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I was so excited when I joined the church. I couldn't wait to serve a mission one year later, and I did so. My mission provided some of the most memorable experiences in my life, many of them good memories.

Next on my excitement list was having a family and seeing my children embrace the Gospel and serve missions. I was excited about seeing them have spiritual experiences of their own, and talking about those experiences for years to come. That didn't happen, instead they are distancing themselves from the church and neither of the boys went on missions. O for 2, so I was definitely less successful compared to heavenly father. I would go for 2/3 any day now.

I wish there was a better support system between the Young Men's program and the Elders Quorum, some better transition period where they could continue to grow and have more pier contact. Woops, I guess they are all on missions. So what is the unconventional member to do?  It makes me almost cry thinking about my and their loss. When they talk about the blessings of a mission maybe they should talk about the flip side, the loneliness, emptiness, and sadness of not serving a mission. Anyone else sad about the lack of commitment of their children and lost hopes? I feel like I wasted my years raising them, all those scout outings we attend together. At church every Sunday, serving in the church in callings asked to perform. As a convert I don't have family pressure, and I don't have many friends in the church so I don't feel any pressure or shame about having wayward children. It's all coming from inside and it's painful. Maybe this can be a site where we can share our hurt and build our faith? Isn't it good to morn with those that morn?  

 

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7 minutes ago, Regor said:

I feel like I wasted my years raising them, all those scout outings we attend together. 

It is never a waste.  Even if the Church wasn't involved, you being there with your children, caring about their well being, choosing to spend that time with them rather than off pursuing something more personally entertaining had meaning and has and will even if right now it doesn't seem like it.  And with the addition of the Church context and its teachings and values your children have learned many things that they need to learn and in time will understand the value of.

Edited by Calm
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My son doesn't go, he just doesn't seem interested but I am trying. I take comfort in what Elder Marvin J. Ashton said in April conference of 1971

"Following one of our recent general conference sessions, a troubled mother approached me and said, “I need to know what is meant by the statement, ‘No success can compensate for failure in the home.’” Knowing a little of the burdens this friend of mine carries in her mind and heart because of a rebellious, wayward daughter, I shared this meaning with her: I believe we start to fail in the home when we give up on each other. We have not failed until we have quit trying. As long as we are working diligently with love, patience, and long-suffering, despite the odds or the apparent lack of progress, we are not classified as failures in the home. We only start to fail when we give up on a son, daughter, mother, or father."

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I was distraught when my oldest  son decided to not go on a mission. I received some very loving advice to keep loving him, encouragement to take interest in his interests, and I do, and that helped me get by with his decision. The heartache came back recently when my second son decided not to go on a mission. As I look back was it too much band, to many video games ,and not more service? But service never seemed to take with them, the second more than the first son but it always seemed like a chore to them. I didn't think I portrayed that attitude, I just wasn't their mentor as they got older, and no one at church captured their interest.

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That's one blessing of the Come Follow Me. We read the scriptures primarily on Family Home evening only. Now we are doing what we were always supposed to be doing, studying the scriptures on a daily basis. We are not giving up, I pray God will hear our prayers and see my tears and help me. I can't do it alone.

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12 minutes ago, Regor said:

I was distraught when my oldest  son decided to not go on a mission. I received some very loving advice to keep loving him, encouragement to take interest in his interests, and I do, and that helped me get by with his decision. The heartache came back recently when my second son decided not to go on a mission. As I look back was it too much band, to many video games ,and not more service? But service never seemed to take with them, the second more than the first son but it always seemed like a chore to them. I didn't think I portrayed that attitude, I just wasn't their mentor as they got older, and no one at church captured their interest.

You can't force it.  Your kids have their own brains, ideas, and desires from day 1.  You can just offer opportunities, but they choose how they want to respond to them.  My approach is to support in what is wanted that I admire and feel good about or at least comfortable with and offer love where I disagree.  Arguing or trying to mold them into what makes me feel better never produces good fruit,imo.

