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Looking For Advice - And Trying To Get Perspective


Maestrophil

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Hi all,

 

I had a conversation with my 16 year-old son last night that has been weighing heavily on my heart, and wanted to come here to get the usual great advice and perspective...

 

I caught him sluffing seminary and when I finally had time to sit and ask him why, he told me "I've been looking into the church and going my whole life, and I'm DONE.  I don't know why you force me to go to seminary.  I am only going to stop going to church when I am 18 anyway"  I explained calmly to him that, as a father, I "force" him to go to school and brush his teeth.  I kept calm and told him I love and respect his agency, and that when he is an adult, I will respect his choices and love him regardless of beliefs or lack of.  But my heart was aching...

 

He mentioned that he has issues with the church.  I asked what kind of issues.  He said "Well the founder had affairs on his wife... that's like one of the worst sins..."  I calmly said that some people I love and respect believe that, and some, including me, have differeing views.  At that point he stopped talking, and I, not wanting to lecture too much, ended the conversation...

 

There are other factors too, but that is good enough to get started.   I would love opinions and advice on how to proceed with him, and how to not let is get me down...

 

Any takers?

 

Thanks!

 

Phillip

 

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That's tough.

 

Is he the type that is willing to read and study things?  If he is, you might be able to bargain with him by stating that you would be more willing to discussing his seminary attendance if he is willing to openly talk to you about his issues and read and study them for himself.  That won't guarantee the outcome of course, but I guess at least you would know his sources and be able to make sure that his info is as accurate as possible.

 

My kids are 11,9, and 6 months though so I'm not going to pretend I have any real idea how to handle this kind of thing. 

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You need to continue to love him, but be careful not to get in the way. This looks like a situation where the Lord is going to need to work on him for a bit, so as you love your son and petition the Lord on his behalf, that will give your son the best chance of regaining the proper perspective concerning the church. Let him know that once he is ready to discuss his concerns with the church, that you will be glad to do so with him and that you will do so as lovingly and as non-judgmentally as possible.

 

This worked for us when we had the same situation. The Lord came through in a rather miraculous manner; we just had to put things in His hands and trust Him with our son, and let go from "trying to fix it". After all, He had trusted us with him when he was born to us; it was time to let Him work with our son when there was nothing else we could do.

 

Exercising faith in God does produce miracles.

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Bluebell...  He is not a reader, or even very studious... That is why I suspect that he got his information from the internet.  There are plenty of people close to him who could be feeding him information derogatory to the church (including potentially his mother and step-dad).  He is a great kid with a great heart.  He said he does believe in God and prayer, but that is about it.  I told him that is a better foundation than a lot of floks have. 

 

Jwhitlock, Thanks for your story.  I am trying hard to take that approach.  It is so hard to let go, and my wife is much more heavy handed than I am, and I often feel pressure from her to 'clamp down' 

 

More than anything, I can't really stop thinking about it today and feeling a bit sad...

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Just an observation - if his mother is really clamping down, and you're trying hard to love him and respect him, eventually a light bulb is going to on in his head about who he should be paying attention to.

 

It is hard to let go - it's one of the hardest things in the world to do - but in doing so, you can be sure that the Lord then can have free reign to work with power in your son's life.

 

It's not that you abdicate responsibility for guiding him; he will still need appropriate structure and boundaries as a teenager, according to his situation. However, he needs to feel empowered in order to make his own decisions where it concerns the church and to be unconditionally respected and loved through the process. He will learn how to trust you with the questions he has when he knows you're not going to clamp down on him for not being orthodox, so to speak. 

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Maybe just being in your face open about church history would help.  He is probably being told that we lie about it and is unaware of all of the work dedicated Mormons are doing in uncovering it.  Perhaps an approach of...'that is a reasonable concern, would you like to research it before coming to a conclusion' would help...doing only one at a time so that he can concentrate on one thing long enough to see that he isn't getting complete information from the other side...sometimes just seeing that there really is a reasonable response when all the facts are known makes them more likely to distrust sniping.   My favorite quote is from Teryl Givens where he talks about the parable of the donkey who starved to death when presented with two equal piles of hay because he couldn't make a decision.  There isn't a lack of evidence on both sides...ultimately we have to make a choice.  But we can't make a choice unless we acknowledge both piles of evidence.

