Elder Rasband spoke in stake conference last week and explained what “failure in the home” means. The talk in general was about temples and families. I found out that while the Salt Lake Temple is being renovated, the Q15 had a floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building converted into a temple (complete with an altar) and that’s where they have their weekly Q15 meeting, since the Upper Room of the temple is not available. Pretty cool.
Back to the meat of the talk now. Elder Rasband used the story about the families coming to King Benjamin’s sermon (Mosiah 2-5) and pitching their tents with the door towards the temple. These were multi-generational groups, with grandparents, adult children and grandchildren all listening to King Benjamin together. After the sermon, King Benjamin asked if his people believed him and the answer was a resounding yes. The people wanted to make a covenant to mark this important occasion, and so they all, except for the little children, entered into the covenant and took upon themselves the name of Christ (Mosiah 5:1 – 6:2).
Elder Rasband explained that there was an unhappy ending to this story. Those little children grew up and rejected the traditions of their fathers (Mosiah 26:1). The rising generation fell away. Elder Rasband said that nothing is more important than the way your children turn out. He then quoted President David O. McKay, who said, “No success in life can compensate for failure in the home.” He acknowledged that there are many faithful parents whose children had ‘rejected the traditions of their fathers’ and had left the Church. So what does it mean to fail in the home? He said something to the effect of, “You have not failed in the home unless you have given up on getting your children to come back.” The gist of the exhortation was that parents and grandparents should continue to testify to their wayward children and seek to bring them back into the fold.
Oh good grief.
You see what he did there? Church activity is now going to be a constant argument and tension in the relationship between inactive/apostate adult children and their faithful parents and grandparents. If you accept your adult children’s right to make their own decisions and live their own lives, you’ve failed in the home. Seeing the good in your children who have left the Church and respecting their use of agency means you’re a failure. Being obedient to an apostle of the Lord means becoming a Church nag. It’s a terrible idea. For every child brought back to the fold, there will be nine others who actively start to avoid their parents because they’re sick of being preached at.
Let’s apply the Golden Rule here. Do active parents want their inactive children to testify to them about the flaws and harms of the Church? Do active parents appreciate that their inactive children are motivated by love and the sure knowledge that the best way to be happy is to walk away from the Church? Do you want someone else to constantly try to convince you that they’re right and you’re wrong? If you don’t want to be on the receiving end of someone else’s goal to convert you, then treat others with the same respect.
Also, can you see the setup for persecution here? It goes like this:
Adult Child: Please stop talking to me about Church. I’ve asked you before.
Parent: But I love you! Church!
Adult Child: Please stop talking to me about Church. I’m asking yet again.
Adult Child: I’m going to hang up if you don’t stop talking about Church.
Adult Child: *hangs up*
Parent to friend later: My child won’t even talk to me anymore, just because I believe in Church.
I define failure in the home to be alienating your children, losing their trust and having your children resent the way you try to manipulate them and guilt trip them into doing what you want. Failure in the home is ruining your relationship with your child because you can’t respect their boundaries.
Elder Rasband shouldn’t have thrown down that gauntlet: Choose between obeying an apostle or respecting your child’s boundaries. It’s a cruel thing to do to family relationships that are likely already strained by religious differences. Frequently reminding your children that you are disappointed in their life choices does not make for joyful relationships.
To the faithful parents and grandparents of adult children who have left the Church: Please be a failure in the home. Please accept your child’s right to make their own decisions and choose their own beliefs. Good relationships include a willingness to accept differences and respect boundaries. Don’t bring up Church if they’ve asked you not to. No one ever took a guilt trip to the Celestial Kingdom. Sad heaven is only as sad as you make it; please don’t start the separation on earth by turning your relationship with your child into a faith battle. Love your child in a way that God won’t love you — unconditionally.
There’s another possible interpretation of Elder Rasband’s counsel. Perhaps “not giving up” could mean that parents continue to pray for their wayward adult children, but not talk to their child about Church. I would hope parents and grandparents would adopt this interpretation.
- Have you ever been treated as the service/activation project by a family member? What did you think?
- Do religious differences strain relationships in your family? Are there family members that you don’t talk to about religion?
- How would you define failure in the home?
I agree this sounds really destructive to the parent child relationship and is more likely to result in family estrangement than children returning to church. I also don’t think convincing another adult to change their mind about something like this should even be a goal in the relationship. I’ve heard other leaders give much better advice to parents whose children have left.
