Has anyone tried to prevent ex-spouse from training the kids as JWs?

by Michelle365 51 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • garyneal

    All I have to say to all of this is wow this must be difficult indeed.

    Three years divorced and your children are still being indoctrinated by him and he is still controlling you. Personally, I would have to admit that I am surprised that you have allowed it to go as far as him dictating how your kids are to behave in your house and him taking the kids to the meetings on your weekends. I have a son that I had with a Catholic (non practicing) girl out of wedlock. She absolutely forbade me to take him to any religious services on the weekends that I had him. But my wife and I did take him to some of the meetings when I had him. Obviously, this was before I knew about the perils of this religion. In fact, we're quite the motley crew of her being a non-practicing Catholic, I being a non-practicing and loosely associate of the Protestants, my wife being a witness and her husband being a mormon though I don't think he is a practicing mormon.

    I recall telling the mediator at our second custody hearing that if my wife and I are attending any church then my son was coming with us. She, of course, went into her tirade about how I was forbidden but the mediator held that unless there was a danger to the son, there was nothing she could do. She backed down. Her fears were unjustified since at the time my wife and I seldom went to any religious services at the time even if he wasn't with us. He lives in another state now and I don't have as frequent contact with him as I use to have.

    I'm sorry to see that you are dealing with this. No doubt you seem like a kind and compassionate person who isn't trying to make too many waves during these trying times. I can relate to that as I am in a similar situation with my wife and our daughter. I do take her to church because in part I am still a spiritual person who believes in God still and because I know if I don't provide that alternative my wife will surely keep my daughter busy in her cult. A few nights ago my wife was reading her a children's Bible book published by the society. After about 20 minutes of it, I asked my wife if she can find something else to read besides something about Jehovah destroying people and places. She persisted so I just asked her to stop reading it altogether. She went ballistic and took my daughter and ran out the room and went downstairs with my daughter crying for me the whole time. When I followed her down to see my daughter my wife threatened to leave the house. I asked her if she knew what she was doing to our daughter with her outragious behavior and she kind of calmed down and went back upstairs saying disparaging things about me. I went out back because I needed a chill moment, phoned my mom who agreed that the best thing to do was to leave it alone. I feel like I am always walking on eggshells with this woman now. I feel like I can't discuss anything relating to religion without her going stark raving mad. I wrote her a letter explaining why I was concerned about her reading that book and told her that I would not read her stories from the old testament that dealt with violence. She's too young to hear that stuff. Unfortunately, I don't think my wife ever read the letter. No doubt, she is probably back in her persecution complex again.

    Anyway, I agree with the other posters. You two are divorced and have been apart for three years. He has no right to keep controlling you like this. The judge needs to hear how your ex is getting mad with them and scaring them out of celebrating perfectly normal things. This religion is HIS religion, not yours or your kids. You can't stop him from involving them in HIS religion why they are with him but he also has no right to push his religious beliefs on you and your kids in your own house.

    My heart goes out to you and I do hope you will find some resolution to this awful mess. Hang tough and if it is any consolation, my dad use to be the bullying type too somewhat with me and my sister. Well, guess who we wanted to spend more time with? My mom and my step-dad. Fortunately, religion wasn't involved at all in our family but scaring people to make them do what you want never works in the long run. Your kids will most likely lose all respect for their dad and his religion at this pace the same way my sister and I lost respect for our dad.

  • ziddina

    "The answer is ALWAYS because Daddy will get mad. Never have they said, I don’t want to disobey Jehovah...."

    Thanks for hi-liting that, Terry... It raises a huge RED FLAG for me... The violence/bullying I received, primarily from my father, was what DID keep me in the religion for far, far too long. It 'interlocked' too well with the WTBTS' doctrines about "Armageddon", "Great Tribulation", "Persecution", and so on...

    Michelle, if there is ANY POSSIBLE WAY to clearly demonstrate this behavior of their father towards them - and its effect on your daughters - I suspect that would go a VERY LONG way in turning the situation to your advantage...

    But as I've said above, you have to be "strong but stealthy" - and I would sure suggest some brainstorming with some of your friends about this. Do you have anyone you can TRULY trust, who knows both you AND your Ex?? Again, the thought occurs to me to approach some of your daughters' teachers about this situation - have any of THEM seen anything that would help prove your Ex's BULLYING tactics - behavior pattern towards your daughters???

    Strong but stealthy... Strong but stealthy... Strong but stealthy...

