Some of you may remember me from a long time ago. Anyway, I'm back now and wondered if I could collect some of your experiences.
My younger brother disassociated himself this week. It was something he needed to do, for reasons that will be familiar to most of the people posting here. I guess the Society has become increasingly dogmatic in its assertion that all non-Witnesses will be slaughtered someday. My brother tells me that his CO said that visiting with a disfellowshipped person is like sinning against the Holy Spirit, and that whenever he (the CO) goes out in public, all he sees are dead people. (Insert theme music from A Sixth Sense.) It must be a happy time to be a JW.
Anyway, my brother's been inactive and doubtful, and then two elders came to my brother's house and harassed him, and finally, while they were there, he got a piece of paper and wrote a letter disassociating himself.
This is rather remarkable, because my brother was the meekest, mildest, don't-rock-the-boat sort of JW, and even he couldn't stomach what he saw being taught.
But here's the problem, and here's where I hope some of you can help.
My brother has two children, and since he's recently separated from his awful, awful wife, he only sees them a few times a week. His son is about 8 and his daughter is 5. He's a terrific, devoted father who adores his kids, and they love him too. Meanwhile, their JW mother and her parents are telling the children that my brother has sinned against Jehovah, that demons are in his life, that he's going to die at Armageddon. You know, the usual shiny happy Witness shtick. Needless to say, my brother's worried about how to handle all this.
I'm wondering if any of you on the board have experiences with this sort of situation. I am particularly interested in those of you (fathers mostly, but mothers too) who left the Witnesses when you had young children. What did you do to help your children with the transition after you left the Witnesses? How did you cope with the mechanism of the congregation, the JW family, the teachings your children heard that scared them when they thought of you? What strategy did you use to help your children get through this? When they grew up, did your children remain Witnesses, or did they leave, and what kind of relationship did they have with you?
Conversely, if you were a child who lived through the departure of a parent (from the religion, from the house where you lived because of separation/divorce), what was it liked? What helped? What hurt?
Thanks for sharing, if you can. I'll send your experiences to my brother, who I'm sure will find them helpful.
Request for Experiences
back to the top !!!
I haven't experienced what you describe. I have seen that most witness children don't stay witnesses once they are old enough to choose for themselves. Maybe your brother shouldn't rock the boat and hope for the best. He still has visitation and rocking the boat with an awful, awful woman can jeopardize that.
I am not a parent but I have been around plenty of kids and I am a Big Sister via Big Brothers Big Sisters. Kids that age understand a lot more than most would give them credit for. I would sit them down with prints from several different religions saying they are the true one and that those who don't believe will go to hell or some other such thing. I would show him that all religions say similar things. Then I would ask both kids "Which one is the true religion if they all say the same thing?" Let the kids answer and then show them that just because someone says they are something with conviction doesn't make it true. Say" I am a Bird" with conviction. Then ask the kids if they believe he is a bird. They obviously don't and will probably laugh.
Then show them from the bible examples of how faithful ones had to make their own decisions. Tell them that all adults have to choose their religion for themselves. Daddy has chose something different but, that doesn't mean that he will die at Armageddon. Show them the scripture where God reads hearts and tell them "Daddy's heart is pure even if mommy and the Witnesses can't see that". Tell them that when they are older they too will be able to choose but that for right now they have to do what mom and dad say. But also leave them with the statement that YOU SHOULD NEVER BELIEVE WHAT SOMEONE TELLS YOU IS TRUTH!! You should ALWAYS look it up for yourself. This will also teach them good research skills for high school and college.
Glad to see you back. Always enjoyed what you had to say.
I was in a position similar to his children. When I was 8, my dad was df'd. My mother chose not to divorce him--at least, not legally--but she lived in the same house with him for another 38 years and managed to disrespect him at every turn. She also made it clear that he was evil and that to love him was to reject Jehovah.
Guess what? My dad never said anything bad about JWs except that he didn't agree with them. He made us go to meetings with Mom until we were teens, then let us make our own decisions--and backed us up on it. He didn't force holidays on us--but he always made sure that, for instance, when we went back to school after Xmas break, we had some new clothes and new toys to talk about (even though, out of respect for our mother, those gifts were not wrapped in holiday paper).
He also encouraged us to explore our interests--school activities, sports, hobbies.
And at the end, none of the three of us are JWs. We were never baptized--not even tempted--because we saw close-up how the JWs treated our father. The lack of love from all of them--even our mother--was palpable.