I have not been treated as a project by my family (yet). There are 6 siblings. Brother 3 left the church 30+ years ago and everyone knows. He has been a project of our 2 brothers for decades. Brother 1 and his wife attempt to use Family Search as a “lure” to bring him back. Brother 2 mentions the temple incessantly. 3 has no interest, but that doesn’t deter them! Two of us three sisters have also left, while the third is barely hanging on. The 2 brothers have no idea. It’s a tricky situation. I know they’ll be upset and shaken, but it also hasn’t come up naturally and I haven’t voluntarily shared. I won’t lie but I also don’t want to become a project. When it eventually comes out, it will change the dynamics. Brother 2 doesn’t have much to talk about other than church (it’s his world). Those of us who have left after a lifetime faced major changes in our lives. I can only imagine how a sibling would feel when he thinks his family is all in with the exception of one stray and then learns that actually, only 2 of the 6 are fully in. Reference Elder Rasband and now your family is a failure. The religious differences will absolutely cause a strain. It doesn’t matter that the 3 of us fully out are much happier, and that is sad.
As one who has recently (relatively speaking) left the Church as an adult, let me make the following observations:
1. The single most divisive issue within our extended family is religion. Namely, there’s definitely an “us vs them” framework behind these relationships and it’s completely rooted in Mormonism.
2. The various members of the extended family are closer than ever and the unspoken reason for that is a mutual acceptance of disbelief in the COJCOLDS.
In sun, the Church divides us from the TBMs in the family but also unites those of us who are non-believers. All of us see this within our family and yet it persists. It’s to the point now where the non-believers have to be careful to not judge the believers the way they judge us.
What is success in the home? Success is when religion doesn’t matter to relationships.
It seems important to me to respect the agency of others (including our adult children), and to be kind and charitable to our neighbors (including our adult children). I didn’t hear Elder Rasband’s talk, but I’ll try to understand what he is said to have said in light of these over-arching principles.
A neighbor who leaves the church is still a neighbor. A son or daughter who leaves the church is still a son or daughter.
Janey is absolutely that success in the home is not built by constant nagging. That sort of approach simply drives children away.
Does having one’s adult children leave the Church constitute failure in the home? It does not, as long as those children are productive members of society who work hard to provide for themselves and to serve the community.
The actual failure is those who have adult children attending Church, but spending the rest of the week in the basement playing violent video games, rather than working. Allowing adult children to live a life of laziness and sloth is the real failure.
I would much rather have an inactive child who works hard at his job and in service organizations in the community than have an active child who tries to live of the graces of others while neglecting his own children to watch scantily clad singers on YouTube. Simple activity in the Church does not make for “success” and override all other “failures.” That is irrefutable fact.
“I define failure in the home to be alienating your children, losing their trust and having your children resent the way you try to manipulate them and guilt trip them into doing what you want. ” This X 1000. Rasband is repeating and advocating for an incredibly toxic approach to raising (or attempting to raise) children in the church. Sad as this is, it’s actually not surprising. If one believes that obedience is proof of love, which is what church leaders teach about God, then of course one would assume that “proof” of a child’s love is being obedient and acquiescing to a parent’s wishes. Of course, since God is neither an autocrat nor a dictator, obedience and love have, in actuality, very little to do with each other. As an LDS leader, I suppose Rasband feels he must teach about obedience and family in this way; I can only think about how many parents will hear this, take his words to heart and end up ruining their relationship with their children.
I’ve never heard Elder Rasband’s apparent interpretation of that scripture before … I had always read that scripture to indicate that the little children were just TOO LITTLE to make any kind of meaningful decision, and that their later struggles were a reflection of being too young to have remembered the experience. Not that their parents had in any way particularly failed them. We see something analogous after Jesus’ visit – several generations do great, which is great, but then they start to diverge. I hadn’t thought there either that it was an overt failing of the parents.
This is where I hate the snippets that the leaders grab off quotes that ignore the whole context.
“Failure in the home” is from David O McKay’s quote made about men were prioritizing careers over family: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”.
In the 80’s this was taught to us young men so we’d know where to put our focus. It’s still an important quote that I remind myself of all the time.
It wasn’t specific as to what failure in the home is. Failure in the home was to counter the idea of trying to be successful in other areas at the expense of your home life.