Edited by juliann
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I, too, lack direct experience with this kind of thing, so take my comments for what they may be worth, or not.  You're on the right track assuring him that you will love him no matter what.  You might remind him of any experiences he has had with the Spirit recently, ask whether he feels the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has borne any good fruit in his life, and remind him that a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit (imperfections and mistakes of leaders notwithstanding [accepting, for the sake of argument, that polygyny or its implementation fall into one of those categories]).  Historically (and I'm sure you know this), polygyny was as hard for many of the Saints to give up as it might have been for many of them to live: just because relationships don't fit neatly into modern categories doesn't mean that those who lived this principle loved their spouses any less.

 

As for his overall attitude toward the Church of Jesus Christ, I say, never give up hope.  Until two years ago when he was paralyzed from the chest down in an accident, my older half brother didn't have much use for the Church.  Since then, he has received both the Aaronic & Melchizedek Priesthoods and is preparing to receive his Endowment in the Temple.  However far your son may stray, and as unlikely as his return might seem, never give up hope.

 

My $0.02. :)

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Hi all,

 

I had a conversation with my 16 year-old son last night that has been weighing heavily on my heart, and wanted to come here to get the usual great advice and perspective...

 

I caught him sluffing seminary and when I finally had time to sit and ask him why, he told me "I've been looking into the church and going my whole life, and I'm DONE.  I don't know why you force me to go to seminary.  I am only going to stop going to church when I am 18 anyway"  I explained calmly to him that, as a father, I "force" him to go to school and brush his teeth.  I kept calm and told him I love and respect his agency, and that when he is an adult, I will respect his choices and love him regardless of beliefs or lack of.  But my heart was aching...

 

He mentioned that he has issues with the church.  I asked what kind of issues.  He said "Well the founder had affairs on his wife... that's like one of the worst sins..."  I calmly said that some people I love and respect believe that, and some, including me, have differeing views.  At that point he stopped talking, and I, not wanting to lecture too much, ended the conversation...

 

There are other factors too, but that is good enough to get started.   I would love opinions and advice on how to proceed with him, and how to not let is get me down...

 

Any takers?

 

Thanks!

Phillip

Before attempting to address this most difficult situation, I'm wondering if, apart

from the Church, the boy is generally happy, demonstrably loving, and doing well in

school?

Edited by teddyaware
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Like some others here... I have no children so my perspective is limited...

 

However... I went inactive at about age 20 and didn't reactivate again until I was 55 years old.  During all those years, my mom and dad never judged me or turned away from me... they continued to love me.  It wasn't that I wasn't believing... I met and married a wonderful non-LDS man and as often happens slipped into inactivity... but that broke my parents hearts... they finally came to love my husband dearly.  But I know my mom wore out her knees praying for me... but she exercised faith and continued to love me...

It was her unexpected death (that I told about today on another thread) that sent me back to Church.  The heartache I have is that she never knew that I turned back to Church... I'm counting that she knows now...

It took over 30 yars for me to turn around... all I can do is encourage you, as others have, to continue to love your son... try and give him correct information... and contnue to pray for him and trust in the Lord.  It will be more difficult because of his "issues," which I didn't really have...

 

GG

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Before attempting to address this most difficult situation, I'm wondering if, apart

from the Church, the boy is generally happy, demonstrably loving, and doing well in

school?

It has been 4 years since my divorce and 3 or so since my remarriage.  My kids all have some amount of anger and confusion in general .  This particular son has never been great acidemically, but he tries hard, and is a good hearted boy.  I feel they are reticent to share things with me - thier mother often tells them that one of the reasons we divorced is that she felt I was too overbearing with my expectations of her in regards to the church, and she tells me that I am going to drive them away.  The reality is, their mother broke her temple covenants, and I STILL offered to stay in the marriage as it was a temple sealing - yet I fear the well has been poisoned and can't help think that contributes to my son's disposition.

