This Sunday morning started off as usual.
Me-“Time to get up. We need to get ready for church”
Child – “ARGH! Why do I have to go?”
Me-“Let’s not start that. Please get up.”
Child -“I hate church! Why do I have to go?”
You would think that maybe I should be letting Damien have it at this point. Brushing his hair over his numeric birthmark and checking my stockpile of holy water, but I don’t.
Nope, I just sip my coffee and have this same conversation another 30 or so times, even to the point of pulling up in the church parking lot. It’s not easy, it’s not fun and it’s not going away. Kids don’t like church. (And anyone who tells me otherwise, I’m not believing.)
Let me clarify since I am not here to discuss religion or reveal mine. The kind of church I am referring to is sitting still- being quiet for at least 45 minutes- listening to discussion of things you may not understand and certainly don’t care about. Church old school style- uncomfortable clothes- the whole nine yards.
So why do I do it? Am I a glutton for punishment? Am I a zealot? Do I want to make them suffer as I did when I went through the same thing? Am I a holier than thou religious conservative trying to give the appearance of being better than others?
Say what you want. Believe what you want. But my main motivation for dragging my unhappy children to church is…is…..I think it shows them I care.
I care….they learn to listen to people- all people. People who are passionate about subjects and people that are boring. It’s a skill.
I care….they learn how to be part of a larger group that is different from themselves. Older people, young couples, sick people whatever. They won’t spend their lives around people their own age and race and gender forever.
I care….they learn about kindness. Sure they can listen to something said in church, but there are lots more opportunities. “Please, move over so that woman with the walker can sit down. Please, hand your program to that little girl, she forgot to get one. There is only one blue book,please share with your brother.”
I care…they learn discipline. How many times have we heard some kid say, “I don’t want to!” And then the adult says, “You can’t just not do things because you don’t like it.”
But the number one reason I make my kids go to church was summed up last night by my 17 year old son. He had gotten in trouble with his father and I and I was handing out punishment. When I got to the part of, “And right after church…” He said, “You know, I don’t even mind going to church tomorrow. I’m kind of glad we are going. A lot of my friends don’t ever go and sometimes….I like you making us go.”
I left it at that.