I'm faced with a difficult decision and would like your input. My youngest daughter is turning eight in October and with that the expectation by her dad and all of the extended LDS family of her getting baptized. Her dad and I are in the middle of a divorce and I have not brought up the baptism subject with him yet. Of course I don't want her to get baptized and I think she's too young to make that kind of decision. I know she'll want to get baptized just like all of her friends. I asked a close friend, who is LDS, and their comment was "What would it hurt?" Obviously she was not the right person to ask. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have.
Although it is presented as a benign 'choice', a mixed message is communicated to a child when he/she is permitted to commit by baptism (ritual induction) to an organization which a parent believes not to be in the parent's best interest.
It is not good for me to belong but I entrust to your judgment this choice? Is the child entrusted with making other choices that its parent chooses against? Would that level of trust extend to sexual behavior, alcohol or drug use? These choices may not be valid comparisons. Alcohol and illicit drug use are prohibited as is sexual behavior involving other people. A different example might apply better. A parent might prefer not to eat food consisting primarily of sugars and fat. The choice for a child may be made simply by the parent not purchasing that type of food. Sometimes children do not have judgment or experience that would be important for making a choice on the matter.
In any case, it is important for a parent to help a child understand what they are choosing and why.
This is a tough one. When I was 8, I asked my inactive father if I could be baptized and he asked me "why?" I didn't know why, so he said no. When I was 12, I had been taught the reason to be baptized and asked him again. He said I could. Today, I wish he had said no. If he had told me that I had to be 18 to get baptized, maybe I would have found my way out of the cult before I went on a mission.
I got baptized in order to please my mother. It was the worst decision of my life. I would tell your ex and your daughter that she does not have your consent to get baptized, and that she will have to be 18 years old before you will give it. You'd be doing her a favor.
However, if she decides to get baptized without your consent, I would still attend her baptism and tell her that someday, if she wants to leave the church, it is really easy to do, but that she will have your love no matter what.
I believe, as a child matures, if they have not been totally indoctrinated into the LDS, then the baptism won't make a difference. The main difference it makes is to you, personally, so my advice (which anyone can disagree with, of course) is to let your daughter make her choice. To push the issue with her might alienate you from her. Having a discourse with her may help. It all depends on your relationship with her vs her relationship with her father.
Hi Liselotte. Yes, that issue is a tough one. Perhaps it might be good to let your daughter make her own choice, and to be supportive of that choice. In a way you would be showing her that it is important for people to get to make their own decisions (about all sorts of things). That could be a wonderful message that can be strengthened as she gets older. Hopefully, she'll gradually learn much more about various belief systems (and you can help with this, of course!) and make thoughtful choices accordingly. At the same time, I think parents can be forthright about their own beliefs. I don't think it helps kids when parents are deceptive to their children. I think it's fine to gently and respectfully state your very good reasons behind why you believe baptism at age eight might not be best for her. In our world people often don't agree. Sometimes parents don't agree. However, people may not agree, but they can still be honest and respectful to each other. I think that's a good lesson for people at any age to learn. Good luck with however you decide to proceed!
While writing "2" I came to an interesting new awareness of baptism. I offer this excerpt...
"I want to understand this, "Cadeau said. "The idea is to take an innocent, sinless child and baptize him for the forgiveness of his sins. And this should be done at the age of eight. Is that correct?"
"Age of accountability," I nodded like a proud cock. "You got it."
"Does it strike you as interesting that prior to the moment of baptism, the child was not yet accountable -- so it was impossible for that child to sin?"
My next nod was more tentative. "O..kay."
"So it is, in fact, the very act of baptism that first unlocks the mechanism by which a child becomes able to commit sin and taste condemnation in his or her life."
It's my belief that at the impressionable age of eight, the manacles of accountability were clapped onto our tiny wrists and ankles by people in authority over us -- fating us to a life of spiritual servitude without a realistic hope of redemption or possibility of parole. Once in God's debt, always in God's debt. Entry into such a serious commitment deserves an independent, mature perspective and is nothing less than abuse when it involves a child.
The purpose of baptism is so God can forgive your sins. Well at 8 I do not think she has any to be forgiven for. I do not know your belief system or relationship to your daughter. The parent that has custody usually makes the decision. As a non Mormon baptism is unimportant and your daughter can make that decision when she is older. To the Mormons it is a sin to delay it. On another level begins ones indoctrination and membership to pay tithing, It is important to let her know how you feel and why as simply as you can and encourage her to ask questions. You may want to let her make her own decision. Let her know that it is not right to let people make her feel guilty if she chooses not too or feel guilty for not doing what others want her to do. You will love her no matter what and her other relatives should should also without making it in to a sin. You have lots of time to teach her the truth about the church. Be sure to build a strong bond of trust with her as you will need it when she becomes a teen. Good Luck ,Dan
While I agree in principal, we all know that those Mormons who are fully indoctrinated would insist the tradition should be carried out, that when the child turns 8, they are, by God's decree, to be baptized. They cannot, or will not accept it is a tradition based on the realization that it is part of conditioning know for ages, to bring a child into a cult at an early age. Even the English navy understood the principle by taking kids off the street to be cabin boys on ships, knowing they will likely by age 18, be fully invested in staying in the navy.
So the baptism of my daughter happened last night. My ex and I had agreed to wait for a while, or at least so I thought. The day before Thanksgiving I got an invitation of her baptism. Everything had been prepared in secret. I tried everything I could to put a stop to it, but they just ignored me. I explained to the Bishop that I felt my daughter was too young right now and she should have a chance to make this decision when she is older. He told me that the "Brethren" had made the decision that eight is the proper age and we need to sustain that. I was shocked, I mean, he didn't even mention "god". So as I understand it the "Brethren" are in charge. This confirms what I have been feeling all these years, the church was made by people to control people. I sat with my daughter and listened to the talks and the songs and it struck me, this is a tradition. For all the people there this baptism had to happen now by tradition. Kind of like Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving really unless we celebrate it on the day. How sad. Well all isn't lost, I still have my girl and she will learn that there is a whole beautiful world out there to explore with amazing people, beliefs and ideas. There is hope.
I'm sorry to hear that they would not respect your rights as your child's mother to wait for the baptism. But I think you're right that this is primarily about following tradition and that for your 8 year old, probably didn't seem like a big deal and likely didn't make much of an impression favorable to the church. I don't remember feeling much at the time of my baptism at 8 years old. If anything I felt let down cause I didn't feel any different, anymore capable of resisting sin etc. So keep teaching her good critical thinking and questioning skills and she will be alright and likely see through the facade much easier than her Dad realizes.
I'm frustrated to see that your child was baptized without your permission. What I do to counter-act the indoctrination of my daughter (7) is to tell her the actualities of the religion in ways she understands them and discuss them with her. This way I am not trash talking the church (believe me this is hard not to do) but I am teaching her the history of the church.
An example of this is when she came home from my mother's house talking about how Joseph Smith was persecuted because of his religion, and how people just wouldn't leave the Mormons alone. I told her, yes, people did persecute them for their religion, but they weren't "The Good Guys" like she's been told. I told her about the Mountain Meadows Massacre and asked her how she would feel if her parents were killed and she was taken into a different town and forced to live a different way of life. She said she wouldn't like it and it made her sad that people in the church would kill moms and dads and steal the babies.
I'm trying to give her different angles of the religion that aren't taught or usually talked about.