Welcoming Young Women to Relief Society

Do you struggle welcoming Young Women into Relief Society?

I have been so fortunate to serve in both Young Women's and Relief Society, and let me tell you . . . I've heard plenty about people's complaints with the process and Relief Society in general.

I love Relief Society. I have loved it for many, many years.

However, I do remember my first few months in Relief Society were rough. I felt so out of place. The women seemed so much older and my best friend was still in YW. I have to admit my attitude needed some positive juice.

A few weeks later, I moved with my family to another state (and therefore another ward), where I knew nobody and I LOVED that little Relief Society.  There actually were two other women my age, but it wasn't even that. The spirit was strong and I felt strangely at home. I do sometimes wonder if it helped that I was quickly given ministering sisters (visiting teachers at the time) and a calling in the Relief Society. At any rate, I loved Relief Society.

So, it is possible!

Fast forward many years to yet another ward and state . . .

A few years ago, we wanted to have a "Tea Party" of sorts to help the young women who were graduating from high school get comfortable with us old Relief Society ladies. Our plan was to have the RS Presidency and the oldest Young Women and their mothers attend.

As it turned out, we ended up doing one-by-one visits, but the luncheon idea is fun too! I have heard it can be a successful venture. I love the idea, but it didn't work out due to schedules. Instead we did personal visits with each young woman.

Here is the first draft of what was originally going to be an invitation (with the time, date, attire and location on the back).  Try to ignore the repetitive wording on the front--we hadn't perfected it yet when I snapped this pic!

We actually ended up using this idea as a tag on a little care package we made for each girl. We brought the care package (I'll try to list the contents below) to each girl and just chatted about her plans, what Relief Society is like, and how excited we were to see her there.

You are welcome to use this idea and even the file (for the proper spacing to match the shape). Just let me know if you want the file. Enjoy!

Contents of the care package, as far as I can remember:

  • Flip flop card
  • Flip flop keychain
  • Relief Society Declaration (8 1/2 x 11 pre-printed cardstock)
  • Relief Society Lesson Manual (I believe this was the last year we used physical manuals for everyone 😊)
  • Relief Society History Book
  • Bookmark with the purposes of Relief Society
This was all wrapped up in cellophane, with ribbon.

It wasn't super exciting, but the girls appreciated it and it was nice to visit them with a little care package/gift so it felt a little more special to them.

What are your ideas? Helping young women feel comfortable in Relief Society is a many person, ongoing effort. Really, it never ends because people of any age can at times feel less comfortable.

Some other things we have tried or known people who tried:
  • Assign certain women to help with the transition. For instance, a previous young woman's leader who is know in Relief Society can help young women who relate to her. Likewise, a young woman just a year or two older might be able to help. Or, an older woman who has a gift at relating to people could do wonders. We even had a lesson on this very topic one Sunday (after I was released).
  • Invite a new Relief Society sister to teach a weekday activity. One time, a young adult taught us all how to paint. We learned a lot and she did an excellent job.
  • Build a great repoire between the Young Women leaders and the Relief Society presidency. It's hard if the Young Women leaders say negative things about Relief Society in front of the girls. I heard a couple things like that when I was serving in Young Women. Let the Young Women leaders know how concerned you are that these girls don't get lost between YW and RS. That may help them.
  • Hold some joint activities, or invite the Young Women to some of your best, most fun activities. Food is always a plus.
  • Depending on the current handbook and your Bishop/Stake President, you may consider having the oldest young women attend one lesson a month in Relief Society, or you may want to have them come to an opening exercise occasionally.
  • Some wards have the Relief Society presidency attend a day of girls camp, just to build bridges so the girls know someone when they start Relief Society.
  • Most of all, if you are a Young Woman leader, try to point your young women to Relief Society with little comments all along the year or two before you think they'll probably transition. Be happy for them when they feel ready to leave Young Women's. Don't feel like they love you less if they're ready before you are! It's almost like being a parent. When they are ready and can move on, you did a great job! Keeping them in Young Women's is not necessarily a sign that you're a great leader. Do your best to help them have wings and fly at the appropriate time.
Anything you can add? What has worked or not worked for you? What have you seen that you thought was amazing? Let everyone know in the comments.