Consider this possibility. The parents have issues with the Ward. The children
are not reacting in a Christian way, but in a way they learned from their
parents. The one child willing to continue family relationships will be guided
by the Spirit in what they do and the Lord will bless everyone, whether they
come around to a Christ-like way of dealing with family issues and even the
parents in their relationship to the church IF THEY WANT TO! I often wondered
about parents who disowned their children for what they did that did not please
them. Any of these people I knew always had some other issue and did not need
Dear Home for the Holidays, First of all, you are most emphatically NOT being a
traitor by going home. You are extending unconditional love to you parents.
Can you, (or a bishop, or extended family member) ask your siblings if they
would treat a child who had left the church in this way? Would they have wanted
your parents to treat them this way if they were struggling with a testimony?
Your siblings behavior breaks my heart. This is the time when your parents need
their family's love the most. IF they are to ever return to the church, it
will be because they were treated with love and respect. Your siblings behavior
is wrong, wrong, wrong - in gospel terms and in family terms. I truly hope
somebody can get through to them. In the meantime, please continue
demonstrating love to your parents. If your siblings give you a bad time, feel
free to lovingly, but firmly, call them to repentence.
ultimatums never get the desired results you want. It is a form of FORCING
someone to do your bidding. The change won't be from the heart if they do
change, and then it won't last long because their heart was never in it.
but resentment towards you will build. and from resentment comes hate.
This reaction by the children is not surprising. It is the same sentiment of
condemnation for not conforming that the parents used on the children to get
them to conform to Mormonism in the first place: the subtle but constant threat
that if you don't pray, read scriptures, attend Church meetings, get
baptized, go on a mission, get married in the Temple, then you will be rejected
as a failure, as unworthy, as a betrayer!That is the subtle but
powerful social pressure that imposes fear of rejection and keeps millions of
Mormons "active" in the LDS Church.
You and your siblings now know how parents feel who have had children decide to
leave the faith. This is a heartbreaking situation but now it challenges your
basic core beliefs in a way you never thought possible. Do you really believe in
Christ? Do you feel he can heal all problems? That the atonement can work in
your lives on a daily basis? I'm sure you feel all these things. So the
challenge is to really love your parents instead of punishing them for their
decision. Choose a way that you can do something that they like--hear a
Christmas concert, see the lights somewhere, bake cookies together--something
that won't make them feel attacked, and won't bring on a lecture about
the church. If you are the only family that can do it, then just do it. When
they talk to you, LISTEN and don't attack. Right now the issue is showing
them you love them, and showing them by the way you act that you really live
your religion. Your traditions will probably change.
@ Mormonmamma -- I totally relate to your experience. I finally had to straight
up tell some of my family members that I didn't want to hear every negative
thing they could think of about the church and its leaders and members. Since I
did this (as diplomatically as possible) things have been better, but in some
ways the negative comments have been replaced by avoidance and silence. Not fun
but part of life I suppose.
The parents need to speak to the stake president and ask if it is okay with him
to attend one of the other wards and give him all the reasons they want to do
so. We have a couple of families here that do that because the members in the
ward they live in don't treat them as well as the other ward does. Some
stake presidents are a little stubborn but at least talking to him might open
his eyes and see if their is a way to help that ward they hate fix some of their
problems. Worth a try. At least this is more pro-active than leaving the
I think everyone is being a bit harsh on the siblings. My parents left the
church 5 years ago and it was the most painful thing I have yet to experience.
They were negative and said hateful things about the church and its leaders and
members. They attacked me and my beliefs and took every opportunity they could
find to say something negative about the church. It came to a point where, as
much as I loved them, I couldn't continue to subject myself to that. So, I
had to separate myself from them. We missed holidays and my family thought that
I hated them and was as bad as the members that offended them. I showed them
nothing but love, but my testimony could only handle so much anti-Mormon
garbage. My suggestion is to pray. Pray that your siblings soften their hearts
as well as your parents. Give everyone sometime to deal with things in their
own way. As I said, my family leaving the church has been the hardest and most
painful experience of my 29 years of life.
Most people who feel wards are unfriendly do not show much friendliness
themselves. They sit and do a slow burn if someone doesn't jump over a
couple of pews and shake their hand every sunday. Yet rarely do they put forth
effort. they seem to be looking for a reason to bolt. I don't know why
this is. It shows a lack of understanding of the gospel. However, members
should go out of their way to greet whoever they can and include them whenever
possible. You never know what people are thinking or what their needs are. We
have one couple in our ward with great children, but they never come. They
don't like testimony meeting ( yes sometimes it gets kind of weird) they
don't like people in the ward, life didnt work out for them after they
went back to school. Ward members can help but ultimately the ward members have
to grow up and step up.
Angela's advice is the right advice, obviously. But I have found that when
family members who were once active church members decide to quit, they
sometimes withdraw from the family members who are still centering their lives
around the church. I am currently in that situation; I continue to reach out,
but feel as if my presence only makes the formerly active member uncomfortable
and they tend to prefer to avoid me. Definitely a trial of principles for all
Perhaps the parents developed doubts about the very nature of the LDS church
after having witnessed many, many uncharitable and un-savory behaviors and
actions from its members (and, in a few cases, leadership). I know I have.Decades of experience as a world-traveling convert who moved to Utah can
be summed up in this way: 1) Anyone considering membership in the LDS church
should live in Utah amongst the 'Saints' for a year or two before
taking the plunge. The LDS experience outside Utah vs. inside are not the same,
AT ALL. Far too many members are unbelievably mean-spirited & intolerant
here. 2) Mormon culture is divisive. Have you ever been asked if you've
been on a mission, been to the temple, held certain callings? Have you ever
asked these questions of another? These questions and the intent behind them
serve to create division. I could go on and on...And what of the
furious children in this article? 3) If you don't look, act, think and
believe as I do, then you're wrong and I'm going to compel you mend
your ways until you are just like me.And so it goes. Sigh...
While I appreciate the perspectives and comments of non-members or ex-members,
it is important to remember that Mormons have a unique perspective on the role
religion plays in our existence. To us, it is not merely a Sunday thing or even
a mortal thing. A familiar quote to many of us is: "We are not human beings
having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human
experience."That is why we take it hard when someone, especially
a loved one, leaves the faith. In fact, many of us take it hard when our friends
don't grasp how important these decisions really are. It breaks our hearts
to see someone give up an eternal birthright for a mortal mess of pottage.Still, no matter how important it is to us, I agree that we should not
try to "own" the decisions or choices of others. As I said in my very
first post, we can only control our own choices and decisions and they should
always be based on love.
My husband and I had exactly the same situation. We didn't leave, we had to
forgive the clueless. Point out that they could go to another ward or even
Stake. So their reason for leaving the gospel is debunked. My daughter in-law
has a similar situation in her family and its been going on for over a year. One
sibling has left the church to side with the father, the others side with the
mother and insist on ridiculing them for their decision. It's all bad. What
your siblings don't understand is that your parents need love and
Christ-like examples. Heavenly Father put us on this earth to have free agency.
They need to be respectful towards your parents by expressing their
disappointment and then leaving it at that. In my family my mother and uncle had
a huge feud when I was sixteen they didn't speak for 29 years and I felt I
would be a traitor if I spoke to them. It hurt us as a family and we have just
recently begun to mend these ties. Your siblings behavior toward you with their
ultimatums are a very blatant form of bullying.
This story itself reinforces many stereotypes about former Mormons that I think
should be clarified if one really wants to understand "us." Being
"offended," wanting to sin, and not having the strength to live the
difficult life of a member...are very rarely the reasons we have chosen to leave
the church. The majority of us that have chosen to leave are
committed family members and hard-working people in your communities. We love
our family members -- including those that choose to remain faithful LDS
members...and really hope you can understand that our choice to leave does not
affect that love.I have some simple advice that I have found is
helpful for "mixed families:" Do the best you can to accept the other as
equal and healthy AS THEY ARE. If we look at the other as broken and wrong, we
can never truly love the other. That concept may be foreign to religionists, but
very necessary for long-term, loving relationships. Judge not that
Ye be not judged. These are words we can all live by.
Sometimes deciding that a person has left for a fickle reason can be a lot
easier than sitting down and taking a moment to listen to their reasons and
experiences. This can be especially true when the reasons involve historical
truths that are uncomfortable or social beliefs that are painfully out of date.
When children are taught at a young age that anybody only ever leaves
because of sin or laziness or apathy, this type of thinking can be hard to
combat. Uchtdorf made a good start this last conference. But there is
more to be done. The fact that people become so panicky and distressed when a
person leaves is evidence that things are not being done correctly right now. I
don't know what kind of god would punish people for the decisions of others
that are beyond their control. But I really wouldn't want to know him/her.
