What's best for the kids?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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MayB
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What's best for the kids?

Post by MayB » 15 May 2013, 14:52

I have four children, ages 9, 7, 4, and 6 months. I no longer believe that the church is entirely what it professes to be and if it were just about me, I probably would be on my way out. But it's not just about me or even just about me and my husband (who has offered to study church history with me and then "cross that bridge when we come to it" regarding whether to stay or leave). I want to do what will be best for my children. I want them to be happy, healthy, productive adults one day and to still hold to high moral standards. I worry sometimes, that some of what is taught, or even drilled into, the kids in the church can be damaging to them and have seen evidences of it in my life and in my husband's. Two recent experiences with my kids have got me a bit upset and caused this worry to resurface.

We live in a warm climate. I recently bought a couple of tank-tops for my 7 year old daughter to wear on very hot days when she wants to play outside or go to the pool. One particularly warm day, I got it out for her to put on. She came down the stairs with tears in her eyes. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she had learned about modesty in primary and that this shirt doesn't cover her shoulders and so she can't wear it or Heavenly Father won't love her anymore. I explained to her that there is nothing immodest about her shoulders and that her Heavenly Father will always love her no matter what. She was still hesitant, but now wears the top on occasion.
My 9 year old came to me the other day crying and saying that he didn't want to go on a mission. I told him that a mission was a choice that he could make. He said that it's not a choice, but in primary they learned that every boy has to go on a mission when he turns 18 because the prophet said so. I asked him why he didn't want to go on a mission. He was terrified by the thought of having to leave his family and live in a place where he didn't know anyone for two years. We had a nice long conversation about how it most definitely is a choice whether or not to serve a mission and that he doesn't have to make that choice right now.

If we continue to stay in the church, I feel like I'm going to have to de-program my children every time they come home from primary. I also worry that one day, they'll learn the things I know now and wonder why I never told them.

So, what is best for the kids? Have any of you had experience raising your kids in the church when you no longer believe? Any and all experience or advice would be appreciated.

MayB
MayB

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 May 2013, 15:33

De-programming (or what I call debriefing, since it's less loaded emotionally) is part of life and one of the core responsibilities of parenthood. I do it all the time with my kids when we or they hear things at church with which I disagree (and I agree with more than I disagree, taken collectively). It's important to me to raise independent thinkers, even if they end up thinking differently than I do - and the debriefing actually helps me accomplish that.

Ironic, I know, but it's true.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Kumahito
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Kumahito » 15 May 2013, 18:25

FWIW, I "debrief" my son all the time, and not just about Church. He comes home from school with tidbits about history, science, grammar and mathematics that aren't correct, and he and I talk about them. His friends tell him things that aren't correct or true. And, yes, sometimes he is taught things in Primary that I don't believe are correct. Rather than just tell him what's right or wrong about what he's been taught, we go to the whiteboard and work out the math problem, or look up the history in books or on-line. In short, I don't cede the instruction of my son on any subject to anyone else. Other people (school, Primary, etc.) help me in teaching my son, but ultimately my wife and I are responsible for him.
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
- Oscar Wilde

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Cadence
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What's best for the kids?

Post by Cadence » 15 May 2013, 21:42

FWIW I raised 4 kids in the church. Three are now married with kids. Looking back on it I can say there were a few good things about the church for my kids but if I could do it over again I would run like hell from the church while they were still young. There was just to much crap they had to overcome as they got older.

Contrary to statements by many that the church is a great place to raise kids I beg to differ and say it is a mediocre place to raise kids. The benefits do not outweigh the baggage they will have to deal with. Now if your kids fit that Mormon mold maybe it will work for them. If they are remotely unhappy at church get them away from it.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 15 May 2013, 23:00

If we continue to stay in the church, I feel like I'm going to have to de-program my children every time they come home from primary. I also worry that one day, they'll learn the things I know now and wonder why I never told them.
You definitely do have to do this, and as others have pointed out, not just at church. Here are some non-church examples:
-My second son came home from a friend's house talking about how with Pres. Obama being elected they were going to have to change it to "The Black House" instead of "The White House." We had to explain why this was racist and disrespectful and didn't reflect our values as a family or as Americans.
-Living in Asia, most of us have live in Filipino maids, and their values differ from ours. One friend said her daughter refused to go to the pool because it was sunny and she didn't want her skin to get darker.

As your kids get older, their values start to form. Some of their values will be like yours and some won't. I was proud that my son joined the GSA group (Gay Straight Alliance) at his high school. He's not gay, but he feels it's important to protect everyone's rights equally. When we came to Asia, there was an anti-bullying spirit day where kids were encouraged to wear purple. He and a friend from the church got into a disagreement because his friend said that anti-bullying and wearing purple was just an excuse to promote the gay agenda (!). My son completely and confidently disagreed with him. I guaran-damn-tee you that kid was just repeating what he had heard at home.

