Parental Attachment & Church Experience

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hawkgrrrl
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Parental Attachment & Church Experience

Post by hawkgrrrl » 14 Feb 2019, 10:54

I did a post this week that I've been thinking about: https://wheatandtares.org/2019/02/13/pa ... xperience/

There are 4 types of parental attachment that affect how we respond to challenges in relationships in our lives, and our relationship with the church is like other relationships in many ways. The article explains the 4 types. My own life was mostly influenced by the Dismissive type. I don't mean to imply my parents were hostile, but I have frequently said I was raised by Vulcans. Affection and emotion were kept in deep check as is the case for many parents raised during the depression and then who survived WW2. There's a reason they are called the Silent Generation. Add to that the fact that they were old enough to be my grandparents and had already been parents for 20 years when I was born, and you can see how they might have been ready to live their own lives, not enduring another childhood and adolescence.

Children of Dismissive types often have a lot of self-confidence, independence, and self-reliance--all good qualities on the surface (coping mechanisms, really)--but they also have a hidden vulnerability and a tendency to reject connections with others at the first sign of unreliability or disloyalty and disaffiliate with groups, not wanting to depend on others. So when it comes to church, I think I have been able to weather certain storms pretty well because belonging to the group is not something I expect and that I fight against (I am also somewhat secretly introverted even though I can put on the extraversion pretty well). I expect to be on my own. I'm more comfortable being different and alone. And yet, I also chafe at authority because I have been disappointed in it all my life and seen myself as really operating as my own authority. I am highly critical of those in positions of power. This really makes me an oddball in our hero-worshiping church.

Do you find any of these parental attachment models illuminating in how you react to things at church?

AmyJ
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Re: Parental Attachment & Church Experience

Post by AmyJ » 15 Feb 2019, 07:30

I really enjoyed your article, thank you.

My parents wound up championing some form of the Free/Autonomous and Enmeshed / ambivalent styles. However, I wanted the consequences of a more Dismissive (hands-off) parenting style. I wanted to rely on my self to a certain degree (one way to ensure it gets done right is to do it yourself), and I am world-famous for walling off my emotions until they overflow and wreck havoc on my equilibrium. Growing up, I earned a lot of freedom to read whatever I wanted (above my grade level) - usually medical books or philosophy or my Dad's science fiction collection or my mom's cozy murder mysteries. Both of my parents were only children of alcoholics - so they mostly attempted to raise themselves. I am the oldest of 9 kids (including an intense additional needs child)- which was a lot... My parents were in over their heads, but we made it through. My mom dealt with what we would define as Chronic Major depression (and probably continuous post-partum depression because the younger ones were closely spaced) without acknowledging that she had a serious problem or getting medication for it. My dad ran his own second shift of house work after dealing with computers all day. I choose to spend my afternoons doing AP homework, snack time, chore time, supervising kid chore times, books/computer time, TV time, helping with making dinner, and church activities. I liked to help with making the grocery list and going grocery shopping with my dad.

In terms of my personal faith journey, ""Don't do something irrevocable or really stupid" and No Drama" are themes. The attachment styles I seem to be following are the Free/Autonomous and Dismissive styles. I don't have confidence that I am making the "right" decisions as would befit a Free/Autonomous attachment. I draw a lot more from the Dismissive attachment style as I am currently more in a relativist "anything goes" ish phase for defining right and wrong. Another way of putting it is that I currently believe there are few absolute "right" or "wrong" truths - and that truths about the nature of God are pretty much last on the list of things that I feel humans can know truth about. I am not dependent on God right now in the sense that I don't consult with God on my problems, and I don't expect answers from God. For God to reject me, it would mean that God had an existence that could and did get involved in my life and communicated with me on some level that I was able to understand and translate into my own terms. There was a time when I was going to church, going to my Pathways class, reading the scriptures and sometimes praying while being very confused and skeptical about God talking to us (even though I hoped God would) when I could not pinpoint vague thoughts as answers as definitively from God. I don't know that they weren't though. Ironically enough, it is during that time that I became closer to becoming an atheist rather than an agnostic. I don't fear rejection from God right now (waits for thunderbolts) because that godly act would provide information about God and open a communication channel. Am I rejecting God? I don't think so. I am open to answers from God, but I no longer accept 3rd party (believing on the testimonies/words of others) truths. I also no longer automatically assume that everything perceived as "good" is automatically from God (though it might be - I am not qualified to judge it). I also no longer assume that I get the full message or full meaning of any potential communication received from God.