This weakest link fear mongering stuff has to stop. Sometimes dads leave.
Sometimes moms leave. Sometimes children leave. Sometimes spouses leave.
It's not about the decisions of the family. That would be incredibly
unfair. It should always be about the individual.
Okay. Did the parents say that they were leaving the church because people in
the ward mistreated them? Or is this what was inferred? Because I have to say
that I have talked to a looot of exmormons in my day and not one has spoken of
leaving for such a reason. Now I have met people who have had issues with
history or doctrine or whatnot and the cultural problems didn't help.
I've met people who didn't think that things meshed. But as far as
leaving because of being offended? No. Not anybody I know. Further, the
phrase "hardens their hearts even more" sounds like it came directly
from a general conference talk or church manual. Can we tone down the rhetoric?
Please? People make decisions based on what makes sense to them and what seems
right. If somebody makes a decision different than one somebody else might
make, it does not make them "hard hearted", "stiff necked",
sinful, or anything else. It means that they believed something once and now
they believe something different. I have never known anybody to go through
their entire life without reevaluating a belief.
Both my wife and I have siblings who, for different reasons, have chosen to no
longer attend church and are not eager to involve themselves in any LDS Church
related family activities like baptisms or baby blessings. It really
hasn't been difficult for either of us to stay in close contact with these
siblings. Our parents have spoken to them about their feelings not only about
the LDS Church, but also about God and religion in general. I can honestly say
that, our families have remained close to one another. I don't
know this person who wrote this letter, but it seems to me if his or her
siblings are so quick to condemn their parents, there's obviously more to
this story than a simple disagreement about religion.
Great advice, Angela! I'm not LDS but I've seen Mormon families torn
apart by this sort of thing. Mozart had it right when he claimed that love is
all there is and all that matters. This is why I will never turn my back on an
atheist friend. I learn more about my own relationship with God from listening
to his words about the many who have been hurt by the extremes of religion and I
realize that he is a blessing in my life. He knows that I try to be a good
person and he doesn't question my beliefs and I have total respect for his
choosing not to believe. I try to set the best example I can and that's
what I feel this person should do in this situation. Love your family (even when
they make it hard) and that means all of them. Go be with your parents and if
your siblings scream and shout, tell them what a beautiful time you had visiting
your parents and that you are sorry you didn't get to be with them over the
holidays, but that you love them all the same.
I think there is a strong similarity here to a child leaving the church and a
parent reacting strongly. My guess is that these parents might be the kind that
will disown their children if they make some big wrong decision. If that is the
case, the children learned the attitude from their parents. It is ridiculous in
both directions. I understand removing a toxic person from your life but
disowning a child or parent because you disagree about a very personal decision
they made? It can only lead to more heartache. There's a great book called
"Christlike Parenting" by Glenn Latham. He describes how important it is
to NOT kick out disobedient children but use whatever influence you have to help
them feel loved and make better decisions. I think his advice applies to these
adult children in their relationship with their parents. These parents are
hurting and need love and support. Good for the letter writer for not deserting
his or her parents.
It's hard to justify either position. Do you stop going to work because you
think people are mean to you? Why would these parents think that they were
singled out? Is this ward so out of control that they have a yellow legal pad
with a line drawn down the middle and their parents names are on the left side?
Or, is this a more self inflicted perception? And then there are the
kids. Why is leaving the church such an important thing to them? Will this
drag them all to hell? Is threatening anyone, either way, going to change
anyone's mind? Former members often say to me, "I ain't
going to church 'cause of all them hypocrites." Strange, I thought that
hypocrisy was your holding someone else to a standard you refuse to observe. Here's an idea: Live your own life to a higher standard, and let people
decide for themselves.
Rather than commenting directly to how these kids reacted I'll let you know
how I reacted when I got similar news. I only have one mom, one dad, one brother
& one sister. Some of them no longer affiliate with LDS but they are still
my best friends. I think you miss the point of the LDS religion, to
strengthen families, if you let the religion tear your family apart! Love your
family because they are family not because they act the way you would prefer.Relax!
There is still a lot of silly stuff floating around here."I'd
call them on the carpet and ask why they really left", "They need to
talk to their Bishop", "What they need is to talk to someone at LDS
Family Services." I know one of the reasons I left is because I wanted to be
left alone. Living in Utah and being mormon is like living in a small town.
Everything you do is being watched, and graded, and reported to a "higher
authority" (bishop, stake president, etc.) What if these parents simply want
to be left alone. Pushing someone who just left the church to talk to church
authorities isn't going to help. People rarely make that kind of decision
rashly. How 'bout people just let someone who wants to quit quit, instead
of being all over their case for it. It's like I always say, "I know
how to get back in if I want to, your help isn't needed"
As a convert of 43 years, I have seen so many excited converts as well as
long-time members leaving the church for much the same reason. Even now, we
(the ward) is trying to love and assist a family back to the church. However,
when I became a member, I was converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not to
the friendliness of the ward members nor the Bishopric. I have been insulted or
hurt, as have most members, but when offenses occur, I try to remember what my
conversion was about. Never could I (as most others) be as hurt and offended as
our Savior, but He withstood and understood and loved us anyway. I try to
become part of the solution and not part of the problem. If the ward isn't
friendly or helpful to me, I make sure that I do my part in not continuing or
contributing to the problem. Eternity awaits and today and tomorrow are brief
spots in the picture - love and patience can truly work wonders.
I don't get why anybody would pray for them. They have done nothing wrong.
Prayer isn't going to bring them back, only they themselves can make that
decision. Maybe they have other reasons or they don't believe anymore. That
isn't a sin.
It sounds like it's the children's turn to be parents. As a parent
you don't shun your child for making a poor decision. You love them and
encourage them to be the best they can be. If you walk away, then how will
their hearts be softened? How can you help them work through their issues if
you're not there? We bring others (our family especially) to Christ by
sharing HIs love, pure love. He is merciful to us, shouldn't we be
merciful to others?
I know how your parents feel. My husband and I feel the same way. My husband
just joined the church less than a year ago and I was inactive for 25 years
before coming back. Their are people who will not talk to us and look down on
us, because we were born into the church. Some of the other only talk to us
because they want to go to temple with us. It not fun being an outsideer and it
doesn't make you want to go to church.
I was inactive for years.. my mother prayed for all of her inactive children for
us unceasingly.. and most of us have come back. Prayer is powerful.. stay
active, fulfill your callings and pray for their return. Remember that they have
their free agency.. it is a God given gift. I wish you well and that they
We are to love in spite of weaknesses - love and not judge and forgive and not
harbor negative feelings.
Lew Scannon wrote:"The kids in this case are providing good
ammunition to those who claim Mormons aren't Christians."And Jesus said "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and
mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life
also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).The kids in this
case are providing evidence that Mormons ARE "Christian" -- and that is
not a good thing. Nonbelievers do not feel morally obligated to "hate"
their family members!
Wondering if by "leaving the Church", the parents have requested their
membership to be removed from the LDS church records or if it means they just
don't go to church anymore. Article makes it sound like the latter.
Either way, my goodness...sounds like the siblings need to reread the messages
from the past 2 General Conferences. And I noticed a couple of commenters went
to the old "they got offended" judgment. I think there's something
in there about that as well. The parents could just be tired of their ward
members not living how they profess to believe. That doesn't qualify as
being "offended" in my book, but worn down by levels of hypocrisy from
imperfect neighbors. None of us claim to be perfect, so why don't we cut
each other some slack both ways when we continually prove it.
i have friends whom have used the 'not treated with kindness' or
'bishop isn't whom i want as bishop' or 'i don't want
to go because i am not popular in the ward'. there have been other reasons
but alas what they loose is their testimony. the world calls loudly and so many
follow the yelling 'come to the world do what you want and you will be
accepted'. i am not 'popular' in my ward nor do i want to be. i
attend church for my testimony not anyone elses. when parents make the choice to
leave then they are allowing the world to control their choices. the children
need to be strong and make a stand and continue attending church. the example
will remind the parents what is important.
Go home. Be an example of that unconditional love that Christ preached. Love
your parents. Honor them for raising you and caring for you. Let them practice
their agency. Go home.
The kids in this case are providing good ammunition to those who claim Mormons
I have never known, nor could I ever imagine, any of my nonbeliever friends
treating their own family members with such disdain over differing
"beliefs".Whatever supernatural creature inspires such
horrible behavior is a creature in whom I have no interest whatsoever.
