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Ken Watters' 
story of his 
family background

5/25/05 was their 61st anniversary!


from top left, clockwise: Joy, Randy, Sue, and Ken Watters (Thanksgiving 2002) see family picture from 1998


Recovering Your Family after leaving the Watchtower

see also How I Helped My Family Leave Jehovah's Witnesses by a former elder also in Spanish

When dealing with authoritarian religions, the words "cult" and mind-control" sometimes conjure up images of brainwashing techniques of the sixties as used on American POWs by the Communist Chinese. Yet religions are basically an extension of the family model, with a new set of authority figures as well as "brothers" and "sisters." A destructive cult, therefore, is a "family gone bad." If one has seen an over-restrictive, abusive father or a domineering, oppressive mother try to discipline their children into obedience and unquestioning loyalty by force instead of by love and trust, you are capable of understanding almost all the dynamics of destructive cults. In a word, they are "bad parents." Their methods of control betray their excessive egotism, their grandiose yet over-simplified solutions to man's problems, and their lack of trust of almost everyone not entirely loyal to them personally. Jim Jones provided the classic model of cult mind control with the mass suicide-slaughter of over 900 members of his "Family" in Guyana in 1978.

One can spend weeks and years studying the many doctrines and rituals of cultic organizations. Yet the real problems are almost always family related. There is no shortage of information out there regarding most cults: their teachings, history and practices. Attempt to show some of this documentation to the cult member, and you will be met with non-interest, horror and possibly violence in rare cases. Why? Did the group really "brainwash" them, cutting short  their ability to think for themselves or perform simple exercises in logic?

Modern professionals in the field of cult research such as Margaret Singer and Steven Hassan have provided us with models of understanding cult mind control. The programming technique used by most modern cults is more subtle and refined, and is often more aptly called "coercive persuasion." Kind of like slick advertising with a sharp, barbed hook on the end. Times may have changed and cult members don't dress funny or act out-of-place in society in most cases, but they still want your time, your money, and most importantly, your exclusive devotion. Furthermore, they do not trust you until they have stripped away your natural personality with its cyniscism, caution and primal awareness and replaced it with a clone of the leader(s). Exactly what a very controlling parent wants.

Traits of Bad Parents Traits of Good Parents
little or no communication talking and sharing generally pleasant, mixed with humor; times of displeasure not weighted with silence.
no respect for the children children are taught to be responsible with kind, patient lessons, so as to eliminate the need for supervision in most cases. They often act out how they are treated (If you are treated like dirt you will think of yourself as dirt.)
unyielding expectations parents willing to listen to complaints or suggestions, not assuming the child's heart is bad. Willing to yield so as to highlight the beauty of the child's character.
unable to enter a child's world parents not so busy or inflexible that they can't become a child again, and step out of the parenting role for a few minutes.
touch and eye contact not pleasant to the child a kind touch and pleasant words are the rewards for the good child, a very-desired thing for kids who have cultivated a liking for such intimacy.
no support for the child's goals and dreams parents don't lay out their child's career without their full assent in later years when they are responsible enough to make such decisions. Children are not "kept" so that the parents can live out their aspirations through them.
negative outlook on life, fatalistic, complaining life is what you make it, and good parents know the value of fun, joy and hard work. We are living in better times than man ever has!
no trust in the better self of the child, too much focus on the "sin nature." a good parent recognizes that most children really want to do good. Helping them through their problems with love and understanding, and seeing the positive outcome of a responsible, mature son or daughter convinces the good parent that we can really be good persons if we put a little work into each other. Good parents are proud of their children.
incapable of a horizontal (peer-type) relationship for special times children need to play children games, sometimes even with their parents. Will mom or dad play hide and seek? Will they cry along with you when you suffer a setback? These are examples of occasionally excercising a horizontal relationship, instead of always being "head of" or the "authority" in charge (vertical relationship).
no toleration for other ideologies or outsiders parents recognize the best protection is often a richer understanding of life and basic human behavior. People are not constantly judge due to parent's insecurities or fears, the world is in color rather than black-and-white.
view of God is harsh people tend to be more critical of the motives of others when their own motives are suspect. One would reasonably expect that God would be kinder and more loving than the best of parents, and good parents have faith in the love, justice and mercy that would be expected of a Supreme Being and his creation.

I was very fortunate to be raised in a family that did not practice manipulation, supported the goals and dreams of the kids, and was always punctuated by light-hearted humor. People who don't take themselves too seriously enjoy a much higher quality of life. My parents, Ken and Joy Watters, have been married for over 53 years. My sister and brother-in-law have been married for over 30 years. Last Thanksgiving I was asked to say something at the table, prayer or otherwise. I took the opportunity to say that we have such a great thing, in that we can get together year after year and have a good time, without fights or bad feelings, and always plenty of love and good food. THAT is something to be thankful for.

One Criteria Sufficient

If one reason alone should be chosen for deciding a group or organization is not from God, it should be the love among themselves. Not the phony cookie-cutter love in cults (that only loves you if you have given up your natural self to be what they want you to be), but the decision to love others in spite of your differences, and to be able to trust such a person to do good. Whether one be a Christian, Buddhist or atheist, the story of the love of Christ reveals a greater love that can change our lives.

Randy Watters

Similar articles:

Are Jehovah's Witnesses good parents?
A Mother's Disassociation Letter after 40 Years in the Watchtower
Children: The Introduction Of Phobias (Deep Rooted Fears) And Other Development Traits In The Jehovah Witness Child
College Education Ban Now "Old Light"
Coming Out of the Watchtower: Why Is It So Difficult?
Confronting Witness Relatives
Disfellowshipping and Simon Says: Shun Your Family
Divorce My Jehovah's Witness Mate?
Families Broken Apart by Jehovah's Witnesses: Can They Be Restored?
Family Connection: When A Cult May Not Be Your Worst Enemy (family involvement)
Growing Up Within the Watchtower: How Parents Are Taught to Influence Their Children
How Do You Feel After Leaving the Watchtower? (survey)
How To Tell Your Children You Have Been In A Cult
Indoctrination Process: A Psychological and Sociological Examination
Joining the Club (how cults are like clubs)
LIES My Mother Told Me
LIFE After Leaving the Watchtower
Love of Structure or Love of God
Mind Control or Brainwashing? and Fear of Apostasy
Miseducation of Jehovah's Witnesses
Myths and Facts About Cult Involvement
Punishment Vibe: Use of psychological punishment in controlling cult members
Quotes From the Watchtower On Psychiatry
Shunning: A Part of the Faith of Jehovah's Witnesses
Shunning: A One-Legged Stool
Understanding Watchtower Phobias: How and Why the Watchtower Uses Fear to Control Its Members
UNITY: Why Only the Cults Seem to Achieve It
Watchtower Teaches Youngsters To Give False Testimony in Court
What To Say When Cults Boast of their Unity
Why Some Can't Leave the Watchtower and Why Disfellowshiped Persons Often Defend the Watchtower
Women Who Are Leaving Jehovah's Witnesses
Women Who Must Recover Years Lost in the Watchtower

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