Did we commit a major faux pas? (involves Mormons)

Last year, our twin girls befriended one of their second-grade classmates, who I’ll call Casey. The three of them had a number of successful playdates, and my wife seemed to be on good terms with Casey’s mom. During one of these meetings, it came out that Casey’s family were LDS, but there wasn’t any proselytizing. Our family’s pretty much secular, but there didn’t seem to be any issues as far as I could tell.

Their last scheduled playdate had to be cancelled due to illness, but we subsequently received an invitation to Casey’s christening. This unfortunately was not on a good day for us, so we sent our regrets at not being able to attend and suggested that we could reschedule the planned playdate and maybe have some kind of after-the-fact celebration for her at that time.

That was pretty much the last interaction we had. We’ve since tried multiple times to get the girls together, but our invitations have generally been met either with silence or curt refusals (most recently for our girls’ birthday party). The twins miss their friend, and I’m not entirely sure what to tell them. Was not attending Casey’s christening a grave insult?

(Obviously, I would be particularly interested in the perspectives of our LDS SDMB members.)

I am the kind to ask them if all was ok.
“Is everything ok? The girls haven’t gotten together in ages and we miss Casey a lot! I hope we haven’t done something to offend you”.

If you did, now is the time to get it out in the air.
If they insist nothing is wrong, I’d put the ball in their court “well, I’m happy to hear that! Please let me know if Casey is up for another playdate”. At this point, if you don’t hear back, maybe consider its for the best to not have such drama in your lives.

I can’t speak to if you offended this family in particular, because families are different, no matter what religion or lack thereof.

Mormons don’t really have an ordinance called a Christening. I can assure you that if they were offended because you declined a childs baptism invitation or infants naming blessing it is not a response I have seen more than once or twice. In those cases it was usually a family member that took offense at another family member that didn’t make time. I chalked both of those up to poor family dynamics and communication rather than their faith.

In other words, I think it’s very unlikely. However it’s a weird world out there and Mormonism, like any group has it’s share of easily or oft offended people mixed in with the more mainstream folk.

I second the suggestion that upon your next casual encounter, just saying something along the lines of, “Our girls really miss playing with your daughter. We know it’s busy around the holidays but would really love to get them together for a play date soon.” If they demure again, and you really feel as if they are acting offended, go ahead and ask.

Mormon here.

What you did is obviously not offensive, and I would say that over 90% of the time, an LDS family would not take any offense at the situation described here, and it would not impact anything at all.

Having said that, there is a small subset of LDS folks out there (probably similar to other sects with an emphasis on proselytizing) who seem to only build relationships with non-LDS families in an effort to proselytize. These efforts may not be obvious at first, as they may follow a pattern like this:

  1. Get to know the person/family and build relationships
  2. Invite them to non-threatening activities such as baptisms, infant’s blessings, youth activity nights, etc.
  3. If the non-member responds well, increase the proselytizing, invite to visits with the missionaries, etc.
  4. If the non-member doesn’t respond well, drop the relationship

I would say that you will find a whole lot of Mormons who will follow the first couple of steps of this, but generally (especially when kids are involved), if the non-member isn’t showing much interest, they will stop pushing, and maintain a normal friendly relationship, rather than completely dropping them.

So my first guess is that you just haven’t been able to make schedules mesh lately (for example, was your party on a Sunday? Many Mormons don’t attend parties on Sunday), and continued effort on your part will result in continued friendship between your daughters. Outside of heavily-LDS areas (Utah, Idaho, parts of Arizona and California), LDS playmates for kids are scarce, and I have not known any mothers who would restrict playtime with friends based on the friends’ parents’ lack of interest in the church.

There is a chance, though, that you have run into one of those comparatively rare, but definitely existing, families, that sees no need in continuing a relationship that isn’t going to result in the friend joining the church. These folks won’t shun you or be mean to you, but I could see them putting forth no more effort in maintaining the relationship. If so, obviously it is their problem, not yours, but sad for the kids on both sides. Hopefully that is not it.

This.
That’s just my long-distance cold read here, and I hope I’m wrong.

Every group has its jerks, and this happens to be something the jerks within the LDS church tend to do.

When I was growing up, I had a few friends whose families attended the local LDS church. By and large, their faith never came up. But when I started dating a girl from one of those families, and started attending baptisms and the occasional Sunday service, I found that some of the people who attended their church seemed … predatory. At first they’d seem disappointed that I wasn’t attending every Sunday, and when it became clear that I wasn’t eager to convert, they just all interest in talking to me.
(Emphasis on the word “eager” there: I was hoping the relationship was leading to marriage, so conversion was certainly on the table, just not today.)

I want to stress again that in my experience most members of the Church of Latter Day Saints are fine people. In fact, most of them make no issue of their faith, so you wouldn’t even know which flavor of Christian they are. But every group has its jerks.

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses.

