Mormon Stories #77-83: Paul Toscano
Letter to my Kids - Final Entry

What I Want for My Son

Last week, I posted on What I Want for My Daughters.  This week I post on What I Want for My Son.

I want my son to know that he is loved no matter what he believes about God, Jesus, Joseph Smith, or the LDS Church.  I want him to know that I respect his intelligence and his freedom to think for himself and to choose for himself, and that his parents' love for him is not conditioned on his believing in or practicing any particular religion, going on a mission, being straight, or marrying in the temple. 

I want my son to grow up with the ability to analyze facts, assess evidence, and critically evaluate arguments he reads or hears.  I want him to feel free to choose an educational and career path that fits his interests and talents, and not to feel pressured to go to a specific college or enter a certain professional field.  I want him to possess a thirst for knowledge and a zeal for discovering truth, wherever it might be found and wherever it might lead. 

I want my son to acquire an appreciation for the  humanities, to develop his natural dramatic talents, and to do his part to perpetuate the arts in his community.  I want him to develop a strong sense of self--to be self-assured, self-reliant, and self-aware.  I also want him to use that self-awareness to realize how fortunate he is and to use his good fortune and abilities to help others, to serve others, and to relieve suffering in the world.

I want my son to view women as in every way the equal of men in intellect, ability, and worth.  I want him to treat the women in his life with respect and dignity.  I don't want him to think that just by virtue of having a penis, God thinks my son is a little more special than those who are not so, ahem, endowed.  I don't want him to think that women are more spiritual than men or that motherhood is more sacred and divine than fatherhood, so God had to equalize things by giving men the priesthood.  I don't want him to feel pressured into getting married and having children in his early twenties (though if he so chooses, I wouldn't disapprove). 

I want him to internalize a similar attitude of egalitarianism with respect to everyone--regardless of the color of their skin, national origin, societal status, or sexual orientation.  I want him not to think that he is any way superior by virtue of the color if his skin, his heritage, or his religious choices.  I want him to develop a moral sensitivity rooted in the harm principle and not in religious dogmatism--to see right and wrong not in terms of the violation of arbitrary religious rules but in terms of ethics, responsibilities, obligations--to learn correct principles and govern himself accordingly.

I want my son not to view his sexuality as sinful or shameful.  I want him not to be taught that sex is "sacred" and that, therefore, his sexual life is open for discussion and review by priesthood leaders.  I want him to know that while sex is a private matter, it is nobody's business but his own.  Consequently, I want him never to be subjected to invasive interviews conducted by church authorities.  I want him especially not to be concerned with the ignorant ramblings of sex-obsessed ecclesiastical leaders who teach in contradiction to the scientific and medical evidence that masturbation is harmful.  I want my son to grow up with a healthy attitude toward his body and sex, and not have his head filled with ancient superstitious nonsense passed off under the guise of revelation from God.  Of course, I also want him to know that sex is powerful and like gunpowder, it ought to be treated with extreme care.  The avoidance of unwanted pregnancy is not only a concern for women, but is the man's responsibility as well.  Sex carries with it serious risk of disease, including diseases for which there is no cure and including diseases that can kill.  There are valid reasons for abstaining or curtailing sexual activity--it's just that fear of the wrath of God and the clutches of Satan is not one of them.

As with my wishes for my daughters, I wonder whether the LDS Church is the best place for my son to develop the ideas, attitudes, and values I describe here.  He has already decided he would not go to Seminary this year, though he is still active in the Boy Scouts.  He's also somewhat active in a youth group associated with the local Unitarian Universalist church, which does support the kinds of things I've outlined above.  For now, it is an arrangement that seems to be working.  I think he has the space he needs to stretch his elbows and figure out who is and where he wants to go as he enters adulthood just a few years from now.

