How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

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nomnv
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How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by nomnv » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:22 am

TLDR: DW and I are both mentally out and plan to have kids soon. Very conflicted about our future in the church and feel like we need to rip the bandaid off before we know what we really want to do in 1,2,5 years, etc.

I know there are no easy, one size fits all answers for these things but I would appreciate some crowd-sourced wisdom on the impact of children on trying to figure out your path forward with (or without) the LDS church.

To provide some background: RM, BYU, EQP, blah blah but had doubts even as a teen and its only continued to grow. Today, I don't buy Mormonism's founding story, but find some value/benefit in the community. It's definitely part of my identity and hard to see myself fully outside of it. There are things I like about organized religion, so I generally see Mormonism as my imperfect slice of a pie full of imperfections.

Wife is in a similar spot. Both come from very TBM families in the West. We plan to have children soon and are nervous about raising kids who don't party too hard and have irresponsible sex. I know the LDS church isn't the only way to have that outcome but it worked for us and its easy to go with what you know.

We both expect to do a lot of counterprogramming, so to speak, if we stick around. "Gay people are good and the church is wrong on this….” “You aren't evil for masturbating, just don't do it five times a day", stuff like that.

We’ve gone to church in Boston and the Bay Area the last few years (well, sometimes) and frankly rarely hear the bigoted non-sense we grew up around. People openly and pretty civilly disagreed on marriage equality during a 2015 Sunday school lesson, for example.

All this being said: having kids makes a feel like we’re at a fork in the road. In short, we are very conflicted and feel like we need to rip the bandaid off before we know what we really want.

Deciding not to bless the baby is a big deal that’ll let everyone in our families know where we’re at. So far, just one of our four parents has a good idea of where we’re at, along with 4 our 12 combined siblings (not a joke lol). Some are very TBM and will not respond well because they are openly critical of extended family who have left. COVID has probably given us an extra layer of false hope that we can just continue on doing what we want and not being impacted much.

We basically think there’s a good chance we aren’t going to our church in 10 years as it fades in importance to us, and are concerned about our kids being annoyed (and in the worst wards, harassed) because we blessed them at 2 months into a high demand religion that tracks you forever. If our kids wanted to do the LDS thing, go on a mission, church school, etc. we’d be fine with it. We’d just be sure they were familiar with the problems and challenges of the church history and theology. We think our plan would be to take them to church at a young age and then around 12-13 (at the latest) make all activity fully voluntary and figure it’ll just die out.

We do have a sister and a sister in law through marriage who really lost control of their life post-Mormonism and I have a largely irrational fear that our kids will also have problems with alcohol and sleeping around if we don’t give them cultural reinforcement that those things aren’t a great strategy for long-term success and happiness.

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Red Ryder
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Re: How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by Red Ryder » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:23 am

This is a precarious position to be in.

Children are often the catalyst for both men and women to double down and become fully active members of the church. We had a few friends that were “inactive” as young newlyweds and childless. They simply had more important things to do with their time on Sundays. Once they had Children they both felt compelled to raise their kids in righteousness and they became super active.

I think in your position you may not feel like you have to do this. But what if your wife does? Will church and the kids become the wedge in your marriage? They have in mine because the wife feels like a parental failure for their indifference to the church.

I think if you and the wife can communicate your expectations and plan together how to deal with family then you will be successful together.

I’m not quite a fan of the long game since I’m currently living in the 99th inning and it’s exhausting.

I’ve turned into a fan of ripping off the band-aid and telling your family you both no longer wish to be Mormon. (Glass Shelf approves of this too😀)

Ripping the band-aid off hurts for a little bit but the wounds heal faster. You’ll be happier living your life vs pretending to care about the church for others sake.

Either way you’re ostracized so choose the path that benefits you the most.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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græy
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Re: How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by græy » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:59 am

This is a tricky situation for sure. But it does sound like you and your wife are on the same page, so that is a HUGE advantage!

Communicate with her. Stay on the same page. The two of you together will absolutely be able to raise good kids with or without the church. A united front is also a very strong defense against unaccepting inlaws on either side.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Just This Guy
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Re: How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by Just This Guy » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:30 am

The fact you are both out makes life a lot easier in the long run. Here are a few suggestion from my expedience.

Regarding not letting having your kids grow up into drug and sex crazed alcoholics, one thing to remember is that kids are naturally interested in something that is forbidden. If you remember in the Harry Potter books, it was a running joke that the best way to get every kid in school to read something is to ban it. The moment something is banned, it spikes their interest any every kid in school would somehow fine in illicit copy of whatever band item it is and read it within a day of the ban going into effect.

