The Family Proclamation is a big theme in LDS Primaries these days. The Proclamation includes an exploration of gender roles – but what is included in these divine roles, and what things are just a cultural tradition? This LDS Activity Days idea is meant to explore this concept. It’s also a great introduction to the Young Women value of Divine Nature.
Category: Developing Talents, Living and Learning the Gospel.
Duration: 1 session
- Post it notes (or just pieces of paper will work, too)
- Writing utensils
- Hat, basket, bowl, or other container for slips of paper (see #6)
- Print ads and/or packaging for products marketed to children 8 to 11, such as toys, video games, sports clothes and equipment (with images of children using the product). You can also easily print a bunch online – just do a google image search for “girl toys” and then “boy toys.”
- Write the following roles (and you can add more that you think of) on post it notes (you can add multiple of the same word if you know that many girls in your class will identify with that word): athlete, pilot, lawyer, veterinarian, news reporter, princess, queen, artist, scientist, dancer, insect expert, ice skater, singer, songwriter, astronaut, cartoonist, surgeon, soldier, dolphin trainer, world traveler, writer, skydiver, businesswoman, friend, inventor, actor, leader of a band, chef, fashion stylist, coach, student, daughter, mother, fashion model, movie director, musician, engineer, mentor, student, artist…
- Print or write these on separate slips of paper: Ballerina, Doctor, Soccer Star, Paramedic, Pop Star, Secretary, Teacher, Coach, Ice Skater, Police Officer, Firefighter, Lifeguard, Loving Parent, Dog Walker, Car Saleswoman, Chef, Construction Worker, Fortune Teller, Basketball Player, Judge, Makeup Artist, Model, Gardener, Fitness Instructor, Custodian, Fashion Designer, Artist, Author, Seamstress
- Important Note: some groups have reported only having time to complete three or four of the five activities, especially if their groups are on the large side. You may want to look through the activity and pick your favorites to do first so you are sure to have time for those!
- What do you think about the roles you chose for yourself and the roles the other girls chose for you?
- Which roles do you think are the best fit for you? Which aren’t at all? Why?
- What about the roles you gave other girls?
- Which roles weren’t chosen at all? Why do you think that is?
- Which of these roles are roles that your Heavenly Parents have given to you or approve of? (Hint: all of them)
- “In the premortal world…we developed varying appetites, talents, and capacities over time and no spirits remained the same.” Elder L Tom Perry
- “You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood.” Jeffrey R Holland
- “Women are endowed with special traits and attributes that come trailing down through eternity from a divine mother. Young women have special God-given feelings about charity, love, and obedience. Theirs is a sacred, God-given role, and the traits they received from heavenly mother are…important.” Vaughn J. Featherstone
5. Talk about how all of us were blessed with different talents and interests from before birth. We all have different roles to fulfill in this life. In Young Women you will refer to these God-given roles as “divine nature.”
6. Get rid of the post-its now and play a game. Invite the girls, one at a time, to choose one of the roles from the container. After each girl has chosen a role, ask her to jump up and act out the role quickly, in just 10-15 seconds, while the other girls try to guess what role she is playing. When her time is up, have the girl say who guessed her role correctly or call out what her role was. Then another girl takes the stage. Continue the game until all the girls have had at least one turn playing a role.
Women in Your Life
7. Have them calm down for a bit and think about all of the women they saw in the past few days—at home, on the way to school, in the halls, in class, at lunch, after school… Have them write down who they saw and the roles they were playing. If they don’t know the women’s names, write the roles.
8. Take a few minutes for the girls to share their lists with one another, then get a discussion going to discuss the roles they witnessed being played. You can ask questions such as these:
- How many roles are you seeing the women in your life play?
- Which of these women play more than one role? What are they?
- What leadership traits do you see in them that you see in yourself? Which leadership traits do you see in them that you aspire to?
- Which roles played by these women might you like to try?
- Which roles do you think are part of their Divine Nature? (Hint: all of them can be)
Shaking off Stereotypes
9. Ask the girls to take turns naming one thing that they think girls are expected to be in life. (Examples: pretty, quiet, smart, bossy, a good cook, have lots of kids, etc.) After each girl has named an expectation, talk about how each expectation may apply differently to each of them. (Say something like, “There’s nothing wrong with being any one of these things, if that is what you truly are. But you don’t need to meet an expectation that isn’t good or really doesn’t feel right to you. Most importantly, you don’t want to be a certain way just because someone else thinks you should. Don’t ever feel pressured to be something you are not.”)
10. Have the girls stand up and shake off anything they don’t believe they want to be. Shake it all off!
11. Have each girl say one thing that helps describe who she really is. After each one speaks, have the group respond by saying: “That’s who you’re supposed to be!”
12. Discuss with the girls how Stereotypes = Limited Roles. When we limit the roles people can play—even in our minds—we put people in a role we choose for them, rather than a role they choose for themselves. That is what we call Stereotyping!
13. Ask the girls what they think is the difference between Stereotypes and Divine Nature. This is a tough one for anyone, especially young girls, but it’s important! Divine Nature means qualities that come from our Heavenly Parents. Stereotypes are qualities that come from our culture. Culture and stereotypes might change, but our Divine Nature does not change. For instance, it used to be a stereotype that women were naturally better at cleaning than men, but now we know that this was just a cultural stereotype and not part of a woman’s Divine Nature.
- Why are these toys marketed to boys? Do you think it would be okay for girls to play with them?
- Why are these toys marketed to girls? Do you think it would be okay for boys to play with them?
- Do you think this toy marketing is because of Divine Nature, or Stereotyping?
- Are there any stereotypical “boy” toys that you love to play with?
- How would our Heavenly Parents feel about stereotyping a girl who wants to play with toys that are marketed to boys?
- What can we do to stop these stereotypes?
17. Share this quote from the Family Proclamation: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
18. Explain that while our Divine Nature is related to our gender, it doesn’t mean that the gender stereotypes we have on this Earth in this particular country came from God. Remind the girls to shake off the stereotypes that don’t fit them, and the love the things that are left (“that’s who you’re supposed to be!”) – their divine nature.
19. Ask them what life would be like if everyone fit the stereotypes that are out there. Share this quote and talk about how the unique nature of our spirits means that no stereotype can be completely true for anyone:
- “God…and our Mother in Heaven value us beyond any measure. They gave our eternal intelligences spirit form, just as our earthly mothers and fathers have given us mortal bodies. Each of us is unique—one of a kind, made of the eternal intelligence that gives us claim upon eternal life.” Spencer W. Kimball
20. Recap of the activity:
- Each of us play many roles in our lives.
- Many of the roles you will play in your life, you get to choose.
- The most important roles are roles that came from our Heavenly Parents. This is called our Divine Nature.
- It’s okay to shake off roles and stereotypes that don’t fit who you are.
- We should try our best to love everyone even if they don’t fit the stereotypes, because our Heavenly Parents made us all unique for a reason!