Have you ever been treated as the service/activation project by a family member? What did you think? I became the Ward’s Service Project when my daughter came out as gay. It got worse when married her wife and had children.
Do religious differences strain relationships in your family? Are there family members that you don’t talk to about religion? It didn’t strain the relationships in the family but it did in the ward. Many ward members don’t even recognize me at the local Wal-Mart let alone speak to me any other time.
How would you define failure in the home? By listening to the church and letting the guilt they propagate overcome your love for your children.
Rasband’s remarks reek of desperation. It appears the Q15 recognize the mass exodus (spiritually and physically) of young people. Their ill-advised strategy is playing the guilt card on both sides. This is a zero-sum game – there are no winners. Rather, the results are predictable in terms of fractured personal and family relationships.
I am ashamed to admit that when my children started questioning Mormonism, I tried using guilt as a motivator. As in “how can you abandon the sacrifices of ancestors”, etc. Finally, my very wise daughter left a package on my desk. Inside were copies of ‘In Sacred Loneliness’ by Compton and ‘No Man Knows My History’ by Brodie. The gift card read simply: “To Dad, you always taught us to seek truth”. Thus began my own journey to finding truth and mending relationships.
It is appropriate to end this post with a paraphrased quote from the sacred books of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash (RIP David C.):
“There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a book over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?”
1. “Have you been treated as the service/activation project by a family member? ”
No. Because I began EVERY conversation about my faith transition as anti-service/activation project. I also made it clear that all overtures in that area would be judged on their merits to “connect me to the family member” and “worth my time” (not my moral autonomy). If the overture was “dis-connective” or “not worth my time”, then I started redirection process into finding something else. There are a lot of “Yup. Yup. It is a really uncomfortable situation to be in a faith transition. You’ll be one of the first to know when I ‘get’ my testimony back.” conversations.
Most of my family members have “gone rogue” over the years anyways. The fact it was “my turn” – the returned missionary/temple marriage scion of the siblings gave everyone (including myself) pause – but was peanuts in terms of some of our shared family life experiences.
2. “Do religious differences strain relationships in your family?”
I was afraid that my faith transition would strain my relationship with my father. I am a lot like him. I was afraid I would have disappointed him because I “wanted to forget the testimony I had”. It didn’t really change anything though.
“Values differences” disguised as “Religious differences” strain relationships in my family. It comes in sneakily when my values no longer privilege specific religious principles. It’s a mind-boggling conversation to point out that “religious freedom” also includes equal access to no religion or non-Christian religious based values. What I value is “if you are going to have the right to join any church you want without retaliation (with caveats about some harmful situations), then you also have the right to not join/leave any church without retaliation.”
3. “Failure in the Home” to me is whenever an individual refuses to move past the initial self-protection/defensiveness that causes that individual to justify their point of view over including the points of view of others. It winds up be a “Purity” moment of “Being the Most Right” rather then a “Lovingkindess” moment of “Getting a More Accurate Picture of Multiple Right Answers”. Everyone values the purity of their point of view at first in a conflict – that is normal and useful. It’s 20 minutes/2 hours/3 days/10 years later that the “Purity” stance becomes the “failure” when the “Lovingkindness” opportunity to be expansive and generous/gracious is lost to the certainty of exclusion and implosion.
“Failure” is surely in the eye of the beholder, in fact I’d go as far as to reject the binary distinction between parental success and failure.
JCS cracks me up with his self-parody, but is right in a sense that activity in the church is surely way too arbitrary a criteria to determine success or failure as a parent, even for TBMs. What most experts would consider healthy though is openness, honesty and mutual acceptance in a relationships, and I see my MIL destroying any chance of having those things with her daughter, my wife because she is seemingly falling for nonsense like Rasband’s spouting here.
@janey, this is a really important topic as church leaders seem willing to be anti-family, in fact, when it comes to the issue of solidarity to the church in the way Rasband defines.