By contrast, I think the full-on Mormon youth program (3 hours of church every week; YM and Scouts; Seminary every school day;  social groups limited to other church members; strict standards of dress, speech, entertainment choices, grooming; the MTC and a mission; church college; etc.) has the potential to be emotionally, socially, and intellectually stunting.  Young men who go through the whole program emerge in their early 20s with their individuality wrung out of them, as they are recast in the mould of Mormon conformity.  They have repressed the natural course that young people typically undergo, which involves a little rebellion, exploration, and pushing of boundaries.  I think such repression is unhealthy. A little rumspringa might be better, in the long run.

Comments

Sillynut

That was something Fig has noticed. He never rebelled against his parents, the church, or anyone. He followed the prescribed path and after coming out of the Mormon guantlet, he didn't know what to do. Here he was married, with kids, in his early 20's, and lost. There had been the checklist beforehand and now that he was done with it, where was he supposed to go? Not only that, but he wasn't ready for the kids the church said he should have right away. He didn't put them off for school or career and it was damaging to him. It's been a struggle for the last 13+ years for him to figure out where his place in the world was.

That, and NOW we have to deal with all those repressed desires to rebel, lol.

Equality

sillynut,

I've got to run now, but the point you raise is HUGE. I've been involved in the DAMU for more than 2 years now and have come to know many disaffected and ex-Mormons both on-line and in real life and have followed numerous stories of people leaving the church. A mid-life exit from the structured life of Mormonism can be very unsettling to say the least. There are many people who go through a "rebellion" phase for lack of a better term in their 20s or 30s or 40s, having never gone through it during adolescence and young adulthood. There's a lot to discuss on this front . . .

fh451

Although I haven't really had the urge to go through a "rebellion" since leaving the LDS church, I can really identify with what Sillynut is saying. When I finally finished graduate school, I moved to a new town with DW and a new baby and promptly went into a big funk. All the checklists of life were done, nothing to look forward to but "endure to the end." I don't know that I blame the church for that, but it seems to me it does a great job of setting up goals and moving people through the program right up until you either get married (for girls) or return from a mission/graduate from college (for boys). Then what? I really didn't see what was next on the roadmap, and the Celestial Kingdom was a little too far off (I hoped!) and vague. It took me another 15 years to decide the church was not what it claimed. Part of the excitement of life now is continually looking for and finding new things to be fulfilling, meaningful, and enjoyable.

fh451

Hellmut

Life is not a checklist. Mormonism is a mess because of checklists.

Human beings are organisms that need to adapt to their environment. As vertebrates and symbolic creatures that means that we have to assess our environment and our abilities and coordinate them to the best of our abilities.

No check list can do that.

Check lists have their place when it comes to completing tasks but every task serves a purpose and the determination of purpose requires creativity and the identification of the necessary tasks requires analysis. Thoughtful people who dare to question themselves and their environment will do better.

Of course, there are thoughtful Mormons. Unfortunately, that is a quality that corridor Mormons openly denigrate. For example, the label open minded has a negative connotation among many corridor Mormons.

Of course, in Germany you have to be open minded to be a Mormon in the first place. If you value conformism then you would not have joined an alien religion.

In that sense, the Mormon experience for young people might be entirely different abroad.

Hellmut

Biology seems to be the biggest challenge to Mormon orthodoxy. The false ideas floating through the realm of Mormon "doctrine" are damaging real people, especially kids but also their elders. In that sense, biology is a much greater challenge than any of the historical problems.

History, after all, is in the past. If it did not have consequences, faithful history would not matter.

History matters because of the current abuse by priesthood leaders whose power stems from people's faith into the Mormon origin myth. Among the most damaging acts of these leaders is the propagation of their irrational and disproved notions about sexuality. Many Mormons subscribe to these unreasonable teachings only because the believers feel obligated to follow the authorities.

Kip Eliason and Stuart Matis are the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn't be surprised if every Mormon boy shared their scars.

dpc

But what is the damage? What is the harm? I've asked this question several times and no one has given a good response.

