Sunday, February 17, 2013

Kid Church Attendance

Question: What did you do if one of your kids refused to go to church one Sunday? What did you do if that turned into a string of Sundays?

Summary:

Of the ten parents who answered, none said this was an issue when their kids were living at home. Sounds like it's pretty important not to let kids get to the point of refusing to go to church.

Thoughts: Church attendance was an expectation of the whole family and wasn't seen as optional. Parents were careful not to complain themselves about church attendance. At times it was necessary to talk with Sunday School teachers about issues and get that resolved. Many parents mentioned good peers and teachers as an influence in helping their kids want to go to church.

Answers:

Samantha (and Thomas)
We never had a child refuse to go to church, but there were times with our teenage boys that they complained about having to go because they were tired.  We sympathized and told them they could sleep when they got home. But going to church was never a "decision"; it was an expectation.  We rarely even missed for being sick.

In their later teen years, both our daughters and sons would drag their feet about going to mutual, especially when they had a lot going on in their lives.  But we were persistent about the importance of setting an example for the Beehives and Scouts and of being faithful, even though they felt they didn't need it.

Both of us were careful not to complain ourselves about going. The attitude was that doing our duties in the church would bring blessings into our lives. We did it to show our love for the Savior, not just because we had to.

If one of our kids had refused, our approach would have been to keep the expectation and use persuasion (not guilt) about why it was important--patiently, trying to be understanding, but nevertheless, clear about the blessings that come from faithful attendance.

Mary (and Robert)
We never had that problem so this is going back another generation.  I had a brother that decided he didn't want to go to church.  He was determined to rebel on whatever seemed most important to Mom and Dad.  So their answer was that "in this family we go to church and if you want to keep being part of the family (translated to a place to live and food to eat) you will go to church."  He sat at the back of the chapel in his suit and tie, with long stringy hair and scowled his way through Sacrament Meeting.  He also had to attend Sunday School and I'm sure he was a delight to his teachers...not!  This was mandated through his 18th birthday after which they told him he could make his own decision.  That decision was to not go to church anymore. 

There were some years of inactivity ahead.  But he stayed close to Mom and Dad (mostly Mom) and eventually he came back to church, baptized his wife, and they went to the temple.  All of his children have been married in the temple, he has been active for years.  I am impressed with my parents' handling of the situation. 

Danielle and Jake
Because we never wanted kids to hate church, it was pretty easy for us to get our kids to go to church.  We were lucky.  No one ever refused to go to church.  We did not make our kids stay in church clothes, we had friends over, mostly in the summer, outside.  We allowed games at the kitchen table.  We napped, did homework and whatever.  If kids refuse to go to church, you better figure out what is going on.  We had some bad S.S. teachers and were able to meet with them and share our expectations of lessons and class time.

Marsha (and Richard)
I didn't have issues with children not wanting to go to church. They had friends and good leaders and teachers and they didn't resist thankfully. However our oldest son did stop going when he was married and in his 30s. It was a conscious decision between him and his wife not to continue to participate in the church. At that point we really didn't have any control over the situation. We tried to share our feelings at first and encourage him to take a different route however that only created conflict and we found that just enjoying our relationship with them and loving them was the best way to proceed.

Cynthia (and Brad)
As to the question, I really don't have much input regarding my family as they all loved to go to church and they loved their peers. But in a ward where there aren't many teenagers, I can see why that would be a problem. Again, making church activity fun is one thing that needs to start when the children are young. Act enthusiastic. Plan fun activities with church members so that they want to see them again at church. Try to work in some service experiences so that they can feel the spirit of service. I guess if I had a child that just kicked and screamed when it came to church, there must be a really good reason for that. Are they being ostracized by the other kids? (Yes, this does happen, even with our supposedly "righteous" LDS youth--social groups do form). Do they have a problem reading and are afraid that they might be called on to do that? Or, are they afraid they might be called on to pray and they feel inadequate? Practicing at home saying prayers and giving talks during FHE can help with that. And don't forget our resources of Bishop and YMYW leaders. I would have no hesitation in confiding in them and asking for help and suggestions. Leaders need to be aware of the issues and let their inspiration contribute. Two other alternatives to see what the reaction is: 1) if the child is over 12, let the rest of the family go to church and leave the child at home ONE time. Come home acting like you just had the best time ever. Maybe that will make them feel left out, and maybe they won't have had such a great time. 2) Let the child stay home ONE Sunday, but a parent stays home too, totally ignoring the kid. And  quietly, so the child can see it happening, let it be obvious that canceling your assignment or finding a substitute caused a lot of inconvenience. Maybe the guilt will kick in. Just a suggestion.
But if you have some really hard core rebellion going on, I would advise some professional counseling.

Jane and Samuel
We can't remember that happening!  Even now our adult daughter who is not an active member always goes with us without being asked. Going to church was what we did. You had to be sick to stay home.

Abigail (and Martin)
As for the Sunday question, we never had any kids refuse to go to church.  I don't really know how I would have dealt with it.

Daniel (and Marissa)
I felt prompted one time to ask a young man I didn't know what his name was.  He was at a Church function, a summer picnic with the ward.
I asked him if he went to Church, he replied no.  I told him there were two kinds of people, people who don't go to Church, and people who go to Church and hear the greatest stories and testimonies of life.  I asked him what kind he wanted to be.  He said the kind that goes to Church, he was 13.  Another young man standing nearby and hearing everything was asked to pick him up next Sunday.  When will you pick him up, the young man said he'd be ready.  He hasn't missed one meeting in over 8 months.

We should learn everyone's name in the ward if we really belong to a Ward family.  How can we pray for each other, or build each other up
unless we befriend EVERYONE.  Babies to the eldest member of the ward. People should know they worship with friends who care for them, and will miss them if they are not there.

Kenneth and Catherine
We have been blessed that all five of our children have grown up with strong testimonies and a great desire to do what they were foreordained to do in life.  They made some mistakes along the way but have generally chosen good friends and have blessed the lives of those friends and have been blessed by them.  We are most grateful for these wonderful children in whom we have experiences great joy and rejoicing. 

Daniel and Barbara
We are happy to say we never had that problem.  We took them to church every Sunday they were with us and they and our grandchildren still go to church every Sunday.

Next week's question:
Did you send your kids to EFY or other multi-day church-based youth camps/activities? How worthwhile do you think they were compared to the cost?

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