When I was in college, I learned about a high school acquaintance who became interested in the church. I didn’t know him well, but was well enough acquainted that he obtained my apartment phone number through my parents and called me one evening. He had met an LDS young woman at the university he was attending and became interested in the church. We had a good conversation. Some months later he called me again. He was in a quagmire. His girlfriend and he were talking about getting married and he was deep into his investigation of the church. But when he learned her expectation (and particularly her parents’) was to be temple married, and then learned his parents and family would be barred from the ceremony, it arrested their plans. He said to me, “I don’t understand. The Mormon church is so pro family, but only with their members. I can’t imagine telling my family they can’t come to my wedding. A ring ceremony and reception don’t count. How can it be profamily to exclude my family from such an important ceremony and moment? Maybe my family would even become interested if they attended.” Of course, I had no answer except to say that was a point I agreed with. As it turned out, her family put extreme pressure on their daughter not to compromise, and told her boyfriend (my acquaintance) that his parents were being influenced by Satan. And that was a deal killer. They broke off and drifted apart. He never joined the church, of course. He came from a good family with great parents. Being told they were being guided by Satan was not only absurd, manipulative and dead wrong, it broke his back, his interest in the church, and why wouldn’t it? His last call to me was to let me know he had broken up with her, felt hurt and deceived by the process and our church. A quick coda on my acquaintance: He and I connected on Facebook years later. He seems happily married with two children (he and his wife recently celebrated their 28th anniversary). He and his family are engaged members of a protestant faith. His children have gone on to do amazing things, both graduating from universities with engineering degrees. One recently married. I reflect back and think he is far better off he didn’t join our church. We Mormons can be insane and so controlling. Rasband’s proscription is morally wrong and manipulative.
Another anecdote: One of my daughters came to me a few of years ago, distraught. My wife and I could tell she had been in pain for a couple of years before that, and we worried about her constantly. She told us she felt the church was bad for her mental health, and that she didn’t believe the truth claims and she couldn’t be quiet any longer. The dissonance was killing her. She is a brilliant young woman, committed to good living, and who was at the time midway through her studies at an elite, east coast university. She was afraid we would be disappointed despite knowing I was quite critical of many church claims and policies. When we told her we loved her unconditionally and that her choice of what to believe was indeed her choice, we watched her complexion change immediately. Our releasing her of the shaming and extreme expectations our church imposes washed this weight of fearing to disappoint us and her siblings away and literally gave her a rebirth. Our relationship with her has never been closer, never better. We have other children who have made this decision as well. Decisions that were thoughtfully and carefully considered as a choice of conscience. If anything, our family is closer than it ever has been. The openness and honestly has promoted an increase in love and compassion. I can’t imagine how it would have affected her had we expressed disappointment, or worse, threated to cut her off in any way (financial support most commonly). I think it would have harmed her badly. How could I have done that to my precious girl? The way Rasband frames this issue creates a false dichotomy, and it’s just crappy parenting advice.
I believe Rasband and others who promote this kind of gaslighting are short-sighted and purely self-interested. This rhetoric does more harm to families than good. It feels like raw self-interest because it is, instead of at least being enlightened self-interest. Enlightened self-interest would suggest Rasband say simply love your children regardless, fully, completely, and that will make it easier for them to return if they chose to, and it might be the best way to leave a standing invitation for them to return. Not talking about it and instead loving them fully might be the best invite you can extend. And in the meantime, focus on keeping your family close. Make your children always feel safest when in your home and when they are with you. It seems to me that’s something that could be expressed from the GC pulpit and more align with first principles of the gospel.
Like @De Novo I see desperation from many of the ‘brethren’ these days and it’s not at all quiet. Adding more shame and likely more despair and depression to the unfortunate parents who already feel like failures. When our first child left the fold I felt like I’d failed somehow but now appreciate his bravery – it must have felt very hard at times thinking himself the black sheep of the family despite the fact that we never tried to make him feel like a project and loved him the way we always had. We’ve always just tried to do the best we could, and not just in a churchy way, being there for them but given them space to walk their own paths.
I’m now PIMO and 3 of 6 offspring are out and the others are on various stages of nuance.
I can understand why those leaders at the top are desperate to turn this trend around, because they 100% believe, but it simply won’t happen. The reasons people are leaving are just too big and irreversible and rather than bringing families back together they are driving bigger wedges. Once you go to that place you wonder how you ever believed it in the first place. It’s like a house of cards.
The church could instead do better by encouraging the flock to focus their attention of becoming more Christlike. If the eternities exist do we really want it filled with families that don’t want to be together because of ruptures caused by rigid expectations and disappointments?
A family without a spectrum of religious and philosophical views is either an unhealthy family or a colony of clones.
Thanks for the advice Janey. Yes I have chosen my children over the church narrative of sad heaven. It’s nice to be praised for that instead of put down. Thank you.