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19 minutes ago, Rain said:

I've learned that the prayers of a righteous mother may be powerful, but they are not everything. There is this pesky little thing called agency. So I do the only thing I can do: love them.

😍 Perfect answer Rain...and I think will bring the best overall outcome.

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4 hours ago, Regor said:

I was so excited when I joined the church. I couldn't wait to serve a mission one year later, and I did so. My mission provided some of the most memorable experiences in my life, many of them good memories.

Next on my excitement list was having a family and seeing my children embrace the Gospel and serve missions. I was excited about seeing them have spiritual experiences of their own, and talking about those experiences for years to come. That didn't happen, instead they are distancing themselves from the church and neither of the boys went on missions. O for 2, so I was definitely less successful compared to heavenly father. I would go for 2/3 any day now.

I wish there was a better support system between the Young Men's program and the Elders Quorum, some better transition period where they could continue to grow and have more pier contact. Woops, I guess they are all on missions. So what is the unconventional member to do?  It makes me almost cry thinking about my and their loss. When they talk about the blessings of a mission maybe they should talk about the flip side, the loneliness, emptiness, and sadness of not serving a mission. Anyone else sad about the lack of commitment of their children and lost hopes? I feel like I wasted my years raising them, all those scout outings we attend together. At church every Sunday, serving in the church in callings asked to perform. As a convert I don't have family pressure, and I don't have many friends in the church so I don't feel any pressure or shame about having wayward children. It's all coming from inside and it's painful. Maybe this can be a site where we can share our hurt and build our faith? Isn't it good to morn with those that morn?  

 

Hi Regor. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I have posted about my family several times in the forum, and I want to address your points. We as parents often want our children to be like us - or better than us. I tried not to place expectations on my children. We have 3 boys. They were all raised in the Church, and I made it a point to openly discuss various viewpoints about the scriptures as we read them together as a family. Our two younger boys seemed to just feel the spirit when baring their testimonies, and have basically always been faithful members. Our oldest, however, began to express doubts as a teenager that God even existed. Once he said he didn't want to go to Church, but I stopped my wife from demanding that he go - the next week he went. We encouraged him to have scripture reading with us, and I continued my usual questioning method of teaching the scriptures to prepare them for the views of other Christians, etc. I told him I understood his issues, and that I went through periods in my young life of trying to understand God - in a sense this has really never stopped for me - but I assured him that I knew God had answered my prayers at various points in my life. I told him that sometimes this took many years, but that I felt confident that if one continued in fervent desire, and prayer, God would eventually make Himself known to him as well. Well, it happened when he was asked to speak on Joseph''s first vision in a training class. He said he got up to talk, and the spirit just hit him "like a freight train." The feeling was so strong that he determined to go on a mission. He worked for a year, and largely paid for his own mission. The gospel is not one of force, and we can't cajole or manipulate others into receiving it or gaining their own testimony. The wonderful times you spent with your kids weren't wasted - make a slide show of them, and show it at a family birthday party, Christmas party or other family get together. Talk about the good times, and the Church friends - you may broach what they liked about Church, etc, which may lead into constructive conversation in which you can talk about why they left. 

Hopefully, the new youth program will better be able to form a bridge between being minors to becoming contributing adults, but I doubt the Church will ever form any kind of groups for "inactives." They could perhaps attend a singles ward, but it would probably be hard since they didn't serve missions. Just let them know that it is never too late to gain a testimony - sometimes it takes hard work though. The world is generally very destructive of one's testimony.  

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It is a very hard thing to watch your children leave the church. Many of us have  been through this. I struggled a lot. I felt my efforts were for naught. Missions don’t save them these days either. I know many families whose children fell away upon their return. You think you’ve made it and then “poof,” they’re gone. 

You do have to just love them. Know it’s not , “the end.” God loves them too. It’s hard to watch them suffer as they experiment with the ways of the world. 

I still struggle with the talks about parenting and promises made. All the scripture study, FHE, church attendance, and even a mission, didn’t seem to keep my children ‘safe.’ That pesky thing called agency and their own life experiences, is a very powerful, uncontrollable force. 

