Through the course of my university studies in social sciences there seems to be a repeated emphasis on early socialization shaping personality and having a drastic effect on the long term life of kids. Studies of extreme neglect are often the only ones cited, such as children locked in a closet for the early years of their lives with no human contact. It's lead me to wonder about the long term effects of JW socialization on youths that are raised in the organization. Certainly studies of extreme neglect did show an unrecoverable impact, but I wonder to what extent early cult experiences can be overcome. Any thoughts?
Socialization of JW Kids
There are probably people here who can better answer your question but i'll give you my two cents. As a kid i went to kindy and school all the way through to university so I'm not sure that any damage was done to my phsyce through lack of socialisation. I'd say the more long term effects stem from being constantly made to stand out from your peers (i.e no birthdays, national anthem signing, christmas or related activities) and then the restricted association or the guilt experienced when you did spend time with your worldly friends. I remember lying to my mother often about where i was so that i could go to the movies or a party.
What about those that didnt lie to their parents and didnt have anything to do with their wordly classmates. I know some here that truly graduated without a single friend in their school. Just did their work, didnt even hang out at lunch and left.
Finally, someone i can discuss socialization with.
In my first semester, i took a women's studies class and in it we were asked to write about how we were programmed/socialized througout our lifetimes.In it, i mentioned that some of the socialization factors in my life have been the fact that i am part of a minority, i grew up in a single parent family and that we are working class.But i admitted that the way i see the world is strictly controlled by my religion.Think about it, everything a witness believes in is affected by the bible and/or organization. Things from sexuality to race.
I mentioned that while i had a respect for the cultures of other people, i didnt tolerate other religions, sexual "deviants" and politics.
Jehovah's witness children are basically socialized in the same category as any conservative group (mormons, seventh day adventist, christian fundamentalist, lol). The only difference is, that in the mind of the witness, there can be NO gray areas. And if there are any gray areas left by the bible, the orgo takes care of it. With this said, you have adults who arent exactly paranoid about the end coming, but it is always something in the back of their minds preventing them from leaving. In the witness youth that i've associated with, you can clearly see that they arent completely holier than thou and that some actually have somewhat of a life (a wholesome one of course) I dont think people are as zealous as they used to be and i believe that the next generation of witnesses (i guess about the next 40 years) the orgo will be critically weakened.
My step-daughter spent about 9 months living with my MIL, a devout jw, about a year ago. I must say the results of that period of time have had some disturbing results.
She had her birthday party about a month ago. My mother in law came over that morning, and my step daughter asked my wife if she had told my MIL that she was having the party. When my wife said yes, my step-daughter was upset because she said her grandmother will be mad at her. She told my wife that she was just going to tell her grandmother she was going out to dinner.
So at 6 years old she already feels the guilt the jw's put on you. She has learned to lie to make her grandmother happy. In essence she has learned to live a double life already.
Also this morning she woke up crying because she said she had a bad dream that someone took her and killed her. Her grandmother was always telling her that everyone is so bad and to watch out.
As far as socializing, my wife has shared with me that she was always forbidden to play with worldy kids. Growing up they moved MANY times because her mother didnt want her playing with those kids. I am sure all of this has had a negative effect on my wife.
Yes I agree we were very much socialized as a minority. I know I've spent my entire life feeling that I don't fit in anywhere and have no idea what it even means to be normal. I know many will say there is no such thing as normal, but JW children are truly outcast in a far greater way.
Even things that JWs claim to be gray areas are in fact carefully controlled black and white zones to test your loyalty. Just try to decide a conscience matter and you will quickly see that there was indeed no gray to begin with, it was all an illusion.
I saw many youths leave but they were still troubled that the organization was right, having to justify that they would rather enjoy their life now and die. Why should anyone have to live believing their choices are going to cause them to be destroyed by god without a good reason?
All the double lifers really get me. If you believe that you are going to be destroyed for living a double life anyway why go through the motion. I don't know I've always been very headstrong about that. I had to live a double life for a few months before I left the organization and that was extremely hard. I just can't be apathetic enough to live a double life and not care about it.
I saw that with my worldly cousins too. Their father left the organization before they were born and their mother was never part of it. But the family quite often doesnt do holidays since the grandmother is still a part of it. The youngest hides things from his grandma because he knows she won't like it and he seeks her approval. The older one is even more painfully confused and is not sure what to do in school. He doesn't have the faith to back up non participation so in a lot of ways it is harder for him than it is for JW youths.
The guilt is truly a terrible part of the organization. These kids are supposed to have a childhood. How can they when they are made to feel guilty for simply having fun.
My worldly peers thought I didn't like them because I didn't hang out with them and it kept me from developing close friendships to the point where I honestly don't know how to act around them anymore.
It's just sick.
Us JDub kids are light deer caught in headlights when we leave. It's ALWAYS been in the back of my mind that Armageddon is coming and I don't have time to do anything. I live month to month, day to day. No future plans---what's the point, right??
They make me so mad.
From the Quotes website:
*** Watchtower 1996 December 1 p.11 Parents, Find Pleasure in Your Children ***
To supply these needs, fathers especially are urged to bring their children up "in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah." (Ephesians 6:4) What does this involve? "Mental-regulating of Jehovah" means regulating our thinking to conform to Jehovah's will. Parents, then, must instill in the minds of their little ones Jehovah's thinking on matters.
*** Watchtower 1952 June 1 p.351 Questions from Readers ***
We must be willing to dismiss our own thoughts to make room for God's thoughts, and bend our thinking to conform to the principles of God as shown in his Word, even on this point of family and community responsibility. (Isa. 55:8, 9)
I was sheltered not only from "worldly" kids, but even from most witness children. My parents felt that even other witnesses might be a bad influence on me. I really feel that they had good intentions, but that it crippled my ability to deal with groups of people. In the end, ironically, it was that inability which caused me to stop going to meetings.
I now own and operate my own business, which allows me to be on my own with minimal human contact most of the time. I have often thought about selling my business and forcing myself to take a 9 to 5 just to force myself to learn the social skills I missed out on.
I certainly also remember many here that were not so subtly considered bad association even though they were going to meetings with their parents. I don't know that even associaton with other witness youth really helped. Is throwing several socially handicapped people together the way to get them to socialize normally? I don't think so somehow. Coming from a smaller congregation too there were not many here to socialize with. But I was sort of a leper child for having an unbelieving father. I was included as that token orphan sort of thing rather than as part of cultivating my company. And quite frankly they weren't good company and most of them I couldn't stand being around let alone imagine dying for.