Why LDS Women Need to Stop Saying Bad Words

by Candace Child

On Sunday, I was at a mission homecoming for a friend and found myself talking to a Young Women’s leader from high school about what I was up to these days. I responded, “Oh, I’m just working.” And then I said to myself, Candace, stop saying that word.

The word “just” is peppered throughout the language of LDS women, especially my fellow twentysomethings:

“I just want to be a mom.”

“I’m just working.”

“No, I’m not married. I’m just living with roommates.”

“I’m just staying at home with the kids.”

“I’m just going to college/working until I get married.”

“I’m getting a degree just in case something happens to my husband and I have to work.”

The connotation of “just” in these situations can be self deprecating and apologetic. It implies that whatever we have chosen to do with our lives at this current point in time or whatever dreams we have for the future are somehow inadequate. I find myself saying I’m “just” working to acknowledge that I am not married, nor do I have children, nor do I have any current prospects of either aforementioned commodity. When I use that word, I feel neutralized. I throw it in to ensure that whoever I’m talking to doesn’t get the “wrong” idea about me and my aspirations. The interesting thing, though, is that I consciously don’t believe that my life is incomplete. I’m happy with the chapter of my story that I’m currently in. So why do I keep saying that bad word and putting myself down?

As women of this generation, I think we feel a lot of inner conflict about making major life decisions. Some people expect us to get married and stay at home with our children. Others think we should pursue a career. Some believe in juggling the two. And of course there are the ubiquitous timelines depicting when all of these major life events are supposed to occur. With so many options available to us and with so many differing opinions, it is impossible to please everyone. But the truth is, no matter what we’ve been told or who we are speaking to, we don’t ever have to apologize for our dreams and goals.

“I just want to be a mom.”

  • If your sole ambition is to be a mother one day, you don’t need to downplay that dream even if you fear someone else’s disapproval. Tell people you want to be a mother, and tell them why.

“I’m getting a degree just in case something happens to my husband and I have to work.”

  • A college degree is not a “just in case” plan. Education is for your life, not for your career. The knowledge you gain in school will help you to be a mother, to work, to contribute to the community, to become a better person, and to help your children learn to value and invest in their own educations.

“I’m just staying at home with the kids.”

  • You’re just staying home with the kids? Don’t downplay your choice of occupation. We all know that of any job, moms put in the most overtime. They’re on the clock 24/7. If that’s what you want to do with your life, then do it. Be it. Rock it. (Or maybe more appropriately, “work it”).

As women, we have enough competing demands on our time. We need to live life deliberately. If you feel that something is missing from your life, then go and get it. But if you like what you’re doing (no matter how small it may seem to others) then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

From now on, when someone asks me what I’m doing, I am not going to use the “J” word. I’ll tell them that I graduated from college and I’m currently working. I’ll tell them I recently received a great job offer with an established firm, and that I’m getting my own place and starting an exciting new chapter in my life. I shouldn’t feel the need to neutralize or devalue those successes just in case whoever I’m speaking with expects me to be accomplishing or doing something else. I’m happy with the life that God has given me so far, and have no reason to apologize for what that includes or excludes. Neither do you.


Candace ChildCandace graduated from Utah State University a year ago with a Bachelors degree in Liberal Arts and a minor in Music. She grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and moved to Utah seven years ago. Fine arts, education, and getting A’s have been her biggest obsessions in life. She has worked in men’s fashion for the past two years, and volunteered with hospice during college. Fruit snacks and Chinese food are her ultimate weaknesses, along with art, attending concerts, playing guitar, going to Hot Hula class, eating at delicious restaurants, and reading.

49 Comments on “Why LDS Women Need to Stop Saying Bad Words

  1. Ahh I love this so much! A friend and I were discussing this exact topic the other day. This is one of those posts that needs to go viral. And not just for women, men too. Everyone. So often we downplay what we are doing because we think it isn’t good enough. But who decides what is good enough?!

