As you know, this blog was started as a way to relieve the frustration of watching my kids drink the Kool-Aid of Mormonism. I’ve maintained only a flicker of hope that even one of them would one day figure things out. I’ve felt powerless to help them along in any meaningful way.
It seems that the older they’ve become the more solidified is the control and manipulation of their thoughts. My oldest son regularly talks about a mission and only maintains LDS friends.
He guzzles the Kool-Aid (As I did at his same age).
It was the kids’ weekend at their mother’s house and I had a Saturday all to myself.
At about 5:00 pm my 14 year old daughter called me up and asked if I could taxi her to a gathering of her friends. Her Mom had gone on a date with her husband leaving the kids to fend for themselves. I wasn’t doing anything so I said, “Sure.”
So, I pick her up and I ask where I was taking her having assumed that it was a mile or so away. Come to find out the address was about an hour away. So, I refused.
“This isn’t just over to a friend’s house. This is WAY too far to expect me to drive you at the last minute like this. You’re 14. I’m not driving you an hour away and leaving you with people I don’t know. You should have planned this better. I’m sorry but I’m not doing it.”
She went ballistic hearkening back to the days of temper tantrums whenever I said no. She begged and she pleaded. I drove a mile or two and ended up in a parking lot after getting us drive-through Taco Bell.
Once she calmed down, something beautiful happened. She started to tell me why it had been so important to join these particular friends on this particular outing. Accompanying all the major details pouring out were all the other reasons her life was in shambles.
Even at my worst, I still remember being 14. I remember hating it. I remember how HARD it was and how I felt that NO ONE understood. I don’t necessarily remember all the reasons why it was so bad for me then, probably because I never vocalized my frustrations to anyone in any clear way.
Is it bad to admit that I was inwardly a little happy that my baby girl was feeling bad enough that she shared all of that with ME? I felt like the Dad I’ve always wanted to be. The kind that has kids who talk to him. For the first hour or so I said very little because I didn’t want to destroy the moment.
I just listened.
The problems were about boys, friends, siblings and … wait for it … the church! My beautiful baby girl doesn’t believe and hates that her Mom forces it on her.
“None of it makes any sense!”
Now THAT I can relate to!
This talk was going to last even longer! We spent the evening sitting in the car together discussing her boy troubles, her friendships and why church is so unbearable.
As this was the first time she’d shared any of it with me, I tried to listen a whole lot more than talk. I didn’t know she had even liked a boy until this point. I didn’t know whether she lapped up the Sunday lessons and Seminary classes willingly or not.
I was still able to let her know that her doubts were to be cherished and that there were some very clear and solid reasons for them. I only shared a few details. I let her reasons be the most valid ones.
I have a child who doubts!!!!
On tangents in our conversation I think we ended up covering every possible topic a responsible father wants to eventually cover at some point with his teenage daughter … drugs, sex, birth control, self worth, love, happiness, belief, values, responsibility, growing up and maturing … all in one night.
She asked if she could stay at my place for the night, so I cleared it with her Mom and we ended up growing closer and trusting each other more. She knows I have her back and trust her even more now. I know she’s a sincere, honest 14 year old girl just trying to make it to adulthood a little too soon… like a typical 14 year old.
Most importantly I made sure she knows that as thrilled as I am to learn of her feelings toward the church, my love for her is independent of how she believes or doesn’t believe.