Pep talk needed...

by esw1966 13 Replies latest jw friends

  • esw1966


    I have been nervous about this for 6 months and now the time has come. My kids are coming by plane to see me on the 25 of Dec to Jan 3. They are good little jw's. I am no longer a follower of jw.

    I havn't been with them for 2 years. 13, 11, and 8; all girls. Love them to bits!

    I will be much different than they remember. They will have heard many bad things about me. I have a Christmas tree in my house. I go to a 'worldly' church. I even changed my name to Ethan from my middle name Scott. I'm sure they have many questions yet will be too timid to talk about them.

    Everyone around them must view me as having gone crazy with all my new life decisions and must view me negatively around them. How can my kids respect me?

    I figure I can handle this well enough, but I was hoping to hear some words of encouragement before I meet them at the airport in 36 hours.



  • Abandoned

    How can they respect you? Well start with respecting yourself. I'm not saying you don't but keep in mind why you are no longer a jw. Keep in mind the garbage that the jw teach. Since they are going to have heard what a nutcase you are, why not let them see that's categorically untrue. Anyway, above all, be yourself, sincerity is the one thing people can't fake.

  • Quentin

    Abandonded said yourself...your no nut case and your kids will see are no dummies, they get it...enjoy your time with them...bettcha they'll enjoy their time with you..

  • JWdaughter

    Scott, they are your little girls. They love their Dad-no matter how nuts everyone told them that you are. You could be halfway to horrid and your kids will love you anyway. I doubt you have made much, if any progress toward horrid, so lets get down to the truth. They are young. Two of them are adolescent-which is scary. They are probably in a somewhat oppressive household. (not dissing your ex-but JWs aren't known for being free and easy with the kids). You haven't seen them for 2 years. That is the toughest hurdle-and don't let it get that long again, you are going to pay harshly for that.

    They are probably going to test you and make you suffer. Don't forget you are their father-but be the nicest version as possible. Be gentle and reasonable. Respect their ways-but let them know they need to respect you and your home and other loved ones. Let them do things that they don't really get to do as JWs. Let them be-encourage them to be a little frivolous, to have FUN.

    Try not to be set in a schedule that leaves no time for them/their plans.

    Let them know they can ask questions-about you, the org, whatever, and that you will do your best to tell them. Good and bad. Admit any (appropriate to mention)mistakes, regrets, but they don't need the Dr. Phil or Jerry Springer version of anything. Discretion may be important to maintain any kind of working relationship with the ex.

    You love them more than anyone except their mom-and who knows what conditions she puts on it. Give them your unconditional love, and you can probably work out all the rest. Knowing that you love them as JWs or atheists or vampires-they need that more than anything. (and as crazy as the vampire thing is-it is not out of the realm of possible in future years!)

    They are at ages when they can chose baptism or patience towards the organization. Make sure they fully understand the consequences-because that will affect your relationship with them and/or their relationship w/mom (if they join then come to their senses?leave, their lives will, as you know, be miserable).

    Love them!


  • abbagail

    They will only "be nervous" if you act nervous.

    They will love you to pieces and melt in your arms, even if you have died your hair pink.

    All you gotta do is get down on their level (size-wise, eye-contact-wise), and let your eyes get as wide with joy as your heart will feel at seeing them, and do a lot of Oooohs and Ahhhs, I'm so thrilled to see you again, etc. And say it (and hug) to each daughter individually, of course, not as a "trio" or "group."

    Then as quick as possible, once everybody has settled in, get rid of all other company that may be around, and invite all three of them to come sit somewhere cozy, on a carpeted floor, or huge couch, or even on top of the bed where all three can sit very near and be warm, honest, sincere. Have some popcorn or something while chatting. Then give them as much info as you can for their ages, and BE HONEST.

    Play up what you may STILL agree with (ie, still believe in God? the Bible? or things like that). If so, play it up. If not, then, hmmm, think of something you CAN still agree on, etc. In other words, dwell on the positives vs. negatives. OK to explain negatives, but play UP the positives moreso.

    If they act "funny" at all, it's only because, like you said, they may not KNOW what YOU are thinking/feeling, but as soon as you show them "all is SAFE" and you are STILL a "safe place to fall" (to borrow a Dr. Phil phrase), then I think they will melt in your arms and snuggle up to Dad like it was very natural to do so, like there was no time lost whatsoever.

    The oldest may be near the "age or hormones" so she might be a little aloof for that reason if nothing else, so keep that in mind, too.

    Never ever act like you are "afraid" of them (fear of what the other family may have said about you in the interim years that may have affected the girls, etc.)