  2. Don’t apologize, just be who you are and live your life. Stop worrying about what other people think, how much does it really matter? In the end, you only have to report to the Lord.

    • Your reply made me giggle because you said, “just”. 🙂 I got your point though. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Amen! I’m trying to re-enter the workforce after “just” staying home with my kids the past few years and find myself demeaning every line on my resume. This is JUST what I needed right now.

  4. This is one of the best way out of the mommy/parent wars. No one is “just” anything. Thanks for the wonderful post!

  5. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to figure out how to make everyone else happy … and you hit the nail on the head – everyone’s opinion is going to be different, and you can’t possibly make everyone else happy with your choices! This year, I’ve started focusing on doing things for myself (instead of trying to mind-read and divine what might make everyone else happiest) … and the surprising thing is that EVERYONE is more happy. We all own our lives. We all own our decisions. We all own our happiness. I’m not here to make my children/husband/parents/grandparents/strangers happy. I’m not “just” anything. I’m me!

  6. I wish there was a little more societal acceptance of this, though! I’ve run into too many people who have said things that make me realize, “Wow, THAT’S why Mormon women feel like they have to justify their life choices.”

    In one singles ward I attended, one of the really cool sisters in the ward had recently earned a Ph.D. and just accepted a job as a new professor at the nearby university. I knew her well and knew that marriage and family were a goal for her but she had just not yet had the opportunity. On another occasion, I heard some of the men in the ward talking about her and they mentioned that “it’s too bad she’s so focused on her career, you could never date her.” I was really hurt that they’d assume that and not even give her a chance. How on earth did they know she was focused solely on a career? Because she had one? What exactly was she supposed to be doing with her time if she wasn’t supposed to be magnifying her talents?

    Another time at a YSA convention where Sheri Dew was the guest speaker, I overheard some young men in an elevator say, “I don’t know why they got HER for the speaker. I thought they WANTED us to get married – some role model.” I was totally flabbergasted. (And not ashamed to say I said something back to them about it.)

    Even though I’ve met plenty of people in the Church who are far more understanding about this, it saddens me to realize that these attitudes are still around. No wonder women have gotten used to talking a certain way about what they’re doing with their lives – from some angles they’re still being very harshly judged for it.

    • This is exactly what I thought about the article- there is a reason we feel that we need to justify our choices. Each one of us (myself included) need to speak up to validate others and correct false perceptions.

  7. I think it all starts with the inner confidence we feel in our life choices. This takes a lot of soul searching, and in many cases the sad realization that we just can’t do it all. I’ve discovered that even I (a SAHM) need a good elevator pitch when I get the, “So what are you up to these days?” question.

  8. Well said! I’m in my early forties and am still learning to own my choices. I’ve often felt like I need to explain my choices/circumstances so people don’t make incorrect assumptions. I’m single but it’s not because I don’t want to get married. I am a working mom but I would quit my job if our financial circumstances were different. My husband is a stay-at-home dad but that is just temporary. We wanted to have more than one child but I couldn’t stay pregnant. While all that is true, I shouldn’t feel the need to justify my circumstances and choices. I will be watching my language this week as a result of reading your post!

  9. Great article. I think all women need this kind of empowering talk about confidence in life choices. Women in general tend to forget that we are enough!

  10. Just is a ‘bad word’ I find myself using all the time! Knowing that the Father is in control of everything makes the mundane seem so much more important, we are all exactly where He wants us to be, at any given time. To me, knowing this makes me look at every season of my life to evaluate where He is wanting me to grow and change.

  11. I have a Ph.D. and “just” teach part time as an adjunct. Who am I kidding? ! This is as much work as a full time job, and from now on, I’m taking credit for it. THANK YOU for this inspiring post!!

  12. Really great article. Such a good reminder that different versions of working hard and achievement deserve to be confidently asserted!

  13. About a year ago I started noticing how many times I was using the word just in my professional communications; almost every email I sent included the word just. I decided to eliminate just from my written communications and I am amazed a year later at how many times it still sneaks into my writing!

