Advice For Kids Trying To Leave

What's up guys!

For the first nineteen year of my life I was a JW. I was born into it and it was all I knew. So I know how hard it is to to stop being a JW, especially when you were raised as one your whole life. You are yearning to explore and do more but your sheltered life has left you scared and unprepared. Don't fret. This doesn't mean your situation is hopeless. However, the worst thing kids like us can do, is to expect this transition to be easy.

When you do decide to tell your parents, be honest about how your are feeling. Tell them the exact emotions you are feeling, where you think these emotions are coming from, and how these feelings affect your everyday life whilst acknowledging your gratitude for their behaving in what they thought were your best interest (even if you disagree). Unquestionably it is not enough, and would be a major mistake, to only and sullenly say, "I don't want to go, to the Kingdom Hall or, in Field Service anymore", for two main reasons. Firstly, such a basic response will muddle your true intentions. (If however, the only reason you do want to disassociate yourself IS so you don't have to follow the rules, then grow some balls and tell your parents that; just be prepared for whatever the consequences may be- and seeing as Witness' parents tend to quell most of their children's objections... Good Luck!) Simply proclaiming "I don't want to go to the Kingdom Hall or in Field Service anymore" does nothing to convey the immense feeling of frustration, sadness, and/or pain you bear everyday. Secondly, if that is all you say, your parents will see you to be as nothing more than a capricious kid who only wants to be free from following "the rules" set forth by the organization and themselves.
Instead start by saying something more like,
" I would first of all like to tell you all how much I love you and how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. However, lately I have not been doing to well emotionally. I have been feeling really depressed and frustrated because I do not agree with what I am learning at the Kingdom Hall. Because of these feelings, I have been doing self-reflection and as a result I AM choosing to no longer associate myself as a Jehovah's Witness, its just not for me."
Thats it... for now. Their response to that one statement will let you know whether or not it is the best time to continue this conversation. Even though I know at times its hard to believe, your parents actually do want you to be happy and live a fulfilling life; a parent can only be as happy has their saddest child. The only problem, as I'm sure you have seen, is that the things which make your parents feel happy and fulfilled (such as being a JW), may make you feel unhappy and unfulfilled.

Remember, the two most contentious topics in Western civilization are politics and religion, so don't expect this to go over easy. Just as your worldview has lead you to making the choice not to be a Witness', years earlier your parents also made a choice based on their worldview: TO BECOME a JW. Yet, do no think this is an insurmountable disparity, always keep in mind- as cliche as it sounds- we humans always have more similarities than we do distinctions. Despite the fact that your parent will be very empathic in upholding all that they have taught you, you must THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE CONVERSATION REMEMBER that at at some point in their life they felt just has unhappy and unfulfilled as you do now. The only difference between you all is that what filled their void subsequently created yours.

Looking at your parents and their choice to raise you as a JW in such a manner adds some levity to the situation making your parents look less like villains and you like less of a victim. Plus, it reminds you that one your parents are human and err too. Most importantly, even though you may not agree with them at the moment, they are or were raising you based on what they know. All that they know is what made them fill complete, becoming a JW, so they are thinking that by placing you at a young age in the very religion that remedied their void you will never even develop a void in the first place thus, feeling fulfilled or purposed from youth. So don't victimize yourself through villainizing your parents as strict, small-minded, curmudgeons that spitefully are forcing you to be a JW. Instead look at the glass as more full than empty, all your parents really wanted to do was save you from the misery of feeling listless and lost as they once did. Yea it sucked having to be the only one not saluting the flag at school, missing Saturday morning cartoons just to be frozen from the spine-crippling fear that you might knock on one of the popular kids doors in field service, or bearing the humiliation from explaining to everyone why you are sneaking around to watch HBO or a rated 'R' movies at seventeen years old. But when you adjust your thinking as to WHY your parents chose to raise you as a Witness it gets a bit harder to be angry with them.

This is not to dismiss the crux of the issue in that forcing your kid to accept this is life philosophy is not pragmatic. Most parents never seem to understand that the reason they became a JW in the first place was based on their life experiences and, more importantly, how their brain processed those life experiences- something that is impossible for you to know or ever understand and appreciate . Either they forget or don't realize that every human being makes choices and decisions based on how they process every event in their life experience and that at-least some residue remains with us from each and every event in our lives, some residue we are cognizant of and most residue we are not. If somehow your parents ingeniously figure out how to allow you to essentially relive their life, from conception to the present, exactly as they lived it, with every single event in your life, day to day, corresponding to theirs, responding to and processing these events in the exact manner as they did, as if we are all video game avatars and our lives could be programmed and operated like progressing levels of Call in Duty, then, you are among the luck ones. But if your not one of these impossibly lucky children then you probably understand why it is neither fair or reasonable for a parent to expect and/or force their children to follow in the same path as they. So don't feel guilty if you are struggling with not wanting to be a JW even when your dad's an elder, your mom is a pioneer, and your older brother is at Bethel. You're more normal than you can imagine and you deserve to do what makes you happy.

