September 26, 2006

Freedom of Choice

I'm having a moral dilemma. My husband asked me why I'd let J. go to church still, if I think it's not true, and if it's teaching things that are false. Why would I want my kid to be indoctrinated to that way of thinking, especially if it's based on a lie? Why would I want my kid to go and learn that people who do not go to church are under the influence of Satan? There are actually many things I'm afraid he'll learn and believe if he keeps going there. We told J. he wasn't going to church last Sunday, since I was afraid that they'd announce my release (I still don't know if they did it or not) causing him to be asked what was up by people who were curious. Then my husband told J. that he wasn't going anymore, that we're his parents, and we have the right to tell him he's not going to that church anymore. When he grows up, he's free to choose.

My dilemma is this: do I let him choose NOW or later? I've told him the things that lead me to believe the church wasn't true, and Joseph Smith lied. And if he's not really a prophet, then he made the whole religion and Book of Mormon up. And if he did, why would I want to support it? Why would HE want to support it?

J. says he'd still rather go to church. This boggles me because he really doesn't have any close friends at church, and he hates scouts. All the friends he plays and talks on the phone with are sports kids on his teams, and kids he went to grade school with who aren't LDS. Yet he still wants to go. Finally I asked him "what is your reason for wanting to keep going to church?" He just shrugged, and I said, "Why should I let you go if you don't even have a reason for going?" He finally told me later that he was worried what people would think of him if he quit going. He had told a boy at school who's in a different ward that I didn't believe the church is true anymore, and his friend said, "That sucks! Are YOU going to keep going?" J. told him yes, and his friend said that was good. Then the next day we told him he can't go.

Do I let him keep going to church, just because he's afraid of what people are going to think of him? Especially if they are going to treat him differently for certain, now that I've quit going...Will this cause J. to resent me and treat me poorly or think I'm less worthy of his respect? Maybe. It's a real possibility. And I don't want to go there.

So, do I let him choose now (I'll admit that I figured he'd just quit going too, especially since I always had to drag him to church every Sunday) or do I tell him he's free to choose when he's 18? I don't let him drink or try drugs now, although he's free to choose that when he's old enough. Do I do the same for him with church?!

Oh, another thing happened...I sent my explanation e-mail Sunday afternoon to the primary pres. & 1st counselor. I am much closer to the pres., yet it was the 1st counselor who replied to me and said she'd still rather remain friends, and that she was very sad that I chose this road, sad for me, for the kids & D too. But that she'd always wanted to invite us over as a family for games and dinner. She said "I would love to still get together, whether this involves gospel discussion or not. I have truly grown to love you, and nothing will end that desire to know you better." So, I have to choose if this is what I want to do or not. I can picture, from the words she wrote here, that she may try to incorporate gospel discussion into the evening, forcing me to have to say something. Who knows? Maybe not.

Anyway, the PP hasn't called or e-mailed. I was closest to her at church, and expected I'd hear from her. Yesterday I got an e-mail from another acquaintance at church who said the PP had told her Sunday nite that I'd left the church, and she wanted me to know that she hoped that didn't affect our friendship and she still hoped that we could do lunch sometimes as before. I sent my e-mail to the PP Sunday afternoon. She really didn't waste any time! She must be burning up the phone lines!!

Her granddaughter talked to J. yesterday at school and told him she was personally inviting him to Zion's Camp ~ a pioneer trek in Wyoming the stake youth are doing for 3 days in October. He'd already signed up (or someone signed him up) for this, because we got a call a few weeks ago from his "Ma" he was assigned to, even though J. said he never signed up for it and didn't even know what Zion's Camp was. Anyway, the PP's granddaughter said she also invited J's good friend who's not a member to go as well. Already they are treating my son like he's inactive. I wondered why she was staring at me so hard at his football game yesterday. Blatantly staring at me hard. Finally I smiled really big and waved to her, and she just stared some more without waving back. Probably trying to find signs of how Satan had affected me.

Anyway, the big question that needs answering: do I let him choose for himself now, or not??


Cele said...

Lisa you don't know me, from well anyone. I don't have the right to TELL you what to do. I am not in your shoes. You have a long, hard road ahead of you...but it could be a lot worse. Just think, you could have made this decision and been married to the Stake President, now that would have been a nasty road.

Having said that...I'm not telling you but asking you to consider the following thoughts.

In the long run J must decide for himself. He will soon see all the intend behind the invitations, the sudden attention, and soon the unveiled comments.