I am upgrading my mask and preparing for the eventuality that other people in my LDS community to reject me. I deal with it with as much dignity, charity and perspective as I can muster. I am thankful that my husband is dealing with all this as gracefully as he has. I feel blessed to have people in my life that I can talk to about it, and my grandfather who set the example of what an agnostic life can look like. It's funny, but now I can look back to various conversations that I have had with my father, and I see snippets of what a more deist LDS lifestyle looks like.

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Re: Parental Attachment & Church Experience

Post by Heber13 » 16 Feb 2019, 03:33

Thanks Amy. Good response.

Do you think having freedom to think for yourself growing up brought you to where you are?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Parental Attachment & Church Experience

Post by AmyJ » 18 Feb 2019, 07:15

Yes/No/Maybe?

Yes, because I have always been a thinker - it is a survival technique of mine. My brain is not wired to get a lot of social/cultural/non-verbal information instantly. Whenever I enter a room or a conversation, I basically run a mental clinical diagnostic on everyone to determine their emotional states of the people involved (based on my incomplete observation methods, knowledge of the person(s)/situation(s), previous experiences and socially acceptable ways of gathering information). I have to think about things to get anywhere - and it has always been that way. My Dad is the same way, so it was easy for him to encourage the freedom of thought (in part as a means of social survival). My mom encouraged me to read and think because it was important to her that we be well-read and smart (all of us kids are smart). Plus, if I was busy reading and supervising the kids, I was out of trouble, and in range to intervene with the siblings if needed. My mom and husband run off how they feel dictates what they do. My dad and I tend to determine what needs to done/what is the best way of feeling before we can allow ourselves to the luxury of emotions.

I don't know what a purely emotional faith transition feels like. It might be some sort of reverse religious experience of abandonment. I know that the intensity is why we poorly label it a "faith crisis" and "the dark night of the soul". For me, it felt more like the rug being violently pulled out from under me repeatedly. It was intense, and frustrating (still is at times). But if I can develop a good paradigm for thinking through it, then I can go through it as easy as possible on myself (and everyone else).

I like to think that if I was supposed to end up here, I would have ended up here even if I hadn't had the freedom of thought I had growing up. BUT freedom of thought lead to my faith paradigm shift AND it is leading me the easiest path through it so far. Plus, having a wonderful agnostic grandfather showed me from a young age that it is possible to live a great life (even an ethical one) without God being involved - even if the church culture taught that wasn't possible. This situation can be viewed as a double-edged sword because a)it provided a means of stability and grounding to accept that there are other paths outside of the church and b) it diluted the "everyone must belong to this church" cultural message.

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Re: Parental Attachment & Church Experience

Post by Roy » 18 Feb 2019, 14:06

“They will expect to be supported and have confidence in their ability to make right decisions.”
As an adult and family man who had reached a fairly level and soft landing after a faith crisis, I asked my mother if she had ever worried about me during the early stages of the crisis. My mother responded, “You are big hearted person with a good head on your shoulders, I always knew that you would figure it out.” This vote of confidence in my internal compass and reasoning skills has been hugely empowering for me. I try to provide that same support for my own children.
I observe that my wife had a different upbringing and has a different outlook on God, church, and life in general.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Reuben
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Re: Parental Attachment & Church Experience

Post by Reuben » 18 Feb 2019, 19:39

My parents are the Dismissive type, and the description matches my reaction to the FC pretty well, but there might be a more important reason.

I was bullied for years. I learned that I couldn't trust anybody to recognize my worth. I learned to expect to be rejected over trivial things. By the time of my FC, I had mostly unlearned those false lessons from my youth. Now, every message of prejudice from the church drives those lessons home. This is half the reason I left. Right now, I don't handle being bullied very well.

