Jehovah`s Witness/My son
QUESTION: My son's father is a jehovah's witness and I am not. We are at total opposite ends of the religion subject as I am Lutheran. My son is 10 and feels totally caught in the middle and it saddens me. My son's father keeps pressuring him saying that soon he is going to be at the age where he has to decide if he wants to be in the faith or choose. Could you explain this more to me? Is there an age when he has to accept or deny being a JW? Also how do I broach the subject of JW with him so he is comfortable talking to me about his concerns and likes/dislikes about it? Thanks!!!
ANSWER: Do you and your son's father live in the same house? I am assuming that you don't.
I am happy to explain this from the JW perspective. I will describe this with my own words. Some of the words JWs may disagree with, but they will not be able to disagree with the concept and practice.
Most religiously minded parents are content to see that their children learn Bible topics and then display a disposition to live by Bible principles. For example, being honest, studious, respectful and thankful, and then moral as they grow older.
But this is not nearly enough to expect of a child by Jehovah's Witnesses. Not by a long shot. JWs do not have a specific age when a child has to accept or deny being a JW, but 8-12 is certainly in the range where they expect to see it. JWs see this as "Taking a stand on the issue of universal sovereignty" and "Taking a stand for truth" and "Displaying loyalty to Jehovah". This from a kid? Yes. JWs see everyting in black and white. You are either for Satan the Devil and this wicked system of things or you are taking a stand on Jehovah's side. This from a kid. To not decide is deciding for Satan.
How about the wise kid who says that making religious decisions like these are for adults, or people almost adult? No. Not good enough. And by not deciding, the hardcore JW takes this as balking and as a decision against the truth. They allow no place for middle ground on anything...ANYthing. Please don't let your son be subjected to this. Please.
To broach the subject with your son, I suggest being honest, free, and open. No hidden aganda. Could you say to your son that you do not expect him to make religious decisions until he is much older. That being a good kid is enough for now. And neither do you want him to feel pressured to decide about anything. That you are happy that he is good kid and doing the right things most of the time. [By the way, isn't that more realistic for a 10 year old?]
And sure, ask him what he likes and dislikes about likes/dislikes about Jehovah's Witnesses. He might surprise you. I was 11 when I got baptized as a JW. I can tell you a lot. Just ask.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: It really scares me to be honest!!! We have never lived together or been married. My son gets very embarrased because he has to go out door knocking (my terms lol) in our town and surrounding towns where he knows everyone. We live in a town of about 2,000. He goes to his dad's everyother weekend and when he comes home he is a different kid for about a day. Very somber and serious. Listens extremely well (which is unusual :) He is sad because his dad has never been to a baseball game of his. Gets mad when my son talks about his stepdad and uncle being veterans and so on. I am just afraid he is getting depressed or has to much on his plate with having to please his dad. Just recently he told me maybe it would be good if we could schedule his brothers b-day party for a weekend that he is not here. What 10 yr old does that!!! just scared. Thanks for the quick response it really helped!!!
You have no idea how near and dear this is to me. There is nothing to be scared of. So don't be. Okay?
Your son needs someone to be real with him. He needs someone that he can say all this stuff to. Someone to tell him that he doesn't have to do anything or be anything other than a regular kid. He needs someone to tell him that his classmates are not "worldly people to be destroyed at armageddon." They are just kids, some pretty good kids, and some maybe not as good. They are just kids.
I wish I had someone to tell me that when I was 10. But I was out door knocking, talking to adults on Saturdays and Sundays when I should have been playing ball and riding bikes with the kids in my neighborhood. Developing normal relationships with kids my own age. Nope. I was out knocking on my classmates parent's doors wearing a white shirt and a tie. So embarrassing. I got razed every Monday at school. Does being constantly embarrassed in front of your classmates build character? Sure. I have some character. But I do not wish upon anyone to develop it that way.
Never mind about missing holidays and birthdays and other good times with family. I don't have any reference for good times with cousins at Christmas or Thanksgiving. It didn't happen, so I don't have those connections.
Please, will you tell your son that as far as you are concerned, he doesn't have to do any of the JW activities that he doesn't want to. Tell him that you are not trying to be against his dad while while he is with his dad, because his dad thinks he is doing the right thing. But as far as you are concerned, when he is with you that you want him to just be the good kid that he already is. And, that you want him to have fun at his brother's birthday.