Assemblyboard Posts about Treatment of Children in the Assembly


• Shaming was a technique used rampantly in the Assembly on both adults and children. Any small failure to meet impossibly high standards was usually met with harsh reminders of what a horrible failure and wretch you were, and disproportionately large punishments.

In the Assembly we were told that raising our children was exactly like training a dog (this was actually said by Ginger G.); the focus was on forming proper behavior via discipline. [Ed: Betty G. used to say that if her mother could train her dog to run right up to the property line but never cross it, Assembly mothers could train their children to perfect obedience, too.]

Something I am deeply questioning is the assumption in the Assembly that kids want to disobey out of a rebellious nature, and have to be broken of this.

I think an important distinction is to identify his action specifically as what he should be feeling bad about, as opposed to feeling bad about himself as a person.

This where the Assembly went horribly wrong - in the Assembly, tiny infractions such as being a few minutes late or not cleaning someone else's house perfectly for them were blown way out of proportion and used to characterize the offender as the worst of sinners - 'He who is unfaithful in little is unfaithful also in much' etc. this produced a stressful atmosphere that encouraged shallow conformism while allowing many hurtful behaviors to flourish.

Of course, I am speaking of how it was applied to adults here, but the same perspective was applied to kids with an even heavier hand, in some of the cases I observed. I just want to say I do believe that everyone I personally saw disciplining their kids in the Assembly was doing so with the best of intentions, and out of love, and that goes a long way.

That's one of the greatest things I learned in the Assembly - you can make all kinds of well-intentioned but terribly misguided mistakes and if love is expressed and understood it can work out ok in the end. This is what I remind myself of in those panicky overwhelming moments.

• The worst thing about Assembly parenting, in my opinion, was using discipline as a means to demonstrate that we were loyal followers of GG.  Some would get angry with their kids for making them look bad and this "modeled" a kind of self-righteousness that kids naturally would consider wrong. Some of the leaders' kids (think of Dave G. and his family) were witnesses to blatant hypocrisy that was very destructive!

• In the Assembly we just tried our best to hide these things and hypocritically perform our lives; and thus a huge pile of unresolved guilt lay upon both child and parent.

• I remember observing an AK in the early 1980's. His life was pretty close to what Scott describes. I remember that he wanted to play high school football, but was denied. When he graduated from high school...he seemed completely incapable of making any kind of decision for awhile. He referred to himself (jokingly, but somewhat truthfully) as a "lost youth".

The good news is that, thanks to loving support from his grandparents and parents (who had left the Assembly about that time) this person grew up and is doing very well and has an established life....However, watching this had a great impact upon me. I remember thinking at the time, "If they had let him make 'safe' choices when he was young - such as whether to join the football team or not - he might not have been so incapable of making a decision when he was 18.


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