Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Just say, "YES"!

On Sunday, a new young mother in the ward got called to teach Primary.  Honestly, I felt a little bad for her.  How is she supposed to meet anyone now that she's stuck down in the Primary*?  Then it struck me, Primary is HUGE!  Not only in importance, but in relative size to run compared to the other auxiliaries.  It should be a great place to meet people.

I e-mailed the Primary president to see how many people actually do serve in our Primary.  To fill all the Primary positions including music, Nursery, Cub Scouts, and Activity days, it takes 38 people give or take.  I also asked the Young Women's president how many people she needs:  9;  Sunday School:  around 9; Young Men's: around 11; and Relief Society:  around 10+**.  It takes approximately 4 times as many people to run the Primary than any other organization.  So, anyone who thinks that "someone else can do it" or "someone else needs a turn" is really just fooling themselves.  The Primary really does need you!

I began to wonder why it seems a bit harder for some to serve in the Primary.  Of course there's the child factor.  Some people are just done dealing with kids and want a break.  Some people get tired of hearing the Gospel basics again.  I wonder if part of it is also that there's not the social aspect like there is in Young Men's, Young Women's, and Relief Society.  Maybe there's a lack of communication between the RS and the sisters serving in Primary, so Primary sisters tend to segregate themselves.

What do you think?  Why do some people feel alienated when serving in Primary?  What can we do differently to help them feel more connected?  Do you have a ward with good cohesion?  What works? How much of it is an individual issue vs. an organizational/communication one?

*I know not everyone feels that they're "stuck" in the Primary.  Some people, probably lots of people really love it, but I know many who feel a bit trapped there both physically and intellectually.  Plus, ask any Primary president how many people won't accept a Primary/Nursery calling.

**Obviously these numbers aren't representative of all wards, but they are at least a small slice of the whole pie.


Anonymous said...

I'll admit it: I'm one of those who has a REALLY hard time accepting a Primary calling because (and I cringe to admit it, but it's the truth) I really don't like other people's kids very much. Particularly those who are parented in *very* different ways from my own parenting style. And the Bishop doesn't want to spend his time placating really hacked-off parents of kids who've had a run-in with the basic requirements of civilization that I insist upon. So there's that.

In every ward I've been in, there could be improvements in how connected Primary (and YW) are to the main RS body. Announcements *need* to get around. Sign-ups *need* to get around. Special efforts are important!

I think it would be keen to do a weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly discussion group (open to anyone, but with special consideration for Primary/YW staff) to dive into the meat of the SS and RS lessons for that time period.

I think the best Primary experience I've ever had was in a very tiny branch that was, quite literally, mostly Primary. With under 15 active families, there were close to 40 kids. That's a lot of kiddos! But because nearly everyone was IN Primary, there was a nice social cohesion, and it didn't feel so isolating.

(It may also have helped that most of the parents required similar civilization as I did, and I mostly dealt with music--I was 5 minutes late for our first Presidency meeting, and missed that vote. :) We gave the senior Primary, and any kids who could read in the junior Primary, sheet music. This was such a huge, huge, huge big deal for our Primary!)

These days, I am flattered when someone wants me for a Primary calling, but I have to pray a LOT for confirmation before accepting. At times, I say yes. Other times, the answer I get is "NO. Not right now." When I obey that confirmation prompting, things work out. When I don't, things go very, very, very badly. But I hope the Primary ladies in our ward are comfortable with knowing I'm happy to sub for music, even on short notice. That, I can gladly do!

Nursery, however: I can't. We aren't medically able to vaccinate, so my own kids don't go into the nursery, and I can't afford the germ exposure myself.

Emily said...

I think it's a lonely calling. I am in there right now (after coming off 2 presidency callings) and I just feel like I have no church friends. When I was Primary President, I wished I could "just be a teacher" and deal with all the stress of running the program. But now- it's just ok...I do like teaching my lesson, but I really don't love sitting through music and sharing time.
One thing I did when I was Primary President was have teacher appreciation dinners. About twice a year we as a presidency would host a night for Primary workers and their spouses and just have fun. I can't even tell you what a difference it made. It felt like everyone felt like they belonged to *something*- and it's always nice to get to know people on a social level rather than just "hi" on Sundays. The new presidency did not continue though and it makes me a little sad because I think it adds a lot and like I said I'm pretty lonely.

Emily said...

Yeah, maybe it shouldn't be a lonely calling, but that social aspect of it really helps, really creates belonging. I know we're not supposed to do more work than we have to (like parties), but that little bit of extra sure seems to help. We don't even have teacher training like they used to. I remember there was quite the difficulty getting people out to the trainings, so they just discontinued them (well, I don't know if that was the reason). I haven't ever been in a Primary presidency, but I'd think there's quite a bond between the presidency -- as in any presidency. Perhaps teachers want to experience the bond, but not enough to actually put forth an extra effort (like if there is a training meeting).

Steph said...

I am in nursery right now and I would love to be in Primary instead. The isolation in nursery is just so hard. It's me, my partner and 10 kids stuck in a room for almost two hours with no interaction with anyone else. And absolutely no spiritual enlightenment either since the lesson lasts approximately 1 minute. I would love to be in primary instead of nursery. I've done both callings and you're not as isolated in Primary. But, I said yes because it is such a hard calling to fill and it's just my nature to do my share. I do love the kids and my partner, I just hate the isolation.