As I have been watching, reading and participating somewhat in this important Protect LDS Children movement, I have also been learning. I have learned about normalizing and grooming and organizational culture. I have learned to respect the deep and lasting damage that even well intended guidance can inflict on a child (and an adult, for that matter.) I have also seen the value of belated apology as a critical acknowledgment of harm. Perhaps my over-due apology may make a difference.
A primary thing I learned from the LDS Church is to “liken” things unto myself. This involves introspection and application. I have finally been introspective with this movement. I do not have an abusive story. I did grow up in the LDS culture. I believe this pushed me to be complicit in the harm. I want to apologize.
I am in my early 70s. I grew up in Utah surrounded by LDS relatives past and living. It was a wonderful, happy childhood. I learned to be obedient and to put pleasing God before all else. It was joyous. I didn’t feel at all suppressed. Except, there were things we didn’t talk about.
The first time I said the word “sex” my mother almost drove into a nearby building. I never said it to her again. I learned to always value the spiritual over the physical. As I got older, I learned that my mother hated sex. I learned, from one prophet, that sex was strictly for having children. When anything physical started to feel good it made me angry at the betrayal of my body. I partly credit luck that I married someone who’s stuck with me nearly 50 years. We are the parents of six adult children. I address this to them but hope it may have broader application. Surely I am not the only unwittingly complicit parent.
I apologize that it never once occurred to me there might be a problem with the private one-on-one interviews. I hope our children did not experience shaming and sexual questioning. But, the fact, is I don’t know. And even if I had been progressive enough to attend the interviews I don’t know whether good sense would have overridden respect for priesthood leadership.
I apologize that I bought into the normalizing of a leader’s right to ask and a member’s responsibility to answer. I recognize how vulnerable that left our children.
I apologize for being so anxious about the narrow moral guidance I was hearing about at church that I missed out on more fully nurturing the whole child.
I apologize for not educating myself about normal sexual development and passing that along as a joyful part of growing up.
I apologize for focusing so much on the learned parental responsibility to return God’s children to Him that I lived in a constant state of inadequacy and didn’t fully embrace the here-and-now joy each child brought into my life. A fact that probably led to more taking problems to the bishop and less taking them to me.
Mostly, I apologize that my focus on returning our children to heaven led me to put “insurance policy” Church callings before strengthening here-and-now family ties. Perhaps if the focus had been on the now instead of the hereafter I would have been that more progressive, involved parent. Truthfully, I didn’t know I wasn’t.
Most of our children exist in that version of the LDS world that considers this work anti-Mormon and will not even respond to comments about it. Still, we are here and we know this movement will make life better for our grandchildren.
I look forward to a new normal where we respect our humanity before our supposed spirituality and better love one another.
Thank you for the dedicated work and sacrifice of yourself and so many others. And special appreciation to those brave individuals who shared their stories to raise awareness and make this movement real.