And, as one of my brothers always said, they didn't just df Dad. They df'd us all. My brothers and I were often excluded from congregation activities, disrespected and taunted because our dad was df'd, and always blamed if kids got into some sort of trouble--whether we were there or not! After all, we had a df'd father. We were bad association.
One by one, when we reached an age of understanding, we asked Dad for his side of the story. He told us that he'd cheated on Mom, that he still loved her and asked for her forgiveness and for God's, and was forgiven. He simply didn't believe that a bunch of janitors and window-washers could determined whether he was repentant or not.
I agree. After all, he stayed with us when it would have been a whole lot easier to bail. Bless him for it.
He died a little over a year ago. All his kids and grandkids were around him, as well as many friends he'd made outside the bOrg. And my mother was there. But the JWs weren't there for her.
Dedalus! Welcome back!
Did you finish your degree? Are you teaching? Where are you located now - Boston?
Who are you reading now, besides Henry James? How's your mother doing?
Sorry to hear about your brother. My son and his wife seperated a few weeks ago. They're not JW, but do have 4 kids from 4 to 11, and this is not cool on them. I was in tears last night thinking about it.
I hope some good things happen for him. I think it's horrible for parents or grandparents to try to poison the mind of a child toward a parent. Is there anyone who would stand up for him and stop that kind of talk? Maybe a truly righteous elder that they would respect?
Good to hear from you.
Thank you, Unique1 and Jankyn.
Unique1, I think you offer some great logical ideas, and in my own family our children are free enough to answer questions like that. I wonder if it'd be fair to put a question like "Which religion is the true religion if they all say the same thing?" to my young Witness niece and nephew. I mean, it's not a horrible question or anything, but my nephew is going to know that how he answers will affect how certain family members view him. If he says, "I think Witnesses are the right religion," he knows that answer is not what his father wants to hear. And if he says, "These religions are the same as Witnesses," then he knows he's betrayed his mother. Know what I mean?
On the other hand, maybe my brother should be assertive in this situation.
Jankyn, what you wrote was beautiful. I am definitely going to share it with my brother, if you don't mind.
In my brother's case, though, he's been faithful to his wife. The difference between him and your father, Jankyn, is that he will be moving out in September. I have no idea if this is the "best" situation. On the one hand, he and his wife fight constantly. No physical abuse, but lots of shouting. Awful for kids to see. One hopes that the children will come to understand that, in a way, his departure was inevitable. How do you think you would have been affected, if your father had moved out and you visited with him a few times a week?
dedalus---action is necessary--
Hi S4! I was hoping you'd pop up.
Did you finish your degree? Are you teaching? Where are you located now - Boston?
I finished my MA back in 2002, have been teaching at a terrific high school since then. I'm more Western/Central MA, depending on where you catch me in the commute, but we get to Boston as often as possible. Possibly, when my wife finishes her degree, we'll move eastward, but more likely we'll settle around Northampton in a few years.
I went and had two more kids since the last time I was active on the board. So now it's two girls and a boy.
Who are you reading now, besides Henry James?
Just finished the new Michael Chabon novel. Reading Michael Thomas's Man Gone Down right now, and some Joseph Conrad, because I have to teach him in September. Read a lot of David Mitchell recently -- all of his novels, in fact. Met Marilynne Robinson some time back -- heard her give a sermon, actually. Good lord, the woman delivers. Witnesses should get a load of her at the pulpit. Hmmm, what else? Haven't read James in a while but I'm kind of itchy for a good ol' Jamesian ghost story.
How's your mother doing?
Good. Nothing new to report there.
My son and his wife seperated a few weeks ago. They're not JW, but do have 4 kids from 4 to 11, and this is not cool on them. I was in tears last night thinking about it.
Sorry to hear about that. I can only imagine, but divorce with kids sounds catastrophic. I have plenty of my own projects in which I'm invested, but fatherhood is easily the biggest project of my life. I understand that divorce becomes necessary for some couples, but it must be so painful for everyone, too.
Then you add all the Witness bullshit. Ugh. Is there anyone who would stand up for him and stop that kind of talk? Maybe a truly righteous elder that they would respect?
His father-in-law is an elder at his congregation, and in all likelihood was the one who called for the elders' visit that led to my brother's disassociation.
The good elders, I suspect they tend to drift away. Sound familiar? :)
How about you, S4? I'm interested in what you've been up to all these years. Still writing, I am sure. Happily remarried, I think? Or re-partnered? Still look somewhat like Sting in that photo from the Mercury Falling CD? :)
Can someone remove Coaster's comment from this thread? Thank you.