Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, often referred to as Mormons, are a self-proclaimed “peculiar people.” They do things differently than the general population in many different aspects of their lives, especially when it comes to the ways they raise their children.
From their interesting fashion choices to the things they don’t eat and drink to the ways they spend their limited time and hard-earned money, Mormon parents do many things that may cause those who know little about the LDS church to scratch their heads in confusion. Some aspects of the church make little sense to those on the outside looking in.
The LDS church puts a huge emphasis on home and family, and while having a lot of children is not a requirement, big families are definitely the norm among Mormons. The president of the church, Russell M. Nelson, has stated, “The family is the most important social unit in time and in eternity.”
Read on for more information about the taboo world of Mormon parenting, and the inside scoop on the burning questions many people have about moms and dads who are raising their children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Parents are always tired. Moms and dads often turn to coffee or tea to give them the energy they need to meet the demands of parenthood. Alas, an LDS commandment entitled the "Word of Wisdom" discourages partaking of these popular beverages. Church guidelines on LDS.org state, “Do not drink coffee or tea.”
What’s a parent to do when the energy source of most parents is off limits? Turn to a caffeinated drink that is allowed: soda.
Soda is so popular among Mormon parents that drive-through soda shops dot the horizon in cities in Utah where large concentrations of LDS parents reside. When coffee and tea are off the table, pop is the next best option for exhausted Mormon moms and pops.
Modesty is another important aspect of the Mormon church. A guideline for church members on LDS.org states, “Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is.”
It isn’t uncommon for Mormons to sport clothing that covers their shoulders and doesn’t expose skin above the knees, even on warm summer days. While dressing a certain way isn’t required, many Mormon parents choose to stay relatively covered up.
Mormons have also been discouraged from getting tattoos or multiple piercings by church leaders, but every church member is free to dress in the way he or she sees fit.
Missionary work is one of the main ways the LDS church gains new members. Mormons are encouraged to share the church’s message whenever they can, and to show love to everyone they meet, whether a person is interested in learning more about the church or not. As a result, Mormon parents are often outgoing and friendly.
A mom or dad talking your ear off at the park or a school function? They might just be a Mormon.
states, “Members and missionaries can see themselves in the work as they live the gospel joyfully and as they invite others to participate in activities, Church services, and other occasions.”
Nephi, Moroni, Ammon, Hyrum, and Parley are common baby names in Mormon families but are virtually unheard of by those who aren’t familiar with the church.
Where do parents get these unusual designations? They often name their children after heroic figures from the Book of Mormon, the church’s cornerstone text. Additionally, it isn’t uncommon for Mormon parents to name their babies after notable and respected church leaders.
When a mom is heard calling out a unique name on the playground, it’s possible she's a Mormon, and her little one got his name from the book she and her family study on a regular basis.
An adult beverage can go a long way towards relieving a mom or dad's stress after a long day of parenting, but Mormon parents go without glasses of wine in the bubble bath or cold ones during the big game.
As previously mentioned, members of the church follow what is known as "The Word of Wisdom," which advices against partaking of intoxications of any kind along with coffee and tea.
Guidelines for members of the church published on LDS.org state, "Never use...any form of strong beverages; [it is] addictive and harmful to your body and spirit. Being under the influence of [these drinks] weakens your judgment and self-control. Drinking can also lead to [addiction], which destroys individuals and families."
For many parents, Sunday is a day for errands, recreation, and fun with the family. For Latter-Day Saint parents, Sunday is a day of worship. Church services last for two hours every Sunday, and families are then encouraged by church leaders to study church doctrine together at home.
Guidelines for Sabbath day observance on LDS.org state, “Honoring the Sabbath day includes attending all your Church meetings...Prepare during the week so that you can reserve Sunday for the many uplifting activities that are appropriate for the Sabbath day."
The site continues, "Such activities include spending quiet time with your family, studying the gospel, fulfilling your Church callings and responsibilities, serving others, writing letters, writing in your journal and doing family history work.”
Along with Sabbath day observance, Mormon parents spend Monday nights at home with their children whenever possible. The first evening of the work week has been set aside by church leaders as a time for families to connect and spend time together, and has been titled "Family Home Evening."
Guidelines for members on LDS.org explain, “Family Home Evening is a time to strengthen family ties. We do this by learning the gospel together, by listening to each other’s feelings, thoughts and ideas, and by enjoying activities together...[It] is a time to enjoy each other and have fun together."
The site continues, "Through simple activities—games, service, sharing talents, visits to local sites of interest—families create connections and build unity.”
Parenting is exhausting and all-encompassing, but many Latter-day Saint mothers and fathers choose to contribute their time and talents to church callings in addition to the other things on their plates. Among many other things, they serve as youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, activity planners, bishops, and Stake Presidents (local leaders) without any sort of compensation.
Guidelines for members of the Church on LDS.org state, “Service is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
It is also important to note that former prophet and president of the church Gordon B. Hinckley once stated, “If you are too busy in your church activities to take care of your family, then perhaps we had better find something else for you to do.”
According to Universe.BYU.edu, “Utah has more MLMs per capita than any other state... Very few people manage to escape pitches from friends, family, and neighbors regarding some new product sold through multi-level marketing."
Why? Jeff Hill, School of Family Life professor at the LDS school Brigham Young University, has an idea. Hill explains to the site, “Mormons, in particular, have a lot of faith, and that is sometimes coupled with the attitude that if you’re keeping the commandments, you’ll be blessed financially."
He continues, "With MLMs, there are always people at the top that are very rich and successful…[People] at the top are credible and good people.”
