JKing

My husband's obsession with our family being perceived as perfect.

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Hi, 

I have been married to a mormon man for 23 years now and we have 5 children, I myself am a baptist although I very rarely attend church at all now. There are so many things I love about my husbands faith and the impact it has on our family, I love when he gives the kids blessings when they are nervous or unwell, I love how he sits with them and discusses how they are doing and that we all pray together. However, he is obsessed with having a perfect family and as our kids have gotten older I feel his concern is not for them but for how he is perceived at church or by fellow mormons. When our son decided to stop going to church my husband was so ashamed of our son and there was no real concern of how big a decision it was and that our son may be suffering. I even feel there was little care for our son's salvation and it was mainly my husband worried about people viewing him as a bad father. About, 4 months ago our 18 year old daughter told us she was pregnant and whilst I was heart broken I was just full of concern for her and the baby.  My husband was just preoccupied with being ashamed of her and how he would be perceived as a bad father, he was mad but there was no concern for our daughter or the baby.  He was even like it when our kids were young if they did something bad at church he would be a lot more angry than if they did it at home or at school. I am asking you is there in the mormon faith or culture a shaming for parents when their children go against the church? Or even when they misbehave? If so why ? Does your husband/ wife want to be perceived as perfect and having a perfect family ? 

 

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Even though your question is directed to the LDS on this board, I thought I might offer my input. First, I'm wondering if you are simply a bit sensitive to this aspect of spirituality--this desire to do and be well. IMHO, most people want to look good before their peers--whether in church, at work, in school, or even in the neighborhood. People do act differently in different environments, and most active church members of most faiths put on their best behavior when they are in their houses of worship. As a Baptist did you not grow up being told to "put on your Sunday best?" Yes, it was clothing, but it's also our attitude. NOW, if hubby was not wanting to bring the children to church/ward, because he was ashamed, I'd be right with you in wondering which was more important. However, as a Pentecostal, who does many of the things for my children that your husband does for his, I'd be hurt if my child left the church or got pregnant too. My heart and soul would be for my child, but sure I might also be hurt by what my spiritual peers might think. That aspect of my personality is not because of my church affiliation. Rather, it's pride. Call it sin. The church actually helps reduce that tendency. My humble counsel would be to set aside your suspicions and believe in him. It's hard to believe that in 23 years he has not shown you his love for his children. Don't let the current difficult stretch erase 23 years of solid testimony.

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1 hour ago, JKing said:

My husband was just preoccupied with being ashamed of her and how he would be perceived as a bad father, he was mad but there was no concern for our daughter or the baby.  He was even like it when our kids were young if they did something bad at church he would be a lot more angry than if they did it at home or at school.

Ok, assuming you're telling the whole story here, sounds like your hubby has a problem.  If you send him here, we'll try to set him straight. :)

This is hardly an LDS issue, but yes, you can find LDS folks who put far too much stock in what others' think of them.

 

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3 hours ago, JKing said:

. I am asking you is there in the mormon faith or culture a shaming for parents when their children go against the church? Or even when they misbehave? If so why ? Does your husband/ wife want to be perceived as perfect and having a perfect family ? 

NO!!!!!

Quite the opposite- we are to love our children always, even when they make mistakes-- that's when they need us the most.  We are NOT to be pre-occupied with how we look in other people's eyes, but put the Lord and family first.  What he's doing goes completely against the LDS faith.

I'm sorry you're going through this.  Would you husband like to talk to us about this?  We can address some of his concerns and hopefully help guide his behavior to be more Christ-like.   Or maybe dig up some General Conference talks for the two of you about this?  Please, what can we do to help you?

(On a different note-- welcome to the forum!  I'm also in a Mormon - Baptist/Evangelical marriage :)  )

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11 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

I'm sorry you're going through this.  Would you husband like to talk to us about this?  We can address some of his concerns and hopefully help guide his behavior to be more Christ-like.  

