Every ward has that perfect family ....

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
Post Reply
User avatar
SeeNoEvil
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:41 am

Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by SeeNoEvil » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:32 pm

One of the things that weighed heavy on my shelf back when I was uber TBM was the idea that we have to be perfect. Families are forever and to be forever everyone has to be perfect. Every ward has those "perfect" families and I wanted to to have that too. But real life finally hit my family and my perfect family wasn't looking so perfect any more compared to the others in the ward and I wondered what I was doing wrong. My best friend at church was Sister Perfect who was perfect and had that perfect family. She would tell me that all the time and I believed her. We kept track of each other for years, even after they moved. Over the years we would receive the annual Christmas letter outlining their perfect family and perfectly brilliant children who were all geniuses and thanked God for the blessings of being obedient. Then as things usually go I lost track of them. It wasn't until after all my children were grown and gone and long after Bro & Sis Perfect quietly faded out of my life and sailed away with their perfect family and their perfect lives to live in Zion that I realized how unattainable the teaching of being perfect was. And that my wonderful imperfect family was the best and perfect just the way they are.

But back when I was uber TBM and somewhere between meeting the Perfects and attempting to create my own perfect Mormon family I acquired the flawed notion that life needed to look a certain way... the Mormon way. In the Mormon church appearance is everything and our worth is based on our performance and our happy countenance. The problem with this is that it shrinks our understanding of the world around us. As a Mormon I had all the answers and believed I was happy because I was doing all the Lord wanted me to do. This happy world was the only world I knew and all connected to obedience in following Gods plan for me. I wanted that happiness! When my shelf fell and the lights turned on brighter shedding a different kind of light on my new world I learned perfection was a myth and that I did not need the church to make me happy. I cringe at all I did to myself and my family in my pursuit to be perfect and happy. It is a tough pill to realize just how costly this was all for my family and myself. There are many teachings in the the church that disturb me but the idea that we must be perfect in order to be rewarded on high is close to the top of the list.

As for my friends, Bro and Sis Perfect, I hope one day I can sit down as with them and have an ex mo type conversation about their perfect family and tell them about my perfectly perfect family.
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

User avatar
Hagoth
Posts: 1320
Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:13 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Hagoth » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:04 am

We have noticed that those perfect families in our previous wards have often turned out later to have all kinds of turmoil under the hood that didn't surface until much later, usually in the form of kids who end up taking a different path and forcing their parents to either reject them or broaden their horizons. The truth is that no family is perfect, some are better at hiding the imperfections and some are better at enforcing orthodox behavior. But then again, some families seem to fare better in the genetic lottery with traits that make them naturally more contented and less adventurous - perfect Mormon characteristics.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

User avatar
LaMachina
Posts: 231
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:27 am

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by LaMachina » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:30 am

Growing up my family was considered to be one of these "perfect" families. Even back then as a 12 year old I would quietly roll my eyes when someone would comment on it. My family had plenty of good qualities but I had a backstage pass to our own personal dysfunction and personally I felt a little like the black sheep.

When my wife and I stopped attending church I had quite a few people express surprise and concern as they viewed me and my relatively stable siblings as church success stories. All of us RMs and temple married and apparently happy and reflections of the blessings of Mormon life. They feared we were removing the secret sauce to family bliss.

Admittedly, despite understanding we were far from perfect, it took me a while to tease out the things about Mormonism that helped family dynamics vs what just exacerbated the dysfunction but it eventually became clear that Mormonism was not the secret balm to heal all family ills. I've known other "perfect" Mormon families well enough to know that any appearance of perfection is an illusion.

User avatar
Give It Time
Posts: 1182
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:52 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Give It Time » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:49 am

My parents headed one of those families. Huge dysfunction. We love each other, mostly. And my parents sure tried. They really did try.