 

 

I appreciate everyone's encouragement - thanks so much

 

Edited to add - so in resonse directly to your question - he seems about a normal teenage boy.  No severe acting out or trouble outside of this issue.

Edited by Maestrophil
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What I would recommend is that you start having a fhe yourself.  Teach him that it is alright to have questions.   Read the scriptures together about those who have questions.   Contrast what happens to those who question rebelliously and those who question faithfully.   Talk specifically about each member's obligation to do due diligence and not to follow blindly, and the blessing that come from doing that (namely the Nephi getting his own vision.   Teach him how faithful members read and hear things and how they reconcile them.

 

Teach him about the bias that is in history  books and about seeking original sources.   Teach him about how we can think things are X and then we learn more and learn that it is Y.  Use examples from his life time.  or at least your lifetime.

 

At the moment he thinks that people who know what he knows reject the church.   What you want to do is give him the tools so he no longer is in that paradigm.  You want him to see that history is written by the survivors and that historians rarely claim that IT is the way things happened.   Ask him what he thinks someone would piece together about his life from talk with his enemies and friends and family.   Maybe do it together about someone in your community.   Help him see nuances, and faith and how hard it is to know fully someone else.  

 

Show him in the church manual for Wilford Woodruff (intro and the lesson the temple) that they got the sealings wrong and it was straightened out so that people were sealed to their own ancestors, not the church leaders and we don't know how many of the relationships were really just sealings.  

 

Give him access to the Brian hale books.  

 

Talk about the BofA, and about Elijah Abel.

 

Help him understand that counting on people for our testimonies is almost always ultimately foolish because men and women are human.   And his faith needs to be in God.

 

Be sure that he fully understands the atonement, and if he is prone to perfectionism, get him Sue Bergin's book on the subject.

 

But most of all, spend lots of time doing service for others together.  Take him (and one or two of his friends sometimes) with you to give blessings, and to work in the harvest on someone's farm.   You have a lot greater likelihood of having real conversation as you ride somewhere together regularly, and work together to accomplish something for someone.

 

PS.  I would tell him that I would require continued seminary because even if he ulttimately rejects the church, which you hope he won't, you would want him to have done so with full opportunity to be taught what God wants him to learn as a youth.  

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Oh, and to the extent that you are at fault with being too rigid in your thinking, talk about that too.  Talk him about what you have learned about the Lord's love since your divorce.   Maybe get him "When Your Prayers seem unanswered" by wilcox.  Help him know and love His savior, to the extent he is open to that sort of discussion.    Maybe write it in a letter for him if he misunderstands what you say.

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My son is a junior in high school and wants to quit seminary. He's been skipping and coming home and helping my son in law at work. He's experiencing depression, I think. I've been in contact with his seminary teacher. He gave the same kind of advice that has been said already on here, to let the Lord work with him and encourage but that's it, not force. He is an awesome seminary teacher.

I guess my son was allowed to sleep, read the newspaper, and recently walked out of class with a girl that was upset about the lesson about not drinking coffee, she apparently likes to drink it. I guess they thought the church judges too much. I was really embarrassed for my sons actions, had no idea he was allowed to be such a rebel. Just be glad your son hasn't done those things.

So we'll see, maybe he'll go back. I even told his teacher about my faith struggle and that I may be part of the problem. And my son may sense it. I think it could be a stage, try to love him through.

My oldest daughter rebelled quite a bit and got married super young to get out of the house, because I was so strict, I probably worried too much about what people thought. So I'm trying not to repeat that mistake.

Good luck! Sometimes kids can make us crazy, huh!?

ETA: Come to think of it, my daughter didn't really rebel much, I just made mountains out of mole hills. Is he your oldest?

Edited by Tacenda
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It has been 4 years since my divorce and 3 or so since my remarriage.  My kids all have some amount of anger and confusion in general .  This particular son has never been great acidemically, but he tries hard, and is a good hearted boy.  I feel they are reticent to share things with me - thier mother often tells them that one of the reasons we divorced is that she felt I was too overbearing with my expectations of her in regards to the church, and she tells me that I am going to drive them away.  The reality is, their mother broke her temple covenants, and I STILL offered to stay in the marriage as it was a temple sealing - yet I fear the well has been poisoned and can't help think that contributes to my son's disposition.

