We have all heard the statement “proof is in the pudding.” In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion & Public Life, ‘Mormons in America,’ many great topics were addressed and a better understanding gained of what Mormons think about those topics. The Deseret News has taken a look at this research and has created a five part series discussing different aspects of the survey. In their piece “New Pew survey reinforces Mormon’s top goals of family, marriage” they take a deeper dive into the findings surrounding these critical beliefs of those who are Mormon.
The article references a very important statistic that was found through the Pew survey, “81 percent of Mormons say being a good parent is ‘one of the most important things in life.’” I guess from one perspective you could ask the question, based on what Mormons are taught about the role and importance of families, why this number is not 100%… but 81 is a good number. There are probably a number of reasons that number is not higher which may lead to some good follow-up research.
In another area that is receiving a lot of public attention these days, marriage is another central belief of the LDS faith. In the Deseret News article, there is reference to the comparison of marriage percentages between Mormons and the general population. It states, “Mormons are more likely to be married than the general population, 67 percent of the sample size compared to 52 percent of the general public.”  It seems as though the pressures of life have caused such an increase in divorce that some are not as motivated to get married. We see in the media, with high profiled celebrities and athletes how marriage is often used more as a marketing campaign than a sign of true love and dedication.
In the article, there is a focus on the Thompson family, who are LDS. Their goal was to help put a face on the data that was being presented through the Pew survey. The Thompson’s could be labeled as your typical Mormon family, but we should be careful in using the word ‘typical.’ They discuss their bedtime rituals, how things can often be crazy in their home, and serious topics such as their wanting a big family but they “struggled with infertility for nearly nine years.” With Mormons putting so much focus on the family, the Thompsons and many other LDS families find great joy when they get to spend quality time with each other.
One area that some outside the Mormon faith have some issue with is surrounding the role of the parents, especially when it comes to working. Since there is such a focus on the family in Mormonism, there is also a focus on the role that a mom and dad play. Mothers have a more nurturing role of the kids and the home in general, while the father is providing the resources to ensure the family has all their needs taken care of. This may sound old fashioned, but it helps to create peace and harmony within a family. This is supported by the research, as is referenced in the Desert News article, “when the survey asked Mormons about working arrangements in the families, nearly six out of 10 Mormons indicated they would prefer a marriage where the man works and the woman stays home to care for the home and the children.”  Does it mean that this is always the case? No, and in fact many times the roles are reversed, where the mom works and the father stays home. The real focus should be and for most LDS families it is, ensuring the family’s needs are met and there is love in the home. Mormon families try to make these decisions prayerfully.
We are all taught to set goals in our life, and we may often fall short of those goals. However, when it comes to families and marriage, we cannot afford to fall short of those goals. There is too much at stake when it comes to finding the right person to marry and then being able to create a family. Your kids will need every bit of love you can muster. They will need great examples to follow. They will need to see a model of what it is they should strive for. Does this means there will be no trials? No, and in fact what this means is when you do have trials, if you have strong goals around having a happy marriage and family, you will be stronger because of those trials.
Seth Saunders is currently branch president of the Pembroke Branch (Spanish) and a founding board member of The Pink Shoe Hero Foundation. Seth has been married 15 years to his amazing wife Amber and is the proud father of three wonderful sons.