Born ins are in a unique position in that we never knew any other way of life. No birthdays, Christmas and overly superstitious family just seemed normal. When my parents talked about their pre-JW life it seemed like they were talking about completely different people (actually, that's true, the cult had taken their real selves).
So I'd be interested in hearing how your parents were indoctrinated.
My dad was, in the 1960s, into motorbikes. Try to imagine it, it's 1964 and you and your best mate hop on your motorbike and travel around Europe for a few months. My dad spoke very fondly of those times, he also told me "in Denmark i've seen things you would never imagine. People think Amsterdam is a sex obsessed place? 1960s Denmark was worse". Despite my pressing further he wouldn't go into detail. But, a quick google search when i was older filled me in.
Anyway, back in Britain, dad got run over by a lorry. He very nearly died. His pelvis was snapped in half, broken ribs, punctured bladder and some other things. He was saved thanks to... blood transfusions... he was in hospital for a few years recovering. He had to learn to walk again. While in hospital, as he was almost fully recovered he helped out the nurses and doctors by dishing out food and drinks to the patients. He befriended a deaf man the same age as him (remember, my dad is still in his 20s). While in hospital he, again to relieve the boredom, he took sign language lessons from the mans family and by the time he left hospital a year or so later he was proficient.
My dads family were racists. They were very strong Protestants and hated Catholics, non whites and homosexuals. My dad and grandad were members of The Orange Lodge, which is a Protestant fraternal organization in Britain and Ireland with links to Northern Irish pro-union loyalism. Now, im not suggesting that they were racist because of being in the Orange Lodge but it didn't help. My grandad played bagpipes on the marches and my dad and his friends would go out "queer bashing" as they called it. Basically beating up homosexuals for no reason.
So yeah, not a very nice man so far.
Fast forward to 1976.
Remember the guy my dad toured Europe with on their motorbikes? He ended up dating my dads sister. One day this guy went clay pigeon shooting with another friend. The friend passed him a shotgun and it went off in the guys chest, killing him instantly.
This is where Jehovahs Witnesses come in. The story goes, that a JW knocked on my dads families door and my dad was very rude and aggressive to him. The JW was a kind old man who was shaken up and left quite afraid. My dad felt bad prayed to God to reveal himself to him. THE NEXT DAY (we've all heard this kind of story) another JW knocked and my dad accepted a bible study.
So my dad has had a near death experience (being knocked over by a lorry), his best friend has just died, he feels bad for being mean to a JW, then a JW knocks on his door. The study tells him how bad "the world" is, the resurrection hope (he can see his friend again), and he already feels bad for being mean to a JW. What do you think would happen next?
Dad gives up smoking, sells his motorbikes, buys a car and jumps into the door to door ministry. He's baptized within months. The 1975 fiasco was, fortunately for my dads JW study conductor, already 1 year ago so my dad missed out on that. My dad manages to convince two of his brothers and his dad into studying and they eventually get baptized too.
He eventually meets my mother, they marry and here starts my family, my cousins and my grandfather all being in the same congregation. We had very little to do with our non JW family so JWism just seemed normal to me growing up.
My mum was born into a sorry excuse for a family. Her father, a jobless, lazy, chain smoking, filthy, idiot somehow managed to marry and conceive children with a selfish, lazy, filthy, idiot woman. Together they'd pop out 6 children. All of which were left to fend for themselves. My mum and her sister being the eldest were essentially the surrogate parents to their brothers and sisters at the tender age of 8yo and 9yo. This is in the late 1950s/early 1960s. My mum told me that it was often that her parents would be in The Red Brick pub until they'd spent all their money in one evening, while her and her brothers/sisters were outside in nothing but an oversized shirt to keep them warm. Why spend money on food and clothes for your kids when you can get drunk and smoke yourself stupid?
So anyway, eventually people in the pub and in the street get concerned about this going on all the time and social services step in. My mum and her siblings are raised in various foster homes throughout their childhood. I dont know why, but they split them up and tended to move them around a lot. Sometimes they'd be lucky enough to be in the same home as one of their kin, other times not. My mum told me she was overjoyed one time when she was given her very own toothbrush and hairbrush by one couple. This couple, unable to have their own children, were very nice and kind and wanted to adopt her, unfortunately due to some legal red tape it wasn't possible.
Then one day... knock, knock.
A JW calls on the door. My mum is 15. The JW tells her how "the world" is so bad, people are uncaring, only Jehovah can make us happy etc. My mum had a study for a few weeks until her foster parents (the kind ones) stopped it. Apparently the Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained book shocked them to the core.
When my mum turned 16 she was returned to her parents. Where her life consisted of working in a chemists, then grocery shopping, then cleaning/cooking for her parents, then finding that they've spent her wages in the pub. She eventually left and got a flat with one of her sisters. This just meant that her brothers/sisters would come knocking on their door in rags for food.
JWs called again. My mum continued to study. Her sister studied too. She was eventually baptized and managed to indoctrinate her sister and two brothers. She met my dad in her Kingdom Hall and her sister started dating my dads brother. They were married and thus started my family being JWs along with my cousins family. As i said earlier, we had very little to do with non JW family.
Looking at it now, it's clear to me that JW doctrine appealed to two people who'd been though difficult times and were made to look at "the world" with JW spectacles on. Cults do this, they reframe experiences and memories.
In the case of my mum, she really did have a rubbish childhood. The appeal of instant friends, a worldwide family, a purpose, being told what to do with your spare time etc was a breath of fresh air. This is why she'll never leave the JWs. To my mum, Watchtower is her parent. She's the kind of person that would not only drink the Kool-Aid but brew it up and hand out the cups.
In the case of my dad, he was actually a very talented carpenter. He came from a long line of carpenters (im actually the first male in my family for 200 years not to be a carpenter). Of course the borg used him for free refurbishments, elders would call on him for repairs or work (which he'd do for free), his sign language skills were used in the conventions. I remember watching him in Manchester City Football Stadium signing for a section of deaf people. I never seen him use sign language apart from conventions. He became a Ministerial Servant but didn't go any higher. For one thing, he never thought himself worthy of that, Watchtower had convinced him that he wasnt good enough. And also he was honest to a fault, which didnt do him any favors. There was an elder in our hall that was beating up his wife. The wife reported it but the body didnt believe her. My dad saw this elder punch his wife in the face, my dad reported him and again the body didnt believe it. As if by coincidence my dad was marked as spiritually weak after that. For the rest of his life he'd say that the org is ran by imperfect men, and it's "the closest thing to the truth there is". Something i would later say myself when i got older before i left.
Anyway, i'd be interested in reading yours.