 

 

I appreciate everyone's encouragement - thanks so much

 

Edited to add - so in resonse directly to your question - he seems about a normal teenage boy.  No severe acting out or trouble outside of this issue.

... but the divorce has left scars. Unfortunately, it's likely that in your son's mind the Church, and

the Restored Gospel, factored large in the demise of the family unit and in the brokenheartedness and

sorrows that attend that demise. I know this is an unfair way to think, but he may think this way

nonetheless.

Just a thought, as you try to improve your relationship with your son, it might be a good idea to avoid

bringing the up the subject of God and the religion all the time. In other words, deal with him one on one without using God and religion as intermediary presences that might come between you and your boy

as you try to develop a relationship of genuine closeness. For example, instead of saying things like

"I know God loves you," say "I love you." And instead of saying things like "the Lord will forgive

you, " say things like "I forgive you." You get the point...

Now this doesn't mean you should eliminate the Church and religion from your discourse with him.

But it does mean that that you should do what's necessary to be sure that in his mind you quite simply love him and that you do so without needing any prodding from God and religion to make that happen.

Then, after he knows you love and delight in him apart from any regard to your religious beliefs and

sensibilities, it will be easier to bring God and the Gospel into your conversations.

Edited by teddyaware
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... but the divorce has left scars. Unfortunately, it's likely that in your son's mind the Church, and

the Restored Gospel, factored large in the demise of the family unit and in the brokenheartedness and

sorrows that attend that demise. I know this is an unfair way to think, but he may think this way

nonetheless.

Just a thought, as you try to improve your relationship with your son, it might be a good idea to avoid

bringing the up the subject of God and the religion all the time. In other words, deal with him one on one without using God and religion as intermediary presences that might come between you and your boy

as you try to develop a relationship of genuine closeness. For example, instead of saying things like

"I know God loves you," say "I love you." And instead of saying things like the "Lord will forgive

you, " say things like "I forgive you." You get the point...

Now this doesn't mean you should eliminate the Church and religion from your discourse with him.

But it does mean that that you should do what's necessary to be sure that in his mind you quite simply love him and that you do so without needing any prodding from God and religion to make that happen.

Then, after he knows you love and delight in him apart from any regard to your religious beliefs and

sensibilities, it will be easier to bring God and the Gospel into your conversations.

This is great advice, I'll take some for myself, as my son is anti church but hopefully not God. The other night I tried to get him to read scriptures as part of the Advent, until Christmas. He was so upset, I didn't persist any longer, but enough of me. Again, excellent advice Teddyaware! Edited by Tacenda
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I am so sorry you and your son are having to go through this.  I haven't had this problem but have a daughter because of health issues who hasn't been able to even begin to fulfill the dreams I had for her in regards to education and just having a normal life.  The idea that someday she could get married and have a family of her own like she seems to want (we don't talk much about what might be, we try to focus on what is good about Now) or have other people in her life to fill it with interest and fun and love seems impossible right now.  It hurts when you see your children sabotaging themselves from having all the joy and wonder they could have.  But what is most important is that they feel happiness and love and peace in what they are doing now in their life, not that they are fulfilling what you once hoped for them.

 

Sorry for the rambling nature...I am writing as I come up with ideas rather than being organized...and throwing stuff out there in hopes that it might trigger an idea for you as everything we say may not work for you, your situation is unique and you will need to tailor it to your son's needs.  Getting as much information about where he is at not only from him (he might not be willing to share) but also others would be helpful, but you need to be careful that your son doesn't feel you are checking up on him or getting his leaders and friends to turn him into a 'project' if he is a typical teen.  You probably know a lot of this stuff I and others are saying already, especially if it deals with your wife and how your relationship with her affects your relationship with your son.  You sound like you are pretty realistic and understanding of the limitations and needs her influence on him may place on you.

 

At lot depends on where he is at and how he sees life in general at this certain age...how far along his doubts have been developing...is he past the questioning stage and into the 'I am certain the Church is bunk' stage...or is he at an earlier point where giving more information might be too much for him as it may seem to confirm his doubts and instead you need to work on overall perceptions and getting him to see that there are more ways to look at life than just two.

