Kicking your kid to the curb…Really???

its time to get serious.....really

by Kenneth Justice

~Last night as I was sipping coffee at one of my favorite café’s and the woman sitting next to me asked me to watch her laptop while she put more coins in the meter…..after she returned we ended up striking up a conversation for a bit. She is 29 years old and last month was the first time in more than three years that her parents allowed her to return home for dinner.

The young woman was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home and when she decided in her early twenties to dress more ‘modern’ and to wear unapproved body piercings….her parents excommunicated her from the family.

It’s gotta be pretty intense to be cut off from your family as an early-twenty something; no financial support, no place to live, and no family to come home to when you’ve had a tough day or week.

I don’t want to make it sound like this problem is only limited to Orthodox Jewish homes; I know of Protestant, Catholic, and other religious groups who have done the same thing to their adult children when certain behaviors occurred that were not allowable.

What goes through a parent’s mind when they kick their child out for not living up to their religious standards? Is that something you would do as a parent?

A relative of mine who grew up in an ultra-conservative Christian home was told she needed to move out at age 19 because she wanted to have a serious relationship with a boy….oh the horror! Her father did not approve of sex before marriage or any type of relationship in which he was not directly overseeing the young man who would be dating her daughter; so the father’s plan-of-action was to kick his daughter out!

The young woman I was talking to at coffee yesterday told me that her mother found a Rabbi who talked to the husband and explained, “Look, if you want to have any kind of relationship with your daughter you’ve got to look past her lifestyle and let her come home for dinner at least”. And thus, after three years of exile, the young woman was told by her father that she could come home for Rosh Hashanah and the slow road to reconciliation has begun.

Look, you don’t have to tell me what it means to be passionate about your faith; I am extremely passionate about my Christian faith……but that doesn’t mean I’m going to kick my family to the curb if they don’t agree with me! Any time a religion is practiced which causes children to be cut-off in the manner of the young woman….it causes me to wonder if it’s a religion I would really want to take seriously.

That’s been my problem with Christianity in many ways. Sure, when I read about the life of Jesus I’m overwhelmed with the life he led and the sacrifices he made. But when I look at how Christianity is practiced by the majority of those who attend church……do I even need to say what it looks like? Suffice to say, the lives of most modern Christian’s and the religion they practice leaves a lot to be desired.

A friend of mine (who is an atheist of sorts) keeps telling me, “Kenneth, the Christianity you talk about is completely disconnected from the Christianity I see in churches; loving community, sacrificial giving to the poor, selflessness….those things simply don’t exist” he says.

I am sure we can find random examples of Christians who don’t fit the typical modern stereotype of an irrelevant suburban church goer…..but I get what my friend is saying; if Christianity is true….why does it so often look so bad?

Perhaps the answer lies in our coffee; there’s a lot of bad coffee out there. I don’t want to mention the brands as to not offend anyone….but if the only coffee that was available to drink tasted putrid…than I would likely stop drinking it altogether.

But I know that good coffee exists; in fact I’ve tasted it. And it’s because I’ve had the good stuff that I have faith that it is out there.

Religion is like that as well; even if we try it 100 times and every time  it sucks……..since I’ve seen positive real elements of Christianity at times…..I know it is still out there.

Sure, most of the time religion sucks…..most of the time it is dry, lifeless, bland, and irrelevant. But I keep the faith because I know the ‘real stuff’ is out there…..and each time I’ve found it…it has been a pretty awesome experience. Just like a good cup of coffee….it’s totally worth it.

Excommunicating your kid? I’m sorry, but I believe the fundamental principle of Judeo-Christianity is practicing a type of love that is never-ending…..it is a bottomless love…and most important it is an unconditional love.

So I hope that you never excommunicate your kid…….

And I hope you only drink the good coffee….cause that’s what I’m going to have

Kenneth



Categories: Religion

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

36 replies

  1. A similar thing happened to me at 18.My home was abusive, so leaving wasn’t a bad thing. I slowly but surely began to have a relationship with my parents. I believe mostly it has to do with the fact that they want to have a relationship with my children, but I try not to hold that against them. They call themselves christians also. It’s a strange and mixed up world. Thanks for writing.

    • Sounds like it turned out well for you and that it is a good thing……I know a few people who got kicked out as teens and decades later they are still struggling.

    • i hope they find their way. I still deal with a lot of internal struggles. But I guess the key for me was a solid network of friends and mentors that wanted the best for me. The hardest part for me was to learn to listen. I had been on my own so long, I didn’t want to take anyone’s advice. My ego was my bigggest issue.

  2. It is shame such extremes exist. Its not written so not allowable.We all know it is a bad taste.
    But anything different from what is written is like seen as evil and creates fear. Fear of loosing their own religion maybe, but then who strong is your own faith if that is true.
    And the real stuff is mostly found outside the church by people who do the work and spread the love.And have made their hearts, their temple/church.