The only real points of departure from the description, though, are these.

1. I get dispassionate and logical often because it's a good way for me to understand people.

2. I hadn't been afraid of being wrong for years, about pretty much anything, until I started to fear rejection again.
AmyJ wrote:
18 Feb 2019, 07:15
I like to think that if I was supposed to end up here, I would have ended up here even if I hadn't had the freedom of thought I had growing up.
I think you would have.

There's a collection of psychological processes that transfer beliefs and behaviors from a group to its members. One seemingly universal autistic trait is that the transfer works less well. (A research paper I read suggests that it has to do with self-categorization; i.e. "I'm a member of group X" comes less naturally or is less motivating.) This has its pros and cons. Con: conforming takes more effort. Pro: conforming is more of a choice.

I think you would have taken freedom of thought whether it was given to you or not.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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Re: Parental Attachment & Church Experience

Post by AmyJ » 20 Feb 2019, 10:36

Reuben wrote:
18 Feb 2019, 19:39
I learned that I couldn't trust anybody to recognize my worth.
I learned to expect to be rejected over trivial things.
For me, I don't expect others to recognize my worth because a) I don't really know it myself, b) it doesn't translate well. I expect people to recognize that I have worth (golden rule standard) and to try to understand my perception when given the opportunity.

I feel that being rejected over trivial things is a core part of being human. What is important to you may be trivial to me and vice versa, or shades in between. My life works better when I expect a certain measure of rejection over trivial things and seek best practices to resolve the differences.

In regards to bullying - humans are gonna human (which means try to bully each other).
  • I try not to be one. I try to identify who the bullies are and stay out of their way.
  • Most of the time, it is not socially beneficial for others to try to bully me because I don't have the power they are craving, I don't give them their power fix, and I quickly cheerfully agree with them or see their perspective and dissolve the conflict while respectfully holding my own ground.
  • I also catch people off-guard fairly regularly with what I say and how I think which may contribute to that.
As far as church wise, being female changes potential bullying dynamics. I suppose that there are people (mostly I interact with sisters which changes things) who might try to bully me - but I don't play games, I find positive solutions to fix problems (when I know about them) and there is a good chance that subtle bullying attempts have been ignored or gone over my head socially. I also don't think we attend enough functions to get really involved in church dynamics. I am not on the sister leadership call list (their loss), nor do I think that is likely to change (or that I want it to change - I got plenty of executive functioning stuff going on right now).
Reuben wrote:
18 Feb 2019, 19:39
AmyJ wrote:
18 Feb 2019, 07:15
I like to think that if I was supposed to end up here, I would have ended up here even if I hadn't had the freedom of thought I had growing up.
I think you would have.

There's a collection of psychological processes that transfer beliefs and behaviors from a group to its members. One seemingly universal autistic trait is that the transfer works less well. (A research paper I read suggests that it has to do with self-categorization; i.e. "I'm a member of group X" comes less naturally or is less motivating.) This has its pros and cons. Con: conforming takes more effort. Pro: conforming is more of a choice.

I think you would have taken freedom of thought whether it was given to you or not.
One of the things that clued me in that I had found people who were described as more like me than less like me was the specific number and types of social cultural obligations (makeup! Spending oodles of time on hair doing weird things to it with hot objects!) that females with a similar brain wiring skip out on as much as I do.

I was lucky in my parenting because it was expected that I would not fit in with my peers. I spent my teenage years bemoaning that fact regularly - and was told with love, "It's not going to happen - you are not wired to fit in and be like everyone else. Get over it. Be responsible, be compassionate, and be yourself as you make your way out into the world."

I found this quote on my mission and it really changed how I view myself and what to do about rejection:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/845 ... rn_to_Love

Even though I am not sure about God anymore, I think that being who we are (even though people are going to misunderstand and reject us) is worth it because it gives others the unconscious permission to be their best selves. I don't have the luxury of time worrying about other people's potential insecurities - either their insecurities are real and need to be dealt with collaboratively on some level (depending on the relationship) or I have the responsibility to build the relationship and do my part in that relationship so that those insecurities can be addressed and better protocols found.

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