JW ex-husband's influence on kids

by serenitynow 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • serenitynow

    Hi, I am new to this forum. I was hoping for some advice ... how do I protect my kids from exposure to JW teachings when they are visiting with my ex. He was brought up a JW until we met and married over 20 years ago. Through our marriage he didn't have anything to do with JWs. We celebrated birthdays, xmas, everything. A few months ago the JWs came a-knocking and being polite person I am, I accepted their literature. Before I knew it he was being encouraged to do a "bible study". I was distraught and we ended up in counselling. He could not explain how the JW time commitments, and issues with celebrations would affect our way of life ... he said he was only looking into it, and that he trusted this JW to be his"impartial spiritual adviser" ... he lost me that day. I moved out and asking him to take 6 months to study as much as he liked and really make an informed decision about the future. Within a week he was saying "they are a unique group of loving people". Within 2 wks he was going to meetings. Within 4 wks he was saying he has decided to devote his life to Jehovah. When I asked him where does the family come into this he says what he is doing is "for the family". When I ask him how can I trust him not to influence the kids and quote from the JW "Family" book saying the father "should inculculate the kids", he says I just have to trust him. The promise to not discuss details of his beliefs with the kids hasn't stopped him from telling his son he won't be coming to his birthday, and it's not in the bible to celebrate birthdays. I get no support from his family who say I'm being irrational and that if I loved him I would compromise and there are "thousands of happy and healthy interfaith marriages". Please, can anyone help tell me how to protect my kids from Borg?

  • jgnat

    It's one of the ironies of divorce is that you have to learn to get along with someone you have already decided is incompatible with you. I don't think you can help having the JW's influence your children as well. I think the best defence is to provide a counterpoint to what they will be hearing, and not to argue about religion with the ex in front of them. Teach your children to be independent thinkers, and they will make their own way farther on.

    I recommend the following book for ALL separating parents:

    Because Life Goes On http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/mh-sm/divorce/index.html

    This is a guide for separating parents to help their children prepare for this big change in their lives. There are many parallels for parents who are going their separate ways on religion. The booklet explains the anxieties and behaviors to expect from each age group, and how to communicate effectively with your partner, and your children.

    You might want to visit the Kingdom Hall on occasion to get the lay of the land, and to show the congregation that you indeed DO NOT have horns and fangs. This will make it harder for hubby to play the sympathy card.

    For the children, it might be time to start talking about spiritual matters. If you have a family routine like dinner together on certain nights, start a question and answer period. Ask them lots of questions, what they think. Honor their answers. This will be an excellent counterpoint to the WT method, that demands listening and proper answers. You want to get your children comfortable with their own minds and thougths. Here are some other handbooks that help children learn to evaluate:

    Nonsense: A Handbook of Logical Fallacies
    Downloadable pdf of the complete book. A great, readable overview on spotting logical fallacies.


    From their mission statement: Critical thinking requires the cultivation of core intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility, perseverance, integrity, and responsibility. Nothing of real value comes easily; a rich intellectual environment - alive with curious and determined students - is possible only with critical thinking at the foundation of the educational process.

    The critical thinking booklet for children has poor quality graphics and is sort of dorky, but the principles are timeless. A side benefit of teaching children to critically evaluate is that they will also be able to spot scams and dishonest politicians.

    You might also want to settle with dad that the children will not be made to go if they don't want to. Emphasize this with your children as well. He may very well guilt them in to going, but just letting them know they have the freedom to decide WHEN THEY ARE WITH YOU will work wonders in the future.

    You will also want to protect your children from potential health risks. Get your husband to agree, in writing, notarized, that he will permit blood transfusions for life-threatening conditions. Threaten him with loss of custody/visitation if he doesn't cave on this one.

    Otherwise, be Mrs. Reasonable. Don't give him any excuse to escalate the separation.

  • serenitynow

    Thanks, your advice is v. helpful. I will spend time reading through those links. I agree that the kids are the priority and I have tried to show respect for their father by not rubbishing his beliefs. I have maintained the line that people have different ideas and don't always agree on things, but they are to be respected for having their own opinion. This is very hard to maintain in some situations. Like when he has removed from display our souvenir "tiki statues" from Hawaii and tells the kids it is because they are pagan idols. You are right though, I have to get the kids to think critically for themselves about the validity of these types of statements - problem is they are only 8 yrs, 10 yr and 13 yr old boys.

    Funny thing ... even though he showed them the JW argument that in the Bible Birthdays are only for bad people, they have surmised from this that it must still be ok to have birthdays as long as they are "good people or kids". Out of the mouths of babes!

    My lawyer has said that we can put in the separation papers the kids will not be allowed to go to the Kingdom Hall or have home studies, however, this may mean I cannot take them to my church either. It's so hard.

  • SirNose586

    Good find, jgnat! I was looking for a collection on logical fallacies and you completed my quest!

  • caligirl

    How old are your children? That will likely be a factor in how malleable they are to the religious teachings. A thinking mind is much less vulnerable, as is a happy mind.

    I would say that gobbling up anything and everything on teaching critical thinking skills (age appropriate to each child) would be a great start. Amazon has a huge selection.