Do you treat non members in this manner? Do you only associate with members of
the Church and do you assume to know so much about what others should be doing
in their lives? I just can not imagine it! This really bothers me a lot! I say a
prayer for those parents and the young woman. I can not ever imagine doing this
to anyone! I guess it is because I know what it does! I know what I have wished
for all these years and I know what it is like when people you love turn away. I
will always love them even when they no longer care for me! Oh! If they only
understood, they wouldn't do it! What good does any church have if you have
not learned to love? You don't do this to someone you love and if we
don't love one another, nothing else matters. I just feel so sad. This
brings up so much! Don't do it! Please! Please! I pray for that young
women. I hope she never feel the pain that comes from this!
Perhaps the siblings should read D&C 64:10. 10I, the Lord, will
forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. I
can think of no simpler words to firmly state that it is not our choice to
condemn others. There are other scriptural references which are not as
clear. The path of condemning the parents and shunning them is a path not
in accord with the wishes of the Lord and will surely keep these parents away
from the Church. Perhaps this is a time to make an appointment with their
(the children's) bishop. Then, only after speaking with their own bishop,
an appointment with the parents bishop might be in order. Is he even aware of
the fact that they are missing from the congregation?Living as I do, deep
in the mission field where one branch I was in had 130 members, we knew each
member and why they were not attending sacrament meeting. Now I am in a ward
with nearly 800 members, our new bishop knows all of those attending and is
seeking via HT & VT to get to know the rest.
We all effect each other and the siblings of this young women need to seriously
think about what they are doing! Not only are they having an impact on their
parents, but they are also doing great damage to their sister. I have learned a
lot being gay! I feel that I have learned more about the worth of a soul and
none of us should ever treat parents or any other person in this manner. There
are sins that have no name, but we should all know better than to treat each
other this way. If Jesus can talk with a prostitute, don't tell me it is
good for these siblings to treat their parents in this manner! It has been so
long since I have felt like I was one of you and that is not my choice! I think
that they are making an eternal mistake! Oh! Please don't do it! Please!
You have no idea what pain it can cause. It isn't meant to be! It
doesn't have to be that way! Love is the greatest thing we can ever give!
Without it, nothing matters! Love your mom and dad!
Any time loved ones -- be it a spouse, parents or kids-- make choices that a
person knows will bring them sadness it is not always easy to think logically.
The ONLY thing that one can do to help someone who is struggling with what they
believe to be sin is to turn to God for prayer and try to be a good example.
Show you parents that, just like Christ, your love is not dependent on their
choices, but unwavering. God does NOT condone our wrong choices, but he DOES
continues to love us and send the Holy Ghost when we turn to him. For the
children of this couple, GO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. They are not forcing you to
leave the church. While at home, go to church and be an example. Trust that
the atonement can heal ALL of wounds -- both those experienced by your parents
at church and the ones that weigh heavily on you and your siblings .
Dear Angela,Your parents should talk to the Bishop about any
misunderstandings, he should talk to his congregation about it, as this is not
living the gospel, is it, not loving one's neighbor? If worse comes to the
worst, I would suggest that your parents just change the ward, where they are
made feel bad. You can go to any ward you want. It is our free choice, just have
them ask the Bishop to send their record to where they want to be! I would never
give up my salvation for anyone offending me! I pray for your parents and
siblings, as they should not stop loving their parents either! Withdrawing love
is a terrible blackmail and will only cause breakdown of your happy family. They
should visit them and discuss the matter with them and then perhaps invite them
to talk to the Bishop or change the ward. We are each responsible primarily for
our own soul, our own salvation! You are doing great, be a good example to
parents and siblings, see them and love them and advise them not to leave the
Church for anyone! My love and prayers to all of your family! Dora
My family has not been treated well in our current Ward or the last one (a
recent boundary change kept us with a lot of the same people). Our ward has a
big problem with cliques and gossip among the younger women (late 20s to mid
30s). We used to talk about moving away.Recently we realized that
the Gospel and the Church are for everyone. We need to live our lives as best
we can, raise our children in the principles of the Gospel, and ignore the
garbage. When we get upset at others' poor behavior, we give them power in
our lives. I refuse to let them have that power. The only one I want to have
power over my life is my Savior.Christ is not judging us today. His
final judgment will come, but it is a long way off. Right now we are under His
Grace, which allows us help, forgiveness and healing. I wish more members
understood this (it is spoken of each and every General Conference, but some
I feel a little anger and enormous pain just thinking about it. I think I would
rather die than treat my parents that way! I am a gay person and I grew up in
the Church. I feel that most of the good things I learned came from being in the
Church, because that is where I grew up. I can't even begin to tell you
what happened to me but before I could even deal with being gay, I was driven
out of the Church. It was impossible to go. That was almost thirty years ago. I
am confident that God is fine with me , but I miss so much being with others in
the Church. People don't realize it, but none, and I mean none of them will
discuss God with me. They either change the subject or say nothing and I often
hear the " I can't condone it ." I have lost many friends and it is
always their choice, not mine! What arrogance to assume so much about the lives
of others. How dare they treat their parents in that manner! It is their
behavior that should not be condoned
Paul in MD,Your post strikes a better balance than mine did but we
basically agree. A family can endure even as changing relationships challenge
one to accept a person’s choices. Something that helps me when I feel
quick to judge is to stop and remind myself that person is struggling too, just
as I am.
The irony is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a tried
and true motto: Families are Forever. I guess that is true, so long as The
Church comes first, no matter what. If this is a true situation, I struggle to
come up with the best adjective to describe the siblings behavior-- bizarre,
pathetic, cult-like, religo-centric. This fact situation is simply disturbing
@Craig Clark,"Contrary to what more than a few Mormons like to
believe, the family is not forever. That’s an unhealthy growth-stifling
attitude to cling to out of a need for security and the illusion of
permanence."Actually, family is forever. But just like people,
families grow and change. Children become adults and parents themselves, and
parents (should) learn to treat their adult children as just that, adults. It
can be a very hard adjustment for some, which I suppose can lead to the
"growth-stifling" you mention.
Blessed are the Peacemakers. That is what I see you trying to do,and I
encourage you to do so. Be an example to your older siblings, be the connection
between your parents and siblings. By loving both sides unconditionally, you
may be the doorway for reconciliation. Some parents disown their children
because of some choices they make, but they have been advised by our prophet to
never give up on them, to continue to show love to them for who they are. I
would apply that same advice to your siblings. I would guess that your siblings
have not raised teenagers yet. When they learn how to accept their young men
and women who may do things that they don't agree with, they may understand
more about loving their parents unconditionally. Parents aren't perfect.
But they deserve unconditional love. It's painful to learn some of these
lessons. With a little humility, he Lord will help you through it.
She and her sibling should never cut ties. If her parents are really anti-LDS or
Mormon whatever is "PC", she should limit the discussions she has with
them about the church. If you family is inactive and doing things that are not
right and you don't condone, they are still your family. Family is forever,
even those walking a stray.
I'm not sure why most are quick to condemn the children for rejecting
(dishonoring) their parents. From what I read into the article, that is how they
were raised. My guess is that someday, some of them will follow suit and be
offended and leave the church, as well. I've seen it in my wife's
family. Every one of them, sons, daughters, and parents served missions. When my
wife was a teenager her mother told her she no longer believed in the church.
This was a crisis in her life and she was devastated. She had to know for
herself. So, she prayed until she received an answer. She knew for sure that
the church is true and remains very active. But, more than 40 years later she
still suffers from abandonment issues. Two of her siblings have also left the
church and even though I have not seen any exclusionary action from the family,
her mother and the 2 siblings have grown away from the rest of the family. So,
it comes down to a trust issue. If their parents leave the church they love for
being offended, how will they treat their children if they offend them?
what is right for kids is right for adults - even parents who make mistakes. The
answer is NOT to distance yourself from them but instead to pray for their
return and treat them with love ...even more love than before. Recall the
parable of the prodigal son - the father never stopped praying for his wayward
son and rejoiced at his return. Obviously the wayward son felt comfortable in
coming home ...when he was ready. It is sad to see anyone make a mistake and
some mistakes take years to make right so patience and love is the key. If it
were my parents I would love them even more and at the same time show them how
much I love both them and the gospel of Jesus Christ. People will eventually
respond to true charity....if not in this life then the next.
Fail, so much fail. The lack of logic in this world astounds me sometimes. I
agree with Angela. At this point, all you can do is love and pray and stay close
to your Heavenly Father. Also, don't be afraid to tell your parents how
you feel and that they shouldn't leave, but only once so as not to be
nagging, after that only lecture if they bring it up first. Same with the
siblings, tell them that they should love their parents, but only once. After
that, just keep loving and praying, and if nothing else Heavenly Father will
give you comfort to get through this. Good luck!
