Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Children and Church

Recently we have tried to attend church again, with some sort of frequency. That being, so, though I have been more stressed than usual. My thoughts on children and church are terribly, terribly different than those of most families who attend churches, apparently.
My parenting philiosphy is that I should teach and raise my children, and goes so far as to me keeping them home for their education. This extends to religious education, as well. Most families who attend church send their kids off to Sunday School, a nursery or children's church when the adult service starts. I don't believe in doing this. It is on the same level, in my eyes, as sending them to all day kindergarten. I don't want someone else teaching them about the love of Christ in a fashion not conducive to their learning style. I want to be there to answer their questions, and also to witness their growth as believers.
When Ponygal was will very little I read a book entitled Parenting in the Pew. I can't remember now who wrote it, but it spoke to me and my convictions. Those convictions started with the fact that Pony Gal was so premature. I kept her away from things because her safety and health depended on it. But, it also felt natural. My instincts were to protect and keep my baby with me. Not to send her to nursery during a church service, but to continue my nurturing there. As she grew, this conviction didn't change, and after reading that book, I found another mother who understood. One of the most striking things she said was that children are herded in Sunday school/children's church settings like they are in public school. They are maintained. They do not see what the adults are doing-how the pray and worship. We as parents do not see what or how they are being taught. Some think that the kids sitting through a service is somehow rude to others because a little noise is inevitable. I see it as signs that there is youth in the church-a necessity for growth. My children get to see how mom and dad act in that setting and can learn from that. Learn to sit and listen and be meditative on what is being taught or said. Learn hymns or worship songs that sit in their hearts and see adults be contemplative on them. Mimicking adults is one of the main ways most children start to learn to be adults themselves. It leads to questions that lead to discussions. Church should be a time for families to be together, not separated so that it is easier on certain individuals to concentrate. Yes, that does mean that sometimes I don't hear a sermon, because Superboy just can't sit still that Sunday. That really doesn't bother me. I download podcasts from several different churches. I listen to one that sounds like I need to hear it that week, and am fine. I surround myself with other believers. I get my fill. Right now, my primary role, other than being a follower and lover of Christ, is to be a mother. My children are young. As they grow, then I can spend more time focusing on me. They need me right now. Sending them off for someone else to care for them is counterintuitive. I have devotional time in the morning before they wake up. I surround myself with opportunities to commune with my Father, so I can parent them when they need parenting, and that includes during church. I think it has been one of my main reasons for not wanting to attend somewhere. I get tired of being told every Sunday that there is a nursery, or children's church. My reasons are not just that of trust-though that is one. No one can care for my child like I do. Not every one who goes to church is going to answer questions about faith the way I will. It is my responsibility as a parent to raise my child to believe. I take that very, very seriously. I do my best to impart those beliefs to my children, so they know from early on that Jesus loves them, and wants a relationship with them. I do not intend to use what I see more as, and I know this will anger some people, kid-watching programs to educate them, just like I do not intend to send them to school to be educated in situations where 2/3's of the time is spent on crowd control. We'll keep searching and trying, but we have yet to find somewhere that fully understands those convictions, and that both Dad and I like, though that is a whole other discussion. His idea and my idea of what church should be like are night and day.
Anyway, that's why I do what I do.


  1. I will say, Mama P and Chad, if you read this, that I did enjoy your church last Sun. Dad is big on very contemporary churches, though, and until he sees they are trying to update (which I know you've said they are), he will be wary. He also says it is too far to drive, which is crap. It is just as far as the other place we've been going on and off.

  2. Hmmm. I don't have kids, but we spend a lot of time with people who do. When we stay with some of our friends we offer to take their kids so they can go to church by themselves (the kids are 5 and 2). When I'm in church with the wee ones, they require a lot of attention and it's hard to devote myself to the service.

    I feel like for the spiritual health of the parents it's valuable to let kids go with someone else or not bring them every time. That isn't to say it's not important to teach your children the rituals of church from an early age. I'm just considering that it's important to consider all the people going to church parents and children a like.

    It's definitely a personal choice.

  3. I agree that there are times that the parents need a break-honestly my husband rarely ends up with Superboy duty at church, though he does help some. I also think most churches do a good job of giving other options if they feel that is necessary, though. I was talking with Mama P, and their church has two services, and a lot of the folks go to both. An option might be to take one's children to the morning one, so that they might learn from the parent, then have a grandparents' (or friends in your case) evening every or every other week in which case the parents can go alone if they feel they aren't getting the time they need to worship.
    I don't think my stance is for everybody, but any means, but I am very tolerant of other peoples' choices in how they go about children in church. On the other hand, I get hounded for my stance. Every week, in and out of church, there are those who insist that I am wrong or just paranoid. Not that I have logical reasoning to back up my decision.
    I appreciate the comment!


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