I think a lot of the emotional abuse I see today and the emotional abuse I engaged in was in an attempt to create one of those perfect families. The church isn't alone in this. I believe the seed of emotional abuse is in not accepting people for who they are, as they are.
At 70 years-old, my older self would tell my younger self to use the words, "f*ck off" much more frequently. --Helen Mirren

User avatar
SeeNoEvil
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:41 am

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by SeeNoEvil » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:49 am

Hagoth wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:04 am
The truth is that no family is perfect, some are better at hiding the imperfections and some are better at enforcing orthodox behavior.
Most definitely! Much can be said about the perfect squeaky clean image the church encourages. After all we are a happy people and must never give the appearance of evil or anything amiss in our lives.
LaMachina wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:30 am
Growing up my family was considered to be one of these "perfect" families. Even back then as a 12 year old I would quietly roll my eyes when someone would comment on it. My family had plenty of good qualities but I had a backstage pass to our own personal dysfunction and personally I felt a little like the black sheep. ........ Admittedly, despite understanding we were far from perfect, it took me a while to tease out the things about Mormonism that helped family dynamics vs what just exacerbated the dysfunction but it eventually became clear that Mormonism was not the secret balm to heal all family ills. I've known other "perfect" Mormon families well enough to know that any appearance of perfection is an illusion.
Most definitely it is an illusion as I too grew up in one of those perfect families and we were far from perfect. By the time we all were well into adult hood we had all for the most part gone our separate ways. I think what was perfect about our family was that my mom was perfect in her perfect description of us to everyone else but us.
Give It Time wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:49 am
My parents headed one of those families. Huge dysfunction. We love each other, mostly. And my parents sure tried. They really did try.

I think a lot of the emotional abuse I see today and the emotional abuse I engaged in was in an attempt to create one of those perfect families. The church isn't alone in this. I believe the seed of emotional abuse is in not accepting people for who they are, as they are.
I had never thought of it like that but it does make sense. The church puts tremendous pressure on parents to raise their children "right". The list of "To Do's" is long: baptism, seminary, eagle scout, mission, temple marriage, etc. To make sure your child fulfills the long list of requirements to get the recommends for each one of these Mormon milestones is quite the feat in itself. Most definitely a breeding ground for a lot of parental pressure with nagging and varying degrees of emotional abuse! When you have a child who misses anyone of those marks it falls on the heads of the parents for their apparent failure to teach correct principles.
And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.
For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.
And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.
And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.
And the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy. [D&C 68:25–29]
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

Thoughtful
Posts: 250
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:54 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Thoughtful » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:45 pm

Spouseman's family fits this description. They are plagued by depression, anxiety, and suicidality. The control and manipulation run deep. My family of origin is similarly perfect on the surface, wth a history of emotional abuse and neglect in my childhood, and in the last 10 years mental illnesses have forced a loosening of orthodoxy as far as My parents go. My family certainly appears perfect on the surface at church. I'm not sure how long I can maintain a facade of orthodoxy. However, I hope my family is healthier. But, the more dark corners of church history and doctrine I stumble upon, the more I worry that being healthy and self aware, egalitarian, kind, and genuinely humble are not compatible with membership in the church for anyone. I hope I'm wrong, because trying to reconcile this with my family's worldview that appears to harm them is extremely painful.

User avatar
Zack Tacorin Dos
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:42 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Zack Tacorin Dos » Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:30 pm

SeeNoEvil,

Love this post. It's like it touches on so much of what I see in my own family's experience with the Church.

My DW still believes. Four of our five children are pretty much out (I say pretty much, because the younger one's haven't declared it, but it's pretty obvious). I'm obviously out. We used to have that "perfect family," well almost. I mean, we had our struggles, but my wife and I were head over heals for each other. Our kids were well behaved, got good grades, "chose" to get baptized, I was in a bishopric at a sort-of young age, my wife is gorgeous, etc.

Fast forward to when I stopped believing and then a few years later a couple of the kids are doing things that are not very Mormon. One gay kid in a gay relationship. One kid who has mental health problems and some drug abuse. Of course my poor wife cannot help but blame herself, us, and (maybe mostly) me. It's like the Mormon formulaic, check-box, plan of happiness supersedes any notion of moral agency. As much as moral agency is taught, I've seen devout, born-in-the-covenant Mormons unable to reconcile how their world could fall apart because of the decisions of others when they had done everything "perfectly." It's inconceivable that any crap could possibly happen in our lives if we had just lived "perfectly." Double bind much?