You're assumption that her husband is automatically being un-Christlike based on one post from one stranger on the internet's point of view isn't judgmental at all. <_<

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We don't really know what is going inside the guys head. But I do agree it is something culturally that we have accepted; that parents are responsible for the decisions the child makes and therefore any wrong doing the child commits the parent feels like they are a "bad" parent; this is not good at all.

Totally wrong. The job of a parent is to teach right and wrong and so consequences are enacted to ensure children know when they commit wrong or sinful acts-but all children have free agency.  Some kids just like to indulge man's natural sinful nature more than others, it doesn't mean the parent has done anything wrong.  I think we do need to teach children not to shame the family name or to do things that would cause a bad rap about their family.  I.e. when someone hears the last name they should immediately think good thoughts not bad ones-but IMO a parent should never feel shame for something their kid did . . .they should only feel guilt if they didn't teach their kid properly right/wrong.

If something like that happened to my kid, I'd probably just tell them very simply. "Son/Daughter I'm very disappointed in you-I taught you better than this, you have obviously not learned from my teachings so now life is going to have to teach you and that's going to be a very hard lesson to learn, much harder than anything I did to teach you.  Good luck"

i.e. it's not my problem it's your problem kid-you made the mess now you deal with it-I ain't picking up for your slack. 

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16 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

 IMHO, most people want to look good before their peers--whether in church, at work, in school, or even in the neighborhood. People do act differently in different environments, and most active church members of most faiths put on their best behavior when they are in their houses of worship. As a Baptist did you not grow up being told to "put on your Sunday best?" Yes, it was clothing, but it's also our attitude. NOW, if hubby was not wanting to bring the children to church/ward, because he was ashamed, I'd be right with you in wondering which was more important. However, as a Pentecostal, who does many of the things for my children that your husband does for his, I'd be hurt if my child left the church or got pregnant too. My heart and soul would be for my child, but sure I might also be hurt by what my spiritual peers might think. That aspect of my personality is not because of my church affiliation. Rather, it's pride. Call it sin. The church actually helps reduce that tendency. My humble counsel would be to set aside your suspicions and believe in him. It's hard to believe that in 23 years he has not shown you his love for his children. Don't let the current difficult stretch erase 23 years of solid testimony.

THIS!

 

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@JKing , did you ask your husband this question?  If not, stop right now, stop reading anything else in this thread and go ask him.  Try to understand what it is he's feeling.  Then, if you and he like, come back and tell us what he said.

If these were my children my first thought would be... Where did we go wrong in our teaching?  This would be the first thing my husband and I would discuss and the subject of whether he cares more about "looking good" than "being good" having something to do with it would be discussed too.  In any case, I am my husband's help-meet.  I help him in his struggles the same way he helps me.

Because, having a child get pregnant before marriage and another one leave the church are 2 big things that are in complete rebellion to the things my husband and I've been teaching my children.  @JoCa may have a point that these kids have their own free will that they exercise but those activities are not simple mistakes.  They're by-products of long-term decisions.  Of course, we can do all we can to teach these kids as the prophet Alma taught his son Alma the Younger who ended up as a hellraiser.  But if we self-reflect on how these things came to pass, there are 3 other kids who could benefit from a change in teaching methods.

Edited by anatess2

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@JKing  - Welcome to the forum. A couple thoughts - If he thinks that you've been too 'soft', he may see that as a problem and be overcompensating. He may also be worried about what message the younger kids may get if there's too much "you poor dear". Some people are more comfortable with showing emotions of frustration than sadness but it doesn't mean they don't feel it but they might just need more time to work through the different emotions before getting to the one/s you'd like to see. 

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13 hours ago, The Folk Prophet said:

You're assumption that her husband is automatically being un-Christlike based on one post from one stranger on the internet's point of view isn't judgmental at all. <_<

@Vort, @person0 did a laugh button!

Can we have dislike button?  Sad doesn't quite mean the same... and what's with the heart for the Like?  I don't like it THAT much.... :D

 

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2 hours ago, anatess2 said:

@Vort, @person0 did a laugh button!

