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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Friday, April 18, 2014

Writing the Bishop a Letter

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a student at BYU-Idaho and as soon as I’m done visiting my grandparents and return to Rexburg I'm going to find out who my Bishop is and resolve problems in my life.

I've been doing some pretty dumb stuff and I'm so afraid to talk to him.

But, I need to.

I've decided I want to write a letter and give it to him to read and then meet with him.

I'd be more likely to tell him everything and not chicken out.

Is this a stupid idea?

- Not Quite Ready to Talk

Dear Friend,

If it helps you say what needs to be said and do what you need to do, then I think writing down your thoughts is a great idea.

Deliver the letter in person and stay with him while he reads it.  Then, once he does, it will be easier for you to both talk.

If you write the letter on your computer, make sure that no one can get to it, and don't leave printed copies anywhere.

May the Lord bless you with the strength and courage you need.

I'm proud of you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Prom Date Drama: - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Well, prom is this Friday. Yes, it's very late in the year (so is graduation, unfortunately! imagine!).

I live in a low Mormon population area and I've got a non-Mormon for a date.

I'll have to have my guard up, I know.

I've already had an amazing time at Church prom as well as two other school proms Church friends have asked me to, so this last one (my school's this time) is really just for formality since I'm in Student Government and have to go.

The thing is, my date's acting weird. I thought I could usually can read girls fairly well, but I'm not quite sure with this one.

I kinda like her, but I've probably made things awkward for her and I'm probably making things more complicated than they have to be.

I've been debating whether or not to do anything about it all year.

I'm a big Casual Group Date supporter, but don't really feel like going through the trouble of introducing it to school girls who definitely don't get it.

I used to have her in half my classes and asked her to be my date like two months ago, but since then, some classes have ended and now we don't see each other much. (though she lives around the corner, pathetic I know)

I'll text her now and then and see her in the hallway some, but she doesn't ever text first and doesn't always seem that into the conversation.

(I hate the drama and miscommunication texting innately brings.)

Whenever the subject of prom comes up (planning logistics even), she seems to dread it and has told me she has some reason for feeling this way that I will never know.

She's getting better about the issue, but I sure could live without the drama.

I've kinda gone back and forth over time with my attempts to pursue our friendship.

I want to get to know her and spend time with her, but I don't want her to get the wrong idea thinking I want a relationship, or even get her friends thinking it.

As tempting as the proposition sounds, I know I'm better off without the headache of a relationship, even at the end of senior year.

We're headed to colleges thousands of miles apart in the fall anyways, so it would be pointless.

Background: She's not normally drama-prone, which is partly why I asked her. She's never had a boyfriend, but she's sure social enough to have been there. It's actually something I find rather attractive. It's not that common to find a cute, super smart, fun, athletic, non-awkward girl who hasn't wasted a few years with boyfriend drama at school. She's a pretty good girl, but she curses a bit and I think she's been pressured into drinking before. It's hard to find someone who hasn't.

I personally find her friends to be annoying, but bearable.

My friends at school have goaded me, sometimes in front of her, about going after her.

("You've got to kiss her at prom! It'll make her night!" "Hey look, it's your prom date. She's mad cute.")

My feelings being torn between liking her and knowing I should hold back, it's created an awkward moment or two. Maybe this is the real issue here for her, I don't know.

Your take on the situation?

Esp, what do you think is going on in her head?

How should I act that night, just casual friends or a little more (I wish but know it would have consequences)?


Perplexed but Tempted

Dear Tempted,

I can't decide if you're an idiot, or you think I am . . .

Member or non, ALL of your dates, including Prom, need to be Casual Group Dates.

Even if you think the girls at school "don't get it", you need to play by the rules.

And, let's be honest here, pal, the reason you want to break the rules with this girl is your hoping that being in a non-group situation might provide the opportunity to ... do some kissin'.

The worst kind of temptation is the kind that we go looking for, the kind that we intend to pursue or give in to should the opportunity present.

I don't think there's anything wrong with liking her, but I certainly hope that you plan on going as part of a group for prom.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dealing with Divorce - Part 1

Dear Bro. Jo,


Well first off I want to say that I really like your blog and all the advice you give thank you for all of it. It has helped me a lot!

Well I have a problem now that I’m waiting help with.

It’s been around a year and a half that my parents separated and about 6 months sense they divorced.

It has been really hard on me and my sisters and mom.

I don’t show it at all, I don’t cry In front of my mom or my sisters. So they think the divorce of my parents is just fine with me.

But it really isn’t.

I’ve been In and out of depression for a while and everything is going wrong in my life.

My grades have been going down a lot, I sleep for hours because I don’t want to wake up and face my life that I have.

It’s really hard.

I sometimes pray to God that he will just let me die and not let me go through all this.

My dad got remarried In July.

Just two weeks after my parents got there official divorce.

I was in big shock that he did this right away.

I wasn’t excited at all.

I was mad.

