A?typical Mormon Background
I don’t think the “Typical Mormon Family” really exists. . . but if it did, my family and childhood wouldn’t fall into that category.
Mom in her third marriage, my father in his second, I was born the second of three daughters (the first from a previous marriage). There were eight years between my older sister and I and two between me and the younger. I don’t think you could find three sisters more different.
As a hair dresser my mother worked full-time and Dad was a very part-time stay at home dad. A few months after birth I went to the babysitter’s who potty trained me. I had babysitters all of my childhood, full-time in the summers and after school to 5pm until I was twelve. When I did come home after school I watched soap operas, talk shows, MTV and played video games.
My mother was raised LDS. My father was a convert and active when I was eight years old. He baptized me. Our family also got sealed together in the temple that same year (minus my older sister).
However, my father wasn’t always active and during my teen years rarely attended church. My mother ensured that my little sister and I did. I loved church, had a testimony, sang in the choir and attended the activities but do remember a phase when I went unwillingly, mostly because I didn’t want to wear a dress.
I didn’t have any long-lasting LDS girlfriends. My best friends were guys. Though in high school that all faded out and I was fairly friendless. There was one (non-LDS) friendship that was on and off again from elementary school through graduation. I considered her my “best friend”. I did go to youth activities and early morning seminary but didn’t graduate all four years because I was lazy and preferred sleep.
My younger sister wasn’t too keen on the church thing, nor was my older sister but she only lived with us for a few years. Neither are active in the church today. We rarely had “Family Home Evening” or family prayer and my dad didn’t really care one way or another about our church activity or early morning seminary attendance. The only reason he would tell us to do it was because he knew it was important to Mom.
We did eat together as a family every night. My parents worked hard to go to all of our extra curricular activity functions. They asked us about school, stuck up for us when bullied, let us have friends over, and hosted sleep overs. We had regular family outings and vacations. My parents rarely went out for dates but stayed home with us.
My mother did community plays and musicals with us. She’s my best friend. My dad took us hiking and horse back riding. We often went on family walks after dinner and Dad would tell us childhood stories before bed. They were also fairly strict and enforced high standards. The neighborhood kids referred to my dad as “overprotective” and most of them were afraid of him (though he’s really a big teddy bear). He didn’t let me date until I was 17 (which is not a Mormon thing).
I didn’t go to a Church college (though I would have liked to) because we couldn’t afford it and I didn’t realize I needed to save up for it. I did marry a LDS return missionary who I met in the local singles ward. We married in the temple (my dad and sisters couldn’t be in there with us). I was barely 20 and he 21. We had our first child a year later. I’m still trying to get my college education, and my husband his, while raising three beautiful children. We’re getting there.
I had a great childhood but it wasn’t what you would call “typically Mormon”. There was function and dysfunction like anywhere else and life was only Mormon 24/7 if you made it a personal priority. The family certainly wasn’t pushing for it.