Now that you are EXJW, what do you teach your children about Spirituality?

by LyinEyes 18 Replies latest jw friends

  • LyinEyes

    Most of you know that my youngest son, 8, is a little worry wart.......He is always worrying about death, mainly me dying. He has been to doctors when he was younger for PTSD, OCD, and ADDH. Wow, huh? He is a pill that is for sure, but I have to tell you this kid is so spiritual.

    He at many times , especailly before bed, talks to me about all the mysteries of the universe, of life,of death, about God, etc.

    I have been trying to slowly introduce them to the idea that if we die , we very well may go to heaven. I told them when my time comes to die and go to heaven( I say it like it is a fact) that I am so glad that my mother will be the one to take me there. I tell them we will finally be able to be together to talk and who knows maybe they let us ride horses in heaven. I tell them I will have wings so I can fly down and rustle the leaves or touch their hair, then they will know I am there.

    I mean I am not sure of these things myself. But the the youngest is especailly having a hard time with the thought of one day me getting old and dying.

    I didnt think the JW indoctrinated issues would hang on to the 8 yr old mind so tightly, and we have been out for a year and a half.

    I had to think of something to tell him to rest his mind at ease. Being JW, we , he included, were told, you will never get old in this system, you will never have to lose your family in death. Well, he is accepting that there may not be a paradise on earth, and I think that is what is bothering him right now, I went thru it myself . That is why I am introducing the going to heaven idea. I also leave the door open for the earthly paradise or some other plan God may have. But it is hard when you don't know yourself and you are trying to comfort a child.

    What really bothers me, is not mainly the tears he cried last night , but that he said he would kill himself if I died. I take all things like this said, seriously. He has said this many times since he was 4 yrs old.

    I hope that what I tell him, will satisify him for now, and as he grows older and "cuts the apron strings" alittle more he will not worry over such things. He is very clingy right now, but I am working with him on some of his issues and some things have gotten better.
    At least he is not insisting on wearing a red shirt everyday,,,,,,,,,, it had to be a red shirt. Boy that was But with patience and not fighting over it, I let him have his red shirt and he got over it.

    I am hoping that he will find some comfort in the things I say, as I find them comforting myself, now I hope we both can become true believers one day.

    I decided to start reading the New Testament with him at night before he sleeps, at least the good things,,,,,,,lol........ the promises of Jesus and how good things will be.

    I want my children to grow up and form their own belief systems , but right now my little son is still a Christain so I will go with that for now.

    Funny thing he said last nite, he said,,,,,,,"Mama, I think we might go to heaven, but I just don't believe there is really a hell". I said, " I don't either Chance".

    Have any of you,,,,,,,,,,had problems leaving the JW beliefs behind,and it being hard to explain to little children? Or even older children?

    What are you doing in teaching your children spiritual things? There are many beliefs out there what are , are any of you teaching anything other than the traditions Christain theame?

    I am hoping with patience , lots of love, reasurrance and some comforting scriptures he will leave some of his worries behind ,,,,,,,,,,,,like he did the red

  • Roamingfeline

    I have four daughters, three of them grown. They were raised as JW's, one from a baby, the other two were 6 & 7 years old when we went into the religion. As we came out (they followed me like ducklings) they were already older teens, and formed their own decisions. One is a pagan, one an agnostic, and one is a believer in God but not a believer in organized religion. I tend to be more agnostic, and TOTALLY against organized religion in any form.

    My youngest was taken out of the JW's as she was a young infant, so has no memory of it whatsoever. She tends to want to believe in God, but realizes her father and I do not believe in any organized religion at all. She realizes that we both believe that there is the possibility of a higher power out there, but are skeptical both of it's existance, or caring of anything to do with humankind, other than to play sick jokes on the human race. So, we may very well be warping her idea of religion, but we feel how we feel, and she knows and accepts that it's her decision when she's grown. Church buildings used to hold a fascination for her, but I think that is waning as she gets a bit older. She is homeschooled, so she's not influenced to be violent or drug addicted as she gets older. We are more "humanist", I believe, and are teaching her values outside of religion. We leave the death issue open, and tell her we really don't know at this point, which is the truth.


  • Bona Dea
    Bona Dea

    Hi LyinEyes,

    It is very hard with children. As adults we can read...we can research and make informed decisions. But children rely on us to guide them and show them the way. My husband is still in the troof. I am not. I have no idea what I believe anymore. I believe there is a creator...although I'm not even sure of that sometimes. As far as death is concerned, I tell my kids (they are 7 and 4) the truth...I just don't know. I tell them I hope and I believe (but also that hope and belief is not the same as certainty) that we will be together in another place when we die. I know that doesn't hold much appeal compared to my husband drilling the old paradise earth into their heads, but I just can't bring myself to even attempt to pass something off as absolute truth when I know that I don't know what happens when we die. I cannot pretend that I do.

    As far as religion goes, I have started reading them an illustrated book of World Religions that I got from the library and I plan to buy later on. I've also read them some Native American books that explain how some of the different tribes believed we came into being. The kids love it. They are completely fascinated by it; all the symbols, deities, rituals. I explain to them that I don't believe in these religions either but that it is important to know what others believe and why. I read the introduction of the World Religions book which gave an awesome overview of religion and why religion is so important to people. I know that they probably don't understand a lot but it is a start. I just want them to know all they can about all their options as far as a belief system (or lack of) is concerned instead of them just following the mainstream beliefs or what is being forced down their throats. And I do not want to bias them in any direction or to coerce them into following any particular thing. I'll just teach them all I can about all I can and they can decide later on (I mean, this is a big decision for a 7 and 4 year old to make) what to do with that information. Regardless of what they choose I will support them and always love them. Right now, my chief goal is to instill values and a sense of right and wrong in them...teach them to just be good people.