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My least favorite word is “moist”.  My next least favorite is “panties.”  Next on the list is “wayward”. 
I have 2 kids who have left and one more who will likely leave.  I have chosen to stay well connected with them, to let them tell me about their journey openly, and to give them my blessing to continue searching for “their” path to happiness.  
it’s a much more peaceful choice for me to not worry about them.  They are good humans, choosing something different than I chose, we can talk about it, and my first choice is to remain close no matter what.  
The result? They don’t feel “lost” (“wayward?”) to me.  God can sort out the rest.  But I know for sure he will not punish me for someone else’s choices.  So all things will work out.  I just keep plugging along. 

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3 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

My least favorite word is “moist”.  My next least favorite is “panties.”  Next on the list is “wayward”. 
I have 2 kids who have left and one more who will likely leave.  I have chosen to stay well connected with them, to let them tell me about their journey openly, and to give them my blessing to continue searching for “their” path to happiness.  
it’s a much more peaceful choice for me to not worry about them.  They are good humans, choosing something different than I chose, we can talk about it, and my first choice is to remain close no matter what.  
The result? They don’t feel “lost” (“wayward?”) to me.  God can sort out the rest.  But I know for sure he will not punish me for someone else’s choices.  So all things will work out.  I just keep plugging along. 

Your kids will stay close because of this awesome attitude, and especially if they can openly talk about their journeys!

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4 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Your kids will stay close because of this awesome attitude, and especially if they can openly talk about their journeys!

Thanks, I hope so.  
Our culture suggests tremendous loss and trauma when someone leaves the church.  I think this is a devastating, cultish, depressing way of living in a world where everyone has their own journey. 

Edited by MustardSeed
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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/17/2020 at 12:42 PM, MustardSeed said:

Thanks, I hope so.  
Our culture suggests tremendous loss and trauma when someone leaves the church.  I think this is a devastating, cultish, depressing way of living in a world where everyone has their own journey. 

I can certainly sympathize with some of your feelings. It is difficult to cope with the fact that a child whom we have raised in the faith and provided every opportunity to heed the call of of God and duty as a young man rejects it in favor of more mundane pursuits. There are no easy answers there. But also, unfortunately, with choices come consequences and we have absolutely no control over those. We must accept the fact that our actions are the visible evidence of our character and spiritual "temperature". My oldest son chose not to serve a mission. Even though his 3 younger sisters, one after another, went ahead to serve the Lord. As a consequence, he has suffered and continues to suffer but he will not do what he knows he must do to remedy his life's predicament. 

As a consequence, it will be very difficult for him to find a wife and life companion within the fold of the church. Why? because he has demonstrated that the work of the Lord, his privileges and duty to the priesthood are not a priority in his life. He decided to pursue other interests. All his friends went on missions, have moved on with life, marriage and further service in the church. He seems adrift and spinning in circles. It is not "cultish". I encouraged my daughters to be explicit and measured in the choices for a husband. A young man (just like my son) would not be a good candidate given that he has made clear that spiritual matters, the things of God and his eternal destiny are not at the top of the list. Difficult as it is to accept and, as as much as it grieves my heart, that is the reality. All my prayers, love and affection have not changed the facts of his current life's predicament. I am still hopefully that by the grace of God, he may humble himself, repent and bring forth fruit meet for repentance; for the hand of the Lord is stretched out still.  

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7 hours ago, Islander said:

I can certainly sympathize with some of your feelings. It is difficult to cope with the fact that a child whom we have raised in the faith and provided every opportunity to heed the call of of God and duty as a young man rejects it in favor of more mundane pursuits. There are no easy answers there. But also, unfortunately, with choices come consequences and we have absolutely no control over those. We must accept the fact that our actions are the visible evidence of our character and spiritual "temperature". My oldest son chose not to serve a mission. Even though his 3 younger sisters, one after another, went ahead to serve the Lord. As a consequence, he has suffered and continues to suffer but he will not do what he knows he must do to remedy his life's predicament. 

