Raising a teenager outside of “the truth”

by StephaneLaliberte 10 Replies latest jw experiences

  • StephaneLaliberte

    I was raised as a JW and left the group as many of the teachings don’t align with my core values. Now, forward almost 10 years, My wife and I are raising our kids through puberty and I have to admit, this challenge is not easy and seems to be even more difficult in that my own upbringing was very different. I find it hard to compare how I was raised with what I now must do for my own kids.

    With JWs, the child’s upbringing is basically managed through the religion. Meetings, books, magazines, videos, and other members of the congregation, they all push the same religious values and parents feel that their burden is made easy this way.

    But the truth is that this doesn’t work. Plenty of kids lead double lives and eventually get into horrible problems such as STDs, pregnancies, street gangs, and drugs, etc. To maintain the illusion of a spiritual paradise, JWs disfellowship these kids and keep them out of sight; some parents even end up throwing them out of their house and put all the burden of the “failure” on the kids who did not listen. They fail to understand that it is them and their approach that puts their kids at risk.

    Now that I’m a father, I realize I need to have a much stronger relationship with my kids than I ever had with my own Dad, who, by they way, I very much respect. The dynamics is different. While I would get a lot of teachings from my religion, now my kids get it solely from my wife and I. That makes it much more work, but I also believe that the reward is greater.

    For instance, instead of telling our kids “no” to girlfriends, we guide them on how to find and maintain healthy love relationships and how to avoid the dangers that come with this. It’s several hours of conversations and ironically makes me think of that bible passage that says: "talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise". Its constant communication. This week, I saw some positive results: my oldest kid ended a toxic relationship and took that decision by himself; we did not have to impose it on him.

    As our kids are still young, we’re at the very beginning of this battle and all we can do is show them the way, help them understand the benefits and the dangers, never giving up on them and, well, hope for the best.

    I felt I should share this experience here as it feels mysterious and uncertain due to our JW upbringing.

  • waton

    stephan, you still have to have a list of principles from your distant Pa st, that apply, and in which areas you want to be more liberal. the degrees of la liberte'

  • Overrated

    Well said. Wish my parents took a different approach without Watchtower.

  • StephaneLaliberte
    stephan, you still have to have a list of principles from your distant Past

    I agree! I explained to my kids that though we don't believe in religion anymore we still need to consider well known principles and values found within religious communities. A great many of these are well founded and beneficial while some others are down right harmful. We need to use better judgement and carefully weight to consequences of each actions.

  • truth_b_known


    Thanks for sharing. It is an important topic for the ex-JW community. I was say doubly so for those of us who are born-ins.

    My family situation is all over the place. I am a born-in. My wife joined about 2 years before we met and had a progressive upbringing. Our oldest and middle child was in until we became inactive followed by just being out. The oldest was exposed until he was about 12 and the middle child until about 4.

    Once we were out we flat out did not speak about religion at all unless the kids had questions. Our children seem to be extremely rational thinkers. At an early age our youngest told us of a conversation had with a fellow student about God. Our child who was about 5 at the time stated that God made no sense.

    Now my youngest is the family scientist. It surprised us when our child started to read books on eastern philosophy on his own. The oldest started meditation techniques.

    In short, our experience has been similar to yours, StephaneLaliberte. We chose to educate, but not dictate.

  • joe134cd

    It’s a question I’ve always battled. Weather a person who leaves the religion at an older age does better in the outside world compared to a person who leaves at a younger age. I also wonder if the reasons for leaving and dynamics are different as well,

  • Gorb

    Same situation here. We have twins, 11 years old. How rational and smart/ wise children can be without Awake University!

    My son brought up the point that everything has a start and ending and the jw standpoint of a God who was always there is absolute nonsens and wrong.

    And so much more. I enjoy the arguments they have.


  • cyberjesus

    what defines a good principle? what is a principle? a philosophy?

    JWs follow the religious philosphy imposed mainly by rutherford and franz.

    children copy their parents philosphy... and in its absence their friends or the movies or music.

  • smiddy3

    My teenage son of many years ago would argue that we are told that nothing comes from nothing.

    And that a GOD who has no beginning makes no sense..

    The elders would tell him not to overthink things as that would lead him out of the truth.

    A good post SL ,it is also true that many non Christian religions and other philosophies have good moral principles to live by .

    We dont need religion to be a good person with morals ,values and principles to live by.

  • zachias

    What a wonderful posting.

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