Raising kids in a split faith household

by rathernotsay 25 Replies latest jw friends

  • rathernotsay

    Hi guys, don't know if this is the right place to ask but id like to hear other peoples experiences with raising kids in a household with split faiths.

    Just for a bit of a back story, my wife and I have been married for comming up 6 years. We have 3 kids, 2 boys aged 5 and 3 and a 8 week old girl. While our marriage has had its trails (see my posts from a year ago on here), were reasonably happy.

    She is a jw, I am not. I don't really have any religous affiliation, however am somewhat spiritual. One thing that has repeatedly become a source of tention is the childrens beliefs.

    I don't want them to grow up as jws. She does. I want them to have an understanding and be respectful of other religions and cultures but not to actually belive it themselves.

    They attend meetings and assemblys with her, this is largely due to my work commitments, and my inability to be home when she is at her meetings. Only our 5 year old pays any attention, but it honestly makes me feel sick when I hear him telling me or others about jehovah. We don't say grace etc in my household, however I know this is not entirely the case particularly when I'm working nights. However when they stay with her parents they do which as I want them to be respectful I do not object, however I did once when her father asked my 5 year old to say grace.

    They're so young and I imagine that they will make their own minds up eventually, for now all I can think to do is encourage learning about space and dinosaurs etc.

    Anyway I'd like to hear how others have dealt with similar situations, from both perspectives. Cheers people.

  • joe134cd
    Statistically there is a 66.66% chance that they will not be JWs as adults. The odds are in your favor.
  • rathernotsay
    Haha good to know joe
  • Je.suis.oisif

    Hi OP,

    Female exjw here. Bit of background, 32yrs+ in cult, married 41yrs. 2 daughters 35 + 33. Husband like yourself a non-believer and due to work tolerated meeting attendance and assemblies etc until they turned 16. I accepted this because I was convinced they'd come to love Jehovah. They didn't.

    Mess of life. ( 2 daughters ). Suicide attempts, multiple sexual partners, alcohol abuse. You name it. I've shredded the t- shirt. I plodded on stoically. Bought the script from R&F etc. Fast forward. All 3 of us out. De-programming gradually.

    We were chatting the other day and youngest said. " at least I only wasted 4yrs, and my older sister just 2". I was, hmmm. I ruined their emotional development from baby/toddler stages of life with the cult crap. I have to live with this in addition to my own struggle. They're happy they're free. "Get over it mum" attitude. Life's too short bla bla.

    You just have to play this intelligently. Maybe your wife will discover TTATT.

  • freddo

    Give them an alternative that is appealing and rooted in common-sense. Ask them gentle questions. Offer alternative points of view.


    You to your 5 year old: "Tell me about Noah and the animals son?"

    5yo: "Two by two ... built a big boat ... bad people ... etc."

    You: "That's great! Then what happened?"

    5yo: "Jehovah saved them because they loved him!"

    You: "What about all the people and animals who didn't get in. What happened to them?"

    5yo: "They all died because they didn't love Jehovah!"

    You: "What they all drowned?!"

    5yo: "Yes!"

    You: "That sounds awful! I'd never kill anyone because they didn't love me. Perhaps some of it is just a story? Anyway, shall we go and get a McDonalds?"

    Or ... once a month during summer ...

    You to the whole family: "I'm going to the beach/lake/picnic on Sunday, who's coming with me?"

    Family: "We've got the meeting."

    You: "Well I'd love you to come to the beach - we can have fun together!"

    Wife: "Our meetings are important."

    You: "And so is family time so I'm going to the beach with the kids. If you want to take the baby to the meeting you can make other arrangements, I don't mind it's up to you."

    Little bits here and there. Little and often, little and often.

  • shepherdless

    Hi rathernotsay,

    I am in a similar position, although I am further down the track. Sorry to be negative, but I think that you are up against more than you realize.

    You sound like a principled person. (I consider myself the same.) The first thing to realize is that they don't play fair. I did not get that at first, because I did not know much about JWism and I didn't expect a Christian religion to be so dishonest. They think that your kids' lives depend on them being indoctrinated, and that entitles them to say one thing and do another behind your back.

    They're so young and I imagine that they will make their own minds up eventually...

    That is probably the norm in most Christian religions. However this religion makes it really tough to leave. They use psychological pressure such as cognitive dissonance. It is particularly tough on kids because they tend to believe anything told to them by adults. A lot of kids do eventually work it out, but at best it is painful.

    As far as solutions go, I don't have any at the moment. I am still battling. Wife and kids go to meetings. I can't stop that. None are baptized, or express much enthusiasm, but will be very defensive if I mention anything negative about Watchtower. At this stage I don't know which way my kids will go. I have managed to get a bit of TTATT into my wife, and she doesn't seem to have the confidence in it that she used to.

    It is probably a good idea to keep their minds enquiring, whether about space, dinosaurs, or whatever. One think I found is that the school teacher is your invisible ally. Your kids have probably already got the message that you can not be trusted on matters concerning religion, but I have noticed that they still trust anything the school teacher says about science, evolution, etc. I have tried to give them as much info on physics etc, and when they hear the same thing from the teacher, it is confirmed as fact.

