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Adult Child Is Now Agnostic


readstoomuch

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My oldest son, an RM and his wife are barely active. They basically are agnostic and have all kinds of issues. They are quite intellectual. I am able to talk to them and I have plenty of points to make. Unfortunately, if someone does not believe in God it is hard to get them to engage. They are expecting a baby, but not sure they want it blessed. They think it is a nice cultural ritual without any real priesthood power. This has always been my problem child. I have not posted enough to start something in General Discussion. I would also say that they are a casualty of the Mormon Stories movement. It does seem like Mormon Young Adults go the agnostic/marginal believing route or the non-denominational Christian route. Any advice besides praying for them.

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Demonstrate your love for him and his wife by respecting their choices; sharing your life with them i.e. don't stop talking about God or the Church simply because they are not participating any longer; talking about the family; reminisce about the good times; inviting them to family events where other family members are giving talks, blessing their own children, baptisms, etc.; treating them as if they were meeting your heart's desires.  

 

Too often we make one's church attendance or belief the equivalent of  being alive; if they don't attend they don't exist.  We attend Church for many reasons, but one of the most important is because of our love of the Savior.  We need to remember that same love of the Savior as we interact with others, particularly our family members.  

 

Count your blessings and recognize all of the good that your son does.  The disappointment of not attending church should never be reflected in your eyes when you see him.  It is okay to be concerned as long as he knows it is righteous concern for his eternal happiness. 

 

Never stop loving him and talking to and with him. 

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What Storm Rider said. Years ago I was struggling and weeping over a wayward daughter who left the church and I began preaching to her and she was threatening to cut off all contact. Then I had an epiphany. I needed to love her for the person she is and I realized what makes me happy is not what makes her happy at this time. I apologized for nagging her and told her all the things I love about her. Our relationship changed almost immediately and now we are still good friends and I'm the one she calls when things go wrong. She has even softened toward the church though right now she has a person in her life who is not a good influence and it makes me sad. But I know better than anyone how people and situations can change. She still has many fine qualities and it's those things I must focus on.

 

Plus readstoomuch, you may find that a child will dramatically change their outlook.

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It's tempting to think of the loss of faith and inactivity of a loved one to be a great tragedy, something that colors our world in  depressing shades of gray and fills our hearts with a sense of loss and mourning, not unlike the sorrow we feel at the death of a loved one. As one who has a beloved daughter who lost her faith and went inactive for twenty years before returning to full faith and fellowship, I will say that it must be remembered this life is designed by an all-wise God to be a place where we are given the freedom to taste the bitter things of life that we might learn through our own experience how to prize the sweet and the good. After the fall, the Lord spoke to Adam and said:

55 ... Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. (Moses 6)
 
The importance of this process of learning cannot be overstated. We must actually taste the bitter before we can truly appreciate and prize the sweet; we must experience the negative effects of bad choices before we can learn to value and love goodness. And in this light it's important to consider the possibility that your son and his wife are going through a period of bad choices and negative consequences as part of a wise plan to bring both of them around to an eventual deeper faith and sense of commitment than they otherwise might have had without first taking a wrong turn down a dark and lonely road (think Alma the younger). And also remember, though your son and daughter may seem content with their choices right now, the fact is that they are tasting bitterness even though they may not be consciously aware of it; pride has a way of obscuring reality and numbing pain.

But perhaps there is something you can do to hasten the eventual day of their joyful return to the Lord. Take much of the focus of your mental energy off of them and focus more on your own faith and testimony, perhaps in a way you may have never done before. To lift and elevate your loved ones, and to be fully able to show them the way, you must first be planted firmly on higher ground and filled with the guiding light of divine wisdom. Use this time to rediscover your own faith and powerfully strengthen your testimony, and do so quietly. Allow the light of God to be greatly magnified within your soul with pure knowledge and especially with the pure love of Christ. It's hard to ignore the shinning spirit of someone who's countenance is alight with the power and joy of God.

