An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

We have two sons and three daughters. When we tell people two of our children served missions, we look like successful Mormon parents. If we reveal that two daughters and zero sons served missions, we are perceived as failures.

In our defense, we did follow the rules. We talked up missions while our kids were little and invited the missionaries for dinner frequently. We attended relatives’ missionary farewells whenever possible. Still, by the time our sons reached age 19, they were free thinkers who could not honestly urge others to join a church about which they had serious doubts.

“You should make Wort go on a mission,” one friend counseled. I doubt there is any righteous way to force a 19-year-old to act against his personal beliefs. And it’s best for the Church that we didn’t try unrighteous means—“You’ll break my heart if you don’t serve.”

I could imagine Wort engaging contacts in philosophical discussions that discounted reliance on warm, fuzzy feelings as a guide to making decisions. Techie would have turned the discussions into stand-up routines: “The Apostasy. That’s when God gave up on the human race and said, ‘To hell with you. I’m taking a break for the next 1600 years.’”

No, it was best for themselves and the Church that our sons did not serve missions.

There were downsides. Wort found few Mormon girls were willing to date a non-RM. Techie didn’t want to date Mormon girls, so he didn’t care.

A big advantage to our sons not serving missions was that it took them from the established Mormon pattern of completing a mission then marriage, family, education, and career—in that order. Both married after age 30 when they were established in their careers. Their children are a joy to them and not a financial burden.

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