    • I guess what annoys me is that too often when we talk about extremes….it is rarely about ‘extreme love’….wouldn’t that be a novel idea; Christians whose love is so extreme that they overwhelm the public with their good deeds 🙂

    • That would have to be religion whose love is so extreme.
      But other than that i meant that to often they take the written word as the only truth(extreme). while there is more to read between the lines.
      Like helping the lepers as Jesus did. Or read help people with out fear of what they think or have.
      I used to prefer to read the second. So a piercing or two shouldn’t have mattered from the start.
      And second love is still there.didn’t he still love his Father even though he knew he was sent to die. I think it is extreme to just kick your kid on the curb over such a little different thinking.
      This is from someone who gave up on religion. but learned a lot from them. i hope

  3. Greetings Kennith, I came across your site about a week back and incouraged I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t asking questions. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

  4. My exhusband is one such “Christian.” I am not an “ex-basher,” but he will shout from the rooftops how often he goes to church, but then treat people poorly. These folks are everywhere. You asked your readers if they would ever kick their child out. I would say no – not unless he/she were engaged in criminal behavior for which I could be held responsible. For matters of religion? Absolutely not. I am 1000% sure there is a God, but if my children felt differently, or felt the need to express their faith in a different manner than I? No. Not a reason to banish them from the family. I don’t believe the God I talk to would be happy with me if I did.

  5. People are strange, aren’t they? In my not-so-great neighborhood growing up, kids were regularly getting kicked out of the house. Something I only dreamed about, sitting in my own very strict house. 😉 I still have a lot of issues about my parents, but they were appalled at the very idea of sending your child out into the streets. There was a lot of love there, in spite of everything.

  6. I think it comes down to controlling personalities and not parenting… controlling personalities exert their will at every opportunity and it is easier to control children than adults…

    • You may be right….although i sometimes think some parents are merely imitating the behavior of their parents…and thus; they may not be inherently controlling, but rather just doing what they were taught to do

  7. Love this post. And I totally agree. My belief is that all religions are there to encourage positive connections between us and the people around us. No religion teaches us to exile our kids. This is simply a man made interpretation of religion where someone has been indoctrinated and is practising his faith blindly and incorrectly. I myself have recently renewed my interest in my religion but am amazed at reading my religious book, how much we are being tested by “The Word of God”. Be it the Eastern philosophies or the Abrahamic religions, everything is open to interpretation and each of us leave believing a different thing. I don’t go to temple, I eat meat and I drink, so by some I may be considered a ‘Bad Hindu’. But I also believe in the truest from of my religion and that is that God resides in the heart of everyone in the Universe, hence I cannot judge or hate. Isn’t that what religion is really about??

    • “no religion teaches us to exile our kids”

      Well if there is religion that does I think I’ll pass on it 🙂

    • Its funny you say that. In hinduism, Lord Rama exiles his wife and two sons into the jungle after his wife is accused of an affair. This is in one of our main books. Lord Rama is supposed to be the embodiment of a perfect man. Yet he screws up also. And after 12 years he realises it. But it is too late by then…

  8. You know, this is something me and my sister went through with my parents. At different times, they told us to get out, because we weren’t living up to their idea of what was ideal. But I’m very blessed because my parents realized how harsh they were being, and later allowed us to come back home. They realized it was more important to them to be a part of our lives than to be right or to force us to do things the way they wanted. Family should be your support system, the ones you can count on.

  9. Happy National Coffee Day, I’m raising my mug to your, as usual, astute observations.

  10. Kenneth – this couldn’t have been better timed. Just yesterday, my mother got angry at me and claims she doesn’t want to see or speak to me ever again. She also reminded me that she didn’t get an abortion. Any day when that happens, well, I’ll call it a win. Have you ever heard of a situation when getting kicked out of the family isn’t such a bad thing?
    And as for the Christian aspect, I’m sure everyone in her church knows by now how terrible of a daughter I am. I guess it’s nice to know I’m probably getting more prayers than ever – sorta. Anyhow, I plan on talking to my own priest asap. What a strange world we live in.

    • It’s always sad when parents talk to their children that way….perhaps even sadder when their children are in their thirties! It’s weird how some parents refuse to treat their adult children with respect…….

      I enjoyed your review of BNW…..though I wouldn’t compare soma to cell phones but rather to prescription drugs; think about it, when huxley wrote it there was no epidemic of people being prescribed drugs to make them feel less anxious, less depressed,etc….yet now, in the 21st century nearly 50% of people in the U.S. Arron some type of prescription medication…pretty wild. BNW is one of my fav books all time

    • I’ll agree with the prescription drugs, absolutely. I mentioned cell phones because they act like pacifiers for folks, and it reminded me of the soma. I always make sure to teach BNW as the last text my students read before graduating.

  11. I am VERY much with you here, Kenneth! I think kicking children out is not an example of Christ’s love which we, as Christians, are supposed to emulate. Look at how many people when against God in the Bible, but He promises us He will always welcome us back like He did with the prodigal son.