You have to keep these discussions open with your kids because they need to think these things through for themselves, not just repeat what you or other adults say. The church likes to teach that we need to keep "the world" at bay by teaching values in the home. We also have to keep "the world" at bay by deprogramming them from the nonsense they sometimes hear at church. To your two issues:
- the modesty rhetoric is out of control right now in the church. Children are not capable of being immodest. They are children. You might enjoy this article: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org ... /#comments
- you handled the mission thing just right with your son. There are also quite a few bishops who took about 24 hours to mull over the church's advice that 18 is not for everyone to start pressuring every 18 year old boy to get his papers sent it NOW. Mormons gotta Morm.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 15 May 2013, 23:05

Here is another great post for you to consider: http://www.chattingatthesky.com/2013/05 ... ou-to-say/

What I think is most important between parents and kids is to make sure your kids know that you care about who they really are, not what they can do for the church or the persona they put on, or what their friends think of them. If they can become comfortable in their own skin, they will do well in life. They shouldn't ever have to put on a show at home. And honestly, we all have to quit putting one on at church, too. It just takes practice and confidence. Families are where it should be OK to be yourself. I don't understand these families where people are forced to fit a mold or not accepted. It's so unhealthy. But it's certainly not just a Mormon thing.

Ann
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Ann » 15 May 2013, 23:15

MayB wrote: I also worry that one day, they'll learn the things I know now and wonder why I never told them.
This is a big problem for me, too. It's complicated by the fact that I don't know what to make of a lot of what I've learned and by the fact that my husband and I are on different pages to some extent.

So, in the meantime, we debrief, sometimes all together, sometimes not. My girls tend to come to me, especially on the subject of Leaders Gone Wild with modesty.

A couple of other suggestions that come from 20/20 hindsight: Have a home culture that is stronger than church culture. That takes some doing. Have substantial friendships with non-members.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

church0333
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by church0333 » 16 May 2013, 01:23

Talk to the older kids about some of the issues that concern you but do it in front of all the kids so that it becomes part of their learning from the start. If kids know about the issues at a young age then it won't be such a shock when they get older. Help your kids learn at the youngest age possible that all people don't have to think a like and also try to remember that when other are teaching things you don't believe that they are just doing the best that they know how or the things that they were taught. They aren't bad people just a little misinformed. I get mad at church a lot and I have to remind myself that I was like that for most of my life and my intentions were never to do harm.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 May 2013, 09:27

You might like this post, MayB:

"Teaching Children to Build a Faith That Will Last: Disagreeing with Something Said at Church" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2013 ... -that.html)
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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MayB
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Re: What's best for the kids?

Post by MayB » 16 May 2013, 15:20

Thank you for all your responses and suggestions. I'll be looking at the recommended posts. I already read and love fMh. I know that no one in the church says or does any of these things with bad intentions. I have to remind myself of that often. I guess what I really worry about is what Cadence mentioned.
Cadence wrote: There was just to much crap they had to overcome as they got older.
I've seen this in the lives of my siblings who all have major psychological issues that stem from the way we were raised. I know a lot of it has to do with our parents and their dysfunctional relationship, but some of it also has to do with church culture and expectations. Only 2 of the 5 of us still attend church at all.
I've also seen it in my own life and my husband's. For me, I was always told to do the best I could and set high goals for my education and a career until I got married. Then there was this intense pressure to quit school, stay home and have babies. I love my children, but I hate that I gave in. Then I always felt guilty because I didn't love being at home and I just didn't fit the mold of what a good Mormon woman should be. It took me nearly 8 years for me to finally get back to school and finish my B.S. degree and I'll be starting a master's this fall. Now I work very part time(once or twice a month) in something that doesn't require me to utilize day care or other babysitting. After my Master's, I hope to work a bit more, although still part time.
As for my husband, his parents are very strict in their interpretations of the gospel and the church. Their entire lives revolve around it. His father is a patriarch and now a temple sealer. My husband was made to feel guilty and filthy because of the natural functions of the male body that every teenager experiences. He was not allowed to do things with his friends unless it was church related. His parents frequently left him and his four siblings home alone for hours while they attended the temple. He was not permitted to go on more than one date with any one girl. His mom freaks out if he wears anything other than a white shirt and tie to church or to administer a blessing. The list could go on and on. And now that we have four of their five grandchildren, they try to project some of this onto them. Every birthday card they send gushes about how they are so proud of the way the kids are going to church or getting baptized or how in so many years they can get the priesthood and go on a mission. They don't see my kids as individuals or compliment them on their accomplishments outside of church.

While I understand that the parenting style of me and my husband will have the most influence on our children, I guess I still worry. I worry about everything. It's just my nature.
MayB

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