 

You might want to join the FairMormonSupport message board that got started recently.  We set it up for people like you as much as for those asking questions for themselves.  A lot of people at FairMormon have or are having the same family problems as you are experiencing...it is one reason some seek out and join FairMormon.  You can take it completely private as well if you don't want to share family issues publicly or want to protect your son's privacy.  Perhaps even your son would be interested.  We have a number of very sharp, very knowledgeable, good humoured and wonderful young men (college aged, some who even joined before college IIRC) who perhaps he would enjoy talking with in a private conversation on the board.

 

I really like what Teddy had to say.  Eventually (and that may be quite soon or a long time, look to your son for the cues) you might be able to ask your son at a moment when he brings up the subject how open he is to talking about religion with you...maybe just God in general.

 

I would also talk to the seminary teacher and make sure he/she is not the type that will make things worse and (that seminary itself is worth it if it is causing this conflict...from my own experience, three out of the four teachers...total waste of time, it would have been better to make a deal with my mom to sit down and take to her for a hour a week about topics), but will be supportive of you with whatever you decide to approach it.  I wouldn't assume that his going to seminary is a no argument point, but consider ways that it can contribute to opening the situation up in positive ways between you and him (I wouldn't just say 'okay,you don't have to go' but perhaps talk to him about what he would preferred to do instead of seminary...something that contributes to making him a better person, not necessarily more learned in the LDS faith...perhaps doing volunteer work for the same amount of time each week for example, whether organized or helping in the neighbourhood or volunteering for the literacy program at the local library).  

 

Perhaps shifting to doing seminary on independent study would be an option (this is what I did for my last year, I don't know how hard it is to do that nowadays).  Is he planning to go to BYU (if he's not much of a student/reader, perhaps he won't have the grades so he sees seminary as a total waste of time if he's not planning on going to BYU)?  Besides learning about the Church, is there any reason why seminary would be valuable for him?  Is he close to any kids in it?  If so, are these kids having the same issues or will they be more supportive to staying involved in church? 

 

Have you talked to his YMs leaders and seen how he is doing with that and if they are the kind that will work with you rather than being confrontative and drawing lines with your son...assuming he is going?

 

 

If he wants to talk about it and won't do the research himself, you might suggest to him he come up with one question a week for you to research and then discuss with him.  Deal with the negatives he talks to you about, but I wouldn't necessarily go into more criticisms if he doesn't bring them up just to prove to him you will look at all the information yourself, rather just be ready as possible to deal with the criticisms when he brings them up so he knows you are familiar with it.  Be prepared for 'gotchas' if he is antagonistic at all, a pulling out of information for the purpose of throwing you off balance, showing his superior knowledge...when you are able to respond calmly, even enthusiastically interested in the conversation giving even more information than he threw out there...well, let me tell you from experience after a few of those 'this isn't turning out like I expected', the gotchas likely will tend to disappear...hopefully to be replaced a more thoughtful exchange, but it just may be enough to lessen the tendency to have arguments and challenges which can definitely improve the overall relationship (speaking from experience with and observation of an extended family member here).  Going to FairMormon, the Church's JSP projects and other stuff and anything else you can think of will give you thorough information...but never be afraid to say "no one really knows what happened or why, but here is my own best reconstruction and why...you may come up with a different conclusion, but I hope you take the time to look at all sides before deciding" or even say "yeah, I think the Church leadership may have been wrong about that, but that is what continuing revelation is for...".  Don't create walls by insisting that his view is unacceptable or naive or whatever, but rather create an environment of more information is better than less.  I think in the long run, if he has a negative view of an issue already, giving more information even if some of it is critical is better than just shutting down the issue as "well, we will just have to disagree about that one"...even if that has to be the current stalemate, keeping the conversation open is very important, helping him see his doubts or his negative criticisms as something less than the best, final conclusion wil be essential to helping him open up his mind again.

