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.