  • serenitynow

    Kids are 8, 10 and 13. I'm most worried about the 2 youngest. I was speaking to an ex-JW friend who said that they are very skilled at dropping subtle comments like "Mummy doesn't understand the bible/god", and that the kids don't need to go to the Kingdom Hall to be influenced. So I am really worried about what goes on when my ex takes them to visit his parents (who are long-time JWs). My kids love their grandparents so I'm worried about the influence there. My friend tells me to stop worrying about being polite and to make sure I defend my own beliefs so the kids have both points of view. It's all so exhausting as I have been fighting this so hard. I did everything I could to make him aware what he was getting himself in for. Despite talking to ex-JWs and reading Crisis of Conscience he still went back. They just seem so powerful. Sometimes I just want to grab the kids and run away.

  • carla

    I know how you feel. My husband of 20+ years joined the cult a few years ago. He too promised to keep the kids out of it, stopped all familly traditions in regards to holidays, etc... I found out he secretely tried to preach to them, all bets were off then! I have informed my kids about the org and it's scandals, unbiblical doctrines, shunning, just everything. Your kids are old enough to understand. My kids were aware of the numerous books about jw's that I have. I never made them read anything though. They would often see me on this board and ask 'what's going on on the board mom?' and I would tell them, suicides, murders, shunning, or some difficult thing someone was dealing with due to being a jw. I never allowed them any where near a kh. If your kids have been going to your church all along you should have some legal standing there.

    They saw the changes in him and had no desire to ever go to the kh. I felt like you, run away with the kids. By staying I know and have control of where my kids would be every weekend and didn't need to worry about where they were every other weekend or Tues & Thurs nights. They will ask why dad is so weird about something and I can tell them 'because jw's.... or 'the last wt had an article....' then I would tell them why it was so ungodly. Never preached to them, no need. A simple remark like, 'Paul even said... or the bible says... It was usually a one sentence remark. When this all first happened I explained much and told them they need not believe me either they can research themselves and see what the bible has to say for themselves.

    The shunning stories here make them mad because they feel abandonment themselves when he is gone all the time due to the jw's. His personality changed so much and he has done some really stupid things all due to the jw's they have no desire at all to go. They are informed and have done a bit of research on their own without me knowing about it. One read the bible and could see that the jw's were so wrong about so many things.

    I do not allow any wt literature to be seen anywhere in this house, and in turn I leave my apostate literature under wraps as well. There are a few anti jw book titles that jw's really cringe at and if he leaves something out, out comes one of these books.

    You are dealing with an unscrupulous org here that condones lying and protects pedophiles. Your job as a parent is to protect your child emotionally, pysically, and spiritually. You cannot trust jw's. You can educate your kids at their level and age. If your kids watch the news they are old enough to hear the human wreckage stories that come out of the wt. Many people feel that though the jw's are a cult and have many 'problems' they aren't 'that bad' because they do use a bible and they are 'sincere'. He made the choice to leave his family for this cult, you will be the one picking up the pieces of your kids heart. I know because I have lived it.

  • jgnat
    Good find, jgnat!

    SirNose, I can't take credit. A team of Unbelieving Mates collected these resources.

    Carla makes some excellent points. Your children are old enough to reason, teach them how. I particularly like:

    I do not allow any wt literature to be seen anywhere in this house, and in turn I leave my apostate literature under wraps as well. There are a few anti jw book titles that jw's really cringe at and if he leaves something out, out comes one of these books.
    You are dealing with an unscrupulous org here that condones lying and protects pedophiles. Your job as a parent is to protect your child emotionally, pysically, and spiritually. You cannot trust jw's. You can educate your kids at their level and age.
    I would have said the time to tread carefully would have been in the first couple weeks of his return to the study. As soon as you gave your husband an ultimatum you forced his hand. In his mind, you are a dangerous "opposer". He truly believes returning to the society is a life and death matter, for him, and for you and your children. So he WILL be stubborn, unreasonable, and sneaky. I wouldn't be surprised if the grandparents have offered to replace you in the parenting department. Be reasonable, but require reasonableness in return.
  • serenitynow

    I am really freaking out now Carla. Unlike you, I didn't have the stamina to stay and watch the man I love so deeply change so much. Maybe it was selfish but it was making me physically ill and I wanted to stay healthy for the kids. I really admire you Carla because I agree it's a good idea to stick in there to keep a watchful eye on the kids. I just couldn't keep it up.

    Jgnat, you're right, I was probably too hasty but in my heart I felt he had already made the decision to go back and was merely stringing me along hoping I'd get used to the idea. No use regretting as I have to try hard to get over this depression and regain my strength to try to build a new life. From what you're all saying this is going to be hard knowing about the hold the Borg has over my ex, and potentially how insidious this could be for my kids.

    On the positive, he only has them one night and one day with the kids each weekend and we always schedule that for the day he is not attending the KH. He also takes them out one night a week - not on a meeting night. But as you say, it doesn't stop preaching at home. He is talking about moving back in with his parents, so if the kids visit there is potential double-wammy preaching. How can I prevent this?

    Do you really think an 8 and 10 year old can get past their love and admiration for their Father to think for themselves that maybe what he is doing is wrong? Especially when the grandparents are so influential? We were all very close, even holidaying together. I don't know ... but I will try to do what you have suggested and talk to them a lot more about it.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and advice.

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