"I think the full-on Mormon youth program (3 hours of church every week; YM and Scouts; Seminary every school day; social groups limited to other church members; strict standards of dress, speech, entertainment choices, grooming; the MTC and a mission; church college; etc.) has the potential to be emotionally, socially, and intellectually stunting."

You really think this? Where is your evidence? Out of my high school class, the three of us Mormon young men were the only ones who went on to get graduate level degrees. The other two were easily the most popular guys in the whole school, even though they avoided all the 'drinking' parties. I had a lot of non-member friends growing up and I think that all members have a lot of non-member friends. In fact, as I stated on an earlier comment, those who fared the worst were those who started the Mormon youth program and then fell away.

A lot of things that you want for your son have little to do with the Mormon church and a general expression of what every parent regardless of religious affiliation wants for their child.

dpc

Additionally,

What Sillynut and fh451 describe sound suspiciously like a "Quarter-life crisis"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter-life_crisis

A lot of people have the same feelings, whether they are Mormon or not.

Hellmut

dpc, I enjoyed a great youth program in the Cologne ward but now that I am catching up with my old friends, it turns out that almost all of us have left. As a result, my peers are now sharing information with me that they have kept to themselves when they were still orthodox.

The book that did the most damage was Spencer Kimball's Miracle of Forgiveness. It affected the sexuality of two of my male friends. These effects will burden them throughout their lives.

Let me suggest an empathy exercise. Imagine what it would be like if your son or your daughter were gay. Imagine what it would mean for them to grow up in Mormonism.

When honor students and eagle scouts like Kip Eliason are committing suicide over non-issues such as masturbation, it is time for all of us to begin questioning if our culture is healthy for our children.

For me personally, that was not an issue but only because I had realized before puberty that the prevailing attitudes among LDS leaders about biology were beyond reason. In fact, I attributed that to American cultural peculiarities.

Therefore, I was comparatively safe until the mission experience crushed my testimony. My friends, however, who were more orthodox in matters of biology suffered considerably.

Have you ever read Bishop Hardy's letter to Boyd Packer? My wife and I cried.

I had a pretty good time as a teenager and benefitted from the opportunities to assume responsibility. I also benefitted from the friendship with the missionaries. It was special to belong to a tight knit group of friends that had to make an effort to get together. In spite of all this, I have to say that Mormonism is not a safe place for teenagers.

The more faithful we are, the greater the danger. Unfortunately, the most faithful members are the most likely to suffer adverse consequences of taking irrational advice to heart and acting on it. Several of us have had to turn to therapy and anti-depressant. Two of us had to be committed, one for more than a year.

Things are better in the corridor because Mormons there have figured out that they can say one thing and do another. But the converts abroad who have not been socialized into the hypocrisy culture pay a horrible price. That's something that believers never get to see because the people for whom Mormonism does not work, drop off their world.

Sillynut

DPC,

My husband graduated 4th in his HS class. He went to BYU with a scholarship. He is quite easily one of the most intelligent, articulate people I know. In terms of "Mormon success" he had all that he wanted. He could have gone farther if I hadn't been so witchy and refused that our family be turned over to me so he could do church crap.

You want the damage and the harm? One, you are asking for quantification of something that can't be. There are too many still in the church, too many still trying so hard to become perfect, to be able to accurately quantified. Two, the damage and the harm to my husband has been incredible. He wasn't educated and allowed to decide which way to go with his life. He was told from a young age, as we all were, that in order for God to accept him he had to do XYZ. That's brainwashing. That's damaging for a child. It's severe conditioning. It's spiritual abuse, which is HEAPED on by the church under the guise of "teaching our children what is right." Not once is it presented as a very good way to live your life amongst several other alternatives. It is the ONE AND ONLY way to get back to God. God who can't stand the least amount of sin. God whose presence you won't be able to go back to if you don't try with everything you've got to get it right. Sure, there's the atonement, but remember if you sin and repent, then sin again, it just means you didn't try hard enough to repent. That you really didn't want to repent.

