Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Children and church

Christian Unschooling.com has a new post up about taking unschooled children to "Children's Church."

This can be such a challenging issue. As adult Christians we want the fellowship, or the litany, and to be fed in the Word, and we want to our children to feel at home at church, so they'll continue to be a part of the Body as they grow up. Some people go from church to church looking for a place where children are welcomed and families have options -- not just a place to drop off their kids, not just a program to entertain and "educate" them, but a place where Christ resides.

For me, the issue has always been ensuring that I respect what my children are ready for. My oldest son wanted to be with me until he was a toddler, and then he wanted to be where he could play and move. I volunteered in the nursery, but he was fine without me, too. My second son was totally different. He wasn't ready to leave my side until he was 5. So, he didn't. He was either with me in church, or I was with him in Sunday school.

My third son is just now old enough to attend Sunday school without me. I've been a nursery volunteer since before he was born. I haven't seen much of the inside of the sanctuary in that time, but that's okay. This Sunday, I took him in, got him settled, and then sat in the hallway listening to the class for 45 minutes.

I hadn't planned to spend the hour eavesdropping, it just worked out that way. (Honestly, I just needed a nap!) I did want to make sure he was truly okay with being there. The initial activity centered on coloring, which he doesn't care much about. But they didn't make him do it. He just sat and chatted, and the teachers were very sweet.

We are fortunate to be members at a fairly small parish, where the rules are not so firmly in place as to make flexibility for each child impossible. I know some local large churches where new parents would never be allowed to stay in the nursery with their toddler, while both parent and child take time to get comfortable there. But that's been regular practice while I've been involved in our nursery -- partly because it was important to me.

I'm typically not afraid to make my opinions known when I think it's really important. And I'm willing to step in and help if that's what it takes to make things how I think they should be. Not everyone feels comfortable doing that, and I'm sure it could get messy and obnoxious if everyone were like me!

I think the important thing is to know what's right for your child, and not to give up or give in if it's clearly not working. Try something different. Don't be afraid to ask for changes. Pray about it, and do what feels Right.


mandi said...

whoa! i step away for one tiny weekend and you post 3 TIMES!!!

i am soooooooo with you on this subject. dylin was happy by about age 4 to be without me, so off she went. levi is still very hesitant. he very rarely was in the nursery, but last month he was moved up into big boy sunday school. and, so have i, apparently! because i've been there next to him all 3 weeks. i love his teachers and i'm sure he would eventually be ok without me, but i love him more, so i'm not gonna push it until he's ready.

Patrice said...

I agree wholeheartedly!

an encourager said...

You are a wise mom to pay attention to the needs of each of your kids. It's sweet when a parent lets us grow into the personality God gave us. Good job!

Martha said...

Kudos to you for being a brave mama! We most certainly should step in and stand up for what's right. I admit, I often act sheepish as a mother because I gave birth to my son at the age of nineteen and I've always assumed that older people knew how to 'parent' better than I did! Boy, did I have a warped perspective. Now I know that nobody knows my son better than I do, I bet they don't even come close ;) which is exactly why we should be stepping up for our children!

Bona Fide Mama said...

i am still miserable at my church. i have almost given up. this is one of the reasons why.

gelie said...

I am totally agreed with you all. Our children are different, they have a unique individuality that God gave them. Just pray and guide them to good, they are growing up so fast and there are so much to catch up on them. But we are not super heroes, we can't be with them every time they need us. And this is a great step for them. - http://www.thumbuddyspecial.com

Melissa said...

I have been wanting to respond to and thank you for this post several times now. For some reason, I am unable to post comments that have the drop down menu from our Macintosh, so I'm using hubby's work laptop. Since our DD is now 3, she is supposed to move up to the older kids program. We are struggling with the decision for various reasons and are feeling it might be better for our family to be together during the worship service. Anyway, I'm thankful for your inspirational blog and have been doing more research on unschooling since reading about your adventures.

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