And, oh the horror that others can now see "our failures." I think the embarrassment my wife feels for the gay, the mental health probs, and the drug abuse, is about as excruciating for her as the threat of the drug-abusing kid's actual risky behavior. Whereas I don't give a rat's hind quarters what the neighbors think. I just want my kids and wife to be safe and happy.

I really can't stand the LDS promotion of perfectionism. It hurts people deeply. It hurts my wife. I think it ends up actually killing people sometimes.

I am no longer a theist, or even a deist, but a appreciate and find aspects of the concept of Christian grace beautiful and helpful as long as the individual does not use it as an excuse to harm self or others. We all stand in need of redemption from our mistakes from time to time. We have a need for forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness. That's part of why I appreciate y'all so much. You seem to get that and to encourage that. I love how you take care of each other, me, and yourselves, even with the flaws and imperfections each of us has.

Thanks for sharing SeeNoEvil,
Zack

User avatar
2bizE
Posts: 637
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:33 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by 2bizE » Sat Aug 05, 2017 6:10 pm

This used to be my family until a few years ago...
~2bizE

User avatar
dispirited
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:01 am

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by dispirited » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:53 pm

We present as "one of those families", but that will change soon...

User avatar
SeeNoEvil
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:41 am

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by SeeNoEvil » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:43 am

Thoughtful wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:45 pm
Spouseman's family fits this description. They are plagued by depression, anxiety, and suicidality. The control and manipulation run deep. My family of origin is similarly perfect on the surface, with a history of emotional abuse and neglect in my childhood, and in the last 10 years mental illnesses have forced a loosening of orthodoxy as far as My parents go. My family certainly appears perfect on the surface at church.
Sounds like my current family, This is what I mean when I say the cost of perfection has been high. I bought deep into the illusion that the happy faces and perfect appearance meant there were no problems, which is exactly the message my TBM parents who never discussed problems portrayed our family to the world. It was all about image.
Zack Tacorin Dos wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:30 pm
And, oh the horror that others can now see "our failures." I think the embarrassment my wife feels for the gay, the mental health probs, and the drug abuse, is about as excruciating for her as the threat of the drug-abusing kid's actual risky behavior. Whereas I don't give a rat's hind quarters what the neighbors think. I just want my kids and wife to be safe and happy. I really can't stand the LDS promotion of perfectionism. It hurts people deeply. It hurts my wife. I think it ends up actually killing people sometimes.
Your wife is not alone. For a time I too was embarassed by some of my children and felt I had to always explain their behavior. Instead of accepting who they are as a whole and beautiful person I used the LDS check list as a guide to what is and what is not acceptable.
I have the typical huge Mormon family which now isn't so Mormon. One of my grandchildren just got married so for me life is coming full circle. One of the hardest things about raising children is watching them make decisions contrary to their upbringing. I found the farther I journeyed from the Mormon circle the clearer my view of life, people and the universe has become.
2bizE wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 6:10 pm
This used to be my family until a few years ago...
What happened a few years ago to change things? Was it your disaffection?
dispirited wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:53 pm
We present as "one of those families", but that will change soon...
And your's will be changing soon? Tell us more about it.
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

User avatar
SeeNoEvil
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:41 am

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by SeeNoEvil » Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:00 am

Zack Tacorin Dos wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:30 pm
I am no longer a theist, or even a deist, but a appreciate and find aspects of the concept of Christian grace beautiful and helpful as long as the individual does not use it as an excuse to harm self or others. We all stand in need of redemption from our mistakes from time to time. We have a need for forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness. That's part of why I appreciate y'all so much. You seem to get that and to encourage that. I love how you take care of each other, me, and yourselves, even with the flaws and imperfections each of us has.
Zack I want to side track a minute here to highlight something you said at the end of your last post. Forgive me if this sounds a bit testimonyish or something coming from your grandma, but ... This is the heart of this board. Thanks for making this observation. Sure there's another board that has all sorts of activity but I stay here because here we become close and personal. We are all being shunned and looked down upon in varying degrees because we dared to break the "perfect" mold and step out of the cave and into the light. We stand testament to the fact that life does not have to look the Mormon way. This is what makes us crazy bunch of misfits and walking wounded so perfect. As you said, even with the flaws and imperfections each of us has .... here we take care of each other. What ever any of your reasons for being here on NOM please know here you are home.
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