The damage is so profound, so insidious. The extreme irony is that until the last couple of years I was so damn freakin' loyal to the church. It was wonderful. It was everything I wanted in life. And then I started reading books on abusive parents in an attempt to understand what someone I know is going through. And OH MY GOD! There was the church. In all it's glory.

No, people who grow up in abusive homes do not see that it's not normal, that it's bad and wrong. It's their reality. They don't see how bad and how damaging it is. Women go back over and over to the men who beat them because they love them, things aren't really that bad. Well, guess what?

The church is an abusive parent. It may show love, but it comes at the cost of your soul.

Equality

Thanks, Hellmut. You are, of course, just scratching the surface here. Perhaps the greatest potential harm I see coming from a full immersion in the Mormon youth indoctrination program is the lack of a development of empathy--the ability to identify with and understand the feelings, thoughts, and point of view of others. The inability to see how the Mormon culture affects some (perhaps many--I don't say all or even most, necessarily) of the young people who are immersed in it is one of its harmful effects.

dpc,

You say you have asked "several times" for an identification of the harm. Since this is your first comment to this post that I just put up yesterday, I assume you are referring to the post on What I Want for My Daughters. Honestly, if you can't see the harm identified in the multiple responses posted by SML, Wry Catcher, and others I question whether you are not one who suffers an empathy deficiency yourself. I think my post on how women fare in Mormonism, and the comments that follow, answer your question in lengthy detail.

dpc said: "I had a lot of non-member friends growing up and I think that all members have a lot of non-member friends."

Really? Where is your evidence? And what is the relevance?

dpc said: "A lot of things that you want for your son have little to do with the Mormon church and a general expression of what every parent regardless of religious affiliation wants for their child."

So my post ought to be uncontroversial in Mormon circles, I guess. I mean, if it's just stuff that every parent wants for their kid, then I don't suppose I will be seeing any disagreement from you or other devout Mormons who sometimes read and comment here. I suspect, though, that is not the case.

As for how I think total immersion in Mormonism during the teen and young adult years can potentially harm some (again, perhaps many, I won't say most, and I certainly don't say all) young men, let me provide a short list to get things started:

1. Homophobia;
2. Unnecessary and unhealthy sexual shame and guilt;
3. Feeling of superiority to women;
4. Feeling of superiority to other faiths;
5. Unnecessary and unhealthy fears (see http://equalitysblog.typepad.com/equality_time/2007/01/fear_and_loathi.html );
6. Lack of adequate preparation for marriage and family responsibilities;
7. Financial harm from marrying too soon, having kids too early, having too many kids;
8. Myopic dedication to church service at the expense of involvement in non-church-related charitable endeavors.

And those are just the things that might affect a white, economically advantaged, educated, straight Mormon male who wants to be a lawyer or accountant. I haven't even talked about the Mormon boys who are poor, black, gay, creative, etc. Although Mormon boys have more options and certainly more status within the ecclesiastical structure, what is "appropriate" in the culture is still quite narrowly defined. The one-size-fits-all approach is, in my estimation, unhealthy to a significant portion of both boys and girls in the LDS Church.

dpc

Equality:

"Honestly, if you can't see the harm identified in the multiple responses posted by SML, Wry Catcher, and others I question whether you are not one who suffers an empathy deficiency yourself."

I find this statement to be unwarranted. Just because I happen to disagree with you on a few issues that doesn't mean that I am somehow "empathically deficient". I never sought to minimize SML and Wry Catcher's experiences. I did make distinctions between physically harmful actions and actions that damaged your dignity as a human being, compared to actions which were psychologically damaging to a person's feeling of self-worth. But at no point did I ever deny that SML or Wry Catcher had not been damaged, nor did I argue that their ideas were of no value and that there point of view was invalid. I certainly did attempt to test that point of view. The very act of discussing an issue without resorting to name calling shows that you at least acknowledge the validity of the other persons point of view. If I felt they were totally out to lunch, why would I bother discussing it with them in the first place?