Can we have dislike button?  Sad doesn't quite mean the same... and what's with the heart for the Like?  I don't like it THAT much.... :D

 

Can we have like/dislike buttons for likes and dislikes? I want to dislike it when someone else dislikes my posts.

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16 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Can we have like/dislike buttons for likes and dislikes? I want to dislike it when someone else dislikes my posts.

We need buttons for increasingly meta reactions. This will help clarify to everyone what we really think.

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3 hours ago, anatess2 said:

@JKing , did you ask your husband this question?  If not, stop right now, stop reading anything else in this thread and go ask him.  Try to understand what it is he's feeling.  Then, if you and he like, come back and tell us what he said.

If these were my children my first thought would be... Where did we go wrong in our teaching?  This would be the first thing my husband and I would discuss and the subject of whether he cares more about "looking good" than "being good" having something to do with it would be discussed too.  In any case, I am my husband's help-meet.  I help him in his struggles the same way he helps me.

Because, having a child get pregnant before marriage and another one leave the church are 2 big things that are in complete rebellion to the things my husband and I've been teaching my children.  @JoCa may have a point that these kids have their own free will that they exercise but those activities are not simple mistakes.  They're by-products of long-term decisions.  Of course, we can do all we can to teach these kids as the prophet Alma taught his son Alma the Younger who ended up as a hellraiser.  But if we self-reflect on how these things came to pass, there are 3 other kids who could benefit from a change in teaching methods.

I agree with a lot you say. I think there is a difference between feeling shame for the actions of your child and feeling guilt that you didn't teach them better. In other words, if you feel the pain of their decision more than they do, then you are in essence carrying their monkey on your back.

And paradoxically, by doing this over the long-term it will almost guarantee that the child will make very bad decisions later in life-b/c they never feel the crushing weight of bad decisions for themselves and thus never learn that bad decision will affect them severely. 

Having a child leave the Church and one that gets pregnant is a product of long-term decisions and any guilt a parent should feel over this should be . . .where was I when they started down this path? Where was I when they started making the little mistakes that lead to this bad large long-term decisions?  If as a parent you saw they were going down a bad path and did your best to correct it but they made the choice to continue then you shouldn't have any guilt.  If you blissfully unaware, well you've got some thinking to do.

However, given the OPs comments, I wouldn't be surprised if she contributed to the problem rather than helped to fix it.  Should be no surprise when a child leaves the Church when one parent doesn't even go to church.  It's amazing to me, people think they can not go to church, not really teach religion to their child (by their example) and then acted shocked when the child doesn't live the religion.  No surprise there.

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1 hour ago, JoCa said:

Having a child leave the Church and one that gets pregnant is a product of long-term decisions and any guilt a parent should feel over this should be . . .where was I when they started down this path? Where was I when they started making the little mistakes that lead to this bad large long-term decisions?  If as a parent you saw they were going down a bad path and did your best to correct it but they made the choice to continue then you shouldn't have any guilt.  If you blissfully unaware, well you've got some thinking to do.

This.  Exactly.

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12 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

 

I am not so sure I agree with " If you blissfully unaware, well you've got some thinking to do."  I have seen many daughters have their fathers think they were pure and innocent and could do no wrong all from flat out lying to them and being dishonest about what they are doing. If you have a daughter that tells you they are going over to spend the night with their friend Sarah but in actuality they are going to meet their boyfriend, how can you do anything about that, how can you be aware of that? If a father trusts their daughter, what else can he do? I have seen teens from wonderful homes make bad decisions just as much as from broken dysfunctional homes.

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6 minutes ago, Dillon said:

I have seen teens from wonderful homes make bad decisions just as much as from broken dysfunctional homes.

How do you know they were wonderful homes? Rather, what criteria are you using to define "wonderful"?