Most of this situation occurred towards the end of last school year (starting around March or April 2015, I guess), and the family moved after the school year ended–not far, still in the same town, but Casey now attends a different elementary school. So we don’t see them at school functions anymore.

The reason this came to mind again was that the girls recently ran into Casey at the birthday party of a mutual friend. Apparently the three of them were very happy and excited (and surprised) to see one another again.

AbbySthrnAccent, now that I think about it, it might have been a baptism, not a christening. Thanks for the info.

Clark Cello, I never knew that about Mormons and Sunday parties. Is this a widespread practice? Our girls’ birthday party was indeed on a Sunday.

Re: Sunday parties. There is certainly no “Big Book of Mormon Rules” in which it says “Thou shalt not go to parties on a Sunday”, but:

[ul]
[li]There is a large emphasis on Sabbath Day (Sunday) observance[/li][li]The Sabbath is emphasized as a day of rest, day for spiritual matters, for families, etc.[/li][li]From a historical culture perspective, this has often been interpreted as meaning that Sunday is a day set apart, and activities such as parties, having friends over, sporting events, etc. are not keeping the spirit of the day[/li][/ul]

This is actually something that has changed some in my lifetime. Back 20 or 30 years ago, it was VERY common for LDS members to stay in “church clothes” all day, to not watch TV on Sundays, and to not do activities outside the home/family. There are still a good number of folks who do this, but not nearly as many. Having said that, of practicing and active LDS folks, I would still estimate that well over half would not have their child attend a birthday party on Sunday.

I was raised LDS. The rules for Sunday activity vary with each family. I wasn’t permitted to go play with my friends on Sunday. I was allowed to watch TV with my family, but I knew several other LDS families who were not.

Generally, it is prohibited to work for pay on Sunday except for necessary services that cannot close business on Sundays. It is also taboo to cause others to work on Sunday, so shopping and dining out are discouraged (although this may be easing up a bit lately; I was surprised how many Mormon-looking families I saw at a buffet restaurant in a Utah suburb recently). Apparently this has morphed into an unofficial taboo on handling money at all on Sunday; as a young adult I once bought a soda from a vending machine during a church activity on Sunday, to the absolute horror of all around.

I’ve also been surprised by Mormons’ refusal to swim on Sunday. Again as a young adult, I would often spend a weekend at a friend’s lake house. On Sunday we would attend services at the local LDS ward, but none of my friends would swim after church. They claim “the devil has dominion over the waters,” but I’m pretty sure that’s not canonical.

Short answer: It would not surprise me if an LDS family has a no-birthday-parties-for-non-members-on-Sunday rule. ETA: And if the Sunday party was at a venue other than a home or public park, this is almost certainly the reason they didn’t attend.

OK, that’s really interesting. Not only was the party not at our home, it was at an indoor swimming pool.

(As an aside, I’ve always been curious about the origin of the “devil has dominion over the waters” thing, ever since it was used as a trope in the early volumes of Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker books.)

Well, in this situation, a more generous possibility is that Casey’s family has been focused on trying to build her friendships at the new school, so they’ve given priority to her new classmates. I mean, it might be something more screwed-up, but better give them the benefit of the doubt, right?

Don’t see how it hurts to get in touch with Casey’s family, mention how excited the girls were to see each other, and ask for a play date, maybe acknowledging that they’ve probably been busy with her new school friends.

Even Mormon children are not exempt from having socially awkward parents. Keep trying.

Making a lifeguard work on Sunday so that Mormon kids can swim at your party??? No, that ain’t gonna happen.

I don’t know where the “devil has dominion over the waters” trope originated, but I heard it all the time as a Mormon. And Orson Scott Card is a Mormon.

The devil having dominion over water is some Mormon families tradition rather than actual doctrine or canon. The tradition could possibly stem from Joseph Smiths older brother Alvin drowning.

That the birthday party was on a Sunday does enlighten the situation for me. As stated already the degree to which families “Keep the Sabbath Holy” or adhere to any other teaching or doctrine varies, but many families would decline birthday party invitations on Sunday as a rule. If a childs birthday fell on Sunday, we would have a cake and small family dinner on Sunday but have the childs party on Saturday. Some families also would decline invitations to sleep overs on Saturday evening so all the family is home to wake up and get to worship services on time and together other families would even pick up children from weekend sports tournaments late on Saturday night, rather than let them be gone the entire weekend. Again, some families traditions and teachings are stricter interpretations of teachings and doctrine than others. I do not think that this family was offended so much as they just decided to decline without explaining. I did not always explain to casual friends why we might pass on a Sunday event. Rather than say, “Sorry we have church on Sunday.” Which can be taken as preachy or self righteous. I would just say, “We have prior commitments. Hope we can do something another time.”

That said, we regularly (monthly-ish) would invite another family over for dinner after church. These family dinners often felt similar to a party to me although they were family events rather than focus on one child. We would share a meal and play games. Watch the children perform their current piano or song practice and sit around and visit. So it isn’t that socializing on Sunday is forbidden, it is more that Sunday is considered the Lords day and family time.

