DENVER — Dale and Jolene Matthews are parents to six wonderful children, despite growing concern that their 24-year-old son Mark might not live up to his potential.
Mark returned home from his mission in Peru over three years ago and has yet to get married or even have a long-term serious relationship, causing Dale and Jolene to question where they failed him as parents.
Mark’s parents began emphasizing the importance of temple marriage early on in Mark’s life. Concerning Mark’s baby blessing, Dale recalled, “I remember feeling prompted about it. I felt the Spirit tell me that I should bless our infant child that he would find a worthy daughter of God to take to the temple and be his eternal companion, and so I did. Apparently, Mark wasn’t paying attention.”
As Mark grew, his parents continued to tell him what was most important in his life. “Like with all our children, we carefully laid out Mark’s life plan for him early on,” remarked Mrs. Matthews. “Baptism, priesthood, Eagle Scout, mission, temple marriage, graduation from BYU, job as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. That was the plan, as we frequently reminded him, but I guess he wasn’t paying attention then either.”
The Matthews now think they may have failed to stress the importance of marriage immediately after Mark returned home from Peru, even though he had just spent two years teaching that same principle to others. Dale mentioned that they only questioned their son’s apparent lack of dating a few times a week.
“Looking back it’s clear we should have pressed more,” Dale said. “We should have asked more about his romantic life and pressured him to go on more dates. I just thought the interventions we scheduled from his other married siblings and the constant family home evening lessons, dinner conversations, and text messages about marriage would get the point across.”
While Dale and Jolene’s efforts were not enough for their son, they hope that their story will be a cautionary tale for all young parents. Among other tips, they encouraged playing audio recordings of talks by Spencer W. Kimball on marriage for a child beginning as early as the second trimester. Most of all, they hope that parents will not be afraid to ask their children about their dating lives as many as five to six times a day.