It is important to understand how people will respond to your decision to leave Mormonism. Your immediate family (spouse, kids, siblings, and parents) will be devastated when they first hear the news.
Your Family Will Be Devastated by Your Decision.
When you tell your family that you are leaving the LDS church, they may go through a period of denial. They might want to listen to you, but they might not. They may feel frustrated or confused. They might wonder how it is possible that you could be doubting the church. They could feel that after all they have done, this should not be happening. They will often feel threatened. They may harbor the hope that you will come back and everything will be alright.
However, the intense emotions begin when they realize that you are serious about leaving. Their confusion and frustration will keep welling up and they will probably feel some anger and resentment. They will attempt to do everything in their power to help you find your way again. Nevertheless, when that does not work they will often feel angry and wonder how you can deny your family legacy. They wonder how you can cause all these problems and contention in the family. They may accuse you of betraying the family and sullying their reputation.
If you have teenagers they may become rebellious and not want to talk to you. They are already trying to find their identity, and when you tell them that you no longer believe in the church they become angry and even more confused. After all, they wonder how you could teach them about the true church and how to gain a testimony of it – and then just throw it all out the window.
Your Family Will Act According to Their Feelings.
Besides the roller coaster of emotions your family will express, there will also be actions to match. It can be scary to think about what your family might do when you break the news of your departure from Mormonism. Usually the first thing they will do is go to the bishop, your seminary teacher, or some other trusted church leader. They want answers about how and why this is happening. They also want to know how to handle the situation so that it results in your return to the church. You may not be ready for your family to tell everyone your decision, but they will feel the need to get counsel.
Your family may try to influence your decision in some way, hoping that you will change your course. You may be given a list of things to do from your leaders such as pray, fast, and spend more time in the temple. When your loved ones’ attempts fail, they ramp it up to stage two and sometimes the process ends in an ultimatum. For instance, your spouse may tell you that if you do not start towing the line, your relationship is going to end in a divorce. They may say that you need to see things from the eternal perspective. They might tell you that if you cannot be the faithful father or mother your children need and if you cannot support them in your role as a spouse, they need to find someone else who can. This illustrates how difficult your decision can be for your family members.
Your Family’s Feelings and Actions Are Legitimate.
When you think of what the church means to your family, it is understandable why they react to your decision the way they do. So, as you begin to transition out of Mormonism, do not be surprised at the reactions you get when you leave.