I suspected this would happen when I moved closer to the children. It just happened sooner than I thought it would.
My ex-wife called today and at the end of our conversation she brought up the reason she had really called.
Now that you are nearby, the kids want to go to church even on the weekends they are with you. It’s no different than them participating in an extra-curricular activity. You can take them and then I’ll bring them back after the 3 hour block.
First of all, my feelings and stance regarding the LDS faith were one of the main reasons for our divorce. My taking them to church implies a support that I’m not willing to give.
Secondly, SHE wants them to attend church weekly. It’s dubious whether or not it is the kids’ desire or not. I learned long ago that the children will say to each of us what they think the other wants to hear. They want to go to church when they are with her. With me, they love sleeping in and doing fun things on Sunday.
I believe I owe it to my kids for my weekends to be indoctrination-free.
Lastly, is it really fair to expect me to give up 4 hours of my weekends with my kids to lug them to a place that teaches them false and demeaning things about me as a gay man? Would she cart them to a Post-Mormon group meeting on her time if I regularly attended one?
My only worry is one day becoming a vehicle for their faith-promoting myth about how their ex-Mormon dad prevented them from attending church but how they patiently and faithfully endured until the day that they could attend every week… How many times have we heard that sort of story? The new convert whose parents wouldn’t let her get baptized at 14 so she had to wait until she turned 18 and then she’s as Molly Mormon as they get now.
My gut is still telling me to say no. Sundays with me are family time.
This all came about because Sunday is the Primary program in the ward, and my ex-wife saw that as a window to this discussion. I said that since it was my time and this was something special that I’d take them to Sacrament Meeting, see them and then we could leave together. When I later talked to my 8 year old on the phone she sounded excited that she wouldn’t have to stay for the 3 hours.
But my ex-wife countered that our oldest son had just been called at Teacher’s Quorum President and so he wanted to be there each week to fulfill his obligation. The truth is that I think he more than anyone appreciates sleeping in on Sundays with me because he has to get up early each weekday due to participating in the Seminary program. He and they knew of the custody arrangement before they issued the call and when he accepted it so they obviously felt like they could operate within those boundaries.
I’ll continue to agree to take the kids to church on rare on special occasions, but I feel like it’s my right and my duty to minimize the indoctrination that they experience, not to encourage and aid it along. Even if that makes me out as the bad guy. My other thought of compromise is to say that perhaps at age 16 when they can drive themselves they can choose to attend or not even if they are with me that weekend.
What would you do? What have you done? Anyone out there solve this conflict in any creative ways?