"So my post ought to be uncontroversial in Mormon circles, I guess. I mean, if it's just stuff that every parent wants for their kid, then I don't suppose I will be seeing any disagreement from you or other devout Mormons who sometimes read and comment here. I suspect, though, that is not the case."

As far as what you want for you children not being controversial, I agree. The problem that I have with the post is your idea about "the harmful potential" of Mormon teachings. Anything can be 'potentially' harmful. I could choke on a piece of apple every time I have one. Would I go around warning people about the dangers of apples because it is 'potentially' dangerous?

I have seen devout Muslims who work hard, live good lives and contribute to society. Is that in spite of their Muslim upbringing? Shouldn't they be literally applying what they read in the Koran and killing others. Shouldn't there also be a post about the 'potential' harm that might befall some Islamic youth based on the teachings of the Koran complete with testimonials from the 'oppressed'?

There is a serious disconnect between what you warn as 'potential' harm and 'actual' harm. Hellmut can bring up the tragedy of Kip. I think it's simplistic to blame the Church as apparently the sole cause. I think it minimizes Kip as a person and turns him into a caricature. He becomes a tool to prove someone's point. I think it ignores his pain and his experiences. Suicide is not something that you can say, "It was because of this reason or that reason." I've wrote my thoughts on suicide on other comments on this site, so repeating those here would be superfluous.

And after raising the cry of harm, you don't seem to suggest what we should do in response. Censor the bad ideas? For all your talk of empowering your children, you seemingly want to restrict their access to given information.

"Perhaps the greatest potential harm I see coming from a full immersion in the Mormon youth indoctrination program is the lack of a development of empathy--the ability to identify with and understand the feelings, thoughts, and point of view of others."

I won't write what I originally intended except that it rhymes with gull mitt. Again, it's a 'potential' harm and we all know how I feel about that.

Empathy isn't a function of religion. I've seen intolerant, arrogant children raised by college-educated parents who fully espoused liberal American values and never took one step inside a church. I've seen intolerant, arrogant children raised by parents who fully espoused conservative American values. Does the family's religion play a role? I'm sure it does. But it's also not a predictor of a bad outcome. And to the extent that it is not a predictor of a bad outcome, it is less useful.

"6. Lack of adequate preparation for marriage and family responsibilities;"

I would say this is a societal problem, rather than a religious problem. Who is ever ready for marriage until you actually get married?

"7. Financial harm from marrying too soon, having kids too early, having too many kids;"

Having money is always better than having kids...How could anyone think any differently?

"8. Myopic dedication to church service at the expense of involvement in non-church-related charitable endeavors."

I guess that I ought to stop volunteering my services down at the local Legal Aid Society and tell them that my religion doesn't want me to serve anyone but Mormons. Or next time I go, maybe I will have Books of Mormon ready to distribute and tell everyone I can't help them until they join my church.

Everything has a 'potential' harm. All ideas are potentially harmful. But how can an idea by psychologically damaging? Are the people who have lived under a totalitarian system psychologically damaged.

Sillynut

"The church is an abusive parent. It may show love, but it comes at the cost of your soul."

I think your comments show a shockingly elitist attitude towards members, TBM and NOM alike, by suggesting that they are the victims of abuse in denial. I find that idea to be insulting and a demonstration of anti-religious hyperbole at its very worst.

Sillynut

Seeing as how my allergies are driving me nuts, I'm not the most coherent at the moment.

I'm not anti-religious. My husband is still Christian and still wants to be religious and raise our children with religion. I'm good with that. My problem isn't against the RELIGION it's against the MANNER is which it's preached. The church COULD teach what it wants without being abusive, but I don't believe it does. At least, I feel that a large number of people get the abusive message. I also feel that there are those who, for lack of a better word, seem to be more "immune" to the abuse than others. They can go through the same gauntlet and come out the other side NOT affected the same way.

