I was raised a Jw, by an inactive Jw mom. Looking back, and reflection on my childhood, causes me to wonder.
I honestly did not miss the holidays, for example. I never had them, so nothing was taken away in that regard. Some regard this as almost abuse - no holidays - I don't.
But, I do wonder how the Jw mindset affected my growth as a child [and subsequently as an adult]. I remember that my 'worldly' friends, always very few in number, were also the social misfits, the outsiders, the geeky kids who didn't fit in anywhere else. They were the ones who, perhaps due to their own natural 'outsiderness', were able to accept even the goofy Jw kid into the group.
I don't recall, for example, having a single friend in the first few years of school. I do recall feeling very alone. I was a late bed-wetter, had recurrent bouts with dreams that indicated vulnerability [you know the naked sitting in classroom variety], and became a loner. All of this drove me deeper into the cult, because I knew that what I was sacrificing was for 'Jehovah'.
And though I don't resent the friendships I had with those kids - I wonder how it retarded my normal growth by being 'out of touch' with all the more center-line children. Once I hit the teen years, that chasm was ever wider, of course, and more social growth was missed in those years. That made me 'ripe for pickin' once one of the local pioneers saw me on the sidelines, started a personal study with me at age 14 or so.
That pioneer then became my 'best friend' [just a year and a half older than me] - and he went off to Bethel. Six months after he left he jumped off a building there. Alone again naturally. Then his brother who had become my 'best friend', precisely my age, also went off to Bethel. He stayed for seven years and our friendship died over time. In the meantime I became friends with another brother who was our age. At 18 he was killed in a tragic accident.
The combined affect of these events has shaped me. Precisely how it has affected me, I am not sure. I believe I am largely a loner due to this. I don't know even why I started this thread. I am not unhappy with who I am. I just wonder who I might have been had I not been locked into a culture that discouraged relationships outside it's insular circle. I wonder if scientific studies have been done on this? Lord knows there are enough cults that have affected millions of kids' growth.