Today is the 4th and final installment of #MormonMuslimMoms. I can say, what a week it was. If you tried accessing my site this weekend you likely got an error. Unfortunately my server was overloaded (both a good and bad thing) causing the website to go offline. I am hoping to avoid that going forward! There was a lot of interest last week in Carissa’s post, generating lots of discussion. This week we’re delving into talking about how we raise our children in our faiths. You can find my post on raising Muslim kids on Carissa’s blog. We look forward to hearing from you, and please do ask any questions you may have. As we’ve said all along, please be respectful and kind, especially this week when we’re discussing something as sensitive as our kids!
I’m excited to write about something so dear and important in my life.
Being a MOM.
A Mormon mom.
This has been such a great experience exchanging posts and sharing information about our religions I’m very grateful and humbled by Amanda’s open spirit and willingness to share her world with me! I’m sad to see this series end, and I really hope that folks have learned as much as I have these past weeks.
I’m simply writing from my heart today.
I do not in ANY WAY attempt to speak for any other mother in the LDS Religion. Please forgive me for anything that even SOUNDS like I might be speaking for anyone else! I am only speaking of my experience, my beliefs and the way I choose to raise my children. Please take this as a conversation about parenting as much as religion.
I would LOVE to hear questions you might have about being a Mormon Mom.
Or just talk about being a MOM today!
I gently ask for respect regarding my standards and beliefs, and I will genuinely answer as best as I can from my perspective and experience!
Raising Children in the Mormon Faith
If you don’t know this about Mormons already, we are very conservative. In many aspects of the word. Personally I dress modestly, I don’t drink Coffee, I don’t drink alcohol or use tobacco. I attend church nearly eve ry Sunday and you might find me at the Church building once or twice during the week as well.
Oh yeah, and… I’m not perfect.
I fail at many aspects of my life, I’m nowhere near perfect in practicing my religion and in NO way am I a perfect mother!
I do my best and I try very hard not to beat myself up about failures. I try to learn from my mistakes and then when I make another mistake (sometimes the same one over… and over—I’m looking at you impatient-at-the-end-of-the-day mom –Me!) I keep trying. And I go to my Heavenly Father in prayer for help and guidance.
Today I want to address a few things that are specific to being a Mormon mom. However I imagine some of these things might be shared among lots of families, religions and cultures!
I am big on Family. And with my kids getting older it’s so much harder to just SPEND TIME together. We start our weekdays by reading scripture. It’s usually very early because everyone has crazy different schedules and the oldest goes to early morning Seminary an hour before school starts (see more on that below). We spend about 10 minutes reading out loud together and briefly talking about what we’ve read. And then we have a family prayer before everyone heads off in different directions.
While it’s not a huge in-depth religious study time for us, it IS a daily reminder of what is basic and important to us at the beginning of the day, plus it’s such a great way to be together and for a few moments learning and communing with God.
We keep Sunday as our Sabbath day and we choose to keep it holy by attending church nearly every week, which is a 3 hour block including Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School and then separating into the various groups: my daughters attend Young Women, my son attends Primary for children ages: 3-11, I attend Relief Society and my husband attends his Priesthood meeting during the last hour.
Sundays are also a day of rest for us and you can often find me catching a Sunday nap after our busy weeks. We almost always have a large Sunday dinner and use that time around the table to discuss what we each learned that day as well as the perfect time to have a family calendaring session for the upcoming week! We might invite another family over for dinner or dessert, we sometimes go for walks or drives as a family and generally we just spend that ‘TIME’ together that is becoming more and more precious as my kids get older!
Oh and on most Sunday evenings you can find the kids helping their dad bake pan cookies.
We generally don’t go shopping on Sunday or participate in strenuous sporting activities and we don’t ‘recreate’ on Sundays. For example my family wouldn’t go boating on a Sunday or skiing. There are times though when I simply have to get something at the store I’ve run out of and I have to decide, is it really worth it? Sometimes it is. And if we are on vacation sometimes we can keep the Sabbath similar to when we are at home and often we can’t. We aim for the spirit of the law.
Just what it sounds like. Once a week we try to set aside a night for a short devotional and a fun activity together. That might be going out for ice cream, playing games, baking cookies or finding a way to give service as a family. And lately we have to work really hard to carve this time out! Most Mormons will have Family Home Evening on Monday nights. But we’ve found Wednesdays to be our best option since moving to South Carolina.
Seminary for High School Age Kids
Freshmen through senior years the kids can participate in a church run Seminary program. Each year they study one of the four standard works: The Old Testament, The New Testament, The
Book of Mormon and The Doctrine and Covenants (a recording of more recent revelations from when the church was revealed in this dispensation).
When I was a kid I was excused from one hour of school each day to attend Seminary across the street from my school. My kids haven’t experienced that. They will all likely attend either in a Church building or in the teacher’s home. Currently my kid leaves the house at 6:45AM to attend seminary every weekday.
Youth Church Activities
At age 8 my son began participating in Cub Scouts. He will move into the Boy Scouts once he is 12. The church uses the Scout program as the official boys youth program. Complete with camp outs and working towards his Eagle Scout award once he’s older.