I would like to hear the parents' explanation as to why they left the
church. The child's account sounds rather one-dimensional. I'm
guessing there's more to the story (beyond people being rude to them).
Perhaps they are not telling their children the whole story because they want
their children to remain in the church.
Never, ever pass up an opportunity to visit your parents. Chances are there were
times in either your life or your siblings when church teachings were questioned
by a child. Your parents never gave up on you, don't give up on them. No
matter what they believe, simply because they are your parents, you need to
visit with them. If your siblings won't go then that's something that
they will have to live with.
I wish this family could see what is really going on. The adversary is working
overtime to destroy them.To the Parents:Church isn't about other
people validating us, it is about us communing with The Lord & renewing our
covenants. I go to church for me. I try to teach my children that Christ is our
ONLY HOPE. People will offend us, focus on your relationship with Christ &
the gospel.To the adult children: Christ never said to remove our love
from others when they don't make choices that we agree with. Christ loves
the sinners in spite of their sins. The adult children need to be Christ like.
Parents are people that struggle too. They need to help their parents focus on
the Gospel & NOT condemn them for struggling. The whole family needs to work
together & not allow the adversary to tear them apart. Thanksgiving &
Christmas celebrate blessings & family & The Savior. How hypocritical it
would be to do these things separated with malice in their hearts. My prayers
are with all that are involved.
I remember reading Where Stephen Robinson told of someone that would not welcome
there children in if they married out of temple but would pay for everything if
they did. Daughter got pregnant so could not go to temple and was not welcome
in home tell she got her act together.He said that is Satan's
self appointed role condemnation. Of course you are disappointed with parents
decision. Not visiting them I don't think is the answer. Hopefully they
will come back. As for going to another Ward the Church is pretty strict about
Ward Boundaries and there is a good reason they are otherwise it would lead to
confusion. Does Prophet have time to approve every Boundary request attendance?
Both Bishops Both Stake Presidents and Prophet have other things to do I
think.As for people mistreating them, Is that the real reason? Or
is that a more convenient excuse to blame someone else rather than stay true and
faithful. If you look you can take offense. They chose not to continue with
the church not there ward members. Easy to blame other people when there are
If the children are furious that their parents have left the church, would they
have the same reaction if one of their brothers or sisters left the church.
Would their same reaction be OK if it was from their parents?
To: Cat - what a terrific attitude to have - too bad more don't feel the
way you do. I agree with you totally. You will be blessed for not standing in
judgement with your words and actions. It's hard sometimes but we are
better off if we will just bite our tongue unless there is something positive we
could do to maybe help them think about what they are doing.
When people feel unhappy with the way others act at church or how they perceive
they are treated, they need to remember one little truth:Offense can
not be given, offense can only be taken.
Response to Filthy Kuffar Part 4:To answer your question about why you
should accept family members leaving the church, it is because you love them,
you respect them and you want to have a relationship with them. It is because
you understand the principal of forgiveness.Or maybe it isn’t
a two way street. Maybe you will only love them and respect them if they do as
you say (and not as you do)—in which case you don’t really have a
relationship, do you?
Response to Filthy Kuffar Part 3:You question how many people who
leave the church ever really come back and suggest it’s time for a new
approach since the old method isn’t working. many who have left the
church continue, to follow church news, buy a Deseret Industry published book,
and have conversations with Mormons. This last general conference my ears
perked up when I heard Dieter F. Uchtdorf talk in which he spoke directly to
those who have left the church. He said “To those who have separated
themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you
here.” So that is one person out of 15 million who have by their honesty
and actions demonstrated change is occurring in the Mormon congregation. Since
that talk, I have met one other person—only one!
Response to Filthy Kuffar Part 2:With regard to your daughter’s
abortion. That is very difficult and I am sorry she choose to share her choice
with you. It must be painful. I have spoken to a number of Mormon girls who
find themselves unwed, pregnant and facing a difficult relationship with the
congregation. It is as if Mormons teach their children that girls can become
pregnant if they sit next to or speak to an unwed pregnant women. My advice to
these women is to go to church if they want to. When it becomes intolerable,
ask them “would you prefer the alternative?” Ask them, “Is
the sin being pregnant? or is Motherhood is a gift—right up there next to
priesthood”. “Is the sin being unwed? Eventually, if you are lucky
you’ll get to the ah-ha moment when you can ask “Is the real
question that both of you know the answer to. “Is the sin sexual
relations outside of marriage?” Then, you can start the conversation
Response to Filthy Kuffar - Part 1:You make your daughter sound like a
very horrible person. Are you sure about her actions? Is she as miserable as
you think, or are your projecting your pain and misery? Obviously I’m not
in your shoes and some people do struggle with addiction (i.e., drinking alcohol
in excess, doing illicit drugs, etc.). Is this what is happening? If so, your
daughter doesn’t need religion, she needs some help. Perhaps she will
find her way to a 12 step program before her bottom causes too much destruction.
If your daughter isn’t an addict that needs an intervention, then perhaps
you need to offer some respect so that you and your daughter can build a new
Re:jimhale"Staying in a ward boundary..."Not
sure about the higher law part but your comments made a lot of sense to me.I think you are right. Sometimes I get caught up in the minutia of how
things are run and need a good reminder. Thank you for that.So much
of our church experience (notice I did not say gospel experience - I believe
they are different.) can be shaped by the actions of our leaders. I had a son
that after an abusive visit with our Bishop, just simply refused to see him
again. This was of great concern to me. Balancing supporting my appointed
leaders versus subjecting my son to his abuse. I chose my son, obviously, but
was able to work with the Stake President to allow my son to have his interviews
with him. It wasn't ideal but fortunately has worked out. Bishopric
changes and now we have a meddler that dictates that everyone have a spiritual
experience. **sigh** Oh well....maybe in a couple of years we will get someone
else's agenda. Why can't our leaders just run the program as
Grandma 20Maybe so. But it is my belief that it only affects those
that allow it to affect them. In other words, they can choose to move past it
and not let it affect them. Many people around the world change faiths, mormon
to catholic, catholic to mormon, etc. That souldn't affect anybody but the
person making the change. Just my opinion.
Without becoming judgmental on who is right or wrong, I would like to offer some
thoughts that might help.First, have your parents talked to anybody
within their ward to share their concerns? Their bishop perhaps? Most problems
are actually just miscommunications or well-intended people with poor
communication skills. The first step to solving the problem is to properly
identify it. If nobody beyond your parents know of the problem, then nothing can
get fixed.Second, assuming there is some actual animosity there that
can't be cleared up. You can talk about getting permission to attend
another ward. This assumes that they really want to attend church and that this
mistreatment isn't an excuse for other reasons.Something that
touches on both of the above items, is that your parents can ask to serve a
special mission or calling. Within the church you can serve an inner-city
mission or serve in a rest/nursing home. There are all kinds of ways to continue
to feed your spiritual self without resorting to abandonment.I hope
your family works things out. I hope that it is something simple that everybody
can move past.
Brahmabull... . It is their decision and doesn't affect the
rest of the family. ..."I agree with your comment that "It
is their decision, ..." but respectfully disagree with the rest of your
comment. Everything we do and say in this life affects not only ourselves but
all others around us -- whether it be good or bad -- and whether we realize it
"They love the gospel, but feel like the people in their ward mistreat them,
and have always mistreated them, and I guess this is the only solution they can
think of."1. As a NON-Republican in Utah [and the only one in my
Ward to not bear my Testimony about or vote for Mitt Romney] -- I can TOTALLY
relate to this one. Sunday's are my least liked day of the week. But as
Pres. Uchtdorf sais just this last General Conference -- Don't Leave! Hang
on, take it just one day at a time...2. You siblings are acting and
treating them EXACTLY like their ward did.And they didn't leave the
Family, your siblings drove them out it as well.
Go to LDS.org and pull up conference talks on how to treat adult children who
have left the church or who are not fully embracing the gospel in their choice
of lifestyle. The Bretheren and "Sisteren" are very clear about
parents' obligations to love and care for family members. Why would that
not go both ways? Gosh, if my parents decided to quit attending church, I would
be planning family dinners every Sunday at their house and they could cook while
we are all at church! Sounds like the LW is away at school (no longer
local). I would be inviting them to come visit myself and the siblings and if
they are sincere, they would have no problem attending any other ward where they
visit, right?Sincere or not, or obligation is to love and embrace our
family members regardless of their level of activity in the church or lifestyle.