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33 minutes ago, Dillon said:

I am not so sure I agree with " If you blissfully unaware, well you've got some thinking to do."  I have seen many daughters have their fathers think they were pure and innocent and could do no wrong all from flat out lying to them and being dishonest about what they are doing. If you have a daughter that tells you they are going over to spend the night with their friend Sarah but in actuality they are going to meet their boyfriend, how can you do anything about that, how can you be aware of that? If a father trusts their daughter, what else can he do? I have seen teens from wonderful homes make bad decisions just as much as from broken dysfunctional homes.

I call out your misogyny and hope you go see a therapist.

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@JoCa We have discussed it many times over the years how he lets his pride and attempts to have a perfect family impact his reactions and how he disciplines our kids.

 

Also I should clarify It isn't so much of a problem I believe it is the only way he knows how to be a parent. it just upsets me how he cares more about the way he is perceived than our kid's happiness.

@Jane_DoeI don't think my husband is keen on forums but maybe you could share some d & c 

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6 hours ago, JoCa said:

However, given the OPs comments, I wouldn't be surprised if she contributed to the problem rather than helped to fix it.  Should be no surprise when a child leaves the Church when one parent doesn't even go to church.  It's amazing to me, people think they can not go to church, not really teach religion to their child (by their example) and then acted shocked when the child doesn't live the religion.  No surprise there.

I taught my kids that they can have free will and their dad taught them about church and religion. They made the choice, we didn't make it for them. We have 2 children who are still very active in the church one of whom serving a mission. My husband couldn't force them to join and I wouldn't tell them what to do.  

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I don't agree that a sinful child is always the fault of bad parenting. I am not even sure that the parent can be blamed, most of the time.

Many personality traits have a genetic component. 'Twin studies' compare the personality traits of identical twins reared in the same household or separated at birth.

Some misbehaviour can be atrributable to mental disorders such as schizophrenia which have genetic links.

In many families, some children are obedient and others are not but frequently the parenting style is similar.

in the wards of which I have been a member, others were quite understanding of the trials inflicted on parents by lively children.

 

 

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7 hours ago, JoCa said:

However, given the OPs comments, I wouldn't be surprised if she contributed to the problem rather than helped to fix it.  Should be no surprise when a child leaves the Church when one parent doesn't even go to church.  It's amazing to me, people think they can not go to church, not really teach religion to their child (by their example) and then acted shocked when the child doesn't live the religion.  No surprise there.

As a Mormon  married to inactive Baptist/Evangelical, I don't find this statement to be FAR from a universal truth.  I can't speak for @JKing 's family, but I know my husband is always supportive of me going to church, taking out my Endowments, teaching little girl the Gospel, etc.  Inter-faith marriages are different, and on some levels they take more effort, but they also can be quite wonderful and strong marriages.  Some of the best LDS kids I've known comes from households with a non-LDS parent.

 

 

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2 hours ago, JKing said:

 

@Jane_DoeI don't think my husband is keen on forums but maybe you could share some d & c 

Cool, I'll gather some up for you....

Note: the first obvious big thing is that Heavenly Father, aka the best parent possible, still had a third of His children rebel.  

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1 hour ago, Jane_Doe said:

As a Mormon  married to inactive Baptist/Evangelical, I don't find this statement to be FAR from a universal truth.  I can't speak for @JKing 's family, but I know my husband is always supportive of me going to church, taking out my Endowments, teaching little girl the Gospel, etc.  Inter-faith marriages are different, and on some levels they take more effort, but they also can be quite wonderful and strong marriages.  Some of the best LDS kids I've known comes from households with a non-LDS parent.

 

 

I understand it's something you tell yourself to make yourself feel better.  That's great.

But it's wrong. Not it's not a universal truth as there are always exceptions.  However, the ideal is for children to be raised in a home with both mother and father united together in spirit (i.e. attending the same church/religion) and on the same page.

It wouldn't be the ideal if it wasn't better.

Put it this way,  100 families with both parents attending church together.  I will absolutely pit the children of those 100 parents with both parents attending church against children of 100 parents with only 1 parent attending church.  

Want to take a bet on which group of children will live better lives?

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