Jehovah's Witnesses' predictions figured into my relationship with my parents on two occasions:
In the mid-1960s, my parents and siblings moved from Southern California to Nebraska to "serve where the need was greater." Around 1970, my father wrote me a letter explaining that he "loved" me and my brother and was proud of what we had already accomplished in our early 20s, but since we had both left the JWs and gone on to lead more typical American lives, that we "had chosen the world over Jehovah and his earthly organization." He went on to state that he and my mother would "stand with Jehovah" and therefore have to "shun us both." He did not use the word "shun" - but that was what the letter clearly described. He asked me to contact my brother and read the letter to him.
When my brother heard the contents of the letter, he basically stated that he didn't care anymore and that our father could go "f... himself." I knew, of course, that my brother didn't really mean that, but that he was just done with the foolishness of it all and was offended that our parents would shun us, his sons, who had always been respectful toward them and loved them both beyond measure.
Now to put everything in perspective, those of us who were around in the late 1960s remember that starting in 1966 and increasing each year up to 1969, the Watchtower and the elders were strongly hinting that Armageddon would come crashing down on all of us within the next few years - we "were definitely living in the time of the end." My then wife, who had converted to a JW when we got married and was still attending meetings after I decided to quit, was also convinced. The elders at her Kingdom Hall sat her down and described in vivid ways how my baby daughters would be damned to destruction because I no longer attended meetings - you know the "sins of the father" bullcrap. Scared the pee-pee out of her to the point that we separated and were divorced by the beginning of 1971. Every conversation I had with her after that included at least 5 minutes of "you know that Armageddon is coming in 1975. Please come back to the Kingdom Hall and repent. I don't want our babies to die at Armageddon." She was honestly and sincerely terrified to the point that I seriously considered going back just to alleviate her pain. But in my heart I knew that I could never do that and make things work.
So JW predictions of 1975 and their shunning rules (which were actually quite lenient then compared to ten years later after the Ray Franz incident) played a big part in the destruction of my marriage.
Shortly after the 1975 prophecy failure, my parents decided to stop shunning me and my brother. They took the blame for "misunderstanding what the Organization was trying to say." That was a standard JW position at the time - that the organization never said that 1975 would see Armageddon, but that in their hope for a speedy end of the world, nearly every JW in the world "thought or imagined" that that was what the JW leaders were predicting. My parents were deep into denial and took responsibility for the breakup of our family and shunning of my brother and me.
In 1981, while attending a family funeral, my father and I had another "private" conversation. This time it was 1984. And because the "end was so close," he and my mother would again have to shun my brother and I - and would I be good enough to tell my brother (my father knew that he would get an earful and a dressing down for what he was doing to the family).
It never ends. Every 5 - 10 years (1914, 1919, 1925, 1930s, WW2, "Sputnik," something will happen that suddenly causes the leaders of the Watchtower to ring the alarm bells and try to drive everyone on the fringes back into the organization. And then they lie: Shunning is not 'shunning' - pedophiles are not a problem - "new light" is always getting brighter - only the 144K are the "faithful and discreet slave - oops! - only the governing body is the "faithful and discreet slave" - and now, who knows what they teach and who is who?
Let face it: The leaders of the Watchtower have always been and still are just plain ignorant, ill-informed, self-important, money-grubbing liars - and they always will be no matter what they teach or what they call their organization.