Your siblings attitude is not Christ-like. Pretty sure their current attitude
would not merit the correct answer to one of the temple recommend questions.
It is pretty devastating to grown children when a parent makes decisions that
run contrary to what they likely practiced and taught while those kids were
growing up. It can knock the wind out of you, even as an adult. This reaction of
the grown children may soften in time. Hopefully so. Yes, they should show
Christ-like love to their parents and continue to associate with them, and
hopefully they can get to the point that their sister is, but unless you have
had a parent make such a decision and felt that shock to the system, don't
be so quick to judge. ALL our decisions have consequences. It is
not realistic for parents to make such a statement and expect instant
understanding or? acceptance. Likewise, if the siblings want any relationship
with their parents they will have come to a point where they can accept their
parents where they are. They will have to come to terms with the fact that their
own religious decisions and practices can no longer rest on their parents
example and strength - not an easy path.
I think the attitude about not coming home is very close minded indeed and
contrary to what the church really teaches. Family first even before church
activity is something I have always followed. I have learned more from less
active or non member family members about charity and love than I ever had from
any ward members. Small children learn more about love within the confines of
their own family, including extended family than they ever will anywhere else.
In the end, I truly believe it is how we treat each other in this life that
really matters, not whether we went to church or not so quit worrying about your
parents church activity and start worrying about how to show love, kindness,
compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, etc. Honestly, this kind of
behavior makes me embarrassed to be a member. If non-member friends and
neighbors see members as narrow minded and and unwilling to accept the ones we
love the most whether or not they go to church, how do we ever expect them to
respect us. Shame and humiliation won't bring your parents back but love
Recalling the 11th Article of Faith, written by Joseph Smith: "We claim the
privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own
conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where,
or what they may."Please notice that there is NO exception for
family members. If the judgmental siblings don't understand the 11th
Article of Faith then they don't understand a fundamental belief of The
Maybe your siblings should take Stephen Robinson's advice to heart and
stand on their chairs during church. Obviously, the lessons on charity are
going over their heads. When someone is down, you don't help them by
kicking. Go home and encourage them to, also. Parents are allowed to make
mistakes and kids should show love and forgiveness just as they would hope the
parents would do if the kids had made the mistake. Be strong and show love to
all of them and hope for the best.
I suspect time will heal the wounds caused by their parents. It would not be
the first time that parents, one or both, decided that they do not want their
family forever. It happens with kids, too. At one time they did, but now they
do not. That's a pretty big blow to kids who were taught growing up that
the most important thing they will ever do is to live accordingly that the
family can be together forever. I'm so grateful for the unwavering loyalty
to the eternal family my parents had, and I feel very sad for all involved in
this family who is suffering. May they all return to what is important. Being
kind to those who need love is Christ-like and is required of all of us.
Returning an act of disloyalty to the family with a like act, is probably not
the way Jesus would have us react. Good luck to all.
Staying in a ward boundary is a higher law than the rest of Christianity
demands. Sometimes exceptions are made. But on balance, faith in and
appreciation for our boundary policy should be a part of every Latter Day
Saint's testimony.Taken to an extreme, having everyone go to a
congregation where they feel the most "comfortable" leads straight
toward having huge congregations where many perceive a great bishop (minister)
is serving. That is how the many mega-churches have arisen to dominate
Protestant Christianity.But what happens to a congregation with a
popular minister? It leads to the building of a huge church/campus devoted more
to that minister than to the Master. Then when that minister is gone, the hunt
is on for a new, proven filler of the pews. Watering down of the gospel of
Christ almost always follows that need for popularity.Latter Day
Saints sustain their bishops, but they do not build monuments to their success.
They should, however, go to that bishop when they are not feeling
"comfortable" in his congregation.Christ never promised
comfort. He said he came to pit family member against family member. But he
also promises to bless families forever.
Filthy Kuffaryou are mad at your daughter because she didn't do
what you told her to do. That is against everything the church teaches. The parents have a right to change their mind and leave the church at
any time in their lives. there should be no reprocussions as they are adults and
can do as they please. You have the same choice. They shouldn't have to
answer to anybody. It is their decision and doesn't affect the rest of the
family. They can still go and believe as they please.
I think the general rule (for any faith, I'll just use LDS since
that's the subject of this letter) should be for LDS members to treat
family who leave the LDS faith the same as they'd want non-LDS families to
treat their family members who join the LDS faith.
Odd, usually it's a child leaving the church that makes parents do things
like this, not the other way around.
@hermounts, your comment of back slider seems derogatory and inappropriate.
What if they are forward free thinkers that have seen the light and wish to
change and better their ways. Maybe they should be invited to give a talk at
church. Do you think if they did and the church members didn't like the
talk that the members would still be be civil towards the speakers. What would
This is a tough one - all around.Someone commented/complained above
that when one spouse leaves the church, the other often files for divorce. In
the temple we are married for time and all eternity. When one spouse leaves the
church they may intend only to say good-bye to the "all eternity" part -
forgetting the "and" in the phrase "time and all eternity" is
not really an "or". We do not marry for time "or" eternity. We
marry for time "and" eternity.When half of that covenant of
marriage is broken, the other half is not binding either. The faithful-member
spouse may stay in the marriage but leaving is always an defensible option.
Either way, what then happens to their eternal bonds with children?When parents leave the Church, they are either saying an eternal relationship
with their children is not possible or it is no longer desirable. That is like
declaring an eternal end to family relationships. When kids feel that eternity
no longer matters to their parents, parents should not be surprised if their
children feel that "divorce" has just been filed against them for
In today's litigious society it is surprising that they are not suing the
church for alienation of family.
It never ceases to appall me the way some people will treat outsiders better
than they treat members of their own family. Maybe it’s the control issue,
parents refusing to let go long after it’s time, grown offspring trying to
control parents in what might be called payback time. They learned it somewhere,
didn’t they?Kids grow up and their parents grow too. Contrary
to what more than a few Mormons like to believe, the family is not forever.
That’s an unhealthy growth-stifling attitude to cling to out of a need for
security and the illusion of permanence. Life is adapting to an ever changing
world. Nothing ever stays the same forever.
Filthy Kuffar posted:=I don't care if she gets angry with me
because I am still her father who loves=her and wants only the best for
her. If I act like I don't care, she seems to=take that as license to
continue down that path of misery.That's why you tell her
firmly that you disapprove; but you only have to do that once; the rest of the
time you show her by your actions that you love her.My sister's
oldest daughter left the Church over the Church's position on gay rights.
My sister won't stick around when her daughter starts bad-mouthing the
Church, but my sister has put a lot of work into including my niece in family
activities when she's willing to not bad-mouth the Church. I think
that's the right balance.
Filthy Kuffar posted:=Anyone who truly loves their family member
would shout from the mountain tops=if they saw a loved one walk blindly
into traffic, would they not? I think this=is what these kids are
doing...making a statement to make the parents re-think=their decision.
Call it a last-ditch effort to keep their parents from what=they (the
kids) perceive as a huge mistake.Perhaps, but I find it very hard to
believe their "last-ditch effort" is going to be anywhere near as
effective as if they just let their parents know how they felt but kept loving
them and preserved the relationships.
Filthy KuffarYou choose to not be around your daughter as much
because of what she believes and the choices she has made? What an astounding
display of unconditional love for your daughter. To know that her own father
won't be around her as much because she has 'left the fold.' I am
sure that makes her want to come running right back in.
Sounds like too much pride all the way around. Parents are prideful, their
children are prideful (any surprise there, see my comment about parents), and
possibly their neighbors are prideful. Bad situation, there are no winners
the thing that isn't discussed here is whether the backsliding parents have
been trying to influence other family members to leave the church. Maybe the
writer's older siblings are afraid of the influence they may have on their
kids, or the confusion that may be created in their minds.
Part 4It's because of love that I stand up against her, and hopefully
she will understand the consequences of her actions. If we sit back and think
about it for a minute, God tells us if we don't obey His commandments we
cannot be in His presence. Maybe we should look to God's example in dealing
with our children/family when they don't follow Him. I
don't like being around my daughter because it hurts too bad to see the
effects of her choices. The rest of the kids don't like being around her
either because she is so visibly unhappy. Hopefully she hits rock bottom soon so
she can see how her decisions affect her happiness. My being complicit and
accepting won't do her any favors, but rather, prolonging the misery for
all parties involved.
