Raising kids in Utah?

My husband and I vowed we would never raise kids in Utah.

For some reason we had it in our minds that although we were Mormon, growing up in a sea of Mormons was overload. We want our kids not to take their religion for granted. I grew up among a handful of Mormon kids in my high school and loved it. I felt unique and that I really had to work to get my own testimony of the church.

So when we had the chance to move back to my East Coast hometown a few years ago, we jumped at it. But now two years post-Utah with a 4-year-old and an 8-month-old daughter, I think I was seriously mistaken about raising kids in the Beehive State.

I’ve come to realize two things:

1. Raising kids in Utah is uniquely amazing. Everything revolves around families and children. Activities are cheaper and more abundant. Neighborhoods are filled with families ready to get together for playgroups, and everyone is used to kids being around all the time.

And while there are more kids to play with, there were also more moms in my situation. There were young, Mormon mothers who understood why I was staying home with my kids and why I started my family at a young age. I didn’t have to explain myself or my choices. They just got it.

2. The second thing I’ve realized is that environment inside your home is much more important than what happens outside your home.

I was way off mark thinking that being raised around Mormons automatically means your faith hasn’t been as tested or proved. A real testimony isn’t dependent on those outside forces anyway, so why should it matter if you’re surrounded by a sea of Mormons, Catholics or Muslims? As long as parents are giving their children a strong foundation of faith at home, maybe it’s not a big deal if you are part of the religious majority or the glaring minority.

What do you think are the pros and cons of raising kids in Utah if you are Mormon? What about for non-Mormons, what is it like raising kids in the Beehive State?

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister’s nose.

2 comments

  1. J.R.

    “I was way off mark thinking that being raised around Mormons automatically means your faith hasn’t been as tested or proved. A real testimony isn’t dependent on those outside forces anyway…. As long as parents are giving their children a strong foundation of faith at home.”
    You may still be off the mark a little. Let’s review some basics…
    Why did we leave our premortal existence and come to a fallen world? We need to be tested and we need opposition to grow. “Outside forces” are indeed a necessary part of growth. Don’t dismiss or underestimate that principle.
    Does that mean the ideal environment is the most vile and disgusting? No. But don’t dismiss the value in a little opposition to your faith. Your kids’ growth can’t all be in the comforts of your home. As you teach them correct principles they must experience life to grow in faith.
    Is there opposition to faith in Utah? Of course there is. I’m sure you are very aware of that. More on that later. A more interesting question to explore is whether there is little opposition to some elements of faith. And how does that affect us? For example, will your child question to the degree that others do outside of Utah, “which, if any, Church is right?” Or, will they just go along with it because many others agree? How might that affect the development of their faith?
    As stated earlier, there is opposition in Utah. One example is the great and spacious building, which is very loud in Utah. Outside of Utah, a child may feel alone standing up for what’s right. In Utah, a child may feel alone standing up for what’s right. But it becomes confusing as they notice that the scores of people not standing with them are supposedly of their faith. Those that fill the building, who are telling your child that they are a loser for trying to do what’s right, are the people in your ward and stake.
    Many of the things you teach your children they just don’t get, and they have to go along with it until they do. (Sounds like faith, doesn’t it?) Suppose after hearing about it in a recent conference (April 2011) you decide you want the family to dress in Sunday clothes on Sunday. Some of the kids feel weird and uncomfortable for having to wear Sunday clothes. But they go along with it until they mature spiritually and eventually they appreciate it. Perhaps not until they are adults, but eventually.
    In Utah, it can be more complicated getting them to go along with it because they see other Church members all the time. It’s so easy for them to see their great and spacious building. “Why isn’t my primary teacher wearing Sunday clothes?” “Why do the Bishop’s kids get to ride their skateboards and not have to wear Sunday clothes?” “I know the Smiths down the street wear Sunday clothes, but MOM … they are weird!” And, watch out — it might not be just your children that are affected by that great and spacious building.
    Yes, it is nice in Utah not having everyone stare at the spectacle that is your large family if you have more than 2 or 3 children. And you avoid the questions and comments, as well as the strange reaction received when they learn you “don’t work”. But don’t be tricked in to thinking that raising a family in Utah is not so bad. One of the things about opposition in Utah, is that many parents don’t fully appreciate its existence. Don’t get complacent and get caught off guard. Many parents in Utah loosen their supervision (let the kids run wild) and youngsters are becoming engulfed in porn and other problems without their parents realizing.
    If you move to Utah and you start thinking that raising a family seems way easier … watch out. You have been lulled. Wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion.

    • motherof2

      Thank you. The post above says it all about living in Utah. I was born and raised here and absolutely love it, but children of good moral character are tested just as much. It is hard knowing that the kid sitting next to you in your Sunday class was out drinking Friday night and his parents have no idea. He’s such a great kid. Don’t get me wrong there are just as many good but the great and spacious building does exist.

Leave a comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.

*