It's disingenius to say that because you know people who are okay having been Mormon, then Mormonism isn't bad. Studies show that people who grow up in abusive homes are likely to be abusers. That doesn't mean we can't find those who AREN'T abusers IN SPITE OF growing up in abusive homes.

The proof is the large number of people who HAVE left the Mormon church greatly harmed by what it teaches and how it teaches it. There is the proof that it is not benign. I'm not willing to take
a crapshot that my kids will be among those who come out okay when, imo, they are in a minority. And that opinion is just based on personal experience, which is the only thing I have to base my life on.

Is every member in the church abused? Well, that would depend on your definition. I tend to accept the psychologist viewpoint that if ONE member of the family is abused then ALL are, even if the abuse is not directed AT the other members. Being abusive to ANY group in the church does, at the least, a great disservice to EVERY member.

The church is a pond. There is no such thing as a peeble thrown that does not affect everything else in some way.

Equality

dpc: "I find this statement to be unwarranted. Just because I happen to disagree with you on a few issues that doesn't mean that I am somehow '"empathically deficient'."

It is not because you disagree with me on a few issues, it's because you said you had asked several times for someone to identify the harm. I simply surmised that if you could read what wry and sml wrote and not see the harm, one possible explanation is a lack of empathy. Another possibility is a deficiency in reading comprehension.

dpc: "But at no point did I ever deny that SML or Wry Catcher had not been damaged,"

Ok, then why did you say no one had identified the damage?

dpc: "Anything can be 'potentially' harmful. I could choke on a piece of apple every time I have one. Would I go around warning people about the dangers of apples because it is 'potentially' dangerous?"

Allow me to clarify: the harm is definite. It is absolutely certain that some boys will be harmed by the Mormon youth indoctrination programs. The "potential" comes from the fact that not all boys will suffer serious harm. I'd even go so far as to say a certain percentage will benefit from the program. Thus, knowing that some boys benefit and some suffer, while others may fall on a spectrum in between, the question is whether the risk of potential harm outweighs the potential benefit. Where will my son fall on the spectrum? Using your apple analogy, it is certain that eating an apple poses some risk to some consumers. It seems to me the risk is exceedingly small, as deaths from choking on apples are, I think, relatively rare events. You may be of the opinion that the risk of harm from the Mormon youth indoctrination program is on a level with the risk of eating an apple. I think the risk is considerably higher than that.

dpc: "I think it's simplistic to blame the Church as apparently the sole cause."

You are a lawyer, right? Certainly you are familiar with the concepts of comparative fault and contributory negligence and the like. That Mormon teachings and culture have, at the very least, been contributing factors in the suicides of many young people, is beyond dispute. Clever rhetorical tricks like the one you employ here ("apparently the sole cause") do not change that.

dpc: "For all your talk of empowering your children, you seemingly want to restrict their access to given information."

How so?

dpc: "Who is ever ready for marriage until you actually get married?"
I think people who marry int heir late 20s or early 30s, after coming of age and learning a bit more about who they are, have had wider experience in social settings, etc. are generally better equipped for marriage going in than, say, a 21-year-old male fresh off a two-year highly regimented existence and his 19-year-old freshman bride who has never been west of the Wasatch mountains.

dpc: "Having money is always better than having kids...How could anyone think any differently?"

Did I say that? I don't think so.

dpc: "Are the people who have lived under a totalitarian system psychologically damaged."

You seriously have to ask? I suggest you read Gulag Archipelago by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn. Then we can discuss it.


dpc

Equality:

"dpc: "Are the people who have lived under a totalitarian system psychologically damaged."

You seriously have to ask? I suggest you read Gulag Archipelago by

Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn. Then we can discuss it."

I must have gotten distracted and not finished that thought. That's why it appears as an errant comment. The answer to my question is obviously yes.