    And, I'm going to speak bluntly... I suspect that your Ex is able to run mind games on you, to a certain extent, because you've still got some of that "obedient little Jehovah's Witness wifey" mentality in YOU... Not your fault, understand, just residual attitudes that need to be eliminated in order for you to function more effectively.

    I really achieved greater mental independence from the WTBTS' mind games when I woke up and decided I DIDN'T WANT TO BE a "Good little girl, Good little [JW] Christian, Good little VICTIM"!!! - anymore...

    I wish you that same freedom, and the strength, subtlety, guile, and savvy to pull it off...


  • ziddina

    Oh, and Carla made an EXCELLENT point!!!

    "He takes the kids on your weekend? Tell him you will be taking them to your service of choice from now on! I have read a few divorce cases where one parent did not go to any sort of 'church' and that parent lost out in court. I have known a few non jw parents that joined a church just so the court would not find in favor of the jw religion. Usually when a court sees the choice of life as a jw vs life going to Sunday school, plays, choir, youth activities, etc... they find in favor of the non jw religion. Just a thought...."

    I don't remember whether I mentioned this before - but you said something about being an atheist?? Might let that go 'undercover' for the moment, and find a nice, moderate Christian church you can feel comfortable in, for the time being. I'm an atheist/"Neo-PolyTheist" myself, but I've been to a few Christian churches that were warm, kind, and pleasant to be in...

    You might even find a few people there whose shoulder you can 'cry' on, and who might have some good suggestions or other ways of helping you [ideas for proving your Ex's behavior towards your children...], too...


    Oh. And what Emma below says, too...

  • Emma

    Michelle, do you share them equally, time wise? He can do a lot of damage in that way. I think you should listen to your attorney and at least come up with some strategies if he gets really bad. And it's TERRIBLE for children that age to be made to feel guilty. It's so totally bad for them to feel that way. Do you have a child/family therapist? I strongly recommend you and they see someone; that person can always go to bat for you in front of the court. jw's are high control, an evil cult, and will stop at nothing to steal your kids emotionally and mentally given a chance. Your husband does not sound reasonable; please try to have some strategy to combat what he's telling your kids.

  • Michelle365

    FoundSheep—Thanks. I’m trying!

    Carla—Sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with a similar situation. I hear what you’re saying about having “no religion”. I’ve considered it too. Our divorce settlement says that he can take them to the meetings on my weekends, so I can’t refuse. That is why we are going back to court now.

    Troubled Mind—Actually I do NOT have the right to tell him no and that is why I am taking him back to court. The custody agreement we have now says that he can take the kids on my Sundays. This DOES give him control over me and that’s why I’m trying to fight it. It’s AWFUL! You said “It should be your rules at your house and explain to the children what the terms guilt and manipulation mean and how it is applied . Then help them see how to cope with it in their own lives.” I agree, I’m just having a hard time doing that. I don’t know the best way to explain it to them and what to say as each situation comes up.

    AwSnap—Yes exactly! I do feel that it’s “lose, lose” with my children being the BIGGEST losers. It sucks hard core and I’m struggling with the best way to handle it. My Mom is pretty much the only one in my family that keeps up with the girls, and I’m working on building new “worldly” friendships, but it’s slow going.

    Terry—Thanks. You brought up a lot of good points. I really appreciate you taking the time to write it out. I need to keep hearing those kind of things.

    Lady Lee—Thanks, but I got the brochure off of another thread. I need to sit down and read it! Lol.

  • Michelle365

    Garyneal—I just don’t know how to prevent him from controlling me. Everytime I stand up to him, he makes the kids suffer. He knows this and uses it to continue to control me. It’s really only been this last year that I’ve finally cleared my head enough to figure out that he’s controlling me. I was raised a JW so I was just so used to being controlled that I really didn’t comprehend it. I started to wake up when I left in Nov ‘06’ but it’s taken me a while to heal and grow and learn. That situation with your wife and daughter sounds awful and I’m sorry that you are having to deal with this now. It must be heartbreaking. You said “You can't stop him from involving them in HIS religion why they are with him but he also has no right to push his religious beliefs on you and your kids in your own house.” That is exactly where I am at now and why I’ve taken him back to court. It’s difficult. VERY difficult as you seen yourself, these are not people you can reason with. They are doing “god’s work” and the children MUST be indoctrinated in order to be saved. Sigh.