As a consequence, it will be very difficult for him to find a wife and life companion within the fold of the church. Why? because he has demonstrated that the work of the Lord, his privileges and duty to the priesthood are not a priority in his life. He decided to pursue other interests. All his friends went on missions, have moved on with life, marriage and further service in the church. He seems adrift and spinning in circles. It is not "cultish". I encouraged my daughters to be explicit and measured in the choices for a husband. A young man (just like my son) would not be a good candidate given that he has made clear that spiritual matters, the things of God and his eternal destiny are not at the top of the list. Difficult as it is to accept and, as as much as it grieves my heart, that is the reality. All my prayers, love and affection have not changed the facts of his current life's predicament. I am still hopefully that by the grace of God, he may humble himself, repent and bring forth fruit meet for repentance; for the hand of the Lord is stretched out still.  

I respectively disagree that your son shouldn't be considered good husband material. I've seen so called men of God and who have checked all of those boxes turn out to be the wrong choice for a spouse. Have you seen other aspects of your son's character that would give you pause to say these things? It may be that he sees your disappointment and lives up to it? I'm really crossing the line here I'm sure, but I don't want you to get lost in the dark here, you need to see the light. My son served a mission and all of his friends, one is divorced already, and several don't believe in the church any longer. Your son might just surprise you. I hope you can take a step back.

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On 2/16/2020 at 9:07 PM, Regor said:

I was so excited when I joined the church. I couldn't wait to serve a mission one year later, and I did so. My mission provided some of the most memorable experiences in my life, many of them good memories.

Next on my excitement list was having a family and seeing my children embrace the Gospel and serve missions. I was excited about seeing them have spiritual experiences of their own, and talking about those experiences for years to come. That didn't happen, instead they are distancing themselves from the church and neither of the boys went on missions. O for 2, so I was definitely less successful compared to heavenly father. I would go for 2/3 any day now.

I wish there was a better support system between the Young Men's program and the Elders Quorum, some better transition period where they could continue to grow and have more pier contact. Woops, I guess they are all on missions. So what is the unconventional member to do?  It makes me almost cry thinking about my and their loss. When they talk about the blessings of a mission maybe they should talk about the flip side, the loneliness, emptiness, and sadness of not serving a mission. Anyone else sad about the lack of commitment of their children and lost hopes? I feel like I wasted my years raising them, all those scout outings we attend together. At church every Sunday, serving in the church in callings asked to perform. As a convert I don't have family pressure, and I don't have many friends in the church so I don't feel any pressure or shame about having wayward children. It's all coming from inside and it's painful. Maybe this can be a site where we can share our hurt and build our faith? Isn't it good to morn with those that morn?  

It hard as a parent, that is for sure, and I can feel the pain in your words.  Thanks for sharing.  As a parent, there isn't much that has gone according to the vision I had when I started this road.  It has been a challenge to continue to adjust as my kids continue to craft their own path in life, sometimes making mistakes and other times exceeding my expectations in ways I couldn't have imagined.  One of the hardest things for me has been to know when I should pull back vs. when I should get involved in helping.  And there isn't a manual as you well know, on how to raise kids.  

I think one other thing is that our culture in the church seems to want to measure the value of individuals as they relate to a particular set of accomplishments.  These accomplishments are the milestones the church has established as the markers of a successful life.  But is that what God really wants for each individual?  And what if someone's personality and unique attributes don't fit well within the program?  What if a kid isn't that into sports, yet the measuring stick for doing well in P.E. class says to get a good grade you have to meet certain criteria?  I think this can apply to the church as well.  

At the end of the day, I think that love is the most important thing.  I think each individual has a different journey to go on and I think that they largely have to determine what their talents are in life and what they feel inspired to do.  I try not to let the external measuring sticks tell me whether or not I should feel accomplished as a parent or whether my kid is successful.  This isn't easy, but I think it is imperative, especially if we want to thrive in a diverse world.  Best wishes to you.  

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Please consider that when we imagine our adult children’s choices to be functions of OUR failures, (making everything about US), we naturally develop defenses in response.  The defenses distance us from our kids, and they feel rejected. 
 