My three oldest sons are inactive. Two of them have special needs that made it so they never fit in socially. My oldest fit in, but had a bad feeling about the church and couldn’t say he believed it at age 14. All three of them are Eagle scouts and attended 4 years of seminary. They are respectful of the church and on special occasions we invite them to come to church with us. Sometimes they come if it fits in.
We consider it kind of a family activity and an opportunity to show off our sons (we love them exactly as they are) to the ward community. It’s strictly no pressure and no expectations of returning to the church. I have shared “All Things New” with them and my oldest and I have great discussions about it. He has marvelous religious insights. What a healing and freeing book.
I am saddened to hear of Elder Rasband’s poor judgement. The church should be a support for family unity instead encouraging divisive, controlling behavior. Unfortunately many talks preach ideas that are bad for family dynamics and mental health. It’s painful to sit in church and hear sad heaven rhetoric, knowing so many older people are in this situation with their children. It’s like rubbing salt in their wounds. It really can hurt people who have given their personal authority to their leaders. Often our leaders can be blind to the actual effects of their words. They can be their own worst enemies.
I am committed to staying in my church community. I speak up when I can. I try to teach Christ like behavior, good boundaries and other things that support mental health and community.
You can let Elder Rasband know I will never give up on him.
Leaders seem to think people are a commodity and that all relationships are transactional.
It starts with the Bible. God is unhappy with Israel so he sends in the Gentiles to humble them. Once sufficiently humbled, God forgives Israel and empowers them to kill the Gentiles. It’s a horrific narrative that works well if you are Israel but means you are merely a pawn to God if you are a Gentile.
It continues with missionary work. A missionary’s obedience will override another’s agency to join a church they would not otherwise join.
And of course it always comes home to families. Parents were once taught that if they obeyed the brethren their kids would never stray. Turns out it doesn’t work that way so now the narrative is if stay obedient you will get them back in the next life, a claim that cannot be disproven so it’s the perfect narrative.
The plan of happiness was rebranded to the covenant path because, as it turns out, nobody following the plan was actually happy.
Choosing who to share my story with has been a wild ride. Some folks who I thought for sure would understand did not and proselytized me (like I’m somehow not aware of the supposed consequences after a lifetime of Mormonism). Others who I hesitated to tell ended up being extremely supportive. You never can tell with people.
No family members treat me like a project but I don’t live near my family so maybe when they see me they are just truly happy I showed up. Some friends have treated me like a service project, and they act like I can’t tell. Whatever.
I’m of the opinion we should celebrate people how they choose to show up so differences of any kind in my relationships are not a threat to me personally. Others see things differently.
I mostly visit family out of obligation. To me that’s family in my home growing up. I hope my children visit me when they are adults because they value our relationship.
First things first- “No one ever took a guilt trip to the Celestial Kingdom.” That is absolutely my quote of the week!
I think your second possible interpretation of Elder Rasband’s comments is much more along the lines of what he meant to say. Unfortunately, what he meant to say got lost behind what he did say, which seems to happen an awful lot to a lot of Church leaders (muskets, anyone? ). I mean, it happens to all of us all the time, but the way we fix it in our personal relationships is to apologize and clarify our remarks if they have been misunderstood. Maybe that will happen in this case?…
I’d say failure in the home is when you stop loving your children. Which gives me an opportunity to share my favorite message again- that God’s law of love is: Accepting people as they are, seeking another’s healing, and expecting nothing in return (just loving people). Guilting, and trying to cajole people into returning to the church is expecting something in return from them.
Piggybacking off of Elisa’s last post, I think the root of this problem comes from thinking there is only one path to heaven, and the church is that path (so the most important thing is having kids stay on that path, rather than accepting and loving them). When we recognize the validity of other paths (and that people can be Christlike and develop their full potential outside of the church) it becomes much easier to love and support your children when they are on a different but equally valid path.
No, I’ve never been treated as a project. I’m blunt and kind of prickly so no one seems to find a troublesome engagement worth the effort.
