How To Tell Your Children That You Have Been In A Cult

by Randall Watters

What emotions does a person feel who just realizes that she has been involved in a religious cult for a number of years? For some they may be a sense of exhilaration at leaving, but there are also feelings of anger, confusion and embarrassment to deal with. The anger is usually directed at the cult, one's recruiter, and/or oneself for allowing this to have happened and take up so many years of one's life. Confusion comes as a result of not knowing who to trust anymore with the facts. Finally, there is embarrassment. You not only feel stupid for being a sucker to a religious scam, you have to teach your kids what a cult is, and then proceed to demonstrate that you have all been a part of one for the last few years. Gee, mommy, didn't you know???

One good introduction to the subject is to read Animal Farm by George Orwell, or perhaps you may find it on video as well at your local video rental outlet. Though an adult story, Animal Farm is made up of cartoon characters from a barnyard who develop a form of socialism that destroys normal relationships and turns people against one another in their efforts to set themselves up above the others in the barnyard. The Emperor's New Clothes is another favorite in order to convey the importance of practical common sense as well as how easy it is for people to develop twisted systems of thought and enforce allegiance to them.

A good definition for cult that can be conveyed to youngsters is, a religious organization of men that says God has chosen them exclusively to speak truth to the world, and that you have to follow their religious leader(s) or die at God's hands. From there, you can tell how this religion talked you into trusting them, but weren't telling you all the facts. The fact that this religion LIED to you is enough reason to leave it. Also, don't forget to tell your child that this does not mean that you hate [Jehovah's Witnesses] because most of them don't realize they have been lied to as well. Only a few corrupt men at the top are responsible for the lies. Well, does that sound too hard? Let's look at a sample dialogue:

Mom: Theresa, I've been finding out some disturbing news lately that I need to talk to you about.

Theresa: What, mommy?

Mom: You know I've been a Jehovah's Witness for six years now, and I've been going to all the meetings and out in field service, and I took you with me most of the time... and I really believed everything the Watchtower told me until recently.

Theresa: What happened?

Mom: In going through some of our older books that are very hard to find, I discovered that the Watchtower leaders have been lying to their people, not telling the truth about their own past, and keep changing their teachings to cover over their past lies. This has been very hard for me to take, Theresa. I don't know how I can be a part of this organization if they don't tell the truth. God would not approve.

Theresa: Does that mean we are no longer going to go to the Kingdom Hall, mom? What about our friends? They won't like us if we stop going.

Mom: Most of our friends are too afraid to look at what I've found, and they will be very angry at me for talking about this. But they need to know the truth sooner or later. I am not blaming them for anything, it's just a few corrupt old men at the head of the organization that have been telling the lies. Since none of our JW friends will want to hear this, they will probably not talk to us anymore. But that doesn't mean we can't talk to them, even if they ignore us. We don't have to live by their rules anymore! If they are truly our friends and love us as much as we love them, they will listen sooner or later. Theresa: Does that mean I can't play with Billy anymore? Mom: You can ploy with any of your friends, dear. I feel bad because this is going to be kind of hard on you, when some of your friends won't talk to you. I'm truly sorry that this has happened... I wish I had found all of these things out a few years ago, then it wouldn't be so hard on both of us. I wont you to come and talk to me about this anytime you need to, and I will try to help you in any way I can. I think that after the first few months of adjustment, both of us will be a lot happier. We will have more time to do things together, like going to the zoo. Hey, how about next Saturday?

Hopefully your child will understand the dilemma you face in leaving a cult. For more help, give us a call and perhaps we can recommend some more recent books on the subject.

back to Kids of Jehovah's Witnesses

back to Psychological Issues