    Great article!

  14. Whenever I go out to eat by myself, I get asked “just one?” Makes me feel like I should apologize.

  15. I’m a Mom of 10 children, with 5 at home. My oldest 3 are married and 2 are on missions right now. If I ever thought being a Mom was “just” a position, my thoughts have drastically changed in these many years raising my children. I look at my children and many had special needs, that only I was able to figure out and get my children the help they needed. If I had been busy with other things and I’m not saying mom’s that work can’t do it, some of my children were /are complex cases that truly required me to be home. I love being a stay at home mom even though I work part time, my job is flexible with my families needs. Please know if you are following what our Father has asked you to do, you are not “just” anything!! You are truly an amazing daughter of God and are blessing many with what you do!!

  16. I think that there is obviously some unfair judgement attached to this word, “just.” I once said to someone that ideally, I wanted to be just a mother. That was a declaration – what I wanted to do more than anything else, and ideally, only, as my main focus of time and energy instead of working or owning a business. The mothers I shared that with (I wasn’t fortunate to be a mother at that moment) were so upset. Why would they be offended? I wanted to be just like them. I think that the usage and the intent of a word is so much more important than the word itself. I don’t think that this is a bad word at all. I do believe the intent of this article is to point out the usage of the word and not the word itself as being the culprit, but too often we hear certain phrases and words and we attach an intent to that instead of listening to what a person is actually saying. Sadly, these ladies were my visiting teachers and when I was trying to tell them something that I wanted to do more than anything and was struggling as it wasn’t happening for me, I got an earful instead of how motherhood is so great and isn’t “just” what someone does. I knew it was, and I just wanted to be one.

    • I totally agree with you! I use the word just all the time to describe what I want, especially when I was struggling with infertility. I wanted to be “just” a mom. In fact, I still want to be just a mom since I’m working full time and taking care of my baby. It doesn’t mean I’m belittling motherhood. It means it is all I want. Some people get so offended over the stupidest, little things. It’s absurd.

      • Perhaps we should use the word “only” when we mean that a choice is the one thing we want to do. Using “only” would avoid confusion the word “just” causes. “Just” implies that somehow we are satisfycing or settling for less than what we really want.

  17. Candace, I respect your opinion in this post but definitely do not agree with it. Just is a very positive word. See the definition: (4. is the only one that fits you analysis)

    adjective: just; superlative adjective: justest

    based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.
    “a just and democratic society”
    synonyms: fair, fair-minded, equitable, even-handed, impartial, unbiased, objective, neutral, disinterested, unprejudiced, open-minded, nonpartisan; More
    honorable, upright, decent, honest, righteous, moral, virtuous, principled
    “a just and democratic society”
    antonyms: unfair
    (of treatment) deserved or appropriate in the circumstances.
    “we all get our just deserts”
    synonyms: deserved, well deserved, well earned, earned, merited; More
    rightful, due, fitting, appropriate, suitable;
    “a just reward”
    antonyms: undeserved
    (of an opinion or appraisal) well founded; justifiable.
    “these simplistic approaches have been the subject of just criticism”
    synonyms: valid, sound, well founded, justified, justifiable, warranted, legitimate
    “just criticism”
    antonyms: unfair, wrongful

    adverb: just

    “that’s just what I need”
    synonyms: exactly, precisely, absolutely, completely, totally, entirely, perfectly, utterly, wholly, thoroughly, in all respects; More
    informalto a T, dead
    “she’s just right for him”
    exactly or almost exactly at this or that moment.
    “she’s just coming”
    very recently; in the immediate past.
    “I’ve just seen the local paper”
    synonyms: a moment ago, a second ago, a short time ago, very recently, not long ago
    “I just saw him”
    barely; by a little.
    “I got here just after nine”
    synonyms: narrowly, only just, by a hair’s breadth; More
    barely, scarcely, hardly;
    informalby the skin of one’s teeth, by a whisker
    “we just made it”
    simply; only; no more than.
    “they were just interested in making money”
    synonyms: only, merely, simply, but, nothing but, no more than
    “she’s just a child”
    really; absolutely (used for emphasis).
    “they’re just great”
    synonyms: really, absolutely, completely, positively, entirely, totally, quite; More
    indeed, truly
    “the color’s just fantastic”
    used as a polite formula for giving permission or making a request.
    “just help yourselves”
    possibly (used to indicate a slight chance of something happening or being true).
    “it might just help”
    expressing agreement.
    ““Simon really messed things up.” “Didn’t he just?””