 

Set such an example, and continue to do so over the long haul, even if it seems it's having no effect, and eventually your loved ones may find themselves irresistibly drawn back to the light. And remember, you will soon have an opportunity to pour the light of God's love into that impressionable baby, and just it could be that within that blessed child's spirit there lies another key to unlock the floodgates of the Spirit and renewed faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Edited by teddyaware
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This is all good advice. I would say that I have been able to focus on them and not the gospel. I am just not sure I ever see them coming back to church. This is also a son who seems to be willing to let his wife work so he can be at home reading, playing his music or doing stuff on the computer. They both work in my office which really cannot go on forever. He and his wife both have humanities degrees which have relatively low levels of marketable skills. We are trying to help them out without enabling them.

So there is the general not engaging life and responsibility as well as the church issues. I read stories about them being a lost generation. They came out of school right after the recession. I just don`t understand. None of this is the way that we taught him.

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This is all good advice. I would say that I have been able to focus on them and not the gospel. I am just not sure I ever see them coming back to church. This is also a son who seems to be willing to let his wife work so he can be at home reading, playing his music or doing stuff on the computer. They both work in my office which really cannot go on forever. He and his wife both have humanities degrees which have relatively low levels of marketable skills. We are trying to help them out without enabling them.

So there is the general not engaging life and responsibility as well as the church issues. I read stories about them being a lost generation. They came out of school right after the recession. I just don`t understand. None of this is the way that we taught him.

Then perhaps its time for some good, old-fashioned plain talk about the realities of life in the 21st century. It might actually be best to concentrate on the practical aspects of life and just leave the Church stuff in the background for the time being.

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My oldest son, an RM and his wife are barely active. They basically are agnostic and have all kinds of issues. They are quite intellectual. I am able to talk to them and I have plenty of points to make. Unfortunately, if someone does not believe in God it is hard to get them to engage. They are expecting a baby, but not sure they want it blessed. They think it is a nice cultural ritual without any real priesthood power. This has always been my problem child. I have not posted enough to start something in General Discussion. I would also say that they are a casualty of the Mormon Stories movement. It does seem like Mormon Young Adults go the agnostic/marginal believing route or the non-denominational Christian route. Any advice besides praying for them.

All go through periods of doubt, having a baby does change things when the child starts asking questions, there is still much life and time to see the need for faith.
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Welcome to the board.  I recognize a lot of your struggles as I've seen similar things with my family and with those I've counseled in church callings.   Here are my thoughts.  In a year to two, after I have more experience, I may likely give you somewhat different counsel.  But this is the best I have now:

 

  1. There's no going back.  For them or for you.  Don't focus on what is "lost" but on where you want things to go.
  2. Treat them as equals.  Approach them as you would want to be approached.  Don't expect them to doubt their doubts unless you are willing to doubt your testimony.  In discussing gospel topics, do not present arguments based on conclusions they may not hold (i.e. "the church is true", "prophets don't make mistakes of doctrine", etc).  However right those conclusions may be, they must be accepted on their own.  Using such conclusions with someone who has not come to accept them almost always leads to unproductive discussions, and often drives the person away.  Instead, ask open ended questions that allow your children to express what they really believe and work from there (e.g., "how do you determine what is good," "what books have you found provide good guidance," etc)
  3. Focus on the many parts of the gospel they are living.  The BOM talks of trees bearing fruits - some 100, some 60, some 30.  I apply that analogy to people.  In the end, some of us may accept 100% of what God offers, some 60, some 30.  Whatever is rejected will eventually be burnt up and lost.  Eternally, what will be perserved is the good we accept.  Focus on that.  Your children may accept 100, but the 30, 60, or whatever they do accept is also "good fruit."  Take joy in it and hope that your joy will be eternal, even if it is not full.
  4. Babies (especially a first) are times of transition.  The ground is fertile at this point more than it will be at many points in the future.  Don't waste the moment.  Act for good.  Whatever church involvement your children are willing to allow, embrace it.  In my ward, I worked with a couple where the husband is an athiest (also RM, intellectual and really good father).  He would not bless the child himself, but was willing to hold the child as myself and priesthood holders from his family stood around to give the blessing.  Yes, the experience was not as perfect as his family (and especially wife) would like.  But it was a positive one.
  5. Counsel with your Father in Heaven (and Mother if you're willing).  Your children were theirs first.  They love them more than you.  They sorrow for them more than you.  Rest assured that, though your efforts are sorely needed, the buck doesn't stop with you.  Your children have very perfect Parents who will ensure they obtain all the good they are willing to accept.
  6. There is time.  There is always time.  That's not an excuse to sit by idly, as choices have real consequences.  But your children's story is far far from over.  Trust that as they gain additional light and knowledge through this life and the next, they will choose to embrace good things.  After all, they have great parents.
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What Storm Rider said. Years ago I was struggling and weeping over a wayward daughter who left the church and I began preaching to her and she was threatening to cut off all contact. Then I had an epiphany. I needed to love her for the person she is and I realized what makes me happy is not what makes her happy at this time.

Plus readstoomuch, you may find that a child will dramatically change their outlook.

 

All during the years I was inactive, my folks... and mom particularly... continued to love me.  They didn't stop talking about the Church, but it was simply in conversation about their goings on, etc.  In  reality I knew my mom must have been wearing out her knees praying for me... She passed away suddenly and that whipped me around... I'm just sorry she didn't live to see me return, become endowed, and remain fully active all these years... I'm counting on her being able to know that her prayers were not in vain...

 

GG

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My oldest son, an RM and his wife are barely active. They basically are agnostic and have all kinds of issues. They are quite intellectual. I am able to talk to them and I have plenty of points to make. Unfortunately, if someone does not believe in God it is hard to get them to engage. They are expecting a baby, but not sure they want it blessed. They think it is a nice cultural ritual without any real priesthood power. This has always been my problem child. I have not posted enough to start something in General Discussion. I would also say that they are a casualty of the Mormon Stories movement. It does seem like Mormon Young Adults go the agnostic/marginal believing route or the non-denominational Christian route. Any advice besides praying for them.

 

I disagree with the other posters in this thread.  It's probably time to cut your losses and find a nice young LDS family nearby that you can adopt.

Edited by cinepro
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Thank you. The advice was every bit my wife and I had hoped for. They really touched us. This is the discussion board I always read, though I have not participated. Heck,I don`t even know how to make an avatar or what I would do. I do readtoomuch and mormon history is a big love (as well as history in general). The Stanley Kimball quote was great. I think I will repost after the baby is born and we will see what that does for them. When I was talking to my son the other day I did have a prompting that my relationship with him right now has nothing to do with the church. In fact if I don`t concentrate on him and only him, then it may not go so well for him.

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I have family who don't don't know whether they believe in God or not, but I don't know if that affects their eternal salvation or not.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ basically told people to be honest, humble, be willing to make sacrifices for others. It's not about being a believer and believing the right doctrine.

I have a son who is honest, humble, and help others, but he doesn't go to church and likes his occasional beer with his live-in girlfriend who's pregnant.  I pray for him every night, but I also realize that he doesn't believe the same as me, but he does what he believes to be right.  Would God expect him to do what he believes to be the wrong thing to do?

 

I also realize that as time goes by, many of the things he believes to be "truth" will change.  That has happened to me.

When I was 20, I thought I was wise beyond my years.  When I was 30, I realized that I was an idiot when I was 20 and that I had come a long way.  When I was 40, I realized I was an idiot when I was 30 and that I had come a long way.  Same thing happened when I turned 50 and when I turned 60.

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"Wayward child" here. :) From BIC LDS to atheism to Catholicism. Me, I avoid talking about religion with my very LDS parents as it leads to nothing but hurt feelings.

Unfortunately, my mother has become downright hostile despite trying to help her understand. She views my separation from the LDS church as tantamount to treason. Every time she asks me if I went to church it is an introduction to an argument. So now when she asks, I simply say "next question".

She invited me to a baby blessing and I plan to attend. She asked if I plan to take the Sacrament and I said no. This could have easily turned into another argument so I simply explained that I'm not LDS anymore and it would not be appropriate to partake. She wanted to say more but held back. I'm glad she is much more active since my dad died but she does need to pull back a bit.

I spoke with my brother about this and I explained to him that my salvation is in no way dependent up membership in the LDS church or acceptance of its theological teachings. I expressed my frustration in trying to help my mother understand.

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Unfortunately, my mother has become downright hostile despite trying to help her understand. She views my separation from the LDS church as tantamount to treason. Every time she asks me if I went to church it is an introduction to an argument. So now when she asks, I simply say "next question".