 

If he doesn't want to talk about but is willing to hang out with you, then perhaps increasing activities between the two of you so he is reassured that he is still okay with you would be an option.  I wouldn't call it FHE as if i were in his situation that sounds like the what is claimed to be the standard solution of telling someone to just increase doing everything the Church is telling you to do and everything will be fine.  I would also make sure for all religiously oriented things (at least LDS) you might initiate with him (if any), that you include a number of new nonreligious activities so that he feels it is rather an increase of love rather than an increase of faith being shoved upon him.

 

Is he attending early morning or is it during the day?  Does he plan on going to BYU?  

 

Is he living with you or with his mom?  If with you, how much contact does he have with his mom?  If with her, how much with you?  I assume that his mom is no longer a member?  Is she involved in any religious activities at all?

 

Perhaps he would enjoy going to a Christmas mass at a Catholic Church or other religious activities that aren't LDS...this may give opportunities to talk about faith and God without the negativity he apparently feels toward the LDS faith.  It would also help make it clear that you care more about him finding something that works for him rather than him fitting the mold you want for him.

 

If your wife is working on him to leave the Church, you may need to work hard at finding a way to construct this as something completely different than a fight between you and her with him as the prize....which can be hard if she is presenting it that way even if you aren't.  Not engaging any hints of this whether it is direct from her or through your son is probably best...and this may mean you have to move completely away from church stuff for awhile.  It is most likely best to avoid any gameplaying that may be going on...you can't control the rules, what happens out of your sight, etc.  Too unpredictable and uncontrollable and thus too full of potential for unintentional damage.

 

Some of this stuff may not have anything to do with your situation, hopefully nothing I or others have said sounds like we are criticizing your situation...there is no way we can know enough to have even a slightly reliable judgment about it.  However, sometimes it can be helpful to look to others for brainstorming to get just a tidbit of an idea that will work for you...which seems to be why you posted this in the first place.   :)  Something that opens a door for the Spirit to lead you to where you need to go on this...even if it is simply peace that you know the Lord is sorrowing with you over your son's stuggles and wants him to have joy and peace and love as much as you do and he wants the same for you as well.  I hope that your own answers come sooner rather than later, there are few pains as hard to bear as watching your children suffer in my experience.

Edited by calmoriah
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Love him. And love him more. In order for him to experience God, he must experience God's love through you.  Believe that he is capable of doing good and his goodness is needed in building the kingdom of God. Pray for him and with him.  Your friendship with your son is his opportunity to become friends with Christ. I was once worried for my son, until I heard his patriarchal blessing.  For a long time, he wasn't ready to receive it. We waited and waited until it was his decision. Today, he is changed and he has set spiritual goals for himself. He respects the pronouncements of his patriarchal blessings and it has been a great help in allowing him to choose the better ways and things in his life. Be patient like Alma and above all, be worthy also to listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost so he can guide and help you in guiding and helping your son. There is no greater power that can bring heaven on earth than that of a righteous priesthood holder. Good luck. Spend time with him. Remember why you work so hard.

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This is great advice, I'll take some for myself, as my son is anti church but hopefully not God. The other night I tried to get him to read scriptures as part of the Advent, until Christmas. He was so upset, I didn't persist any longer, but enough of me. Again, excellent advice Teddyaware!

Thanks Tacenda. Unfortunately, what happens in dysfunctional LDS families is that the attempts to practice the religion itself become an integral part of the dysfuctionality.

Though God, the Church and the LDS religion cannot rightly be blamed for the family's problems, a troubled LDS family dynamic can cause the Church to appear to be part and

parcel to the family's problems. When this happens the whole Church experienced can become emotionally and psychologically toxic for some of the family members, especially

the kids.

So in this kind of toxic family environment, it might be better for the parents to

stop using the Church and the commandments of God as a sort of bludgeon to guilt young

people into compliance. And it might also be better to stop trying to use the constant mentioning of God and religion as a means to heal the family rifts. This doesn't mean

the parent shouldn't seek the influence and help of Spirit in his or her interactions

with the family, but it does indicate that a more subtle approach might be

in order. In short, the children should know the parents deeply love them even if

religion is left completely out of the picture.

Edited by teddyaware
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Great suggestions all. I appreciate your input and kindness.