Equality

dpc:

OK, I get it. You were probably going to say something along the lines that people under totalitarian regimes suffer psychological damage but that the harm that might be suffered from participation in the church pales by comparison. If so, I'd agree with that as a general statement.

aerin

dpc - of the 10 or so of us in my early morning seminary class, at least four had children out of wedlock by the age of 19. Others may have become addicted to drugs.

They were all from faithful families, attended seminary regularly and all graduated from high school. I stopped attending regularly around the age of 16 - and I didn't have children until I was 29 and married. My sister, who also attended seminary (and was among the 10 I counted) is a doctor and does not have children.

So I agree that while some benefit from the programs (without questions) some do not from my experience.

And in the end, that was always the promise that I heard. My parents had the "lead a child in the right way" scripture on the wall. They were promised that if they held family prayer, read scriptures daily, attended all their meetings - their children would "stay strong in the faith". I didn't.

I agree (with equality) that any "one size fits all" statements about male or female gender roles just don't work in practice.

I met some mormon men who were raised just as dpc mentioned - to marry young and to start a family. Maybe some were not asked in their mission exit interview when they were going to get married - but many were/are.

I sang "I'm so glad when daddy comes home" - a direct reference to a father working outside the home. What about men who would be better at taking care of their kids (full time) than their wives?

There is a lot of pressure on mormon families to fit into a mold of the father working outside the home, the mother working at home, raising children and attending all meetings. There is a lot of pressure for families to have parents married in the temple - whether or not they can actually afford the 10% in tithing and live the standards. Some wards may not pressure their members - and in different parts of the world, it may not be this way. I would be surprised if "I'm so glad when daddy comes home" hasn't been translated into other languages in the children's primary songbook.

Hellmut

It's good of you to discuss these questions with us, dpc. It's not just Kip Eliason. The suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. I tried to illustrate that with the biographies of my age cohort.

By the way, we know exactly why the young man committed suicide. His case is fairly well documented and was subject of litigation. We also know why Stuart Matis committed suicide.

Had it not been for the irrational Mormon approach to sexuality both men and many others might still be alive.

Ideas matter. Ideas that reflect reality better than others will do less damage.

The life sciences have established from many different perspectives that Mormon ideas about sex and gender are wrong. Therefore it is no surprise that Mormon ideas damage our children.

That's so basic that I am surprised that you would not concede the point, dpc.

fh451

DPC: "What Sillynut and fh451 describe sound suspiciously like a "Quarter-life crisis""

I don't doubt it, and note that I said that I didn't necessarily blame the church for it. But I think the church contributes to it by focusing so many of its programs on youth and getting kids on their missions and through the temple. They could help by providing more adult development kinds of activities, IMO. But hey, that really has little or nothing to do with the "truth" of it.

Though I really think the world of Hellmut and his contributions on many interenet boards, I think he may be a little off base with the extent of the dicotomy between "Corridor Mormons" and "non-corridor Mormons." I grew up in a community that I woud consider part of the Corridor, but I never felt like I learned or figured out that it was OK to be a hypocrite. I took it seriously and suffered from guilt (unecessary guilt, looking back) and even some self-loathing because I thought I would never be good enough. There are people who were better than others at doing the "right" thing on Sunday and doing whatever they wanted the rest of the week, but I think most of us knew who they were and didn't approve of their behavior (or maybe we were a little envious :-)).

fh451

Hellmut

fh451: I think he may be a little off base with the extent of the dicotomy between "Corridor Mormons" and "non-corridor Mormons."

Hellmut: That's definitely true.

Lets put it this way, I have never seen a player who was not raised by corridor parents but there are a lot of corridor Mormons who are not players.

And there are many missionaries who are just going through the motions.

Beyond playing the system, there is another option that is not hypocrisy but has the same logical implication: redefine the meaning of prophets and prophesy so much that its connection to the common sense meaning is merely tentative. That appears to be the modal position among 'naclers.