Some families forbid even watching tv on Sunday others could watch tv if it was uplifting and some were watching their watches hoping to get home in time for kick off.

Some families would not let children play outside or ride bikes. We did allow those things in moderation and as long as it wasn’t when they were supposed to be in church or reaching out for Sunday calls to grandparents.

While we would not go boating on Sunday from home, if we were on vacation and saying on the lake, we would go boating after church then as long as we didn’t have to fill up the fuel on Sunday. When the fuel was out we were done until Monday morning. Not sure what the difference was to us, but that is how we did it. I suppose some families were stricter and others more lenient in their observance. My husband was raised in a different faith and did not feel that being out of doors or doing family things out of doors was breaking the Sabbath and felt strongly that it was possible to have reverent, spirit renewing and family strengthening experiences while outdoors.

Hiking, picnics, even a family ball game would all be appropriate after church activities in our family. As well as visiting the ill or elderly, calling or visiting extended family, reading, singing, playing music or family games. We tended to avoid household chores and yardwork on Sunday other than the normal cleaning up after yourself and meals sort of thing. If he had to work on Sunday, he did so without feeling bad about himself or his career choice because of it. (Airline industry.)

I was raised LDS (Mormon) from about age 8. And while my husband was not raised LDS we raised our children LDS. I am not currently an active participant and haven’t been for about four years, although I still attend to my grand childrens special days and events at church and when we are visiting them. We have not made a big deal about it. Just quietly stopped going unless someone special to us asks us to attend because it is a special event for them. If asked to identify religion as I was recently on an emergency room visit, I would still answer, LDS, even though I am not currently actively participating for myself.

I can see why you were concerned about offense, but I really doubt they were actually offended so much as just declined the party in favor of Sabbath observance traditions in their family. Then the usual busy life scheduling issues up to and after they moved away. I hope the girls get to get together and have a play date since they were so delighted to run into each other unexpectedly. Best of luck!

Hey, let’s be fair, the lifeguard was going to be there anyway on account of the passel of gentile and outright heathen children screeching around in the pool; what’s one extra Mormon kid on top of that? :smiley:

Right; if I hadn’t known OSC was a Mormon before I read the Alvin Maker stuff, I’d have figured it out pretty quickly. AbbySthrnAccent’s idea about relating to the drowning of Joseph Smith’s older brother is interesting.

(And what’s the deal with salamanders anyway? :confused: )

I don’t understand the context for the question. So I may not provide the answer you are looking for.

If in reference to the “Salamander letter” that was a counterfeit document created by a forger. So as a work of the forgers fiction the salamander reference would have come from his imagination or drawn upon folklore.

If in reference to OSC’s writing, I would suppose a similar origin. OSC is known for weaving occult and folklore into his fiction. (I am not much of an OSC fan though I did read Enders Game and maybe the first four in that series in the mid to late 80’s and and three of the Alvin makers in early 90’s, by then I was tired of him.)

References to magical salamanders were likely drawn from folklore rather than anything to do with his being Mormon. Shakespeare references magical uses of salamanders “eye of newt” in Macbeth. Salamanders are represented in ancient mythology as having magical powers so it isn’t like his use of a magical salamander is or was a new or particularly creative fictional device.

I never came across references to Salamanders or OSC in church study or at worship.

I do recall hearing the forgeries discussed when all that was happening in the 80’s but I really think it would have been discussed while socializing and not as part of worship, or a class, but I’m not going to try to say it couldn’t have come up in a class somewhere. The 80’s was a long time ago. :smiley:

If I misunderstood the question or context, apologies and feel free to pm or clarify and I will give it another shot.

I read this thread last night and thought I would have nothing to add until this idea came to me a few minutes ago:

To the OP; the family you are dealing with may have accidentally done you a great favor. If they are the type of folks who behave irrationally with regards to their children’s playmates then they might have been capable of even sillier things that you probably would want no part of. So when they spun the great Wheel of Drama and you got booted off the island on the first round, it may have actually been a victory when considering the alternatives that might have happened.

In short, sounds like it was a problem of theirs and you (and your family) might have been more fortunate than it first appears.

Was it a caffeinated soda? Would that also account for the horror?

Two visits in a row were cancelled with people that you’ve known for less than a year. If I were the Mormon couple I would probably take the hint and stop calling too, without even considering my Mormonness as a factor.
You believe you had a good reason for cancelling, but of course the Mormon couple doesn’t know exactly how sincere you were with your reasons.

I’d keep trying to contact them until they either tell you what’s wrong or file a restraining order. I feel that people don’t get to be jerks and not be called out on it, and from your point of view they are being jerks. So ask for an explanation.

It’s pretty funny that you simply assume that the first cancellation was on our end (it wasn’t). Thanks for your perspective, though!

AbbySthrnAccent, thanks for the info. I have a feeling I had heard something about the salamander letter sometime in the past, and that might have lodged in my memory. :o