I agree that, sadly, my kids likely do see the church as a contributor to the divorce. Especially since their mother tells the kids the church (not just me but all members) is too rigid and critical and that she and her husband (the one who helped break up the family) are so much more liberated now. I have physical custody and they see their mom every other weekend and sometimes during the week. And every Sunday with her is another Saturday - movies, restaurants, boating - it is hard for my home with chores, school, rules, sabbath observance, etc to look "fun" in comparison.

As to talking to his leaders, I am his YM president. I have talked to my bishop about both my sons (this son is my middle, my other son gives me concerns that could be a whole new thread).

I like the suggestions about giving him a little break from discussing gospel things. It is tempting to want to just talk about it until it is 'fixed'. Which of course, is not realistic. The ironic thing is, I have always been seen as pretty low key by most people in regards to gospel rigidity. Many members have even seen my positions and demeanor as too liberal and free thinking. It wasn't until my ex wife's indiscretions were revealed that she started painting me as some totalitarian.

I love my sons, and we spend a lot of good time together. Thanks for all of your reminders that that needs to remain my focus and comfort as I trust in Heavenly Father to lead me and my family in His time.

Thank you for all the thoughtful time you have put in here so far. I am reading and re reading all your posts and appreciating the insight, help and support!

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Thanks Tacenda. Unfortunately, what happens in dysfunctional LDS families is that the attempts to practice the religion itself become an integral part of the dysfuctionality.

Though God, the Church and the LDS religion cannot rightly be blamed for the family's problems, a troubled LDS family dynamic can cause the Church to appear to be part and

parcel to the family's problems. When this happens the whole Church experienced can become emotionally and psychologically toxic for some of the family members, especially

the kids.

So in this kind of toxic family environment, it might be better for the parents to

stop using the Church and the commandments of God as a sort of bludgeon to guilt young

people into compliance. And it might also be better to stop trying to use the constant mentioning of God and religion as a means to heal the family rifts. This doesn't mean

the parent shouldn't seek the influence and help of Spirit in his or her interactions

with the family, but it does indicate that a more subtle approach might be

in order. In short, the children should know the parents deeply love them even if

religion is left completely out of the picture.

I can picture God up there, thinking "shut up" and just show by example!! 

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Great suggestions all. I appreciate your input and kindness.

I agree that, sadly, my kids likely do see the church as a contributor to the divorce. Especially since their mother tells the kids the church (not just me but all members) is too rigid and critical and that she and her husband (the one who helped break up the family) are so much more liberated now. I have physical custody and they see their mom every other weekend and sometimes during the week. And every Sunday with her is another Saturday - movies, restaurants, boating - it is hard for my home with chores, school, rules, sabbath observance, etc to look "fun" in comparison.

As to talking to his leaders, I am his YM president. I have talked to my bishop about both my sons (this son is my middle, my other son gives me concerns that could be a whole new thread).

I like the suggestions about giving him a little break from discussing gospel things. It is tempting to want to just talk about it until it is 'fixed'. Which of course, is not realistic. The ironic thing is, I have always been seen as pretty low key by most people in regards to gospel rigidity. Many members have even seen my positions and demeanor as too liberal and free thinking. It wasn't until my ex wife's indiscretions were revealed that she started painting me as some totalitarian.

I love my sons, and we spend a lot of good time together. Thanks for all of your reminders that that needs to remain my focus and comfort as I trust in Heavenly Father to lead me and my family in His time.

Thank you for all the thoughtful time you have put in here so far. I am reading and re reading all your posts and appreciating the insight, help and support!

Oh, be so grateful that you have that relationship with your kids!  My bro in law has a very sad situation with his ex wife.  She had an affair on him. This was for several years with the same man.  All the while holding a current TR, I went to the temple with her as a family.  But the sick thing...she turned the boys against my BIL.  The only son that will spend time with him, is his oldest.  I don't quite understand it.  How she was able to manipulate them like that.  She is narcissistic.  So I hope this gives you some relief, just knowing that you do have some influence with your children vs. none and a relationship.  Not to get joy from others pain, but just wanted you to maybe put the church aside as far as your relationship, and concentrate on them.           