DO BEWARE: Do not necessarily expect your parents to match to your initial outpouring of dissatisfaction with massive amounts of empathetic consolation. Most devoutly religious parents-regardless of which faith- are biased and blinded by their own piety, making them less inclined towards logical argumentation and thus unable to comprehend the simple rationale behind your stating that "The Truth" is 'not for you'. It is literally incomprehensible for them to understand how this 'divinely ordained religion' is making you so unhappy. It is literally incomprehensible for them to understand that the future of YOUR own sanity is dependent on a rejection of what they believe to be world's ONLY 'God approved' religion. It is literally incomprehensible for them to understand why you would want to be apart of "The World" when you know from your upbringing it will lead not only to heartache now but to your purported eternal damnation. Know that while you are speaking, MOST of what they are hearing, and ALL of what they are thinking, is that you wont be with them in "Paradise"- and that is heartbreaking for them.

Though it will be difficult, if you really no longer want to be a JW then you should to talk openly with your parents. Make sure that you enter the conversation with goods intentions and good energy. If you go into the conversation surly and bitter, it will not go well at all. Stay firm in your position without being disrespectful or rude. Avoid using the bible to defend your feelings or to chastise your parents and their feelings. Most likely, the very fact that you started this conversation proves to them that you really don't understand the scriptures in THE way they feel is appropriate. Thus, making you inadequate, unworthy even, of citing the bible despite the universal wisdom that lies within its pages.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: However, remember that this news WILL break your parents' heart! And as the saying goes a broken heart is blind. So expect and be prepared for a myriad of emotional responses- anything from reasonable agreement to intense anger and tears . Even if they do get angry, yell, scream, try to make you feel guilty, or start to dismiss your sentiments, stay calm and stay firm. Know that their anger is based in fear but that their fear, is based on their immense love for YOU. A lesser known saying intimates that when a child buries their parent they realize their own mortality but when a parent loses their child, immortality is lost to them forever; a terrifying prospect for anyone of us. For the most part, non-JW parents idea of immortality is based the hope that they will perpetuate the human species- that they will have children and their children will have grandchildren, and their grandchildren's children will have children, so on a and so forth. In actuality a JW parent wants the same thing however, they just have a slightly different idea as to how, when, and where this propagation should take place. As Im sure you know, to a JW parent, this world, this life in which we currently reside is not the "real life". For a devout JW the only life that matters for them, and especially for their children, has yet to come. Their belief in immortality is quite literal and based on a doctrine of a paradasaic earth in which they're surrounded only by fellow worshipers and where they and their children are perfect, sin-less and, free to perpetuate the human species in a theocratic utopia. So don't be surprised when your news of giving up the faith comes off more like you're divulging an AIDS diagnosis than with overt acceptance- not only are they upset you don't share their moral aptitude you are also taking away her immortality. Think about it, now the perfect future which they envisioned, the main driving force of their piety, will now presumably be missing a major proponent: YOU. Because even if they survive Armageddon, remain faithful during the Thousand Year Reign, and pass the final temptation thereby 'making it' into paradise you won't be their with them.

The legitimacy of their fears is irrelevant at this point, the only thing that matters is that THEY DO believe all that you have learned as a JW; otherwise, the never would have bother taking you into a Kingdom Hall! If you don't wont your parents to mock and dismiss your feelings then don't mock and dismiss theirs. Any negative responses by you will weaken your argument and seriousness, add more bad energy to the room escalating the situation, not placating it. And since the only person you have any power to control in such situations is yourself it is important that you force yourself to stay reasonable and calm, no matter what happens. Also no one will take you seriously if you act like a little brat. Losing your cool will only make you come off as a lazy, petulant teenager that is in the midst of a temper tantrum not like an independent thinking human being that has come to this decision after dealing with real problems.

I hope this helps! Good Luck!
plur143 plur143
3 Responses Dec 8, 2012

So you left just because you felt suffocated by people who love you? Interesting.

Wow. Maturity. Even tho at 11 I questioned God's existance, it took me til 32 to get really clear with myself and tell the world how I really felt. I never looked back, tho. You are ready when you are ready. It takes a bit of thought to be able to leave everyone who has known you since birth and know they are never going to talk to you again.

A really good read.. and while i was typing a totally different comment to this story, i realised it was long enough to form my own story, so ill be posting it later tonight.