    Even if they act aloof, DON'T buy into it. Ignore it and keep being warm and loving.

    I hate to bring up a proverb that was often used by the WT, but it's so true...

    The heart is as a well of deep waters, and the wise person will DRAW IT UP.

    So "draw up" the feelings of each girl individual and give them time to express their feelings.


    I'm no expert, just going from the heart, remembering what it's like to be a kid and around parents who didn't talk, and parents who dealt with us as a "herd" rather than as "individuals," etc.

    HTH and I bet it will all be fantastic!
    Let your Warmth and Wisdom shine through!

  • SPAZnik

    Wow. I can relate to what your kids might be feeling. (Had to visit my dad with my two siblings a mere once or twice a year from about age 6 to 18 and it was nerve-wracking, to say the least, but it generally turned out okay in spite of the emotional upheaval.)

    Perhaps you could implement a new family tradition of playing a fun game of truth or dare (or some version of 21 questions) in order to catch up with each other. Then any burning questions can come up in a fun way. :)

    How can they respect you? They can respect you when you are honest and loving. They will know that when they see it. ie. basically tell them what you've just told us. That will probably do nicely. :)

    I imagine loving to mean stepping out of your own fears and putting yourself in their shoes.

    Be sure and hug them too hard and long. Squish them so they can't breathe. I always "hated" it when my dad hugged me too hard and so long I couldn't breathe for minutes on end. Once he squeezed my hand so hard that my ring bent. ;) (He was a man of few words. His actions spoke volumes.)

    Please give them time to understand the rule changes between households.
    It always sucked to be treated like a bad kid for not automatically knowing what a completely different and rarely visited household considers "normal" or "good behavior". It can be stressful to go to a new environment and not know all the minutia of how to behave. Even worse to be punished for rules or expectations you didn't know existed.

    A gentle sense of humour about the whole shebang will help!!

    Oh, and you probably already know this, but I will say this for the sake of your daughters: DO NOT SPEAK ILL OF THEIR MOTHER IN ANY WAY (save those comments for your adult confidants if you must say them at all). To speak against her is to SLAM THE VERY DNA OF THE CHILDREN VISITING YOU. IT ALSO DEEPLY IMPACTS THEIR SENSE OF SELF AS BUDDING LITTLE WOMEN. Nothing impacts a girl's self esteem, or self-image, in my opinion, like her father's view of women or even a woman. (Or even her own sister depending on how you compare them). To insult their mother in any way shape or form is to insult them.

    Speak for yourself and not against others. Don't worry about what others say about you. Please trust me when I tell you this: Your own actions and demeanor will speak louder and more clearly than anything everyone else could ever say to them about you. They want to like you. You are the other half of themselves. :)

    To sit them down and have elaborate talks about what others might be saying about you will probably only create doubt in their minds about you where none likely exists regardless of others comments.

    Besides. They are the kids and you are the adult. This visit is actually more about them and their developing psyches than you and yours.

    You know what, I could give a zillion pieces of "advice" from my own experiences, but you and your kids are a different set of personalities and circumstances.
    The main thing is you love each other.
    Believe in that and try not to burden them (or yourself) with your fears.

    I know I'm talking way too much!!

    You'll do fine. Don't expect perfection from yourself. If you make some sort of blunder just apologize and laugh at yourself. :)

    How wonderful to be visiting with your daughters!!!

    Just have fun, creating new memories together! That's what life's about!!


  • lisavegas420

    Just let your unconditional love shine though. Talk about them and their interests.

    I'm excited and happy for you. Make this week a wonderful memory filled event. Take lots of pictures.


  • valkyrie


    You've had some good responses here. Just to add/reiterate: children are far more open and accepting than adults, who are riven in their rigidity. Just let your joy and excitement at their visit shine through, saturate them with your interest in their activities and feelings (not interrogation-style, of course... just let them relax and come into themselves in the new situation). They naturally love you and will want to know that you are still "Dad." The rest should follow as a matter of course.

    Wishing you all the best and a great outcome.


  • avidbiblereader

    You said they are good lil JW's. I have seen many a good JW's and it is not always what we think. You may be pleasantly surprised at what they feel and think. I would ask them questions WITHOUT them feeling like they are being interogated, but you might be surprised on how they feel, don't be nervous, their thinking may be more in line with yours than you think. Who knows what is in the heart of a person, and yet at the same time being young don't try to confuse them anymore then what they probably are. Love is the key, no matter what religion or belief one has, love cannot be misinterpreted, show love it never fails.


  • juni

    Hi Ethan!

    I don't have anything more to add. All the posters above me have said it well.

    Relax and enjoy your week's visit with your daughters. They love you!


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