In early 2012 the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released the results of a major study called Mormons in America. The study was reported in a five part series on Deseret News online. Part 2 of the coverage concentrated on the parts of the study that gleaned information regarding family life among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the U.S.
The Pew study found that 81 percent of Mormons say being a good parent is “one of the most important things in life.” Mormons are more likely than the general population to be married: 67 percent, compared to 52 percent of the general American population. Eighty-five percent of Mormons are married to other Mormons. This compares to 81 percent of Protestants and 78 percent of Catholics.
As expected, the report found that Mormons have more children. The average is 2.6 per household, while the general American population shows 1.8 children per household. The Deseret News interviewed Jane Clayson Johnson, who was a successful CBS anchorwoman before leaving her career track to be home with her family.
“Family is at the core of our faith,” says Jane Clayson Johnson, a Latter-day Saint and former anchor of CBS’s “The Early Show” who prefers the title of mom to two young children and stepmom to three older ones. “There are so many distractions today that all force us outward, away from core relationships. What our faith does is turn us back toward deep, rich, meaningful relationships in families.”
Mormonism emphasizes the spiritual and emotional success of families, rather than focusing on accrued wealth, material possessions, or vocational success as a measure. A large majority of Mormons, especially those who are college graduates, favor a family situation where the mother is not working, but nearly 4 in 10 Mormons in the study preferred that both parents work and share equally in parenting responsibilities. The instruction of Mormon leadership is the same for both men and women: “No success can compensate for failure in the home.”
In the general population, only 30 percent of Americans would prefer a marriage where the husband works and the wife stays home. Among religiously unaffiliated Americans, it drops to 15 percent who would pick such a scenario.
Other studies show that when Mormons marry in Mormon temples, their marriages tend to be successful, with a divorce rate of under 7%. For observant people of all religions, the divorce rate hovers around 25%, and close to 50% for the general population.