Raising Children in the Church

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Raising Children in the Church

Postby John Chrysostom » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:47 pm

I was browsing some old topics and I came across an interesting one that I felt didn't get much discussion. As far as raising children in the church, what should parents do if children decide they don't want to go to church anymore? I obviously don't mean the 2 year old who throws a fit but what if your 14 year old child decides they don't want to go anymore?
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby IrishTiger » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:33 pm

I think once your child reaches the age of 16, or so, you should allow them to decide for themselves if they want to go.....but for some children, they could be younger or older before you know they are making the decision in a mature manner. If and when you decide to allow them to decide to stay home from church you should have a good discussion asking why they don't want to go, why you're allowing them to make a mature decision about it, and what you hope they learn from it. Forcing your teenager to attend church when they don't want to, when they don't have a relationship with God, is not healthy for your relationship with them or for their view of the church.
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby bookworm » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:46 pm

You can't really make them go, and even if you do just because they're there their heart isn't in it so it won't be doing much good for them anyway. You have to want to be at church for it to be fruitful, not just show up physically.

(Side note: I did not intend to use that string of homophones I just noticed it after I typed it, which is pretty awesome.)
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby IrishTiger » Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:16 pm

( =D> that is pretty awesome :P)
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby Kait » Thu May 22, 2014 12:39 pm

I want my children to decide for themselves from early on.

I don't go to church. But if my 6-year-old decides she wants to, I will facilitate that. Likewise if I ever became a Christian I would facilitate my children not wanting to go to church if that's what they decided.

I was forcefed religion from a young age and was never given the choice. I want different for my children.

My husband on the other hand, was the opposite. He was raised with a Christian mom and atheist dad and chose to start going to church at age 8 and became a Christian later on. Totally of his own choice.

EDIT:
I'd also like to note that our society does not give children enough credit. Kids are completely capable of making choices and thinking through decisions in a logical way, with help from their parents. They can decide what is best for themselves with help from a parent who is willing to help them consider alternate perspectives, alternate choices and potential outcomes for those choices.
Last edited by Kait on Thu May 22, 2014 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby The Top Crusader » Thu May 22, 2014 1:25 pm

If my child isn't a pastor by age 10 I'm disowning them. Unless it's a girl because they can't be pastors.
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby Sherlock » Tue May 27, 2014 11:19 am

This ^

I'm a little weird when it comes to this topic. On one hand, I don't see any benefit force-feeding something like faith to a child and, on the other hand, I'm all in favor of helping developing good habits from a young age. Like piano lessons, I eventually learned that the the thing I loathed turned out to be something I wish I had paid a lot more attention to as a kid.

Thus, below is Sherlock's list of life lessons she learned (or wish she learned better!) from being "forced" to go to Church on Sunday as a kid:

1. It taught me responsibility from a young age. Just like eating vegetables instead of candy, there were certain things that *I* wanted to do as a kid, but that weren't necessarily the best choice. Learning that there were fixed, weekly obligations that extended outside of my own desires taught me to manage my expectations and keep my emotions in check when those expectations weren't met. This carried over into adulthood.

2. It taught me how to understand why and how to dress appropriately in certain circumstances. The clothes you wear to play outside are not the clothes you wear to church. This has carried over into adulthood, and even though I still fail at this sometimes, I know the basic rules.

3. It taught me how to sit still and be quiet in certain situations (very difficult at a certain age!). As I got older, I learned to appreciate the "breaks" from worrying about work/school/obligations.

4. It taught me how to deal with social pressure and evaluate certain relationships. It isn't exactly the coolest thing to have to explain why you're going to Church during Spring Break with all your enlightened, agnostic friends, but I did learn that if your acquaintances can't accept you (or your inconvenient religious obligations) then maybe it's time to reconsider how you are spending your time.

5. It gave me some pretty cool social/volunteer opportunities and a link to my community. Yes, this is possible outside of church, but having a "weekly" thing that you commit to isn't so bad - as a kid it's nice to see your friends every week, and as an adult, it's just nice to connect and learn what's going on in the community as well as discuss topics that my coworkers or friends outside Church mostly find boring.

Anyway, something to chew on for a bit.
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby Kait » Tue May 27, 2014 3:16 pm

^ All of that is totally awesome.

But they are lessons that can be and are learned in many other ways and settings than just "church." Which isn't to say forcing your child to go to church is inherently bad (although I vehemently disagree with forcing children to do most things), just that if those were the primary real-life takeaways, church isn't a necessary catalyst for learning those.
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby John Chrysostom » Tue May 27, 2014 3:25 pm

I agree with Kait, if your reason for going to church is to use it as a self improvement program or a way to teach children good habits then there are other ways to do that. So Sherlock I don't view that as a good argument, I know those aren't the only reason you go to church.
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby The Top Crusader » Tue May 27, 2014 3:50 pm

My parents were all about being at every single church service until I was a teenager, and I really, really hated going to church. I totally don't intend to attend that much myself and thus wouldn't ship my child away without me, but as an infant for extremely young child has no real say in where they are being taken, I would take them weekly or bi-weekly or however often I attend.
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Re: Raising Children in the Church

Postby Sherlock » Tue May 27, 2014 6:08 pm

Yep, I think the argument can be made for any "non-optional" life obligation instilled at a young age, whether it is church, piano practice or otherwise. In my case it was Church, but YMMV.
I don't really see a point in arguing the theological benefits of attending church because one either accepts that they exist and wants to pass them on to their children or they do not.

I should probably also mention that your average Catholic Church service hovers around 1hr give or take a few minutes, so again may be different from some of your experiences growing up. ;)
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