While a joke in the books, the idea holds true. If kids are exposed to something, they are much more likely to make good decisions around it. It is when you make something totally evil that you give it a lot more interest in the minds of kids than it should have. So the idea is to make these behaviors normal and reasonable.

I am not saying that you need to let them get drunk and never wear clothes in the house, but you can normalize these behaviors in a reasonable level. For sex, be open and honest with your kids, don't be afraid to show some affection, romance, and PDA in front of your kids. If they have questions, do not shame them, but answer them honestly. The idea is to give them realistic expectations. Sex does not have to be some secret thing that they only find out about when they get married. Give them the information to make informed choices about their lives.

Same thing with coffee and alcohol. As you and your wife get more and more out, eventually you may decide to try out coffee and alcohol. If you chose to do this, don't hide it from your kids. Maybe offer a sip if they ask and they are mature enough.

Teach your kids that sex, coffee, and alcohol are things to be respected and enjoyed responsibly. If they can learn for those things to be responsible with, then the really dangerous stuff like drugs and tobacco can be in better perspective as actually being dangerous. When a kid sees that not everything is super dangerous, they have a better perspective on the stuff that is.

As far as family goes, DW and I have found it's best to do family on our terms. If they don't like what we do with our lives, they don't have to be involved with it. AS such, we choose not to do most family reunions, and holiday dinner are just us, no extended family is invited. Many extended family members are blocked on Facebook. Set your own terms and those that are worth keeping around will respect them. If they don't then you are better off without them in your life. This is time for you and your wife to create your own family. Not make the one that you parents or in-laws thing it should be.

For a baby blessing, you can get creative. Depending on the state of Covid-19, you can hold a "private" blessing for as much as your family needs to know. Let your wife perform the blessing. Or just perform the blessing and then 2 months later send in resignation letters for your kid's behalf as their legal guardians. Or just not do it. Anyone who complains does not need to be involved in your kid's lives anyway.
"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

dogbite
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Re: How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by dogbite » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:34 pm

This is mostly a boundary issue in my opinion.

While it's easy to find oneself worrying about family reaction, I think that this reduces to a misplacement of boundaries in the newly forming family.

If you set the boundary that the mother and father are raising the children according to their standards and the extended family is welcome to celebrate, they're not welcome to impose their own standards outside of their own immediate family.

The oldest set of parents may then claim that the younger parent set is immediate family and thus they have some say. The issue is about autonomous units. The Church tries to teach a web of relationships to maintain control inputs into all relationships and families. But if a set of parents declares and sets autonomous boundaries, the web theory is shown to be illusory and reveals the actual limits of the units.

Nothing is quite that simple in real life, sure. But I think setting boundaries and expectations that you will be making decisions and exercising control is the path through this.

Most of this is about saying, I appreciate your concerns, but as parents, we'll make the decisions we find best. Don't discuss details. This is a ploy to drag you into their control.

Point out that you can disagree about what each of you think is best when they disagree with you but don't get into it. Just acknowledge that you know they disagree and this issue is yours, not theirs.

Never justify your decisions to them. Just own your decisions as yours.

if family members won't respect your decisions and actions, they do not get to be involved with your family anymore.

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moksha
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Re: How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by moksha » Tue Mar 30, 2021 4:01 pm

If you are out of the LDS Church and find it kind of cultish, you might want to take your kids to some other Church if you would like to instill in them some normative values. Stay away from anything charismatic, fundamentalist, or evangelical. A good mainstream to liberal Church will teach the kids positive values that can be of benefit throughout their lives, no matter what they choose for themselves as adults.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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Linked
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Re: How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by Linked » Tue Mar 30, 2021 5:11 pm

I think your kids will not get irreversibly attached to the church teachings until they are at least 10, probably 12 or 13, so if you fade over the next 10 years it is probably not going to be an issue.

I think the more important issue would be understanding and communication between you and your spouse on what you want for the kids related to the church. It is possible that the two of you could diverge into a mixed faith couple if having kids stokes the fire of faith in one, but not both of you. Since you are already having these conversations you are starting from a good place as there can be no accusations of "breaking the deal" from either side.

Good luck! Kids are wonderful and terrifying and exhausting and frustrating and inspiring.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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IT_Veteran
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Re: How to Handle Adding Children to the Picture

Post by IT_Veteran » Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:13 pm

Counterpoint: what if one of those kids you’re planning is LGBTQ+? You can try and counter the messaging at home, but I still think LGBTQ+ kids internalize a lot of what they hear and see around them. Participating in church where they’re shamed for who they are can be incredibly harmful.

I didn’t find out my middle kid was LGBTQ+ until after I left the church, they were already in their teen years, and their lifetime of church attendance had already done a lot of damage. It didn’t help that I trusted the church on LGBTQ+ issues, but even if I hadn’t, I think there would be a lot of trauma there.

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