She invited me to a baby blessing and I plan to attend. She asked if I plan to take the Sacrament and I said no. This could have easily turned into another argument so I simply explained that I'm not LDS anymore and it would not be appropriate to partake. She wanted to say more but held back. I'm glad she is much more active since my dad died but she does need to pull back a bit.

I spoke with my brother about this and I explained to him that my salvation is in no way dependent up membership in the LDS church or acceptance of its theological teachings. I expressed my frustration in trying to help my mother understand.

My dad is the same way, though he waits for opportune moments when we are alone so, sadly, I avoid being alone with him. He's said some pretty hurtful things, which I understand as him expressing his heartfelt belief.

The difficult balance is in honoring your parents. I have no desire to bludgeon them with all the reasons I am not following their religion. I don't want to feel the hurt and exclusion I get after any religious conversation. Avoidance is my thing with them, which I know has a negative effect on our relationship but it is better than no relationship.

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My dad is the same way, though he waits for opportune moments when we are alone so, sadly, I avoid being alone with him. He's said some pretty hurtful things, which I understand as him expressing his heartfelt belief.

The difficult balance is in honoring your parents. I have no desire to bludgeon them with all the reasons I am not following their religion. I don't want to feel the hurt and exclusion I get after any religious conversation. Avoidance is my thing with them, which I know has a negative effect on our relationship but it is better than no relationship.

This is where religion hurts families, I've seen it over and over. It's a problem in a lot of families with the disaffected. I'm almost thankful for my faith crisis sometimes, because I have a feeling that I'd have been devastated with my inactive kids and would have reacted badly, I know it. Edited by Tacenda
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This is where religion hurts families, I've seen it over and over. It's a problem in a lot of families with the disaffected. I'm almost thankful for my faith crisis sometimes, because I have a feeling that I'd have been devastated with my inactive kids and would have reacted badly, I know it.

In my atheistic years I was really angry at God, for a lot of things, but being the wedge in my relationships was the top of the list.

BTW, being angry at God brought on the realization that I wasn't a very good atheist. :P Which led to me seeking for God. So something good came of it all in the end. I don't know how to remove the wedge, who is God. I have come to acceptance, and trust, that there's a reason for it.

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My dad is the same way, though he waits for opportune moments when we are alone so, sadly, I avoid being alone with him. He's said some pretty hurtful things, which I understand as him expressing his heartfelt belief.

The difficult balance is in honoring your parents. I have no desire to bludgeon them with all the reasons I am not following their religion. I don't want to feel the hurt and exclusion I get after any religious conversation. Avoidance is my thing with them, which I know has a negative effect on our relationship but it is better than no relationship.

 

It would be easier if they could understand that God does not call everyone to the LDS faith and does call some of us away from it. We are not defective or in spiritual darkness or any other ignorant nonsense. I understand that my mother is trying to be of help but all she does is harmful. We are almost past the point of trying to understand and I'm going to have to cut religion out of our conversations.

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It would be easier if they could understand that God does not call everyone to the LDS faith and does call some of us away from it. We are not defective or in spiritual darkness or any other ignorant nonsense. I understand that my mother is trying to be of help but all she does is harmful. We are almost past the point of trying to understand and I'm going to have to cut religion out of our conversations.

 

Hello Val...

 

haven't talked to you in ages... I've been too busy watching BYU sports ;)  Go Cougs!

 

Perhaps it is time to do just this, i.e., not talk about religion... Maybe you've already done this, but I think you need to sit her down, take her by the hands and tell her... Mom, I love you but when we argue about the Church or you criticize me it just makes us further apart, and I don't want that... you've done all you can... but I must do what  I consider is right for me... I want to stay close to you and our family... etc.

If it means having to give a little while still standing up for yourself, then do it.  You don't want to be alienated (my mom and dad finally got over the initial hurt of my choosing to be inactive, so I was able to retain the good feelings about the Church during that time, and I continued to pray, read scriptures, food storage, and talk generally about the Church as it related to their activities).  And, as you know, after many years I did return to Church and have been TBM ever since... while you most likely will not return to the Church, at least you can retain good feelings about the time you were active.  Even if you take a different path in another faith...

 

Take care you... GG

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