Yes, there is some strain around religious differences. My parents, God bless them, work very hard to maintain the relationship, but we never get too deep into church stuff, which leads me to believe Rasband has not considered another possible repercussion here. I’ve never had any member of my family, immediate or remote, ask why I left the church, but I would welcome the conversation. I’m quite confident I know more than they do, and I think the longer the conversation goes on, the more they are left with “I received a witness and I have a testimony.” That’s fine, but when that’s all that’s left, it starts to get thin in the face of the fact that the church hid and misrepresented historical facts, punished those who dared share them accurately, and systematically manipulates members in really unhealthy ways. I’m fairly certain I could talk some family members out of the church long before they talk me back in. Has the church fully considered all potential outcomes of a full-court push to bring family members back into the church? Maybe not.
Finally, piling more guilt on the backs of parents already burdened by the perceived failure of apostate children is just cruel and manipulative. Rasband can pound sand.
I just want to point out that either Ronald Rasband does not believe the 11th article of faith or he has a very selective interpretation of it.
I attended a recent leadership meeting where Elder Rasband presided and this subject was discussed. After some back and forth with local leaders, Elder Rasband let one of the Seventy speak about it. He said that parents should love their wayward children and praise the good things that they do. This was the last word on that subject, and nothing like the strict interpretation in the OP was ever brought up by the GAs. Very different from what is being assumed in most of this discussion.
The Seventy who gave that teaching has a child and a sibling that no longer attend the church. He and his family have probably had many chances to implement the teaching he conveyed.
1. I second Andy’s comment that McKay’s statement (“No success can compensate for failure in the home”) was primarily directed toward getting fathers/husbands involved with their families, especially at a time when becoming a career man and enjoying the recreational pleasures of the post-war economy was so strong.
2. Failure in the home is failure to care for/provide, love family. Failure can also be trying to supplant Christ by making it your job to “save” someone.
3. When you step back and look at things from a greater perspective, isn’t the core of the gospel building healthy, lasting relationships? Is not the celestial kingdom a place or condition of relationships? Won’t get there by destroying relationships.
Great discussion here, all.
Andy – I had never heard that context, but it makes perfect sense that the referral to other successes in life meant business success, i.e., “No business success can compensate for neglecting your family.” That’s a sentiment all of us could agree on.
Codeye – I also don’t think there’s a way to really label a family relationship as “success” or “failure.” There are so many facets to a relationship. it’s better to consider if a relationship is healthy and close, or unhealthy and distant, and how to draw closer or change unhealthy patterns of interaction. Both success or failure can change. If we used Andy’s context and made that quote about prioritizing your family over your career, then it’s just about priorities rather than feeling like a failure.
I wrote this post before reading Elisa’s post about finding root causes, and when I looked at this post in that context, I came to the same conclusion aporetic1 did. The root cause is believing there’s only one way to heaven, and the Brethren control it. Which goes back to ego and pride and thinking we’re more special than anyone else.
el oso – thanks for that perspective on Elder Rasband’s comments in a different meeting. He didn’t really clarify what “don’t give up on your children” meant, and I hope that’s something he would talk more about when he talks about this again. It should mean unconditional love and acceptance. But unfortunately, there’s also plenty of room for zealous parents to interpret it to mean that they should poke and prod and nag.
Great post, Janey. This is a serious problem in the Church, one that several current apostles are doubling down on. Why are they so seriously bad at parenting advice? Funny thing is, the Church loves inserting itself into personal relationships where it really doesn’t belong. Once you insert your Church into any relationship, it stops being a relationship and starts being something else: a job you are doing on behalf of the Church.
Sorry for being bold, but to get to the point.. Rasband is a company Man. He apple polished his way to the top. He is a Mormon more than a Christian. These company men do not care for individuals. That is why they spew such hurtful, insensative remarks.
I really like this post, Janey. I like De Novo’s point about how talks like Rasband’s sound like desperation. Decades ago, when more Mormons lived in Utah and it was far less common for people to leave the Church after having been raised in it, it might have been more possible (at least in GAs’ minds) to tell people to harangue their wayward family members back to the Church. But now? When people leaving can find easy community and lots of validation as they leave? There’s zero change that the aggressive nagging is going to push people back. As others have pointed out, this is just going to drive a wedge between family members and make those who have left have an even more negative opinion of the Church
As an aside, this is just one more area where the Brethren could desperately use some openness to social science. They have all this data on members, and who’s stayed and who’s left. They could easily do a pilot program where they suggest Rasband’s tactics for getting people back to one group of members whose family members have left, and suggest a more humane approach like Janey’s to another group. Then check back after a while, not just on the Brethren’s preferred outcome of Church activity by the people who left, but also on how those who have stayed feel about their relationships with those who have left. I bet they’d be way stronger in the Janey group than the Rasband group. Also, I bet in the Janey group, those who have stayed would be more likely to continue to stay, rather than possibly following their family members out the door when they see how badly the Church treats them. Anyway, of course the GAs will never do such a study, because they learned at the feet of Alma (Alma 31:5) that the best way to get people back to church is to preach at them, and they’re not interested in any actual data. Also, they’re not interested in considering irrelevant-to-them issues like family relationships, only with the strength of the Church.