Also my girls attended a youth program starting at age 8 run by the church. At age 12 the girls moved up to the Young Women program and have weekly youth meetings some weeks with just girls and other weeks combined with the Young men’s program (not on Scout nights). Once a month after age 14 they attend a large church dance on a Saturday night. In the summer the girls attend a week long girl’s camp. And there are other summer events the kids can participate in if they choose.
Standards for my Children
I choose to teach my kids to stay within church standards. Can I ‘force’ my kids to do or not do anything? NO! Believe me I’ve learned that the hard way. But these are standards my kids are very clear on and I parent with these in mind.
I already mentioned modest clothing. My daughters do not wear bikinis and they wear shorts at least a couple inches long. They use a lot of tank tops and undershirts to layer their tops and wow I HATE how low jeans have become, so the T-shirts help to lengthen tops as well. Finding appropriate prom and ‘dressy’ dresses is a complete nightmare for me. My oldest is quite tall and most dresses are super short anyway, much less on my tall kiddo!
I do not have any tattoos and my kids don’t either. As with any of these things, once they are older and not in my house they will have to decide for themselves on all of these choices. But I don’t allow tattoos. Nor multiple earrings (the girls have their ears pierced once) and my little boy won’t be getting ear piercings either. But he hates having his hair ‘styled’, so I don’t think ear piercing will be an issue for him!
No coffee, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography or gambling. We just stay away from it as best we can. I never buy lottery tickets even.
We make decisions very carefully about movies and ratings. Our kids do not see PG-13 movies until they are close to 13, and even then we decide as a family and sometimes go see the movie before the kids do. And so far my kids rarely see rated R movies. When they do, again it’s because we had a thoughtful decision process about the movie.
Here are a few big ages for me as a mom of 3 kids. Obviously when they are born! (Their father blessed them and gave them a name around 2 weeks old.) When they are 18 months they can attend ‘Nursery’ during the second 2 hours of the Church block. When they turn 3 they can attend Primary during those same 2 hours.
Age 8 is the age our children are baptized. We also call this the age of accountability. And age 12 is when for boys they receive the Aaronic Priesthood and attend the Young Men’s program and for girls it is the age when they move on from Primary and attend the Young women’s program. Boys can pass the sacrament at this age.
At age 16 both genders are allowed to date in groups. It’s a big age for them—and for mom to deal with! (And in many places in the US it’s the age they can begin driving.) For boys this is the age they receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and can begin to bless the Sacrament.
At age 18 if graduated from high school boys can serve a 2 year mission. Girls can serve an 18 month mission at age 19. (These ages recently changed: used to be boys age 19 and girls age 21.)
Education is a really big deal for me. I expect my kids to graduate from high school and I also expect them to go to college. Both the girls and boys equally. And that’s that. Again, can I force my kids to do anything? No. But having that expectation I hope will more than encourage them.
I hope that my children will marry in the temple one day. They will be sealed to their families for eternity. But in a true mothering sense I know in my heart I don’t control my children. Their choices will lead them where they go.
In order for them to marry in the Temple they will have to find and fall in love with a Mormon. And they just might. But they might not either. Is it frowned on to marry someone of another faith? No. Not by me as a mother.
I hope for grandchildren!
But my biggest hope is that my children will be happy. And I believe marrying in the Temple brings happiness. It has for me. They can still go to the Temple if they are married civilly first should their spouse chose to convert to Mormonism. But I would ONLY want their spouse to take that step after he or she has carefully made the decision for themselves and not for any other purpose.
On Being a Stay at Home Mother
I chose to stop working as a molecular biologist when my oldest was 18 months old. I was SOOO ready to be home. To JUST be a mom!! I say JUST because I was thrilled to have time with her that I was missing and I loved being able to stay home. I’ve never regretted my decision and it has worked well for me.
Our church strongly suggests one parent be home to raise the children. Father, Mother, either one. And when we came to a financial point where it made more sense for me to stay home rather than continue to work and pay child care etc. I was content and happy to do so.
I had friends who asked if I would be bored at home all day. (Obviously, they didn’t have kids of their own…!) Don’t get me wrong there were times when I was in dire need of adult conversation when my kids were young! But I wouldn’t exchange the time I had with them when they were little.
I currently work somewhat from home as a writer and social media strategist.
Many Mormon families choose to live a very different life than mine. And that’s great! I am humbled to have been able to share this insight into my life as a Mormon Mom. I know I have a lot of work to do and could be better at many things. I try very hard not to judge others and their choices. I don’t know what it’s like in their shoes. Navigating my own shoes is hard enough!
If I’ve learned anything from working with Amanda on this series, it’s simply to be sure I teach my children to be open to other people’s beliefs, religious and otherwise. I want my children to become the kind of people who listen with their hearts and act in a big way when they see a need.
And I hope I can be that kind of person as well.
Read all of the other parts of our series here;
- READ ALL OF Amanda’s Muslim Mom posts on Carissa’s GoodNCrazy.com Blog
- READ ALL OF Carissa’s Mormon Mom posts on Amanda’s MorocMama.com Blog
Join us tomorrow on social media as we ask and answer questions.