What do you think determines the different socializations that people might acquire?

t n trap

This stuff occasionally troubles me. While my spouse is not a traditional Mormon girl, she does seem intent, to some extent, on raising our kids the Mormon way, as far as church meetings and all that. I have the impression (and the hope) that if the kids grow up with a regular dose of truth and reality in the home, the kids are alright.

Some people seem to do really well in Mormonism. Others, it certainly doesn’t seem to help and some, I agree, are very much harmed. But we don’t really care about the lost sheep anyway, do we? For me, church is like getting my wisdom teeth pulled. The drugs were great at the time, but I really shouldn’t have my teeth pulled every Sunday.

My spouse wants to raise our kids the corporate way, but the way she is, the way I am, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to believe that our kids will grow up in the Mormon corporation, but not of it.

fh451

Hellmut: What do you think determines the different socializations that people might acquire?

FH451: I'm not sure I can answer that question, but maybe I can ramble a bit on my views of these "players." Assuming you are talking about adolescent "players" and not adults (I've never met an adult player, at least not one that was open about it), I've seen numerous teenage/young adults that seem to fit your description. In my experience, they were simply kids that wanted to do all the "bad" stuff - drink, have sex, go to R-rated movies, etc, and simply gave in to "temptation." As far as church goes, they were so socially controlled by their family and community that they had to go through the motions as far as church and seminary activity, or even going on a mission. I know of people who would go out to bars or parties on Saturday night, sleep with somebody, then be in the bishop's office on Sunday trying to "repent." These were real "believers" in a sense, but just didn't want to do the program. It creates some real screwed up situations, but I don't think they're being "players." Most of the kids I knew that were the bad-kid-on-saturday, good-kid-on-sunday were out of the church once they left home (but I have no idea if they left over belief or just behavior). Did they get less damaged than those outside the corridor? I have no idea. I think there is an element of kids being more likely to party with other Mormon "bad kids" since they don't have to be the Mormon example at school. Most of the other kids at the party are Mormon, so WTH! I suppose that might provide a social network of co-conspirators that would make it easier to perform the Sunday duties, and not worry so much about being discovered or feeling guilty. Again, doing some speculating here because I wasn't really one of those kids, so I don't know what their state of mind was.

fh451

Hellmut

That's interesting, fh 451. I was thinking more about opportunistic careerists who have the pious piece down to perfection but really do what's best for themselves. They may even be believers but their faith is identical with their self-interest.

fh451

In that case, I would say that the Morridor definitely provides a better environment for encouraging and rewarding that kind of behavior. But as I said before, I haven't met any that I could recognize - maybe they were just so good at it I thought they were genuine :-).

Nate

Young men who go through the whole program emerge in their early 20s with their individuality wrung out of them, as they are recast in the mould of Mormon conformity. They have repressed the natural course that young people typically undergo, which involves a little rebellion, exploration, and pushing of boundaries.

I call bullshit on this. Jus' sayin'.
I know that the plural of "anecdote" isn't "data" but this fits exactly 0% of all the young men I've known in the Church, which number is considerable.

Enjoy your mental constructions.

INTJ Mom

Loved this post. I want all the same things for my own son.

I have to completely agree with Sillynut that the church is like an abusive parent. And no, people who have only known an abusive situation don't realize it's not normal and/or wrong.

I didn't realize it when I was a member, until it got so bad that my life and my children's lives were threatened by my abusive ex-husband. 8 different bishops over the years wouldn't listen to anything I had to say.

All I ever got from them was that I must be doing something to make my then husband upset and that I needed to work harder to be a good wife and to be supportive of him. I was totally bending over backwards for the man and had been since the day we got married. They never spoke to him about his behavior, everything was always my fault.

I came to realize the extent of the authoritarian patriarchy and that there is really no power of discernment. I slowly came to realize the abusive nature of the entire religion - to both men and women.

After I left I made an effort to learn more about the psychology of abuse. It was shocking how much of it was so familiar from my days in Mormonism, not just the words and deeds of local leaders, but the words of the GAs as well.

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