    And much as I hate to, in answer to many of their mind-boggling question, the words "I don't know" will just have to suffice....because do any of us really know. Hopefully one day they will see, that I am just a person. I didn't have the answers because no one really does, and I was simply honest enough to admit it.


  • scootergirl

    Being a parent is hard......especially when it comes to our children's spirituality. I have three children (12, 10 and 3).......what I have taught them is this:

    Be true to yourself. Live w/out hypocricy, w/out your life so that when you go to bed at night you can sleep w/a guilty free conscience. Mistakes aren't "bad"....they are made so that we can learn by them, and to love unconditonally. I teach them that to have sprituality doens't mean attending a brick and motar man has the right to tell you how to worship your Higher Power. They are taught to respect life and respect others......but especially respect themselves. I hope that they grow into people w/integrity and stand up for what they believe-no matter what that is. As far as death is concerned, I have taught them that no one knows exactly what happens after we die.....but not to live a life for a reward of the after-life. If they live in the here and now and live to be good people, that they need not be worried about what happens after we die. Let the mystery be.

    My children have talked to me about what would happen if I died. It breaks my heart.......but reality is, it could happen. I have told them (especially my oldest)that life would go on. That I would be w/them everyday in the heart. But to worry about such a thing is fruitless......that we need to appreciate each and every moment we have together NOW.

  • sndy420

    Good morning to everyone -- I am having a real hard time with this topic. I also have 4 daughters , 3 of which were brought up in the "truth". All 3 have chosen to not continue in that regard but the little one who is 4 was born just when we started becoming inactive. As a consequence I have not given her any spiritual training of any kind at all. She is becoming more concerned about death etc. and while I tell her about what I feel it really contains no religous aspect at all. I guess I have become an agnostic as opposed to an atheist , but my thoughts on what or who god really is are muddled. It is all very concerning to me that I am short changing her or something. AHHHHHHHHHH !

  • CoonDawg

    I tell my daughter to question everything. I tell her that spiritual things are especially important to question. I tell her that she shouldn't believe ANYTHING just because someone, anyone tells her something. She needs to be true to herself first. If those beliefs are in keeping with who SHE is, fine...I'll back her a thousand percent. I don't want a little lemming parading to the edge of the cliff just because someone else tells her she should.


  • gitasatsangha

    I have adopted an eastern religion as my own since leaving the Jdubs, however I am not teaching that per-se to my children. Several reasons why. One is that their mother has different views. Another is that my choice came after some difficult wandering and searching. Their milage may vary. The children are being raised by principle rather then a book. Kids need love and guidance.

    So I teach them the necessary things. We all know it is wrong to murder, steal, etc. That is easy to teach. Some things get more difficult, but can still be answered without having to defer to some book (and those diminishing your role as a parent). If they ask what happens after we die, what to say? No one can honestly say that they know, only what they believe. So I will say I believe, in my case, in reincarnation of the soul, but it may just be that they will feel differently about it when they have had time to really think about it. This may seem to liberal, but after an early childhood of being scared to death of images in the Paradise Lost book, thinking my friends at school would be killed by an almost-evil God, and basically thinking I knew everything about everything, I want them to have a better chance at knowledge and love.

  • LyinEyes

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences with your kids. It seems that for those coming out of a religion so mind controlling as JW, we at least can say,,,,,,"I don't Know", and feel that it is ok to be truthful about it .

    We also seem very open minded as to the possiblity of different kinds of spirituality even thou we may not be ready to grasp it ourselves yet.

    I agree , I want my kids to become what ever they want to become, with my guidence of basic good morals, mainly be a good person,love your neighbor, and find your creator your own way.

    I would understand if they grew up not believing in God at all, sometimes I question that myself. I am sure one day they will all find a comfortable place in what they believe , they may be 30, but what is the rush.

    Being JW we were counting the days until our kids got baptized,,,,,,,well that is what they wanted anyway. They started on Jake, my oldest when he was about 11, and when we left at 14 it was getting irritating. I told my husband , IMO,,,,,,,,,Jake is not ready , I knew my child enough to say ,,, it would be a mistake to push him into to it.

    I am glad we didnt push him or he would be d/f or d/a at the age of 16. That would have only made him more bitter I am sure.

    It is wonderful how we all can realize that just because we are the age we are , as parents, we are still learning about our spirituality, and that it is ok. It is a nice feeling to not feel rushed in studying or waiting until we are ready to think about it all again.

    I think our kids are pretty lucky to have such open minded parents,,,,,,,we all didnt get that chance to let our brains develope as they would have in freedom of choice. It would be interesting to me, to wonder what i would think or believe in , if I were allowed to choose for myself what I believe in.

  • Deist

    In the book, The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine (patriot and contemporary of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington) wrote,

    "I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy."

    I would encourage anyone to read the book, The Age of Reason, to look at a refreshing perspective and opinion of spirituality and reason. I am sure most, if not all, public libraries have a copy.

    Otherwise, you might want to look at this site:

    Kind regards,

  • Beans

    Well I don't believe in God at all, but the babysitter is a Catholic and has sometimes spoke with my children about God and Jesus which has actually upset me to a certain degree. I personally would like to give my children the chance to choose what they want to believe (except the JW's)! But my oldest has often asked me if I believe in God and I have told her "no I do not" and given a brief explination a 7 year old might understand. But when I ask her if she believes in God she says yes because of what the babysitter has said, yet she has never even been to a church in her life!

    So I will teach my children about choice and make sure they research and understand what they choose and are comfortable with it.


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