    Ziddina—I really only have one friend that knows both of us AND the religion. She’s been very helpful in getting me to see all the control issues but she & I are both at a loss with this stuff. All of the rest of the friends that I had that knew him are of course still IN the religion. It’s so hard to brainstorm this, which is why I brought it here. I was hoping that there would be others that have experienced this or are willing to brainstorm. I admit that he is still controlling me but I don’t think it’s good little wife or JW or anything like that. I don’t feel that type of tie to the religion at all. That was not hard for me to drop. He’s greatest tool against me is making my kids suffer. He can get me to do anything in order to prevent that and he uses it to the full. I just don’t know how to beat that. My atheismness is “under the radar” and I’m contemplating going to a church, just don’t know if I can stomach it. Lol.

    Emma—No, my ex is definitely not reasonable. I’m working on the strategy, that is partly why I posted this. I’m looking for any strategy tips. It’s been hard for me to do it completely on my own. I have few friends and no family locally.

  • garyneal


    Just my two cents.

    I find it difficult to believe that it would be necessary for you to pretend that you are a Christian and go to church just to have a better chance of winning any custody battles with your children but it does not surprise me. As I've told my wife, people of all religious stripes know what the characteristics of a true Christian is and it has a lot to do with love, humility, respect, and putting other's needs first. I know an agnostic who told me that he was told that he was more Christian than many people who profess to be one. This is something I would consider speaking about with your lawyer. Personally, I would think that it would be best to not openly admit you're an atheist in court, you could at least just say that you are 'in between religions' for the moment and that you still agree with Christian ideals (assuming that you do). This, of course, is assuming whether or not religion should even be relevent and whether or not you are even asked your beliefs.

    I would harp on how he is using the kids against you and making them suffer so that you will stay in line with him. Bring up examples. The previous suggestions provided by others are good. Tell your lawyer everything you're telling us and if he is a good lawyer he should be able to help you come up with a good stategy.

    I wish you all the best.

  • Michelle365

    Thanks GaryNeal. I appreciate the surport & encouragement. I'll keep you guys up to date. The next thing we have to do is to meet with the Parenting Coordinator on April 7th. That's IF my ex decides to show up.

  • GLTirebiter

    That's IF my ex decides to show up.

    If he doesn't want to go, you go anyway and talk with Parenting Coordinator. Make his absence show up in a paper trail.

    There is one thing I've read on this thread that I have misgivings about: "My house, my rules." That could be held against you in the custody hearings. You must be seen as cooperative and living up to the present agreement. You don't want to do anything that could be construed as encouraging the children to disobey your Ex. Even though that's not what you're really doing, in custody hearings appearances do count, especially when twisted into the worst possible light by an opposing lawyer. If you want to get that custody agreement changed into something more reasonable, don't give the other side anything they could possibly hold against you.

    Good luck to you!


  • JWdaughter

    I was a child growing up in a mixed home with a JW mom and a unbelieving dad. Now with the perspective of having been a child and now being a parent, I have a little different advice. Sorry to muddy the waters, but here goes.

    Since my dad was very passive about the religion thing as a whole, my mom got carte blanche with us not celebrating, no school birthday or holiday events, etc. Like your daughters, I was well and truly indoctrinated by the time I was 7. I remember making a sugar easter egg when I was 8 and feeling so guilty about it that I was afraid to bring it home. I gave it to our school bus driver.

    I think that you might want to make it clear that JW rules are out when the kids are at school, that they can do scouts or sports or whatever. They can make you a moms day cake or a ghost or whatever. While they are at his house, he can take them to meetings and out in FS to his hearts content. I would have a suggestion that you deal with a family mediator or something on this issue-or a child psychologist. I know it seems harsh, but we grew up taking all the JW stuff for granted because my dad never said anything against us. We never had a choice. Passivity in the non JW parent leads to a kid passively becoming a JW-and I think it is good to know that it is their PARENTS religion, but they are free to think for themselves, even while going to meetings with him. With a steadfast JW mom, I never even understood that I had a choice-and yet, had my dad put his foot down, I would have at least understood that "I" wasn't a JW. I was the child of a JW.

    The positive thing here is that all the drudgery in their life will be based with JW dad. You get to be the pleasant mom-even if they do have to use manners, do chores and brush their teeth, you will be the one they want to be with. But him guilting them out about normal things is messing up his relationship and their lives. That is what I think you should be seeing a counselor or mediator about. Kids don't need crap like that. Life is hard enough with divorcing parents, switching out houses, two religions and being a kid of a JW at all.

    Just my .02 worth.

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