User avatar
Just This Guy
Posts: 224
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:30 pm
Location: Almost Heaven

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Just This Guy » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:04 am

I have found that the more a family or group proclaims themselves to be perfect, the more skeletons they have hiding in their closets.

Some of "Perfect" families I have known in the church have had the following:

1. Family had repeated bankruptcies due to massive credit card dept. They went though one, as soon as they were able to get credit again, they went right back into the habit and were bankrupt again within a few years.
2. Family went though very public divorce due to the wife being emotionally and physically abusive to the husband. Kids all left the church. Wife claimed in church that it was her husbands unbelief that split up the family.
3. Husband rapes and abuses his wife. Even goes so far as denying her medical care when she is hemorrhaging from a miscarriage.
4. Family is hugely homophobic and would go on rants in church. (They made F&T meeting really awkward.) They had a son leave because he was gay.
5. Member of stake leadership helped to conspire to enable a child pedophile and to silence victim.

These are all families that I was repeatedly told that I should be more like because they were such great Mormons.

I will say that this is not a Mormon only problem. I have seen this in plenty of "Good Christains" as well. It even extends to businesses. It does seam like the local businesses that I have had the most trouble with their honesty and business practices are the ones with a cross in their logo or bible quotes on the wall of their offices.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

User avatar
Emower
Posts: 668
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:35 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Emower » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:54 am

My family was not "perfect" in the mormon sense. We were poor, dad did not wear a suit to work, we drove old cars, in fact all 5 of us piled into a geo metro hatchback to go to church for years. But we did take pride in the fact the we did have perfect gospel milestones. All of us boys went on a mission. We all completed seminary. Dad was the branch president and on the high council. We were an essential cog in the church machine of that area.
Now I have gone and thrown a wrench in it. Things are ok, but it seems that if I exhibit any public controversy is when my family reacts. I think that is because I am sullying that image. For my mother that seems to be especially hard.

User avatar
SeeNoEvil
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:41 am

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by SeeNoEvil » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:42 pm

Just This Guy wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:04 am
I have found that the more a family or group proclaims themselves to be perfect, the more skeletons they have hiding in their closets.
This is so true. Until recently I worked for years at a law firm. At my firm the worst bankruptcy case we ever handled were for an active married couple in my ward. They were also my neighbors, my kids played with theirs and he was on the High council. Combined they made well over the 6 figure mark but hid her income. They lied over and over to the point when they filed for bankruptcy the Trustee threw out their Chapter 13 case and threatened to charge them with bankruptcy fraud. They were allowed to refile and I was assigned the case. They continued to lie over and over. They were going before the Trustee about the time I left so I never heard how it all ended. My guess... not to well. Then, there was an attorney who happened to be in my ward that was caught changing information on documents to make his case look better and lost his license to practice for a year. He was EQP and his wife RS. I know Mormons don't have the exclusive on lying and being something they are not but when you identify with this particular religion and this happens close to home it is embarrassing and reflect poorly on me.
Emower wrote:
Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:54 am
My family was not "perfect" in the Mormon sense. We were poor, dad did not wear a suit to work, we drove old cars, in fact all 5 of us piled into a geo metro hatchback to go to church for years. But we did take pride in the fact the we did have perfect gospel milestones. All of us boys went on a mission. We all completed seminary. Dad was the branch president and on the high council. We were an essential cog in the church machine of that area.
Now I have gone and thrown a wrench in it. Things are ok, but it seems that if I exhibit any public controversy is when my family reacts. I think that is because I am sullying that image. For my mother that seems to be especially hard.
We didn't have much either so I can relate to your family finding their successes through meeting those Mormon milestones. I threw a wrench in the process as well by being the only child to divorce which was the horror of all horrors for my parents. Overnight I became a weak and broken woman in they eyes who needed the rescue of a strong manly man. They hounded me over and over that I needed to find a man so I could be complete and their family could be back looking all perfect.

