Ever since Donna Banta posted this old LDS Living article to facebook a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about all the rules that define the LDS lifestyle, and how they change. Specifically, the article is about how Mormon families should forbid their kids from sleeping over at friends’ houses. If I understand correctly, this is now a thing. The Ã¼ber-Mormon family of the ward — the one that makes a point to follow the Mormon rules more strictly than the others — is now saying no to slumber parties instead of Coke.
It’s so weird to me. When I was a teenager (back in the 80’s) the idea that Mormons “don’t do sleepovers” didn’t exist. The Young Women’s organization in my ward threw sleepovers, regularly, and my sister and I often had school or church friends spend the night. (Just read the slumber party chapter of the novella Young Women’s). It’s sad to read the LDS Living author scaring parents with the shocking fact that “toilet-papering has been known to occur at sleepovers.” My mom (a very faithful, very cool Mormon) used to drive us to the homes of boys in the ward that we liked and helped us TP them back when she was YW president organizing YW-sponsored sleepovers.
There was one family in our ward that was known for going way overboard on following all the rules. So much so that they would even make up new rules to follow. For example, their kids weren’t allowed to watch any television shows made in the 70’s or later. Their kids were huge fans of The Monkees because it was the coolest show they were allowed to watch. But those girls were allowed to attend our slumber parties. Why wouldn’t they be allowed to attend sleepovers with Mormon friends? Even people who were highly creative at inventing new and arbitrary rules didn’t manage to think of that one.
The article also makes me wonder how/if parents with this rule justify letting their kids go to Scout Camp/girls’ camp/Youth Conference/EFY? What are those but extended slumber parties with a lower supervisor-to-kid ratio than you’d expect from a typical private sleepover? We played exactly the same middle-of-the-night games at girls’ camp as we did at other slumber parties. If anything, the seclusion in the woods aspect made the dares even more daring.
But I think the arbitrariness is perhaps the draw. If you refuse an activity that it’s perfectly ordinary to refuse (“Sorry, I don’t snow-board”) no one will think anything of it. Worse, no one will ask you about it, so you have no opening to answer: “Because I’m Mormon! Would you like to know more about my church?”
As a side note, I’m curious to know what kinds of rules were standard when you were an active Mormon. Here are some ideas to get started on:
1. Sunday activities:
a. Church: Always? Even on vacation?
b. Shopping: restaurants also verboten? Emergencies? Vending machines?
c. Other possible forbidden items: non-church music, television, swimming, working for pay, casual clothing…?
2. Word of Wisdom:
a. Using coffee or alcohol-related flavors in cooking?
b. Caffeine: coffee OK if it’s decaf? Soda-pop not OK if it has caffeine? Chocolate? Herbal teas? Other creative hot-drink rules?
a. How long?
b. Water too?
4. Other stuff:
a. Modesty: Temple-garment standards enforced even for little kids?
b. playing cards?
d. R-rated films?
e. Tattoos and piercings?
Anything else I missed…?
If people play along, I’ll add my list of rules I had to follow growing up (in the comments). 😀