Advice For Jehovah’s Witness Teens

jehovah's witness teensI’ve received some emails and questions recently from teenage children of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are minors and have to attend the Kingdom Hall at the behest of their parents.

The questions that I get most often from these teens go something like this:

“What do I do? I know it isn’t “the truth” and I hate going to the Kingdom Hall and out in service. I love my parents and don’t want to hurt them but at the same time I am sick and tired of living a lie and the meetings bore me.”

Having been a Jehovah’s Witness parent as well as a Jehovah’s Witness youth I can see this from both sides of the coin.

To all of those teens out there in this situation I will give the following advice:

In most cases your parents love you and they want what is best for you. That is why they drag you “kicking and screaming” to the meetings and out in field service. My parents thought that they were doing the right thing and so do yours. If you fight them on this you’ll create problems for yourself that you simply don’t need at this stage of life. Here is a checklist of things that you can do to keep your sanity and to pass the time until you’ve come of legal age where you can make your own decisions and live your own life:

  • Apply yourself in school to the utmost of your ability. Education is the key to your successfully leaving the group and being able to support yourself. When I was in school I had no interest in getting great grades because college was strongly discouraged by the organization and I was hopelessly misled by the Watchtower. I’m 47 years old now and times were different back then. I was able to make it although it was tough. Times have changed! In order to succeed in this modern age you simply have to have a college education otherwise you’ll be bagging groceries for those that do have a college education. The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society wants you to remain on the bottom of the socio-economic scale and the reason is that it keeps you submissive to their demands. When a person has education and money they become empowered and can live life on their own terms. That my young friend is your ticket out!
  • Get a part time job. This will allow you to get away from the influence of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for at least fifteen hours per week or more and that will allow you to “let your hair down”, blow off some steam and be yourself with other normal people. It will also give you income that you can set aside for your college education and your eventual escape from the organization. Get your own bank account that your parents can’t touch and start banking some money for the future! If your parents find out about it simply tell them it is for your future. If you must fib then tell them you want to be a special pioneer when you grow up. That will get them off of your back!
  • While at the Kingdom Hall you can read your bible and while the New World Translation has more than its share of questionable translations of key scriptures you will get the gist of what it takes to be a Christian by doing so. If you can get away with reading another version that is acceptable to the Jehovah’s Witnesses then feel free to do so. One thing that I used to do is read the Greek Interlinear (the purple bible published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society). If you read the actual translation of the Greek words in the Interlinear you’ll see some very interesting differences between the standard translation and what is in the actual Greek. You can actually get the truth from reading the Greek translation of the words and see what the Author of the bible really wanted you to know. It sure beats having to listen to the mindless drivel coming from the platform and from the comments of the misled.
  • Keep your nose clean. Stay out of trouble. Don’t get into drugs or drinking or any of the things that your highschool buddies are into. You are focused and have a plan so stick to it. Drinking and drugging are sure ways to make your plans turn into failures.
  • Have a game plan with time specific dates. A goal without a time line is simply a pipe dream that will never come true. Establish specific goals for yourself, write them down with dates for completion and then set about achieving them. Be careful about leaving that around for your parents to see! These can be personal development, learning a specific skill, studying the writings of great people and reading the biographies and autobiographies of the same. Spend time at the local library whenever you can. That is both time away from the organization and time with some very good books written by very wise people who can help you achieve your goals. If you spend your time developing yourself instead of “raging against the machine” you’ll beat the Watchtower at their own game and you’ll be the big winner when the time comes to escape!
  • When your parents make demands of you then just do them no matter how silly or stupid they may be (unless of course it endangers you or violates the law!) This will passify them and allow you to work toward your goals virtually undetected.
  • Do not under any circumstances tell anyone else, even your closest friend, of your plan. If you do then you are opening yourself up to tremendous risk. A Jehovah’s Witness’ allegiance is to the Watchtower first and foremost. Even if they seem sympathetic to your plight that can change and then they’ll be telling their friends and possibly the elders of your plan and then your parents will know as will most of the members of the congregation! Your cover will be “blown” and you’ll be under severe scrutiny and limitations for the rest of your time in the organization.
  • Set your computer’s browser history settings so that no websites that you visit are recorded. If your parents happen to check out the sites you visit while you’re out working or at school or at the library and they see one like this or others then prepare for battle. They will shut your whole operation down, take away your computer, and turn you into the elders for “divine retribution” and “mental readjustment”.

Understand that your poor parents are simply misled. They aren’t mean by nature (usually) and they are simply doing the best they can with the limited tools available to them. It isn’t your fault and it isn’t theirs. You are simply in a very tough situation and it is up to you to get out of it. Life isn’t fair and it isn’t easy. However the skills that you will learn going through this process will make you a much stronger person, able to make your own way, and will give you the necessary tools and resources to succeed in your goal of leaving the organization.

When the time comes to attend college and you get any flack for your decision to do so then simply tell your parents that you need a skill in order to be able to support yourself while serving Jehovah. They can’t argue with that at all and may even contribute some money toward your education.

Once you graduate from college and have a degree then ”the world is your oyster”. Nobody can take that away from you and nobody can mislead you without having a fight on their hands! You can then choose to leave on your own terms without being dependent on the organization or your parents and with your head held high.

The one thing that God gave you that nobody and nothing can take away is your own mind. Your mind is your sanctuary. Your thoughts are yours and nobody else’s.

I thought this quote was so specific to the plight of the Jehovah’s Witness teen who wants to escape from the organization that I included it here:

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” – Brian Tracy

Words to live by!

One more piece of advice:

Pray to Jehovah for guidance in this process. Lean on Him and cultivate a real relationship with Him through your new found knowledge of Jesus Christ and His purchase of your life with His shed blood.

Feel free to send me any questions you have and I’ll do my level best to give you honest, sane, and real world advice on how to proceed.

Yours in Christ,

Doug Shields is an activist against religious oppression, control and manipulation. He has many years of experience dealing with this issue because he was an active Jehovah’s Witness himself for over twenty-three years.