Members of the LDS church are encouraged to remain celibate until after marriage. Guidelines for church members on LDS.org state, “Physical [closeness] between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred."
The site continues, "It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that [physical] closeness be reserved for marriage.”
The emphasis the LDS church places on family coupled with the commandment to wait until after marriage to be physically intimate often results in members marrying and having children at much younger ages than the general population. Hence, young moms.
Writer Emily Matchar admitted in an article for Salon.com, “I'm your standard-issue late-20-something childless overeducated atheist feminist — yet I'm completely obsessed with [Mormon mommy] blogs."
She continued, "On an average day, I'll skim through a half-dozen Mormon blogs, looking at Polaroids of dogs in raincoats, or kids in bow ties."
According to Natalie Holbrook, author of the popular Mormon mommy blog, “It seems that a lot of popular culture wants to portray marriage and motherhood as demeaning, restrictive or simple, but in the LDS church, motherhood is a very important job, and it's treated with a lot of respect."
As previously mentioned, the LDS church puts a large emphasis on teaching children church principles at home.
LDS.org states, “Being part of a family is a great blessing. Your family can provide you with companionship and happiness [and] help you learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere.”
The site continues, “Strong families require effort. Your family will be blessed as you do your part to strengthen it. Be cheerful, helpful, and considerate of family members...Seek to be a peacemaker rather than to tease, fight, and quarrel. Show love for your family members each day...Your righteous example can make a difference in strengthening your family.”
Mormon.org states, “From Billboard-charting artists and New York Times best-selling authors to sports legends and political and business giants, there’s no doubt Mormons are making an impact on the world.”
Famous Mormons include stars of television and stage Donny and Marie Osmond, singers Gladys Knight and David Archuleta, DWTS dancers Lindsay Arnold and Witney Carson, violinist Lindsey Stirling and blogger/social media influencer Amber Fillerup Clark. Mormons are taught early to develop and refine their talents, often leading to success and even fame.
The site continues, “How do these Latter-day Saint celebrities use their influence to impact others? Many of them...[share] their faith openly and genuinely on social media.”
Kids are expensive, and it isn’t uncommon for parents to struggle to make ends meet when paying for food, clothing, school fees, lessons, sports, etc. Along with the many expenses, children entail, Mormon parents also pay pay a tithe.
On tithing, LDS.org explains, “A tithe is one-tenth of your income...Tithing is used to build temples and meetinghouses, translate and publish the scriptures, do missionary and family history work, and in other ways build God’s kingdom on earth."
The site continues, "Your attitude is important in paying tithing. Pay it because you love the Lord and have faith in Him. Pay it willingly with a thankful heart.”
“Oh my heck!”, “Gosh darn!”, and “Fiddlesticks!” are just a few of the G-rated curse words Latter-day Saint parents may be heard using on a regular basis. Church members are encouraged to avoid curse words, which means sometimes the things they say when they’re upset are a little abnormal.
Guidelines on LDS.org explain, “How you communicate should reflect who you are as a son or daughter of God. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind."
The site continues, "Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith, hope, and charity. Speak kindly and positively about others. Choose not to insult others or put them down, even in joking.”
Many LDS families have lots of children, but, despite popular belief, members are in no way required to have big broods. The number of children each family decides to have is a personal and private decision.
One Mormon mother-of-one explained on NextDoorMormon.com, “Not all Mormons have lots of children. Also, ‘lots of children’ is a relative term. What one person thinks is a lot of children another may think it’s nothing to get excited about.”
Why do many some Mormons choose to have a lot of babies? Latter-day saint mother-of-six Karen explains, “People often asked me why we had so many children. I usually told them in just a few words...we believe that we lived in a spirit world and wanted to come to earth to gain a body.”
Latter-day Saint families believe that ordinances performed in the church’s temples will allow them to someday be together forever in a life after this one.
LDS father Kyle shared on Mormon.org, “My wife and I have a daughter who [passed] just three days after her birth, and our understanding of where our daughter is and that we will have the chance to be with her in the spirit world brings a great sense of peace.”
He continued, “We still grieve that she is not with us, but the grief isn't debilitating because there is hope in a future reunion with her. That will be an exciting time for our family!”
Date nights are rare and wonderful opportunities for stressed and exhausted parents to enjoy some kid-free time together reconnecting and recharging. It isn’t uncommon for Latter-day Saint parents to spend their date nights attending the temple.
The LDS church currently has 151 operating temples around the world. These buildings are considered holy places where church members make and renew sacred covenants. Many LDS parents feel that the perfect way for them to rejuvenate is by attending the temple together.
The church’s current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has stated, “Ordinances of the temple are absolutely crucial. We cannot return to God’s glory without them.”
It is a common assumption among those not familiar with the LDS church that Mormon women are expected to be submissive and subversive to their husbands.
In reality, this fact could not be further from the truth. The church teaches that mothers and fathers should be “equally yoked” and should make all important decisions together as equal partners.
According to the late former prophet and president of the church Gordon B. Hinckley, “Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have.”
Being a Mormon parent means different things to different people. Like all parents, Mormon moms and dads are doing their best to find joy in the day-to-day grind of parenthood.
Al Fox Carraway, also known as The Tattooed Mormon, joined the LDS church later in her life. She isn’t a stereotypical Mormon mom and proves that Latter-day Saint parents are not one-size fits all.
Carraway has stated, “I think it's really important if you have a question, don't turn to the Internet, don't turn to other people. If you want to know that God's there, ask him a question — ask Him.”