Part 3My daughter left the church last year. She is a beautiful 19 year
old who means everything to me, and I love her so much. She now claims to be an
atheist who also believes she is bi-sexual, has had an abortion, drinks alcohol,
and probably does drugs. This infuriates me as a father who has done everything
over the years to teach against all these things. I do not condone or accept
what she is doing, but that doesn't mean I don't love her. I choose
not to be around her much as it hurts for me to see her do things that I know
will ultimately bring her unhappiness. I have had many heated discussions with
her about her choices and we always end up angry with each other. I don't
care if she gets angry with me because I am still her father who loves her and
wants only the best for her. If I act like I don't care, she seems to take
that as license to continue down that path of misery.
WOW, it seams like the Deseret News forgot Elder Uchtdorf talk in October
conference in choosing the letter to use for the parents that have left the
church. Most people who leave are for doctrinal or historical problems and it
is a matter of being honest with yourself. Uchtdorf talk:"...Sometimes we assume [the reason people leave the Church] is because
they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that
simple..."Also the photo is really offensive for those of us
that are in this situation. Looks like the parents are yelling at each other
and unhappy and in a way abusing the child. That is not accurate at all for
those of us that left. On the other hand thanks for the positive response of
tolerance and love. This rejection of family members that choose a different
path happens way to often and more then you think.
Part 2I'm not sure why members think we should just turn a blind eye
and accept family members leaving the church. How many people who leave the
church ever really come back? I don't know many personally, but believe
some do, but the majority does not. It's time for a new approach since the
old method isn't working. Why must we just accept that from them, and allow
them to not see the error of their ways? Anyone who truly loves their family
member would shout from the mountain tops if they saw a loved one walk blindly
into traffic, would they not? I think this is what these kids are doing...making
a statement to make the parents re-think their decision. Call it a last-ditch
effort to keep their parents from what they (the kids) perceive as a huge
Good heavens!!! It was not my happiest day when my daughter started to leave
the church and is now an atheist. But wow, what I have learned. I learned more
about my Father in Heavens love for me and all of us, cause even though I
don't live a perfect life, he continues to love me. I had to take a higher
road and learn to love all the good things in my daughter and not what I had
hoped for. She is my greatest treasure and I am so glad that our bond has grown
because she knows I love her even though I don't agree with her choice.
She told me that she had struggles dealing with how I believed, that seems hard
to grasp, but her feelings of belief are as strong as mine and she to had to
love me even though I believe differently then she does.
Part 1I completely understand the children's anger and
resentment toward their parents. Who wouldn't be angry with a parent who
taught you to believe in something your whole life, testified to you that the
Church is true, made you attend church and other meetings your whole childhood,
then decided to leave and basically deny everything they ever taught you about
church? I know I'd be livid with them!Just because the kids
don't want to come to dinner or visit their parents does not mean they
don't love them; in fact, it is a sign of the depth of their love. If the
kids didn't love their parents they would be just fine with them leaving
the church. The kids are making a statement of that love by not condoning or
accepting their parents leaving the church.
Nobody is perfect. I'm nobody, so all I can say is WOW. Sure I've done
a lot of dumb stuff and have regrets. I guess that I have took forgiveness to
lightly. I thought it's the way ya roll. Ya face the consequences, man up
pay the price. do what it takes to make things right.
Sounds like the siblings didn't learn much more about the intrinsic and
encompassing doctrines of love in the gospel than the parents did. Step back, consider whose church it is and ask how He would want you to
approach the situation. Show up for the holidays, make the weekly phone calls,
don't un-friend them and make sure you get them the grandkid pictures. And
above all else, pray for them too.
Machado,Really? "gender-bias by LDS respondents"?
That's all you got from the letter? Seems to me you are picking a fight.
Maybe the reason people are assuming it is a female is that the picture online
associated with the letter shows a FEMALE? Arrgh. Talk about taking offense
where none is meant.For the record, I think you gave this writer
great advise, Angela. Although I understand that the kids may be upset about
their parents' recent decision, they shouldn't abandon them. After
all, if we as members of the church make it so uncomfortable and conditional,
why would anyone ever want to come back after straying? Great advise was given
to us about those who struggle: "Just love them through it." No
mention of how long or how tough it would be, just love them.
My current Bishopric and Stake Presidency drive me crazy. Micromanaging,
refusing to allow people to do the jobs they are called to do, never changing
anything from 'the way it has always been done here'. Outside the box
for them would be backing in to park.Do I 'leave the
Church'? Nope. I have fun making waves, ruffling feathers and making the
stodgy and inflexible feel uncomfortable, all the while justifying my actions
and opinions with scripture or a conference talk quote.The Church is
true. But more and more, everywhere you go, people are idiots.
I see members shut down like the parents here from time to time. Can't
think of a better way to handle the problem than what Angela is saying. The
parents were mistreated? ... maybe so, there are a lot of unfeeling people in
this world. Seems to me that the siblings in this tail of woe are offering only
one thing...more of the same mistreatment. The only way we succeed in saving
ourselves and our families is with love and patience...same kind of love parents
show their growing children.....Good luck..
I suppose the siblings never understood the principle of Agency. Their parents
have agency to act unto themselves but the children have a commandment to Honor
Thy Father and Thy Mother. Who is the greater sinner?
@windsor,Why can't it be that they just choose not to go or go
to another church where people are nicer? Maybe its because of the book
"Late war, between the United States and Great Britain" from 1816. It
could be a million things but it is their choice what they do. The problem is
the children are offended by the parents and are shunning them. One child has
questions on that. Shunning people including parents because they choose to not
belong is just wrong in my opinion.
I admit I am confused when someone leaves the church because of offense or
anything else related to another person. I have always viewed my worship, my
church membership, my attendance, my service in callings, my temple worship, etc
as an function of my relationship with Christ, not with anybody else.
Angela gave about the best advice one could under the circumstances. However, may I add that some commenters might be going overboard in writing
that this is like disowning the parents, or that this is abusive. The
simple explanation might be that the kids want a very religious Christmas
experience for themselves(and possibly their own children), and don't feel
like they would get that anymore at the parent's house. Perhaps their idea
of a Christmas holiday is going to parties at the Ward house, caroling with
fellow ward members, doing a ward service activity, reading the scriptures and
other uplifting books, watching Christmas devotionals from our church leaders,
listening to religious music, etc.If the kids don't feel that the
parents are interested in such a holiday experience anymore, I can't blame
them for not wanting to travel (perhaps great distances) just to watch Chevy
Chase in Christmas Vacation all week for the billionth time.
Looks like the comments are running in favor of blasting the
'judgmental' older siblings for being distressed with their
parents.What about the parents responsibility?? There
might be reasons people choose to leave the LDS Church, but it had sure better
be for a bigger, better reason than people aren't nice enough to them at
Church. The weakness of that argument and reasoning is
This reminds me of an experience years ago with our seriously delinquent son.
In one of may court cases he was involved in, a judge required him to have a
mental health evaluation by a county mental health worker. After a 90 minute
session, the evaluator emerged and told us that our son (then 18 years old) had
internalized our values. It took a while, but we realized he was telling us we
had done our job. Our kid knew what was right, but was choosing not to choose
the right (he finally turned that around many years later). As Latter-day
Saints, We do believe in free agency, even and especially when we see it being
used in ways we think are dumb.That seems to be the case here.
Parents are free agents, free to choose how they respond to things in their ward
they don't like. The kids need to respect that choice even if they
don't like it. By failing to do that they are failing to forgive.
Accordingly there remaineth in them the greater sin.
To get along in this world, you have to accept many different kinds of people as
they are. If you can't practice that within your own family, where does
that leave you?
Addressing the parents, there may be a deeper issue underlying their decision,
but there may not be. Sometimes we don't "fit" into a group well
for various reasons. Sometimes it's because our own personality makes it
harder for us to fit in. We may not feel welcome in our ward. I have
periodically felt that way. Sometimes it can get pretty old and the thought of
enduring gets overwhelming. These feelings are real and valid - they are theirs,
and deserve respect. A lot of that comes from our focus on ourselves. Counter
intuitively, the way out seems to be service to others. Losing ourselves in
service to others is often a way out. It helps us feel needed and valuable
(often the source of our internal focus). If Home has a relationship with
the ward and its leaders, a discussion with her parents' Bishop could be in
order - as long as it wouldn't alienate her parents further - the right
calling could make a huge difference. In any case, respect their feelings and
continue to love.
Didn't Pres. Uchtdorf just mention in his talk at conference that although
it is said when members choose to leave, we should still love them and respect
their agency? There should not be ultimatums regarding familial love, I've
watched similar things tear my family apart and it breaks my heart to read
things like this. Go be with your parents and love them for who they are.