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  Not to get joy from others pain, but just wanted you to maybe put the church aside as far as your relationship, and concentrate on them.           

 

I don't think he needs to "put the church aside" completely... But I agree he should try to (as he says) not succumb to talking about it, trying to fix it... and simply live the gospel in such a way that they see the peace, comfort and joy it can bring to one's life, i.e., live by example rather than pounding away all the time each time they talk about things... but to put the church aside in their relationship can be just as bad as pushing it too much.

My folks always lived by example, and casual references, and so I never had to resent them for nagging me (the Spirit was doing that enough :) ) although I bet my mom had to bite her tongue more than once.  It's hard for parents, particularly of a wayward child, to hold off because it is natural to want to fix things.

 

GG

Edited by Garden Girl
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I don't think he needs to "put the church aside" completely... But I agree he should try to (as he says) not succumb to talking about it, trying to fix it... and simply live the gospel in such a way that they see the peace, comfort and joy it can bring to one's life, i.e., live by example rather than pounding away all the time each time they talk about things... but to put the church aside in their relationship can be just as bad as pushing it too much.

My folks always lived by example, and casual references, and so I never had to resent them for nagging me (the Spirit was doing that enough :) ) although I bet my mom had to bite her tongue more than once.  It's hard for parents, particularly of a wayward child, to hold off because it is natural to want to fix things.

 

GG

I tried to make it clear that rather than putting the church aside completely, there are situations

where a more subtle approach is better advised (as you outlined above). Even so, there probably are

some situations where the well of goodwill toward the Church has been so poisoned that it's best to

back off for a while and teach solely by unfeigned love and a good example.

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I don't think he needs to "put the church aside" completely... But I agree he should try to (as he says) not succumb to talking about it, trying to fix it...

 

Ths is one of the biggest things impressed upon me here by many wise people and by the spirit.  Keep an eternal view with a goal in mind and not feel like 'the sky is falling'

 

Let the time I spend be focused on loving my son and leading by example, and trust the Lord to work on him. 

 

The por boy will still be 'forced' to go to seminary and church, however.  :-)

 

Edited to add - and a sincere thank you again to all of you for your kindness.  If anyone has more advice or observations, I welcome them.

 

Phillip

Edited by Maestrophil
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My mom, who I adore and think is practically perfect because she always keeps trying, not because she approaches perfection, hated to see us kids in pain so she would try to help us fix it.  It took a long time for me to figure out and eventually the two of us agreed that it was most of the time more helpful just to listen, be another ear to share with without having to feel that if I was going to talk to her, she was going to take on my burden as her own and attempt to fix it for me or with me...

 

My mom's fixes while ideal for her, didn't work for me.  My fixes had to be my fixes or they didn't last or give satisfaction.  I am not sure if everyone feels that way, but it seems to me from what I've seen, those who fix things for themselves are much more able to move on past it and not repeat the problem than those who are rescued or even work with the rescuers to fix things.  Eventually one must do it on one's own (well, always with the Lord, but as far as the rest of mortality)...though that may only need to be a very little bit, just enough to give a sense of ownership and commitment so it sticks and one doesn't slide back into the same old same old, recreating the same problem yet again.

 

My daughter's therapist told us to let her create the solutions and we were to only approve them...and even that was to be a very light touch.  The key was in providing a certain limited guidance up front so that the set of solutions they choose from are all acceptable to you to begin with.  Depending on the problem and what they want, that can be hard.

 

But it is obvious to me that with everyone I've known, if you tell them what to do to fix it rather than support them in fixing it, if it is a life issue...it won't stay fix.

 

So for me the most important gift we can give to our children are listening and a safe place to experiment on what is successful for them and what isn't.  That and being a good example, including having a desirable life...living a good life but turning it into a martyrdom isn't going to help your kids desire to do good in the way you are doing it...just will lead them to feel guilty about asking for anything (having seen my grandmothers' use the 'I do everything right, I do everything for you, feel guilt about the burden you place on me and pay me back by being good children' routine pretty much alienate all the grandkids as much as they would have loved to have loved them).

Edited by calmoriah
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