I can relate, though for different reasons. My wife is great about my disaffection and I'm not even attending, but I have a lesbian/bi daughter and, for reasons I don't want to hijack your thread with, I seem to be really sensitive to devaluation by a peer group. The church won't leave me and my family alone, and I'm obsessed with finding ways to protect myself and my kids from it. It's so tiring.
I can relate to this so hard:
Linked wrote: ↑
Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:18 pm
We might be able to manage in our marriage if we didn't have kids. But she wants them to go to church and I don't want to lose my kids to the church. I have a justified fear that the church will teach my kids that I am a bad person. She has a justified fear that I don't want my kids to believe in the LDS church doctrines. There is no middle ground here. Just pain and being tired.
Meet my square pegs that the church tries to pound into its round holes.
DD1: Kinsey scale 5.
DS1: Autism spectrum. Shy and publicly shamed once already for being honest about P&M. Smarter than his youth leaders and doesn't know it yet.
DD2: Too smart to believe the bullshit and already starting to see through it, so odds are she'll get similar treatment to mine someday.
DD3: Church stokes fears very well; e.g. is currently (at 10) terrified of seeing naked people on the Internet, making it harder to function normally.
Despite this, I've recently found some peace with them all attending church.
First of all, here are my starting advantages over the church.
- They're my kids. They love me more than they love the church.
- They're my kids. My voice is, in the end, more salient and important than any voice at church.
- They're my kids. Even at 10-18, they're displaying the modes of thought that eventually opened my eyes.
- They're my kids. My different viewpoint gives them reason and permission to doubt. Certainty is required for Mormonism's spell to work, and they'll never be able to maintain certainty around me, even if I say little about the church.
- They're my kids. They won't have to deal with the terrible loneliness I had to deal with if they stop believing, which reduces their motivation to conform to group beliefs.
The church starts with two advantages over me, though.
- Like their mother, they crave certainty more than I do. (This made the early days of my disaffection especially hard on DD1.)
- Their identities are entangled with it, though to less of an extent than mine was at my faith crisis.
Honestly, I think I have the overall advantage. Even with that, though, I didn't find much peace with them attending until I started changing my personal rules for living. Here's how the rules evolved, getting weaker over time.
1. Years ago: I must protect my children from all threats.
2. A year ago: I must protect my children from all threats that I can identify.
3. 6 months ago: I must protect my children from all threats that I can identify and act against.
Even this rule ended up being infeasible and caused me a lot of stress. The problem is that the church does such a good job subsuming their identities that acting directly against church-related threats makes them feel unsafe and uncertain, and then retrench. This is especially true of older children like my DD1. So for church-related threats, I changed my rule to something I thought was reasonable.
4. 3 months ago: Against church-related threats, I must preserve my children's self-determination.
This didn't stop me from having a nervous breakdown. Here's why: it's also infeasible. I can't do it, and not doing it makes me feel like a failure. Every group someone belongs to takes some self-determination away; it's part of the deal. The church's sin is one of degree.
So I can encourage my children to keep their options open. I can give them my opinions. I can provide alternatives. I just can't defend them against church-related threats absolutely in any respect unless they give up their Mormon identities, which ain't gonna happen anytime soon.
Here's my new rule:
5. I must try to make my children safer than they would be if I weren't involved in their lives.
I can do that, and I think it's enough. When I start thinking it's not enough, I remind myself of these two things:
- As a TBM, I would have been living this rule even according to my current understanding, which helps me have compassion for my old self.
- Compared to what I would be subjecting my kids to as a TBM without any opposing viewpoint, they're a lot better off.
I suppose I've finally seen that the only thing I can guarantee is an attempt at improvement.
Not all those who wander are lost.