As a mom, I know the frustration of taking your children to church. I have four children, each two years apart.
I remember them as babies, trying to keep that pacifier in their mouths. When they wouldn’t stop crying I would take them out of the church and find a place to nurse them.
I remember as toddlers oblivious to the church service, they would sing or talk very loudly, drop books, and dance. I remember having babies and toddlers and switching off constantly with my husband.
I remember how many times I looked at my watch, my husband and the rest of the church thinking, WHY AM I DOING THIS?
I was frustrated and an hour seemed like an eternity. But in those times of extreme stress I would look to my husband, who would shrug his shoulders, give me a slight smile and whisper “Let me take him.” In that moment of the screaming, crying, loud noises and banging pews, you think that everyone is looking at you and you must have completely wrecked their experience in that church, or at least your child did.
But now I am on the other side. My kids are now 6, 8, 10, and 12 years old. I MADE IT THROUGH!!!
Let me tell you how pleased I am that we stuck it out. We never missed church and we rarely took them out of the church unless they were way too loud. The reason we did this was so they would learn we were going to church no matter what and we will sit and stand, sing and pray as a family every single Sunday for an hour together.
My children know how to behave at church because they grew up in church. It was worth the pain, stress, frustration, and embarrassment.
I asked our priest when my children were very little, “Does my crying toddler distract you? Should I leave them home?”
He responded, “I rarely hear them cry and I would rather have them here crying than not in church at all.”
We were also blessed by parish members who would give us encouraging words and praise for bringing them with us. But yes, we also were shot some negative looks as well.
I am here to tell you it works. It’s not easy, but if you just keep doing it you will train them how to act at church. It might not happen until they are five, but it will happen and they will behave.
I have heard the excuse, “I just don’t get anything out of church when I bring my child.” Let me be abrupt with those who have this complaint: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT YOU!
When you become a parent you sacrifice constantly. There are many things we put on hold or deny ourselves for the good of our children.
Church is not just about you and God. It is about community, family, faith, encouragement, love and support. Church is not the building, but the people. When you don’t bring your child a piece is missing from our Church.
There will be times you will get nothing out of church, you will not hear one reading, one song, or one word, but keep on going. It’s about the long haul, not the short term. Every time you take your child to church they learn it is important, God is important. You are teaching your child your faith about God, community, and support.
It is not easy but it is worth it. I am on the other side and I know my efforts, my husband’s, and our determination to not give up is what made my kids expect to go to church.
Only two of my children have ever asked the dreaded question, “Why do I have to go to church, Mom?” I explained how important it is to take an hour to dedicate to God, giving him thanks, praise, learning about Him, and being with our parish members. It is worth the time the frustration and the effort to take your children to church when they are babies, toddlers, children, and teens.
Nothing matters as much as the souls of our children. If we can help them know God, have faith and live a selfless life to help them to heaven is there truly anything that should hold us back from that goal? Take your children to church: it is one of the most enduring gifts you can give your child and it will last for more than a lifetime, possibly for eternity as well.
Copyright 2015 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp
Image by Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp. All rights reserved.