Whether he makes the decision this week, next month, or when he is 18 it will still be his decision. Sit down and listen to what he really has to say. Is he going because he feels he belongs there or as he said he doesn't want to be a quitter? If it's the latter, you shouldn't fear, because he will make the intelligent decision in the long run. Being a listening, loving parent is the best you can be. Also ask him, why they would or who would sign him up without his permission? What are his thoughts on this? Is it honest? It's an adult conversation.

Just one of many said...

I told my 9 year old that he can choose for himself when he becomes an adult. That as a child he needed to trust us as parents that what we were doing was for the best. You know what, he hugged us and said he new he loved us. We didn't hide anything from him. It wasn't that hard for us, he is at a "puddy" age. 14 is a different least he knows that Scouting Blows!!! P.S. Your a GREAT mom!!!

Bull said...

I guess it depends on the age. My boys stopped going on their own after I stopped. I'd be inclined to let a teenager decide on their own because they are reaching that age where if you try to force them in one direction they will naturally pull in the other. Present him with good information and let him decide on his own. Continue to discuss it with him. Don't attack his choice, but continue to probe various issues with him. For me, the most important issue would be how to determine truth and error. The church inculcates a pretty warped decision making process on his members and this is the most important thing that you need to combat; just because something feels good doesn't make it true and just because something is scary or uncomfortable doesn't necessarily make it bad.

With accurate information and a rational decision making process the choice becomes pretty obvious.

SocietyVs said...

The problem with letting the kid decide (which is what I think has to be done here also) is what about the things they will say about you guys (mom and dad)? Is it fair for him to be subjected to what might end up being some bad words being tossed around? I really don't know but i can envision such things. But if he makes his own choice you can ease your mind, maybe they'll drive him out who knows?

La said...

I don't know about the whole "letting him choose" thing.


Do NOT let him go to the Zion's Camp thing. Are they doing it in Martin's Cove? They make the kids walk for 3 days and camp in the most remote, barren place in existence. They want the kids to get a feel for what the pioneers went through. The only problem with it is that the whole Martin-Willey Handcart debacle SHOULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED. It's retarded. Don't let him go. It's pure indoctrination. And it's unnecessary. The wear the kids down and then make them to the testimony/fireside thingees. Ugh.

Eric said...

He's very smart and old enough. Let him decide if you can. He'll need to anyway, just as we all had to with just the opposite influence from our parents. At it's worst case senario (not at all true), it's still a force for good generally. So, what have you got to lose? His teens will challenge him enough on the go to church front...
Also, how many chances does a parent get to really lovingly teach a kid how to guide their own life based upon their belief structure. He has to know that he is free to choose what he believes. He is in the strange position of having his parent make a 90 degree turn very quickly. He may need time to decide what this means to him.
I love you! I wish I was closer to help you with this stuff.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

I think you have to let him choose, particularly at this age. If he was 5 or 8 or even 10, that would be a different deal. But he's 14 and he sounds like a reasonably smart guy.

For most teenagers, church isn't so much about a testimony of whether something is true or not. Any 'testimony' they have at this stage is largely mimicry of what they hear their parents, teachers, and peers say. For most of the youth, church is a social occasion where they can interact with their friends who understand and support their religious and moral 'values.'

Personally, I'd let him choose. He has the right to come to the same conclusions you came to, but on his own time and terms. The challenge for you and your husband will be to let him discern for himself what he'd like to do. In the end, you'll earn his respect because you respected him at time in his life when peer acceptance matters. If you force him to do something he doesn't want to do, he'll hate you.

Besides, even though people like you and I and many others find the church repulsive and unacceptable, there are worse places he could be on a Sunday morning. Perhaps the way to do it is to ask him each Saturday night what he'd like to do. This let's him know you've heard his desire to attend and you respect his ability to make choices for himself. A lot of what you're going through right now is likely very confusing to him and he needs time to sort that out. Attending church may be a critical step in his sorting process...

Just my (surprising) two cents.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Eric, I love you as well. It's hard, but I've decided he can choose for himself as well. And heaven help any members who say anything bad about me to him at church!

Janet, you are wise. Thanks for your advice. It really makes sense, and I appreciate everyone's wisdom. Parenting stinks sometimes! I'm thinking once he gets a job, a car, and a girlfriend, (or boyfriend, if that turns out to be the case) that this will all become a moot point anyway.

:) Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your sage advice.

Eric said...

After Lagoon, I'm pretty sure the kid is straight. Despite the log ride...