I wasn’t born a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what many people inadvertently refer to as a “Mormon” instead of a Latter-day Saint, but I’d known a few of them over the years. In middle school, the first Mormon I ever knew was a boy a few years younger than me. We were in a play together and he was the star, but he never acted like he was better than anyone else. He was friendly and kind and one thing I was especially impressed by was the way he talked about his family.
Most pre-teens and teens like to pretend their families are a burden, even though they secretly love them. He didn’t seem to see any need to pretend. He talked about how his family worked hard to be a great family and how they planned to be a family forever—even after death. He had my attention with that one. I loved the idea of being a forever family.
Mormon Boys Were Trustworthy
In high school our drama teacher made a rule that only the Mormon kids could drive when we had club parties or field trips. He’d noticed they were the ones who never got drunk and that they tried to be responsible in our activities. They also tended to be the leaders. I noticed all that, too.
Then I moved to a new high school. It was a little school and my first day everyone just stood back and watched and waited, trying to decide which niche I belonged to before anyone spoke.
Only one person didn’t bother to wait around. He greeted me the moment I entered Spanish class and, learning I was new, invited me to join his friends during break and lunch so I wouldn’t have to be alone my first day. He didn’t know what niche I should belong to, but it appeared he didn’t care. I wasn’t surprised to learn he was Mormon. I’d noticed the Mormon boys were like that.
Soon he invited me to visit his church’s youth group and to go on a campout the church group was having. He said it would help me meet other students, who, as I quickly learned, also didn’t care what niche I should belong to.
It was at the campout that I really began to see how the Mormon boys were different from other boys I knew. They had beautiful manners and treated the girls with so much respect. When we exited the van, they took our hands to help us down. They carried things for us and waited on us hand and foot—not because they thought we were helpless but because they wanted us to feel special and cared for. They didn’t just reserve that for their girlfriends. All the girls got the same royal treatment.
Mormon Boys Treat Girls with Respect
I noticed how nicely the boys with girlfriends treated them. The girls never had to worry about the boys pressuring them. The girls told me they shared the same moral standards and the boys never tried to go beyond those appropriate limits. In my experience, Mormon boys and girls helped each other maintain their standards by setting and keeping rules for their relationship.
After a while, I understood that this was because they had bigger goals than enjoying high school. While they were definitely enjoying their teen years, they didn’t bother to spend them getting into trouble. The boys were all preparing to go on missions when they were older. (At the time, they could go when they were nineteen. Today, they can go at eighteen.) This meant they needed to keep their moral standards high and to spend time learning how to serve and respect others. They had spent a lifetime learning to treat people with respect.
Not all of them did, of course. There were some who hadn’t caught the vision yet and, even when they had, they made a few mistakes—who doesn’t? Overall, though, I found the Mormon boys I knew to be more mature, more responsible, more trustworthy—and more fun. It was a pleasure to be with a boy who treated you with respect, who paid attention to your needs instead of just his own, and who knew how to have the kind of fun that wouldn’t get you in trouble if your parents saw you doing it.
I liked them so much I ended up marrying one! It was this focus on eternal things that made the difference then and that continues to make the difference now.