Ask Dr. Julie Hanks: “When my son was just 2 I found him humping his hands just after a nap. I was shocked but knew enough about the negative effects of shaming that I didn’t freak out or scold him. I spent the next year just kindly distracting him away from self pleasuring. When I’d find him (always after waking up) I’d avoid saying anything in words because I didn’t know WHAT to say that would be appropriate and positive.”
If you are leaving or have left the Church and want to preserve your relationships, remember to respect the agency, emotions, and faith of your believing family members.
A week and a half ago I published a guest post on By Common Consent titled “25 things NOT to say to a loved one leaving the faith (and what to say instead).” The post sparked some great discussion among commenters on the blog and on social media. Some of the critiques or concerns about the article echoed themes similar to the following reader comments:
Finding out that a loved one has stepped away from Church activity or no longer believes in the Gospel can bring up a broad spectrum of emotions. Intense and often painful emotions can make it difficult to know what to say to your loved one about their choice to leave the Church.
A Crisis of Perceptions: New Paradigms to Address the Complexities of Modern Mormonism
Presenter: JULIE DE AZEVEDO HANKS, PhD, LCSW, is a seasoned psychotherapist, owner of Wasatch
Family Therapy, and author of The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide for Women.
ABSTRACT: Mormonism has inherited ways of thinking that are no longer sufficient to understand or address the complexities facing the 21st-century Church. Concepts from cybernetics, systems theory, and
complex thought will be presented as alternative lenses with which to view and wrestle with the Church’s increased historical transparency, gender concerns, racial diversity, LGBTQIA issues, and member disaffection. Read more
Listen to Dr. Julie Hanks’ Sunstone presentation. Early relationship patterns lay the framework for our identity development, social interactions, and assumptions about others. If gender equality is to be achieved within Mormon culture and theology, it must first be modeled in family relationships. Cultural Transformation Theory provides a framework for moving from a domination model that values “masculine” over “feminine” to a partnership model where relationships are based on connection and equality.
By Common Consent published my guest blog today about what not to say to a loved one leaving the Church. I’ve had a handful of requests for PDF printables of the lists in the article…so here you go!
Dr. Julie Hanks When I read Meridian Magazine’s article 8 Things that Can Pull You Away from the Church yesterday morning my heart sank. Not because I disagree with the author’s suggestions of ways strengthen one’s faith, but because it oversimplifies the complex process individuals go through when they decide to distance from or to leave the LDS Church.
Through the years, I’ve noticed certain patterns, even in seemingly benign small talk, that send powerful cultural messages regarding gender, potential, life decisions, and worth. These patterns became even more apparent after I got married and observed the kinds of questions directed to me in comparison to my husband.
There have been a handful of moments in my life when I’ve realized that common words and phrases in LDS culture have become so familiar that they have lost their original meaning. For example, stake center, FHE, and “without a shadow of a doubt” are such common jargon that Latter-day Saints don’t even think twice about them, let alone consider their original context (ie: “Relief Society” isn’t just the hour of the church block where women meet–it’s a society or community that provides relief!).
Preparing to be a “good mother” is emphasized in Primary, Young Women’s, and continues as a central thread woven throughout Relief Society lessons and discussions. Unfortunately, it turns out that many of our beliefs about “good mothering” are correlated with poor maternal mental health. When I first read findings from a study published in The Journal of Child and Family Studies that suggest that five specific beliefs about mothering–essentialism, fulfillment, stimulation, challenging, and child-centered–are correlated with poorer mental health among mothers with young children, I thought to myself, “These beliefs align with how we, in America, and in LDS culture define good mothering!”