    late Middle English: via Old French from Latin justus, from jus ‘law, right.’
    Translate just to
    Use over time for: just

    • Velva,

      I’m glad you pointed this out. I started my research for this article by researching every possible definition of just. After I read these definitions, I was a little hesitant to go ahead with the post. I agree with you that this is a great word and has great meaning. However, for this article, I chose to focus on the connotation of the word instead of the denotation. I’m very interested in sociolinguistics, especially how the connotation of words evolve over time, and in some cases end up changing the literal meaning of the word. This word in particular has come to be used quite often for the reasons I described in the article, not because the actual definition of the word is suitable. I chose to omit the discussion of the many denotations of just in order to simplify my article and narrow my focus. Thanks for bringing this up, though! I was hoping to have the chance to discuss it.

      • Yes. This I understand and agree with. It is too sad, that so many words we were taught and have spoken all our lives have evolved to a point that we must change our language or be condemned.

    • Um…the point of the word wasn’t to condemn the word “just”–it was to show that you shouldn’t feel like you have to justify yourself in your choices. It’s about self-acceptance.

  18. I’ve found then when I act excited about my choices, others react in kind with excitement and warmth! In one conversation I was meeting up with some fellow moms who chose to stay at home. They were talking about how much they loved it and were so glad they did. I, meanwhile, had just made the decision to go back to work full-time, and when it came up in the conversation just a short while later I was afraid I might get awkward comments or even judgment. But I stated my choice with confidence and added, “I’m really excited about it! I think it’ll be great for my whole family. ” Instead of reacting as I’d worried they might, these ladies congratulated me and were so kind and excited with me. It was a big lesson for me.

    • Elyssa, I love this. I think you’re right! I find myself trying to make everyone happy, or to avoid making others feel badly, by minimizing or qualifying my choices. But it’s kind of underestimating my friends’ goodness to do that. People of good will want to celebrate with you.

  19. Thank you for your articles. I appreciate them so much. I would like to give a talk sometime (the opportunity will arise, I know) on why we should not apologize for our tears. Why would we apologize for being moved by the Holy Ghost? Why would we apologize for one of the Godhead baring testimony to us? I wished Sisters wouldn’t do that! I am not ashamed of who I am, what I have gone through in this life, and my tears, especially my tears as I cry a lot. Tears of utter joy and thanks for the many gifts I’ve been given by a loving Heavenly Father – one of them being my testimony. I am a convert and my life has drastically changed because of the Gospel…”where once I was lost, now I am found.” I am SO grateful and tearful for that!

  20. same thing w/ men (and all)
    who pray asking “that we might be able to”
    — unless it really is something not now doable

  21. Great article! I often made fun of my “Born Again” relatives, saying they couldn’t get through a prayer without using “Just” at least 3 times. “We just want to praise you”. I didn’t think about how often I use that word in everyday conversation! Now I have something else to work on. Thanks for that! I’m JUST sayin’…

  22. My favorite response to how many children I have is “oh just five “. It always gets a classic reaction and lets people know I am happy to have them and would have had more if I could.

  23. Perfect! Thank you for the validation behind what I try to convey to myself and other women. I’ll shout this from the rooftops!

  24. thank you! I find myself saying that all the time. “I’m just doing the mom thing.” Time to stop!