    This is Machiallelian, but another thing I have done is physically move the family to where contact with JW relatives and JW's generally is difficult. As a result, my kids don't have any JW friends, and generally only see other JW's at meetings. I think that might help, in the future.

    There is a lot more I could say. Anyway, good luck with it all.

  • C0ntr013r
    Statistically there is a 66.66% chance that they will not be JWs as adults. The odds are in your favor.

    Not very reassuring since he has 3 children, that would mean 2 get out and 1 stay..

  • rathernotsay
    Wow sorry to hear that. I don't think she will ever discover ttatt. And I'm not asking her too, but it's hard and frustrating at times not to outright mock her faith. Trying to be respectful
  • Zana

    Similar situation here: Two kids, aged 5 and 3, wife a JW. Kids go to meetings maybe once every three weeks. No graces but usually a bedtime prayer for the kids.

    The last time my wife and I had a discussion about religious education, it was because she didn't like me telling our son about reincarnation that some people believe in. He likes the JW idea of paradise earth very much and I was trying to tell him (rather awkwardly and unsuccessfully) that this is not a fact but just some belief and other people believe other things.

    I like your indirect approach: show them the stars and the dinosaurs. Also try to offer them as many possibilities to do non-JW activities and make non-JW friends as possible. When I tell my son that some believe this and others believe that, and you will figure out what to believe yourself one day, he doesn't quite understand. But he gets it, when I tell him Grandma thinks she will go to (catholic) heaven when she dies. Or that his kindergarden-friend doesn't eat pork because an old book (and his parents) say so. People are different, people can believe and do different things. That doesn't mean they are bad people.

    In general I am not too concerned. I mean normal 5-year-olds believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, too. And nobody is afraid that as adults they will still wait for Santa to bring the presents. I did put up some rules about JW-topics in the house though. For example no talking about Armageddon or that Daddy won't be in paradise with us. And no door-to-door with the kids. So far we as a family are doing ok. But I am always suspicious and ready to jump into action when I get the impression that someone is trying to influence others through fear and guilt (my wife on our kids, or other JWs on my wife).

    Fortunately JW life isn't very attractive to children (except for Caleb and Sofia). Boring meetings, no sunday school, no birthdays, too many stupid rules. That makes it easy for the non-JW parent to offer different activities (if you have the time of course).

    btw here is a link to my thread from 2 years ago about the same topic: http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/topic/279456/raising-kids-jw-mother-agnostic-father

  • TheListener

    My wife is a JW and I am no longer one. We went through a couple stages with our kids.

    1. We both were in and were raising them as regular dubs. Making them sit at meetings, playing witness card/board games at home, family study, family service..puke puke puke

    2. I started fading and kids kept going with mom to all meetings, service and conventions. No more family study or family witness games. Very little spiritual discussion at home. Kids would spout typical Jehovah loves or hates this/that and always telling neighbor kids that God's name is Jehovah and they must all use it. Very embarrassing; probably even for a non-fading dub. I was quiet and didn't step in to counter the spiritual activities. I did rearrange my schedule, including taking a lower paying job to be home more specifically so I could develop a strong bond with the kids.

    3. I developed a super strong bond with the kids by devoting my time and energy to them. My wife continued to devote most of her time and energy to the borg. Kids eventually felt (maybe saw) the difference and each stopped attending on their own at different times. A couple of the kids have even mentioned how cult-like the dubs are and they wish mom would exit. They're angry with the dubs for making mom so 'weird' and 'different from other moms'. I don't bad talk my wife, even regarding the dubs, but I do agree with the kids that the dubs are a cult.

    I guess my only real advice is to do whatever you can to build a strong bond with your kids and make sure no matter what they come first. You and your wife will fight, argue, makeup and maybe even divorce one day (who knows) but you and the kids are forever. Teach them to think for themselves. I've said this before but I even let the kids buy one or two toys advertised on tv as the best thing ever (we discussed how we would feel if once it arrived it really wasn't as great as the commercial said it was)...the products stunk...the kids learned a lesson, I was out $50. From then on the kids always do research online before buying anything (this was from a fairly young age). They realize that there is no difference between researching a product and researching someone's opinion or teaching. They have become good thinkers.

    I wasn't raised to show much emotion but it broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes when my oldest told me that they were all afraid that mom wouldn't love them anymore if they stopped going to meetings. I assured them mom would love them just as much and that no matter what we would be there for them. Honestly, my wife's cult personality doesn't have much use for the kids, but her real personality loves them like crazy - must cause a lot of cognitive dissonance.

    Also, be prepared that everything, I mean everything, wrong that the kids do to be your fault because you're not bringing them up Jehovah's way. It's wrong thinking but the dub in your wife won't see it that way. You will have a lot of weight on your shoulders. I think it's your job to take it all on to protect your kids from feeling any of it.

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