On another note wards/stakes get split because they get too big. Sometimes
demographics factor in as well. Would that the Church was tolerant towards and
allowed people to have their records moved to different wards at their request
(an interview with the bishop to discuss the reasons required). If resulting
migrations cause further ward splits or simply certain wards swell in
membership, these results would be educational and instructive to examine.Most are pliant and/or apathetic enough to just comply to geography
determining who they serve and fellowship with. But in fact this is a quirky
"Mormon" thing we do. And if enough people cared, this administrative
practice non-essential to the gospel might change.
Angela, I support your advice wholeheartedly. Regardless of the real
cause of the parents' decision, our place is not to "cut people
off" if they don't live the way we want. This is actually a pretty
clear case of emotional abuse. They are using their parents' emotions to
try to manipulate them. Even if their parents went back to Church to placate the
siblings, it would be of little value. Could you imagine what would happen if
the Lord did that when we make poor choices? I also have to wonder if there is
some baggage the siblings are carrying from their own rebellions as teens. Ultimately, the siblings could use a dose of the same advice we give parents
with wayward teens - love them and be available. We would never (I hope) treat
an investigator so harshly, so why would we treat someone we love so? These are
the things I might share with the siblings.
After reading through three dozen comments here and re-reading the first
paragraph of the article, I am confused. Says that the parents love the gospel
but are leaving the Church. Am aware of former members who have their records
removed and who have developed doctrinal differences with their former faith.
This doesn't sound like this is the case here. Are we to assume, are we
reading in here, that the parents have changed everything about their lives and
become entirely different people?Rather commentators keep equating church
attendance, preferably in one's own geographically appointed ward, with
staying in the Church -- as the only meaningful metric for testimony and
membership. Attendance and participation help testimony certainly. But for a
number of reasons, not everyone with even "strong" convictions attends
church; and many, maybe even most, at times in their lives wane on
"activity."So Angela's advice is good. This may be
temporary; probably is. Love and continue to engage as a family for the other
99% of what makes you love each other, admiring and honoring the rest of who
your parents are -- especially the "openness" of weathering together
this crisis of faith.
Great advice Angela. I "Amen" your thoughts.One of the
difficulties with our model, as previously pointed out, is the geographical
nature of our divisions. I am not comfortable with our ward and
stake leadership for various reasons. There are wards I could go to that I would
feel more at home with, and while I would be allowed to attend, I would not be
called to serve there.So...While I do not love my church experience,
I am converted and continue to serve where I am called and try to be a strength
to my ward. There are some in my ward that do not have that
commitment and simply have done as the parents in this article have done...quit.
Some are my neighbors and our family have great relationships with them and we
continue to love them simply because we always did.
Am I missing something? I've noticed that, almost without exception, Home
for the Holidays is perceived as a daughter. Did I overlook a clue in the letter
or is this really just a subtle form of gender-bias by LDS respondents?
With so many valid reasons for leaving the Church, I'm nearly stunned that
their reason is because they felt mistreated. When that happens, I call the
offender on the carpet. In nearly every case, it was a miscommunication or my
take on the situation that was wrong. Many times, Bishops and Wards
don't think, or refuse to follow Church guidelines. Some guidelines may
need revision. If people don't speak up, how can problems be detected and
changed? We are a growing Church. We need to address issues that are wrong or
antiquated. Sometimes we need to "rise above" our feelings,
and simply choose the right. My hope is that this young woman's siblings
will read Angela's comments and recognize a need to change their own
Good advice, Angela, and hopefully the siblings can then ask if their parents
have spoken to the stake presidency to attend another ward or to ask for help in
dealing with whatever has transpired in their ward. No idea what they have
suffered or if they are being oversensitive, but they should be talking to their
leaders and be "heard" at the very least.My father was not
faultless, but he was very hurt in the 60's when he got a divorce (not his
choice) in an LDS community and was gossiped about and shunned to a large
extent. His inactivity has had impact on me and my siblings to a large extent.
I wish we could have moved back then, but we didn't or
couldn't. Most of our immediate family forged on, but not without some
unfortunate consequences along the way.
I would say go home and on Sunday's everyone get ready and go to church
together. If the parents don't want to go, free agency is the Lord's
way. See if they won't make the meal for when everyone gets home. There
is probably something more than "We don't like the way we are
treated" problem. Just prepare the grandkids for what might happen on
Sunday and help them to want to be an influence on their grandparents. I was
raised by a convert mom and she loved the meetings so much that we all felt her
spirit and we wouldn't miss either. I could tell you stories about that.
I will say she lived in a ward that the older faces didn't change much but
there were lots of young families that moved in and out. She didn't get
along with everyone in that older group she belonged to, and once in a while she
would express her strong opinions to them, but she was right there with dinner
if they had problems. Her ward was a family to her. Never would she let
feelings determine her testimony.
Fear first.. then panic. Fear from the children that they are losing their
parents. Panic on how to keep things from changing.Parent who have
gotten to the point of being quite head strong on their decision. Lots of
emotions tied up in that choice to leave rather than find another solution. And
when feelings get hurt that deep.. people will often do things they would not
normally do.The heart does get hard when hurt. And what I see is
what is happening to the parents.. is also happening to the children.
Ultimatums are made. We are leaving the church. We won't come home to see
you. Hurt and pain is the source.. Leaving the church and not coming home are
just the reactions. Hearts must be mended on all sides. Hurtful situations
from congregation and now their own children.. will most likely cause a deep
valley to be created. The same deep valley is being created by the children...
trust and integrity issues. One child is not letting the emotional
turmoil get to her heart. She is keeping all of that out of the situation. Humility is the only solution.. to all parties involved.
Cats wrote "I'm going to defend the grown children to some extent. They
feel extremely betrayed by the parents and I don't blame them." You do know this is the United States and these adults can do whatever
they want and this is not a betrayal don't you? Around 99.79% of the
population of this planet and 98.5% in the US are not LDS. So these adults
decided to drop out. That is their right. If their kids want to shun them that
is their choice too but I can't imagine anyone supporting them doing this
because they are offended that their parents choose to seek spirituality
elsewhere. This is the only proof of someone being offended I can see.
They (the siblings) have to suck it up. They left a church; it could have been
the elks lodge or any other group or organisation that they left. You've no
right to get uppity about it. It's your family, and it's selfish to
behave this way.
Oh my,If I shunned people because of how they behaved or because they
weren't members of the Church or had left the Church... I'd be a very
lonely person. Do the siblings spend time with neighbors/co-workers who are not
members? Why in the world would they put this ahead of spending time with their
own parents? The Gospel is true, the ones who "run" the Church are human
and all humans are flawed. The Gospel is a story of love... We all need to show
more love to those around us... even (especially) those who have flaws. Jesus
said: "That one of you without sin, cast the first stone". We all need
to watch that we are not casting that first stone.
We don't know enough to condemn anyone in this sad situation. Here is what
we need to know: Are the parents sealed for eternity? Were their children born
in the covenant? Are the parents wanting to terminate that sacred family bond?
Are the parents just going inactive; or are they pursuing a lifestyle far out of
harmony with the the standards maintained by their posterity? Are their parents
apostate and at war with the Church?I can't imagine the
heartbreak being inflicted upon this family. I say to all, lighten up. Give
this family some grieving and healing time. We just don't know enough to
Last time I checked, there were 10 "important" commandments. Honor thy
father and thy mother were amongst them when I last checked. Not sure how the
siblings are going to pass a Temple recommend interview....
I'm going to defend the grown children to some extent. They feel extremely
betrayed by the parents and I don't blame them. I doubt their anger will
last and they will eventually forgive and continue to work with their parents.
To the parents, I would remind them that the D&C makes it clear
that if we become offended by the actions of others in the Church and leave the
Church as a result, we will be the ones who are held accountable for it. When
we know the gospel is true, choose to dessert the faith and try to blame others,
we are in the wrong. If I were going to leave the Church because someone
offended me, I would have been out of the Church a long time ago.I
believe this family will come together and, I hope, the parents will eventually
see their error and come back to full activity.
This group of siblings really needs to meet with an LDS Family Therapist and get
professional counseling on these very complex issues. Particularly since the
siblings are "split" on their attitudes and opinions of how to work
through this situation.
Dear Home for the Holidays,With all due respect, it appears that your
siblings have much bigger personal issues than being upset because your parents
left the church. Hopefully they can work out those issues and find peace. Please
try not to be hurt by their actions, their deeper issues are preventing them
from understanding how badly they are hurting you and your parents. In the mean
time enjoy your relationship with your parents and hope that someday your
siblings find the grace to put family first.