    Plus, just from a pure common-sense standpoint, if you don’t think your children have the correct Christian morals, wouldn’t you want to keep them around so you could teach them??

  12. There is no perfect religion..There is no perfect person on the planet..There are no perfect parents..Not all parents love UNconditionaly..Not all Christians practice their religion the same..I try hard not to judge people regardless of their religion/sexual preference or whether they’d do something that I wouldn’t..Guess I was taught that judging just isn’t cool & that as humans we have no right to judge..I’ve heard of folks disowning their children based on sexual preference..I’ve heard of folks disowning their children based on them dating out of their race..Especially so call privileged friends of mine who come from wealthy families; yet married someone Black..Stuff happens & folks move on..There are a TON of things going on in this world, our country even, that I wouldn’t do or least can’t see myself doing..And I think it will always be that way..For some reason, as humans, we always think our way of doing things is the right way..Just isn’t so for there are many versions of what is the “right” way of doing things or lifestyle..What I’ve discovered in my life this far? Loving God more than myself & treating others as I like to be treated is working pretty dang well..And? It that sentiment is contagious..Enjoyed your write, as usual! 2 thumbs UP

  13. I think a lot of parents do it as a power play to try to force a child back onto the path the parent desires.
    I went through this in a lesser way with my parents. When I was 17 I told my parents I didn’t want to follow their specific religion anymore. It is a very conservative one and it wasn’t for me. I had chosen a new religion and they didn’t approve. My mother told me that as soon as I turned 18 I needed to move out. I did so.
    The first year she tried to exclude me from Christmas and Easter because those holidays were religious and only for “Christians”.
    She didn’t want me to negatively influence my younger siblings and she thought she could pressure me into returning to her church by excluding me. It didn’t work and it created a rift between us that still has not completely sealed.
    I don’t care what faith my kids have I could never abandon them because of that.

  14. I guess I’ve been fortunate. For my family, it was about issues of orientation. Interestingly, I’m just beginning to talk about it, mostly with my father. I wasn’t sure what to say, mostly because one of my sisters played “black sheep” and was “loud and proud” for a while. But my parents rolled through all of it, even through one of her more melodramatic relationships.

    When I talked about it with the woman who is now my wife of almost 15 years, she discovered she was oriented like me as well. Now I was raised somewhat liberally and her parents are more conservative, but actually… they handled it a lot better. I could intuitively sense that they would be more understanding, so when her baby brother fretted and asked us to keep mum, I didn’t. My in-laws have handled it all much, much better than my folks, and brother-in-law has a much more visibly gay relationship. (I am still asking that he bring his partner to Thanksgiving dinner, at least when he can afford it. At the moment, the missus and I have taken over hosting responsibilities.)

  15. As a Mama to three, my worst fear is that my babes will leave me… Not the other way around. You’re right, the love a parent has for a child should be unconditional. Our lives (and relationships for that matter) should not be determined by religion. I have faith- faith in my ability to raise thoughtful, caring boys who will make decisions based on what is best for their families. As a parent, you can disagree with your child’s decision but your job, once they are grown, is to support them in the freedom to make their own choices… Two or three cents, from a Mama.

  16. Gibran says it best . . .

    And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.” And he said:
    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
    You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

  17. This post actually reminded me of the time, back in 2006, when I moved to Washington state. My kid was 2 and I had been living with my parents for two years and couldn’t take it anymore. I was out of a job so I decided to try elsewhere.

    My parents actually cut me out of their Will for moving out of their house and to another state. I was 29 at the time.

    I have NO idea if I have since been reinstated to their Will or if they just made it so the money goes to my son, their grandson, in a Trust or something and honestly, I really don’t care. I know that it wasn’t over religion but it made me think how childish some adults can be when they don’t get their way. My parents were not getting their way which would have been having me live with them so they could rule me and they threw a hissy fit thinking I would actually care if I get an inheritance or not. I don’t care what money I inherit from them when they die (it is actually a lot and they are in their last years). I can fend for myself.

    It was just a laughable experience to look back on.

  18. I really enjoyed reading your post. I especially like the comparison between coffee and Christianity. Just because I have drunk bad coffee a few times doesn’t mean I write coffee off. I just know where to go now to get the good stuff (like my house..hehe).

  19. Kenneth – we need to work on your analogies – not everything is about coffee my friend haha. J/K. I couldn’t agree more. I never could understand parents who kick out their kids – regardless if it was religious or not. I’m not a parent but I watched my parents struggle horribly with my sister when she was in high school. They never kicked her out – she ran away. That’s a different story. There’s so much more damage done when a kid’s kicked out than good. Seems to me there’s better ways to address worries/concerns.

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  1. Kicking your kid to the curb…Really??? « The Culture Monk | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!
  2. Kicking your kid to the curb…Really??? | Bizigal's Blog

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