kiss) other people.

He's realized on some level that he should probably marry you, if you'd take him that is, and yet he's not ready to grow up.

He has doubts and fears, both of which are very normal, but he wants some time to play around and see if he can find someone better than you.

That's not the kind of guy you should be clinging to.

Move on.

Keep the photos and other stuff if you want, but don't pretend that you two are still together or might get back together some day.

You can't count on that.

If he does come to his senses, make him beg.

(When I say stuff like that last sentence I usually get grief from the whinny guys who think I'm one-sided and too hard on them . . . which I think is proof I'm right.)

- Bro Jo

Friday, July 25, 2014

Becoming Your Own Person

Dear Bro Jo,

Unlike most Mormons I didn't go to BYU or BYU-I, I ended up going to a small Catholic university close to home. I can say that it has not been easy.

My parents don't want me to live on campus because they don't feel that it would be a safe environment.

So I have been living at home and commuting every day.

This has caused a couple problems.

1) My social life is basically non-existent because it is a 45 minute drive from home to school and because my mom wants constant updates about where I am and who I am with. I understand that she wants to make sure that I am safe, but it's a little much sometimes. I always have to get her approval to stay for something. I can't just text her and say I'm doing this and I'll be home later.

2) I have found it hard to make friends because everyone just wants to go out and party. I have a few friends from my major, but it's not like they are inviting me to hang out with them. I often feel very lonely.

3) Out of the few friends I do have, I have one great guy friend that is basically the only one who ever invites me to hang out. But my mom does not like him. She thinks that he is telling me that I don't have to listen to her because I'm 18 etc. That is only somewhat true, he was like that at first, but I explained to him that my mom is concerned about me and I need to keep her updated. So now he knows that I have to ask my mom first. This often causes me and my mom to argue.

4) My mom promised that since I was staying at home for college that she would give me more freedom and that I wouldn't have to do as much around the house so I could focus on school work. That promise has not really been fulfilled. Like I said before I can't even leave the house without telling my mom where I'm going, who I will be with and how long I will be gone. I'm okay with telling my mom all of that, but I'm not okay with having to get permission to go out.

I'm 18, shouldn't I be able to tell my mom that I'm going out and not have to ask if I can go out?

Especially since she promised that that's the way it would be.

Whenever I try and bring this up she always gets mad at me.

I tell her that if I had chosen to go to BYU-I (I was planning on going there, but plans changed) instead of the school I'm at now that I wouldn't have to inform her about every little detail of my life.

As for helping out around the house, that has not changed . . . I should tell you a little about my family.

My parents have adopted 8 kids, which turned our family of 7 into a family of 15.

For the last 5 or so years, I have been the main helper around the house.

My older sisters could always find ways to get out of helping.

Now back to today.

My mom said that I wouldn't have to help with the kids so much so I would be able to focus on my school work.

Yeah not so much. 4 out of 5 days I'm not home until 6 or 7, but I am still roped into getting kids in pjs, helping with homework, bathing, and getting them in bed.

Getting 8 kids ready for bed is no easy task, but we get done with it around 8:15 or so.

After this I usually have dinner and then it's time for homework before I go to bed between 10:30 and 11. 

More often then not, my mom asks me to help clean up the house.

So this means that I'm not free to do homework until almost 10 and by then I'm exhausted.

I try to get as much homework done during my breaks between classes, but I still have a lot when I get home.

When I try to talk to my mom about it she says that I barely do anything and that she and my dad do everything.

I don't know what to do.

I realize that this is a lot to take in, but these problems are making me think about moving up to campus (which is very expensive) or transferring to BYU.

I don't want to leave my current school, but I'm just getting so stressed out with everything that it's really hard to like staying here.

I could really use your advice.

- Stressed Out Commuter

Dear Stressed,

Look, I need to let you know that your email caught me in a particularly ornery mood . . . I don't think my advice on this is going to change, but it might come out more harshly than usual.

For that I apologize.

I think you need to start acting like the adult you are.

It's time to be your own person.

Take responsibility for your own life and your own education.

Transfer to the Y.

Get scholarships.

Get a job.

Support yourself.

Hug and kiss your parents.

Tell them you love them.

Then move away and become your own woman.

Your parents are the ones that adopted all of the kids, not you.

It's not your job to raise them.

Now is the time in your life when you need to find and make your own way.

If you're going to live at home, then commit to that choice and live that life.

But if you're as stressed out as you say, I think it's time to go.

- Bro Jo

PS:  For the record, "most" Mormons do not go to the Y OR the Y of I.