The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asks children to be baptized at 8—an age when I still believed in Santa Claus. As someone who didn’t grow up in the church, I’m pretty clueless about how pressure from adults can affect the children of LDS families, so I found this journal entry someone posted on Reddit quite interesting. I’m not assuming this is everyone’s experience—I’m sure there are many children who never felt anything like this, but I do believe that there is too much pressure put on kids to gain a testimony from a young age. (Considering you don’t even begin to understand the fundamentals of logic and investigation until at least your teens. For me, early 20s…)

zelph journal child

Here’s the text from the image:

“Sometimes I hate myself, like when I’m at church and everybody gets up and bears their testimony. Why don’t I have one? How come I can’t make myself get one? How am I supposed to keep up with this secret? I also hate myself after I fail a quiz, or don’t do something I promised myself I’d do. I’ve been known for having high self-esteem and being enthusiastic, but everyone hates theirself sometimes, right? I think it’s because I’m 12, and I’m in junior high now, and my advanced classes and extracurricular activities have me so stressed that it’s easy to hate myself.

“I sort of want to tell someone, but they’ll wonder why, and the basis of my hatred is a secret. It’s the fact that I don’t have a testimony. It really gets me down. In primary I never knew how important a testimony would be, and that it would hurt me so badly to not have one. I think that maybe if I got one, my problems will go away; the problem is that I’m scared. I’m not really sure why I’m scared, but I am.”

I don’t think General Conference is suitable for children anyway, but if this 12-year-old (10 years ago) had heard President Uchtdorf’s (and others’) doubt-shaming last weekend, it probably wouldn’t have helped their already tender and frightened feelings. Keep that in mind, Mormons. Adults are just grown-up children. And no one should have to hate themselves for not believing what their parents/family/friends believe. Nor should any child have to hide how they’re feeling for fear of being judged by adults.

Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young would have been a millennial blogger, but she died in 1901. The wife of Brigham Young, and prior to that Joseph Smith, and prior to that Henry Jacobs, who was sent on a mission by Brigham before he married her, Zina loves writing, long walks on the beach, and playing the field.

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