He made my mom go through so much pain and suffering and now he’s all happy and getting a new family.

I felt like he was replacing me and my sisters.

He didn’t love me anymore.

I didn’t talk to my dad for about 3 months before he got remarried.

I was angry with him and hated him more than anything.

When I finally decided to fix things with him.

The first thing he told me is I’m getting remarried. You’re going to have a new mom and three new siblings.

I told him straight up that I would never call his wife my mom ever.

I didn’t want to meet my step siblings cause there nothing to me.

He asked me to go to his wedding but luckily it fell on the day we were up at girls’ camp.

I never went to my dad’s wedding and only meet my dad’s wife and her kids’ once.

I don’t like her at all.

Because of her my dad is not with us anymore.

He left the Church.

I looked up to him so much and I considered him my hero.

He was so strong in the gospel.

He would be the first one up on Sunday mornings.

He would help with the sacrament sometimes.

I looked back at his scriptures he left at our house when he left and it had so many scriptures marked.

But he decided to deny this Church after and say this wasn’t real to him and he doesn’t want to hear about it anymore.

Right now I don’t talk to my dad.

He doesn’t call me anymore or send me texts.

I feel like he forgot about me.

He doesn’t really care about me anymore.

I go to counseling every week.

Last week my dad had to come with me so I could talk to the counselor and him about my feelings.

He never showed up.

This isn’t like my dad at all.

His wife is taking over him and controlling him.

He’s like a puppet to her.

She’s controlling and just a mean person.

I really miss my dad and having my parents together.

I wish I had my family forever.

I think now about my graduation of high school that’s coming up. How I’m not going to have my parents together.

Also my wedding, this really breaks my heart thinking about this.

I wanted my parents together and in the temple with me.

I need help on how to talk to my dad again and help him get back to the Church.

That’s really all I want my dad together and him to go back to the church and have the gospel and testimony he ones had.

I need help please.

Thank you,

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

Sometimes life stinks, and few things stink more than divorce.

You may be too young to remember, but President Faust gave a talk once where he talked about one time when, as an attorney, he helped a woman with her divorce.

The guy she was married to was awful, and President Faust thought this was one of those rare times when it really would be better if they split up. 

Years later he saw the woman and asked how she was doing. In a nut-shell she said that as lousy as her marriage was (and It was pretty bad) she wished that she had stayed married because that was less painful than all of the garbage that comes with splitting up.

No matter what life throws at us, ending life never solves anything.

We think It will make the heartache go away, and It won't.

What happens is our earthy torment becomes replaced by the eternal sorrow of having thrown away one of God's greatest gifts.

I understand that you're hurting, and that you'd like it to all go away, but life ending won't help.

As for your father . . . I'm really sorry that he's making choices that are so hurtful.

As you and I both know, he's putting himself ahead of others right now, and that kind of selfishness can inflict a lot of pain.

I understand the desire to be cold to his new wife and her children . . . but I don't think that's fair, and I don't think It will make things any better.

It’s never good to carry animosity in our hearts.

The dislike you have for the kids is mostly wrapped up in your own jealousy; they may not be cool people, but you haven't really given them a chance; for all you and I know this whole thing may be a nightmare for them, too.

Heck, It's not their fault your dad left your mom.

I'm not saying you have to adopt them as siblings, but taking the high road and being kind to them will go a long way towards healing your own pain, and it may help them, too.

It will be difficult, but I think you need to take all the blame you're putting on the new wife and siblings off of them . . . and onto your dad.

He's the one you're angry with, he's the one that let you down, and he's the one that you'll need to fix things with.

And that, little sister, may take quite a bit of time.

He "doesn't want to hear it because he knows the Church Is true, he knows he's made (and is making) some mistakes, and he's just not man enough right now to face or admit those things, let alone do anything about them.

Trust me, for all of his talk and bravado, he's hurting, too, and that's why he's trying to shift blame, trying to deny what he knows is true.

The truth Is, there's nothing you or I can say or do about it.

Oh, you can tell him how you feel and what you want . . . and when the time has come that you feel you can do that calmly and rationally I think you owe it to yourself and to him to do so . . . but change will have to come from within him.

As much as you and I think he should get it together, he's going to have to choose that on his own.

And someday he probably will.

For now, you have every right to tell him how you feel.

Tell him that he's disappointing you, that you miss going to Church with him, that you miss him in your life and that you feel cast aside In favor of his "new family".

Be calm, try to avoid using the word "you" (I.e.: Instead of "when you do this you really hurt me", you say "I hurt when this is done" - It’s more mature and will keep him from getting defensive), and keep your voice even - that will help him to take you seriously.

But also realize that he's not likely to change anything anytime soon.

To paraphrase a favorite coach:  life isn’t about getting knocked down, it’s about choosing to get back up.

Don't let the actions of your father keep you from having the blessings of the Gospel In your life.

And hang in there.

It will get better.

It may not get "perfect" (whatever that means), but it will get better.

- Bro Jo