Step-Daughter Living with Mormon man and converted mother

I was raised as a Mormon. My parents left the "church" when I was in middle school. Although we had left the religious riggers of Mormonism I lived in a Mormon home controlled and dominated by my father. I was taken to a Baptist church until I was about 16 when church attendance seemed to wain. It was difficult and confusing during that time and still can be. I do not readily recall memories of being a child. At times things seems to overlap and intertwine making it difficult for me to sort what was Mormon and what is Christian, what is a memory and what is a story. I now find myself being very controlling yet encouraging my children to make their own decisions and have a mind of their own. (I am working on my control issues.)

With all of that said, about three years ago the very wonderful man, that I am now married to, ex-wife chose without his knowledge or consent, to take his two daughters to the Mormon church. We found out about this through his mother who gets to see them some weekends because he is unable to (he is in the military) almost a year later. When confronted with this she told him that she did not force them to go and that it was their choice. When he spoke to his girls asking them what they thought of their mother's new church they both adamantly stated that did not like it, did not want to go but felt they had no choice in the matter. After confronted with this knowledge she agreed to allow the girls to attend church with his mother on alternating Sundays, she attends the Baptist church both my husband and his ex grew up in. These weekends have become further and further apart. As we all know Mormonism is not just a once a week thing, it is a way of life and part of who you think you are. As the last two years progressed the deeper the girls have been ingrained. The younger of the two more so, who is now 13, and with his oldest, who is a Freshman in high school this year started seminary. She missed the women's retreat because we were able to bring them out to see us over the summer. Now his oldest asked last summer to come stay with us during the school year (she has been asking for about 4 yrs now and has not been able to for a variety of reasons), what started as 'for at least one year' has become 'no more than one year'. My husband's ex feels that we are coercing her into being here while I feel that she is making her feel guilty for wanting to be with us and not in a proper Mormon home. She has expressed to her father that she does not want to go to seminary and gives the impression that she does so to please her mother and step-father as well as stay close to her younger sister (she also now has two more siblings). I am sure her recent boyfriend is also playing a part in her desire to now only be with us for one school year, I can remember being a teenager.

I do not know how to approach the subject of her beliefs. While they were here over the summer and for Christmas, seeing the youngest recite her prayers and pull out her BoM made my skin crawl and brought out twinges of anger I did not realize was there. I do not want to be pushy and bombard her with all the falsehoods and reasons why what she is being taught is wrong, especially if she is not sure it is what she believes, but how do I even talk to her about it? She is going to be here for such a short time and I know the moment she returns to her mother she will have hands laid and shuffled to the nearest seminary. It has gotten to the point that we cannot speak to his youngest about most anything because it all comes back to Mormonism. For instance, we took them to an amusement park and for some reason there was a group of missionaries there, name tags and all, and she looked at her older sister and asked if they should go speak to them! I was visibly up set by this, although I am still not sure why their presence would bother me so much, she looked rather confused and the oldest shrugged and try to blow it off, nothing further came of it.

My reason for writing this is to ask for advice on how to better deal with the conflicting beliefs. I am about to have a religiously confused and subservient 15 year old girl in my home with my 18 & 16 year old boys and 14 year old daughter who were raised with the freedom to choose and ask questions regarding what they believe and most everything else in their lives. None of my children or my husband understand the extent that Mormonism reaches into a person's life and how it can have such a hold on my younger step-daughter that she does not wish to visit with us for more than a few days and definitely not over a Sunday. I do not want to ignore the issue and let them think it does not matter to us but I also do not want to come across as the over bearing anti-Mormon evil step-mom.

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I don't have any specific advice.  My thinking is to accept her just as she is, and support her in free thinking and self discovery.  Good luck!  Sounds like a challenging position.

Thank you Mike. I am accepting of both her and her sister. We do not ask them to attend church with us except for the very few holidays we get to see them. It was the compromise her younger sister and their father have agreed to. My step-daughter who will be coming to live with us wants to come to church with us and occasionally attends a Baptist church with is parents. I fully support her making her own decision as that is what I have taught my own children. I am not very good at writing things like this so I think my question did not come across they way I intended. I was asking more of how I personally can deal with the mormon beliefs, rituals and prayers in my home. Over the holidays I went out of my way to say our prayer over supper simply so my youngest step-daughter would not recite her prayer. It makes my skin crawl and just the thought of it puts me in a bad mood. I do not want to be like that and I do not want to come across as angry or judgmental to either of them. I think they have enough of that in their lives.
Your love and example will be the most influential, because she has to wrestle with what she is being taught about non-Mormons and their lifestyle choices making them unhappy or evil. It's hard to see some one that you love who is happy as an evil-doer.

I hadn't looked at it that way. Thank you, I really needed to 'hear' that.


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