I was saddened last week to see this story about a New Zealand man who hit his daughter in the head with a lump of concrete when she refused to go to the mormon church with him.
Now, I think this man is an abuser, and would be an abuser no matter which religion he were in. This quote is particularly telling:
He had been ejected from an anger management course because of his views and had an inability to understand “whacking someone on the head is unacceptable”.
It’s just a sad story all around. My sympathy lies with his daughter, and I hope that he gets the help he needs. It does not appear that he is on that path. I also hope that his local ward deals with this type of behavior appropriately, although I think the argument can be made that abuse is not always handled in the best manner.
But as I was discussing this on FLAK with other board members, it was surprising to find out just how common it is for teenagers to experience anger and rage from their parents when they refuse to attend church. And it is typically the counsel from leaders that the “youth” are better off in church, where they can feel the spirit, regardless of whether or not they are still believers. Some LDS tend to focus on absolutes, absolute church attendance (and all church activities) with their teenager, assuming that will lead somewhere good (because they are told it will lead somewhere good).
So for some families, the battleground becomes mormonism and church attendance, where it probably shouldn’t be. Because mormonism is supposed to be a volunteer religion, with voluntary activity. Church should be treated differently than something like school; where if you don’t graduate, it can create future problems.
While the “eternal salvation” of one’s teenager is very important to many parents, forcing the teenager to attend church, seminary, EFY, etc. is probably not going to breed anything positive except resentment on all sides.
In other words, I believe it’s okay for parents to have expectations for their teenagers who live in their home, but the parents really need to figure out what those expectations are and if they are appropriate/valid for the individual relationship ASIDE from whatever guidance has been given from the LDS leadership.
Maybe some LDS parents have learned this and are backing off. That’s my hope. But from my own experience, using church attendance as a battleground is a profound FAIL. It has taken me years to rebuild my relationship with my parents, for many reasons. But arguing over voluntary religious belief certainly didnt help the relationship.