Great and thought provoking comments everyone. Ziff, I like your idea about the pilot program but fear that the way “The Brethren” act and operate that they would get the information but refuse to look at it, even less implement it, either out of fear that the conclusions make them look bad, and of course, we can’t even suggest better ways to do things (see Sam Young and Natasha Helfer as Exhibit A), or else they would pull the “Why bother when we always know better than you because we’re prophets, seers and revelators and you’re not.” card. Any way you look at it they are averse to making changes because of fear for their reputations or because they think that they are the only ones able to receive revelation for the entire church and aren’t willing to cede any of their precious authority to anyone else. Meanwhile, the church stagnates and regresses. How truly sad. I think that unreasonable fear combined with hubris and absolute certainty are serious sins that always create lose/lose situations.
When I saw the title of this post, for a moment I thought it was going to be about the individual in Utah who recently murdered his entire family. THAT is a failure in the home, so when can we hear the Q12 denounce toxic masculinity and build a system that ACTUALLY protects victims of domestic abuse?
@lws329–All Things New by John Eldredge or by Fiona Givens?
Adult Child: Please stop talking to me about Church. I’ve asked you before.
Parent: But I love you! Church!
Adult Child: Please stop talking to me about Church. I’m asking yet again.
Adult Child: I’m going to hang up if you don’t stop talking about Church.
Adult Child: *hangs up*”
Janey, have you been illegally tapping the phone calls between me and my very TBM mother?
David O. McKay did not invent the phrase. It is from James E. McCulloch. Here is the quote in full, and it has nothing to do with religion, let alone activity in the LDS church: “The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home” ( J. E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization , 42; in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116).
I just wanted to say thank you for this message, it brought me to tears. I’m the dad and I’ve stepped somewhat away from church, although I’m making an effort to attend Sacrament meeting with my wife so she’s not alone. That’s because our three daughters have also decided to stop attending and no longer believe. I remember my faithful days and I comprehend how much that hurts my wife, that’s a genuine feeling.
Having said that, it’s also important to remember that that’s not the only thing that should define a life (and my wife grasps this for sure). My oldest was valedictorian. My middle child is doing better in school and is a track and band star. My youngest also does well in school and band. Most importantly they’re all decent people who treat others well and with love and respect. The oldest two have relationships that are sources of consternation for my wife (and partially me) because they’ve become physical, but the truth is the boys are decent people too and do well in school and treat others well. All told, they’re really stable and secure and high performing kids.
My wife would absolutely love them to come back to church and I get that. For a while when she pushed home church and other endeavors the truth is it just drove them away. I think she’s seen that now and doesn’t press too hard, although it’s been a source of conflict as it feels like “I won.” I think that’s been resolved as I don’t feel glee and I’m happy for them to continue in the church if that’s what they want (although I’d hope they’d be moderate members and able to disagree with the brethren on things like gay marriage if their internal compass pushed them that way).
It’s been a long road but I think it’s finally become clear that pushing it on them really only backfires and harms the relationship. I think this is one of those times where leading by example is the best hope and if one can actually show the benefit it brings into one’s life that is the only way to influence loved ones.
We love reading “All Things New” by Fiona and Terryl Givens. This is a very healing and freeing book which opened my eyes and helped me think in a more flexible way about the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I would never badger my son about the church. He left for good reasons – nonstop bullying in Young Men’s that was incredibly destructive to his mental health. He later told me that the relief that came when he quit attending for good at age 20 was so intense that he felt like his anxiety/depression had been cured. (They weren’t but they definitely improved.) My biggest regret isn’t that he left the church but that I tried to keep him going for so long. Church is a source of strength and comfort for my husband, my daughter, and me, but it was toxic for my son. He’s better off without church and I can’t imagine the harm it would do if I tried to drag him back in.