Was so embarrassed by a bishop in ward council one time i considered never going
back, but i loved my family too much to leave. Can't imagine my parents
making the decision these have but lots of great advice here. Also, have a son
who's chosen to leave the church...doesn't mean i don't love him
and his family. I try to insert info about church things we're doing as
much as possible. Families should stick together. Hard on all sides here. Your
advice is very good!
I agree with you Angela. I think "leaving the church" is not the best
solution to the parents' problem, but they are grown ups with agency and
have the right to make that decision. And they must have been deeply offended
by something or someone to make such a big decision. So right now, more than
ever, they need love, understanding and support. Perhaps after a while they
will be ready to go back. But the behavior of their children is more likely to
keep them permanently away from the church. The kids need to love them
unconditionally, just like Heavenly Father does. I don't think that
disowning a family member because they don't live they way you think they
should is ever the right choice. Things can change in a heartbeat. You never
know what the future holds. And I certainly don't think Heavenly Father
will hold it against you and see it as "condoning" if you love and
support someone who is struggling.
To the parents - if your faith is based on the actions of other members you
should have left long ago.To the siblings - isn't any christian
faith, and most non-christian, based on love?To "Home for the
Holidays" - follow your heart, love is always the best example and speaks
louder than any words!
@ Joe BlowSo true. We, LDS people, need to always be careful, of
losing sight of what matters most for what matters much less. Of course, this
is really true for anyone. These siblings are hurt by their parents decision.
But they need to respect their parents decision and love them. Of course they
need to love them. It sounds like they've had very few people love them in
their lives. When someone does something that you disagree with, the natural
reaction is rejection. It's definitely not the reaction we are taught. Of
course the reaction we are taught is really really hard sometimes. I hope the
siblings and the parents learn to draw closer to God as they work through this.
The sister here should state her opinion without rancor, allow her siblings to
chose rejection if they want, allow her parents to chose less activity in the
church, and love them all.
I'm with you, Angela. The gospel is about love, and not strife or divisions
of any kind. When we show love and our thoughts and actions are motivated by
love for God and others, then we're in line with our beliefs as Latter-day
Saints. And we build unity. Arguably the ward "mistreating" the parents
might not be in line (as are we all, really, including the parents and
children), but it has long been my understanding that the gospel is perfect but
people aren't. In fact, the fact that Church members of all kinds
aren't perfect gives us the opportunity to practice the gospel qualities of
love and forgiveness and compassion and refraining from judgement in ways we
never could if all members were perfect like Christ. Obviously, that's not
possible, and it is more than likely that Christ designed His Church to be
administered by mortals just for this reason of helping us to practice living
I just have a little to add. Angela is spot on - leaving is the parents'
choice, and Home's siblings are being just as bad as the parents' ward
members are.My mother has experienced this once or twice - she
stopped coming to church because she felt uncomfortable with how other members
treated her. Mom does rub some folks the wrong way, but we're taught to
respect and accept everyone. Some folks just haven't progressed enough to
really practice that.To the parents I would say, if you haven't
already, talk with the bishop about what you are experiencing. It is partly his
job to see that this kind of behavior doesn't happen. I would also caution
them about leaving the church because of how others behave. I have friends who
stopped coming to church because of a disagreement, and came back after 10
years. They now regret ever leaving.If that doesn't work, go
to another ward. The stake president may approve a records transfer. Either
way, they can't stop you from attending another ward. If the problem is
social comfort and not a lack of conviction to principles, this could work out.
The old they were offended reason pulled off the shelf. Yea that must be it.
What horrible children. Cut off the parents because they don’t belong to
the same church. Putting families first again.
This story breaks my heart. I've been in the parents spot. What the
parents need to do if they have not is to talk with their Bishop. Have the
parents been married in the temple? Think of what you are sacrificing because
of perhaps misunderstanding the other members actions. Eternal marriage and
being a family forever? To the children who don't want to
"condone" their parents actions I have two questions: 1) Did you forget
about the commandment of honoring your father and mother? The commandment
doesn't say if you agree with them. 2) Why aren't you looking at this
as an outstanding opportunity to do missionary work.Most of the
reasons for becoming inactive is because of misunderstandings with other church
members. This is no longer important enough for me to sacrifice my eternity.
For the parents and the siblings who are not "condoning" - Remember Who
You Are. How many times in the bible does it say Jesus walked away from a
I have been on both sides of this problem. We have lived in wards that were less
then friendly. One is our current ward. Feelings have been hurt and unkind
things have been said. We have been excluded from many things and somtimes we
have been shunned. Either the church is true or it isn't. People are flawed
and do unkind things. Even bishops. We have kept going to church because
everyone has somthing to teach you, even unkind people. We got crative. Our
daughter join activity days in my parent's ward where she was also
baptized. Now after 18 years we are starting to feel more a part of the ward. We
have quietly gone about doing our best in the jobs we have been asked to do and
helping where we can. Slowly we have melted their hearts. Things are better now.
I also have a child who has left the church and is now living a life
that we are not happy with. However, we have not disowned them. We invite them
to what ever we can. We pray that one day their heart will soften. They are
still family and familys are forever.
Great advice Angela! Unless there is some form of physical or emotional abuse
going on, why on earth would they stop showing love for their own parents? The
person who submitted this question needs a hug. It will be tough showing love
toward all parties in spite of the crummy actions or reactions to the situation.
I have noticed that we all seem to go through ups and downs in life. This
situation is a great example of other possible scenarios that could be occurring
in our own families. Are any of us withholding love and displaying hard
feelings because of what another family member is choosing to do or not do?
The recurring theme in questions submitted to Angela seems to be "How can I
control the behavior of someone else?" Whether it is their style of dress or
who they want to date, the writers almost always think they know a better way to
behave.In this situation, Home for the Holidays cannot do much for
his/her parents other than, as Angela suggests, be with them and love them.
Likewise, Home for the Holidays cannot do much for his/her siblings other than
be with them and love them. Of the three groups of family members, Home for the
Holidays only has control over his/her own behavior so the best thing to do is
ensure his/her own behavior is loving and Christ-like.We should try
to own our own weaknesses and let others own their weaknesses. Our best tools to
influence others include love, kindness, example, patience, forgiveness, and
compassion. Teaching is most effective when the recipient is open to it, not
when it is forced on him. Judging is rarely, if ever, an effective way to
influence others. Neither is isolating the "offender." That is usually
just a petty way of lashing back.
I have two thoughts on this one:1) The siblings need to really
reexamine their own understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the way they
demonstrate His teachings in how they view and treat others.2) It
would be fair for one of the kids (or maybe a trusted friend) to sit down with
the parents and talk to them openly about their decision. My experience has
been that people use the "I'm not treated nicely by my ward" idea
as an excuse that often covers up a deeper problem. It is a way to blame others
and avoid responsibility for your own choice ("I'm leaving the church,
but it is THEIR fault because they did or said ..."). If there is some
other issue, it would be well for the family to find out about it now. Or, if
the parents really just want to leave the church, the children need to accept
and respect their decision.
Great advice Angela. What is really sad is that the siblings cannot see that
they are doing exactly what their parents are doing. They may not have left the
Church; however, both the parents and the siblings have forgotten that as
children of our Heavenly Father we all are in the process of
'becoming.' Sometimes that progression may be so slow that we cannot
see it. Just because we cannot see either our own or someone else's
progress, does not mean we givfe up. Remember, our Heavenly Father will never
give up on us, so why should we give up on anyone else.
For many, LDS is an all-encompassing lifestyle. The LDS community is extremely
close knit and in a place like Utah, one can live life with very little contact
with the "Gentiles".With that comes a reinforcement of
ideas, both positive and negative. I cannot begin to comprehend the
mentality described in this letter.I cannot fathom how anyone, let
alone those who consider themselves Religious, could take such a stance.
(towards their parents, siblings, or children) As a non LDS, these
"siblings" are the last people I would want as a neighbor.People can get so caught up in their religion that they become blind to its
teachings. That is when religion becomes unhealthy.
This is not at all uncommon. If one partner (usually the husband, but not
always) in a marriage leaves the LDS church, it more often than not leads to a
divorce. Looks like these children are divorcing their parents.Personally, I don't think being treated badly is a good reason to leave
one's church, but it happens all too often. One of the problems with the
LDS church's model is that you don't feel comfortable attending a
different ward than the one you reside in. Most other religious groups feel
quite comfortable moving from church to church until they find one that fits
The reaction of the siblings is "part" of the reason your parents are
leaving the Church. It's the "our way or the highway" mentality of
some members that alienate people from wanting to participate. Wouldn't
it make a little sense to give them a feeling of belonging and love rather than
neglect and abstinence? Tell your siblings to lighten up. They might be in the
same boat some day.