  25. Love love LOVE your post! I’m about to graduate and leave BYU single and I’m terrified. I never thought of working because I “just” wanted to be a mom. Now I wish I had planned ahead. But I’m done using the “J” word. I’m ready to accept that my life is different than my plans and that God has a better plan for me and it’ll be better than anything I had planned! Thank you so much!!!

    • Megan, you’re a rockstar! So glad you loved the article. I was scared to leave college still single, too, but now I am so happy that I did. I have learned so much about myself in the year since I left and I think it’s totally thrilling to be taking a more unbeaten path. I wish you the best of luck with your new adventure!

  26. I’ve been downplaying so much of my life by using “just” ! Thanks for pointing out this over used word! I will “just” delete it from my conversations and thoughts!

  27. The one word LDS women should stop saying is GOSH – it is a euphamism for God and we hear his name taken in vain all the time espcially among women. The image for this article also depicts a woman with FAR TOO MUCH lipstick on. Maybe we should work on leaving Babylon as we work on cleaning up our language.

    • Gosh, I hope you’re joking and aren’t seriously that sanctimonious. Maybe we should leave Babylon by learning how to act towards others from the Savior, not from the Pharisees.

      • I agree. What a weird comment! Totally out of character for the Aspiring Mormon Women blog. Thanks for your follow-up comment.

      • Quoted from the Savior himself:
        “Unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
        Think about that statement.
        Would you also call Alma sanctimonious for speaking the obvious problems among the Zoramites?

        • cabc,

          Quoted from the Savior himself:
          “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3)

          We all sin; none of us are perfect. Our place is not to judge others for having different sins than us, but to love others and strengthen through example, not judgement. Let others worry about their own salvation; their admittance to the Kingdom of Heaven will be determined by Christ, not us.

          I would not call Alma sanctimonious. The circumstances, however, were entirely different. Alma was motivated by love and concern: “Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.” (Alma 31:35) However, and this is key: Alma was a prophet. He had the authority to call the Zoramites to repentance. We do not have that authority. We can and should love one another and lead by example, but we cannot overstep the bounds the Lord has set for us in our behavior towards one another.

          In that vein, I must apologize to you because although I disagree with your behavior, my initial response to you was not out of love, but out of irritation. I disagree with you and I am sad that you feel the need to say the things that you have said, but you are my sister (brother?) and I need to – continually – strive to not let my own opinions prevent me from behaving as Christ would, even when it is hard (especially on the internet when opinions flow freely!).

          This blog is meant to be a safe place where we can lift each other up as women and be better disciples of Christ – not to tear each other own in order to improve our own appearance. In the October 2014 General Conference, President Uchtdorf gave a wonderful and inspiring talk that I think is relevant here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/lord-is-it-i?lang=eng

  28. I loved your article. I’m 54 years old and I remembering struging with the same goals and aspirations as a teenager, wife, mom, educator and grandma. When I was no longer able to teach do to my health people would say, What do you do with all of your time? Or What are doing now you aren’t teaching? So I just tell people I’m a professional grandma and leave it at that. Thank you for noticing that as women we do downplay our current season of life.

  29. Simple and beautiful. A wonderful reminder to remember our divine nature.

  30. I’d like to add to the education part. It isn’t just for this life. Our own doctrine states that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” Also that “The glory of God is intelligence” and we should have “an eye single to the glory of God”. Women are queens, priestesses, & Goddesses and we should be proud to be educated, accomplished, and confident. It isn’t just about this life, but our eternal progression.

    Which is why I find it sad that it is no long acceptable to be intellectual in the LDS culture (like Maxwell or Nibley) . At least that’s the feeling I get in the area of Utah where I live. I hope it’s different elsewhere, but I kind of doubt it.

  31. Pingback: More than just a mom | Motherhood Heals

  32. You’ve got more time on your hands than I have to worry about such a trivial issue!

  33. Thank you, thank you for sharing this well thought out article! I totally agree, and I am so guilty of this. Thank you for bringing me to awareness and making it so obvious. 🙂

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