This , imo, is cruel and unnecessary.  It’s not about you.  Love your kids. 

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On 2/16/2020 at 8:07 PM, Regor said:

Anyone else sad about the lack of commitment of their children and lost hopes? I feel like I wasted my years raising them, all those scout outings we attend together. 

Thanks for your heartfelt post, Regor.  I can tell you're in pain and that you are worried about your kids.   I'm sorry you're struggling with this.

My view is that you most definitely did not waste years raising your children in a manner you felt was best for them.  It sounds like you were a very loving and caring Father.  I'm sure they have so many great qualities because of the experiences they were able to have with you by their side and they learned from your example.  Don't ever think that was a waste just because they've chosen a different path as an adult than you have chosen.

Each one of us are on our own journey.....their journey is not your journey.  Rejoice if they are a good, kind, loving, moral person.  Rejoice if they work hard and give back to society and are a loving member of their own family now.  One does not have to be an active member of the church in order to experience joy and happiness and be a great example to their family and friends.

Stop mourning and start rejoicing in your relationship and love for them.  Don't ever let them feel like you think they are a failure or that you are disappointed in them, but just continue to love them and serve as you do in the church.

One thing I know for sure is that there are much, MUCH worse ways to "loose" a child than for them to choose another path regarding religion.

Edited by ALarson
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Hi Regor, 

My story: I went inactive at 18, after deciding to not go on a mission.  There were various attempts to befriend and include, and make me feel welcome, but the truth is, I didn't believe in God, and I no longer saw a point.  I stayed inactive for 6 years, then came back.  I read the BoM, sought a testimony, had a series of undeniable spiritual experiences that even now, 25 years later, are the bedrock of my testimony.  

The stuff/humans that helped:
- A good home teacher who did his job (brought a message, expressed acceptance, asked if he could do anything, and then left). 
- Genuine friends who didn't peg their friendship on my activity.  I had two different circles of lds friends who went places and did things with me, because we were friends.  I wanted what they had.  After seeking it with a minor in philosophy, I finally swallowed enough pride to seek it the right way. 
-  Church folks who didn't push or pry too hard as I took those first few hesitant steps back into activity.  The notion of "I see where you're at, and happy to work with you there" - priceless.
- Dating an LDS girl with LDS family who did LDS things.
- The little old lady who gave me chocolate whenever I delivered fast offerings to her as a kid.  Sweetness personified.  I thought about her through all 6 years of inactivity.  It was a Big Thing to be able to invite her to the temple for my sealing.

Stuff/humans that didn't help:
- Grandma and mom's hand-wringing and kvetching. 
- Inauthentic efforts to befreind, that were obviously assigned on the quorum level, and carried out by guys who were doing it because it was a job.  

So yeah, just love your kids.  Preserve a good relationship with them.  It's on them to come back, it's on you to be someone they might want to use as they think about coming back.

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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There are different paths that lead to testimonies  and a mission doesn't necessarily make the man.  I love Rain's idea...just to love.  My brother came home from his mission and yet he is the only active member left in my family.  If they decide to go to school...or venture in volunteering ...sustain their decision and keep the communication open without PREACHING~

I wish you and family well on each journey....and a woman that demands a return missionary  or won't consider someone else may be missing out on a good missionary for her children.

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2 hours ago, Tacenda said:

 Your son might just surprise you. I hope you can take a step back.

That is my most sincere desire. But, life is simply way too important to marry and hope that he or she will change in some distant future. You are likely to have in the future what you have now. So, my advise to my daughters was always to marry a young man that has a life (now) that evidences where his heart is now. They have followed my counsel and so far so good; thanks be to Good. The future belongs to Him and we don't know what it holds. I know that there are no guarantees but past behavior is a fair indicator of future behavior. I have seen some of those boys go on missions when they were (in my opinion) not ready to go and the aftermath is always disastrous. Some drift away. But they were on the wrong path before they went to the mission. People were hoping they would "grow in the their mission". 

We never lose hope for in God all things are possible. And yes, I will continue to love my son for love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  

Thank you for your kind words.

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