I know I am just as guilty as the next of sugarcoating certain things regarding myself and family. We don't always want the entire world to know what goes on behind closed doors. Where I have a hard time is directly with the churches programs where striving for perfection is taught over and over to the point of brainwashing and being perfect becomes a requirement to be accepted anywhere in the church and Gods kingdom. I spent a lifetime it seem worrying that I would never be perfect enough to be rewarded on high and saw myself as less in comparison to other families who seemed to be more perfect. Then the shelf fell and I realized how abusive that ideas was. I guess some days I just get angered at myself for falling into the trap of believing life has to look a certain way, .... the Mormon way.
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

Wonderment
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Wonderment » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:40 pm

I spent a lifetime it seem worrying that I would never be perfect enough to be rewarded on high and saw myself as less in comparison to other families who seemed to be more perfect. Then the shelf fell and I realized how abusive that ideas was. I guess some days I just get angered at myself for falling into the trap of believing life has to look a certain way, .... the Mormon way.
Excellent thread - Thanks so much for bringing up this topic. In my opinion, the myth of perfectionism is most pervasive in organized churches where guilt is used as a motivator to keep people coming back week after week, to keep tithing, keep volunteering hours and hours of time, etc. The myth of perfectionism keeps us running on the hamster wheel. We learn that even though we secretly realize that we are far from perfect, we must put on a perfect image to others, and that is where the trouble starts. Then the guilt and stress start to pile up. Evangelical fundamentalist families and Roman Catholic families are also very susceptible to this "must appear perfect" pressure, otherwise known as "never good enough." The anxiety and anguish produced by the pressure is so sad to watch. - Wndr.

User avatar
SeeNoEvil
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:41 am

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by SeeNoEvil » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:23 am

Wonderment wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:40 pm
I spent a lifetime it seem worrying that I would never be perfect enough to be rewarded on high and saw myself as less in comparison to other families who seemed to be more perfect. Then the shelf fell and I realized how abusive that ideas was. I guess some days I just get angered at myself for falling into the trap of believing life has to look a certain way, .... the Mormon way.
Excellent thread - Thanks so much for bringing up this topic. In my opinion, the myth of perfectionism is most pervasive in organized churches where guilt is used as a motivator to keep people coming back week after week, to keep tithing, keep volunteering hours and hours of time, etc. The myth of perfectionism keeps us running on the hamster wheel. We learn that even though we secretly realize that we are far from perfect, we must put on a perfect image to others, and that is where the trouble starts. Then the guilt and stress start to pile up. Evangelical fundamentalist families and Roman Catholic families are also very susceptible to this "must appear perfect" pressure, otherwise known as "never good enough." The anxiety and anguish produced by the pressure is so sad to watch. - Wndr.
Thanks Wndr. I agree, the anxiety and anguish produced by the pressure is sad to watch. I ran across this article you might find interesting. https://www.psychologytoday.com/article ... fectionism
Though it focuses on parents and their children there are many parallels to the Mormon experience. It is a bit lengthy but worth the read. This quote from the article stood out:
To consign children to the pursuit of perfection is to trap them in an illusion. Like the anorexic literally dying to be thin, perfectionism consumes more and more of the self. Among the many paradoxes of perfectionism is yet one more: It is ultimately self-destructive to devote all one's psychic resources to oneself.—Hara Estroff Marano
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

Wonderment
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Wonderment » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:18 pm

Thank you, S.N.E. ! This article is very helpful and thought-provoking ! It deals with a lot of issues of my family of origin and what I went through as a child. Much appreciated, from Wndr. :)

Rainyday
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:53 pm

Re: Every ward has that perfect family ....

Post by Rainyday » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:26 pm

dispirited wrote:
Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:53 pm
We present as "one of those families", but that will change soon...
how's that?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests