What Was It Like To Grow Up A Jehovah’s Witness?

by The wanderer 41 Replies latest jw friends

  • The wanderer
    The wanderer

    What Was It Like To Grow Up A Jehovah’s Witness?

    It is fair to say, that as a convert from Roman Catholicism my understanding
    of what it was like to be raised a Jehovah’s Witness is limited because of not
    having had any family in the organization.

    Can You Offer Some Insight To Those Trying To Understand?

    Admittedly, I do not hold the same hatred or hostility toward the Society
    because my perspective is different. In certain respects, I am thankful for
    some of the training provided by the Society because of my coming from
    a single parent household.

    Objectivity Not Negativity

    Can you give the world some insight without being too negative or melodramatic
    about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness? In particular, a real life event to ex-
    plain the conflict or misfortune about the life would be helpful.

    Thank you all for your insights.


    The Wanderer

  • claytoncapeletti

    The best way i can describe growing up a JW is that you always feel different and left out. From the moment i entered grade school, I was led to beieve that it was bad for me to make friends, play organized sports or join any kind of social clus. After being told so many times that everyone but JWs are bad people looking to turn you away from god, you evenually start to believe it. Since I had a lot of friends at the hall, I did not think that I was missing out on anything. When I left and all of a sudden had no friends and had no idea how to actually make friends, thats when I realized how important it is for kids to be socially involved with each other. Looking from the outside in, I can see how harmful it is to raise a child and brainwash him into thinking that only one type of personiw worthy of friendship. It creates isolated, lonely chidlren who do not know how to cope with the real world. It wasn't missing out on holidays or having to go in service on Saturdays that makes growing up a JW kid harmful. It's being led to believe that the world is out to get you and being forced to miss out on the opportunity to connect with the rest of the world.

  • Scully

    Although I was not "born in" to the JWs, I was basically raised a JW from before the age of 10.

    It's hard to explain how you can go to school and observe Halloween in October - even wearing a costume to the class party, and then by December you aren't having Christmas. The upheaval in a child's life - going from having a normal relationship with extended family to suddenly viewing them as "dangerous" and Worldly™ - cannot be described. Emotionally, your world gets turned upside down, like a whirlwind has gone through it. You don't really understand why all of these changes are happening, except that your parents say it's important if we want to "make God happy". You trust them... you always have. You have no reason to NOT trust their judgement, because they've always done what was in your best interests.

    You learn quickly the behaviour that elicits favorable attention. Answering at the Kingdom Hall. Going door-to-door and presenting the magazines. Choosing Listening To The Great Teacher instead of Dr. Seuss for bedtime stories. Memorizing the scripture that was featured in the Daily Text each morning. Eventually, you become conditioned to behave the way a JW behaves, and your beliefs have to fall in line. You have been trained with subtle positive conditioning, the way a dog gets trained with treats, except you get conditioned with smiles and the chuffed look your dad displays when you give the correct response at the Book Study - without prompting.

    It can be very lonely. You are expected not to Associate™ with Worldly™ kids or relatives, and other JW kids are not always that welcoming. In the congregation, you can be kept at arm's length, simply because you don't have the same JW pedigree of two or three or four generations of JW ancestors, some who may have rubbed elbows with the movers and shakers of the old days. You don't have extended family in the JWs, and because you haven't succeeded in converting your relatives, other JWs start thinking there must be something wrong with you, that you aren't zealous enough. The truth is, the relationship with extended family is precarious because your parents have been advised to keep their religion to themselves, or the family will take measures to exclude you from their gatherings.

    You get in trouble at school because you've been instructed to not stand or sing when the national anthem is played. Your teachers know that you're a JW and they find reasons to bully you - one of my teachers pulled me to my feet by the hair at the back of my neck when I was sitting quietly during the national anthem. She also screamed at me in front of the class, accusing me of being a Nazi. I had to sit in the principal's office and complete a punishment because I couldn't participate in preparations for the Christmas choir, as though I had committed a crime of the worst kind. You go through all these "persecutions for righteousness sake", while your parents don't have a clue. Your mom is at home with your siblings, your dad is at work and doesn't have to deal with anything like that. You try to tell them what's happening at school, and the best they can come up with is some consdescending comment to the effect that well Jesus was persecuted, why shouldn't you be persecuted too? Easy enough for them to say - they weren't the ones having frozen slushballs hurled in their faces at recess, or being called a "Jehovah's Shitness" on the school bus. Why not just paint a big old target on the back of my head?

    What being a JW kid taught me was that I could never ever be "good enough" - not even a glimmer of hope of it no matter how hard I tried. I think maybe this was a mentality that my parents already had, but the JW mind meld allowed that concept to grow and flourish. It's taken me the last 12 years to come to the point of accepting myself and believing in myself and knowing that I actually am "good enough" the way I am.

  • 5go
    Can you give the world some insight without being too negative or melodramatic
    about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness? In particular, a real life event to ex-
    plain the conflict or misfortune about the life would be helpful.

    How about being molested by your best friend and hiding it for tweenty years worried about the embarasment it would bring to the brotherhood ( or at least parents ) and all the while thinking that god was going to destroy you because of what you were hiding.

    Really loving ways we have.

  • sass_my_frass

    For me, quite boring, interspersed with moments of utter humiliation via preaching, or having to do something weird at school.

    Three meetings a week for my entire childhood, how mad is that?

  • penny2

    As a young child, it was quite confusing. I was never sure what I could sing and what I couldn't. So I asked my dad. He said if it had "god" or "jesus" in it, I shouldn't participate. So when our class did Sound of Music as the class play, I knew there was no way I could have any part in it. Week after week I stood silently during rehearsals. Once I stood for the playing of a national song because embarrassment and humiliation got the better of me. I felt so guilty and I hoped the JW boy in my class hadn't noticed. We never discussed it.

    Later I found out that some in the congregation had been to see Sound of Music. I was angry. That was the first time I was angry.

    As I got older, I mostly felt privileged. I knew that Armageddon would come by 1975. Until that time I would devote my life to telling others about it and saving their lives. I would be a missionary, perhaps in India.

  • Tyrone van leyen
    Tyrone van leyen

    Glad you asked. In my opinion there is a huge difference between someone who enters of their own free will and someone who has no choice and is effected in all the crucial areas of development in life. In a sense you can't really miss what you never had. I reckon everyone born in this scenario can have different way of veiwing there expereince based on how fanatical and obedient there parents are to the watch tower. In a lot of ways it is difficult to separate the parental dysfunction from watchtower crap. For me I never asked for much of anything ever and never got anything ever eitther. Thats cuz I learned at a very young age the answer was no. TO EVERYTHING.

    If you asked me that question then,

    of course I would say everything was fine and beleive it too. I'm speaking of course from hindsight.

    In particular becuse of growing up in this subculture I find that all my school years were most unpleasnt. Unfortunatley brainwashed parents lack the abilty to have there hand on the pulse of there child in regards to what they are expereincing after years of exclusion from any events that normal people do without even thinking about it.

    From the earliest time I can remember in Kindergarten asking my mom for a bag for an easter egg hunt at school te following day as the teacher had instructed us to do. I begged her I pleaded. She had a pantry full of bags from shopping. She outright refused and told me to use my pockets. You cant even fit a dime into the pockets of a 4 year old. Well I remember the hunt was on and the kids brought their bags and were dashing about the class. I had entered the doll house and opened a drawer and found the motherload. I just stood there as the whole class raided the stash and I got nothing. I was absolutly seething and hated my mother intensly for that. To a four year old kid that was like finding gold. From that day on I was always asking" why me"? That was my first watchtower induced injustice that I can remember. In gr. 1 was my next injustice. There happened to be a Jw kid in my class but he was a bad seed. He had beaten the shit out of me as he had failed and was from an older grade. He got a little scared when he got home,and lied to his mother about the fight. She got on the phone with my parents and they forced me to apologize to this little cocksucker for pounding the piss out of me. This strange dichotomy happened all throughout my school years with the full support of my parents. They were young in the religion and were very concerned about there image.

    I remember, sitting in my class on valentines day and seeing heaps of cards on peoples desks they had specifically liked and mine was always empty.I hated my parents for that too. They used to go specifically to the school to instruct the teachers what I was not allowed to be a part of.

    When your young you roll with it. In some cases you might even take pride in the differences you show in public, but after a while they startto add up. No sex education, while everyone is in the library watching the film and asking questions. No freinds as you are considered not only boring but weird. Indeed you start to develop a chip on your shoulder. Always asking why me. but as the years progress you start to adopt it as a way of life. I think one think thats worthy of mention is that I thought way too much about death and the end of the world for a young kid. Almost obsessed with it.

    When the teeen years come there is no mercy and only rules. The pressure becomes to much to bear and in my case I snapped. I lost so many opportunities and connections. I think I actually became eccntric and very shallow. You wanna know what the aswer is boy it's the only answer you'll ever need. Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah , jehovah. There was never any talk about real life matters. or phychology, ot coping strategies NOTHING! MY parents either knew nothing or they totally abdicated there minds as parents to the watchtower. Disgusting!

    I see my life as having been born behind the 8 ball cuz of this. My naivity was legendary due to the isoaltion and stupid veiw of the world I was taught. I thought I was a freakin genious though. There never seenmed any means of building the self esteem either and the elders in my cong. were particularly cruela nd hateful towards me.

    To sum this all up without talking about my entire childhood. It was terrble and I have no happy memories. To this day I have celebrated nothing EVER! It is a feeling of not being listened too. Not having freewill or free thought and complete hopelessness. My parents have not changed one iota in 40 years and still don't realize what they've done and continue to do. There is no bending, no flexibility, and no natural love. I was a talented good looking fellow and they flushed down the toilet with no regrets. To this day they would not care if I was the God dam president. All they ever cared about and still do is the witnesses and will die defending it no matter how much damage and human toll it takes on them. They are both retired and still knocking on doors. That is why I am so bitter and filled with hate even after 20 years of telling them to what they can do with there load of shit. They wern't raised in it and will never understand. Thats why I'm glad you asked.

  • needproof


  • Tyrone van leyen
    Tyrone van leyen

    Almost forgot, It's amazing I even have a sense of ownershp to anything. Most anything I ever liked too much was thrown out cuz it was demon possesed. I think this religion in many cases, has a way of turning people into born losers. Everyone except for you, always has some kind of advantage. It is like you are a punching bag for the world and you are supposed to proud of it. What stupid parents! What a stupid religion!

  • Tyrone van leyen
    Tyrone van leyen

    After all the sacrifices, isolation and emptiness, in my darkest hour everyone of these bastards turned their backs on me. I was a really good kid too. I did something wrong but hey forced my hand and created that scenario. It is a complete waste of life. Of course to my parents this was satan. I spent the next 20 years lost confused on the streeets and at the Y very troubled indeed. I don't want to go around angry with regrets hateful etc. but it has turned me hateful towards God as well. I know my parents will never relent but guess what. I have good news! Neither will I !

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