Local moms tell story behind Utah’s family demographics


Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, soon people all over the country will celebrate their mothers. But just who will we be celebrating come Sunday May 8th?

3,946,228 babies were born in the United States in 2014, according to the United States Census Bureau. Of all mothers that gave birth in 2014, 61.7 percent worked part- or full-time.

Emily Long, a mother of five from Lehi, quit her job after having her first child. “My own mom stayed home and I have great memories of that,” Long said. “I saw the value of being a stay-at-home mother.”

Some women prefer not to give up work completely after becoming a mother. BYU graduate Marianne Millar had a full-time career for more than a decade before having children. She now owns a business and works part-time while raising three children.

“I strive to put my children first and understand I’m a mom before anything else, but I need a creative outlet,” Millar said.

Millar supplied her family’s entire income for the first four years of marriage, while her husband completed medical school.

“It’s a constant struggle trying to find balance,” Millar said. “Some days, I wish I could have a performance review; other days, I’m glad I don’t have a boss, because I’d most certainly be fired.”

United States Census

The 2014 census reports further revealed 43.5 million American women are mothers to at least one child. 22.3 percent of women between ages 15-50 have had two children, 17 percent have had one, 11.7 percent have had three and 6.8 percent have had four or more children.

According to the CDC’s record of fertility rates, Utah is still the number one state in childbearing. Utah average’s 2.37 children born per woman, compared to the national average of 1.88 children per woman. The birth rate in Utah is 17.6 births per 1,000 people. The national birth rate is 12.5.

Utah’s high fertility rates can make it difficult for couples who struggle with pregnancy.

“There was a time when we couldn’t have a baby when one was all I needed,” Long said. “Even after she was born, that was enough. I thought that was the only one we’d be able to have. I was satisfied.”

Long, who struggled with infertility for years before having her first baby, had her fifth child last year. She is now well above not only the national average of childbearing, but also Utah’s statistically high birth rate.

Source: Public Health Indicator Based Information System (IBIS)

The census reported in 2014 that 6.9 percent of mothers that gave birth during the year were between the ages of 15-19. Teen birth rates per 1,000 females, ages 15-19, in Utah was 19.5, a drop from the rate of 27.9 in 2010. The United States birth rate in 2014 was 24.2, placing Utah at the low end of teen birth rates.

Thirty-four percent of children in the United States live in a single-parent household, according to Pew Research. Only 19 percent of children in Utah live in a single-parent household.

More than Half of Utahns belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report. The LDS faith prohibits premarital sex while also encourages members to start families. The high statistical difference between Utah and the rest of the nation can, in part, be attributed to the LDS church.

Statistics can give a broad understanding of who mothers in Utah are, but Mother’s Day is about personal reflection of individual women’s silent contributions.

Some of the women that are celebrated on Mother’s Day, have simple ideas for celebration.

“A massage and a clean house,” said Kimberly Gardner, a Provo resident and mother of one. “That’s all I want.”

Long said for Mother’s Day this year she would like to be able to tell her mom the things she has never said to her. “Her influence is so great on me and she really did shape me and I think she might like to hear that,” Long said. “The example she set for me as a mother really impacted what kind of mother I am.”

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