I watched a very interesting documentary with my hubby today (leave a comment and I'll send you the link if you like. It's a free download). It certainly got me to thinking and feeling almost validated in my thoughts as a parent, especially as a Christian parent. If you don't homeschool, feel free to skip this post. If you aren't Christian, feel free to skip this post. If you want to stick around and have enough confidence in your choices and won't feel attacked by me, your friendly local blogger, feel free to do so while I ramble.
First of all, I didn't grow up going to youth group. The churches we attended - when we weren't burnt out on religion altogether - were too small for youth groups or Sunday School or age segregated classes. This meant my sister and I sat through sermon after sermon with our parents.
We were occasionally bored.
Occasionally though, let's be honest, so were Mom and Dad.
We learned to read music and sing parts.
We heard about theology and religion and history. Hellfire and brimstone. Heaven and hell.
If we misbehaved, Mom gave us a glare that could melt a glacier. And we learned the meaning of repentance.
We learned to take notes. They may have had a heck of a lot of doodles, but no matter.
When I had my first baby, I felt incredibly pressured to drop her off at the church nursery INSTANTLY. I wasn't even positive the umbilical cord had been snipped yet, and some helpful usher was pressuring me to take her to the nursery. The goal of all us misguided mommies seemed to be whose baby could make it through the whole service without crying. And if they did cry, we were encouraged to leave them anyway and let them cry it out. We were raising kids God's way, don't you know.
Oddly enough, God never sanctioned youth groups. Nor Sunday School. He didn't open your womb only to hand your children off to some youth pastor to disciple. He gave them to YOU.
A few years later, in the same church, the congregation decided to allow the children into service for the first half hour or so, up until communion. The ruckus it raised was a little bit funny, a little bit not. I was a staunch and stubborn supporter of this new movement. I had a 4 year old and a 3 year old. Or maybe they were 3 and 2. No matter. They were young, sassy, wild, hungry, barely potty trained, and they would try the patience of a saint on every Lord's day. My husband was zero help; he was a music leader so he pretty much abandoned me a full hour before service began and then faded into the crowd never to be seen until I met up with him in the parking lot with two crying munchkins, three hours later. But in spite of that, I was absolutely determined that I could train these two 24 inch terrorists (I'm kidding, they were good girls for the most part) to sit still and be respectful. There may have been some bribery. Some glares. Some whispered threats. Some grabbing my their skinny elbows as they tried to skidaddle under the pews to freedom. It was exhausting, and no I didn't get much of anything out of the service. I hate this, the women of the church were saying, frustrated and angry, I can't take communion with my two year old crawling all over me! I need my kids to be away from me during church!
Eventually the throng won out, and age segregated church classes resumed. Eventually we left that church, but found more of the same elsewhere. Cora has always loved any kind of organized (or unorganized) groups, so she cheerfully will join whatever, whenever. Anna...not so much until she was five, then she became the same way. Gianni hates, loathes, despises, church nurseries/classes. You can bribe him, you can threaten him, you can peer pressure him, he will not go nine times out of ten. And I don't make him. This causes me to be frowned upon. I'm sure I'm the mom that the church staff sighs at and throws up their hands concerning. I'm sure they feel I need to show him some tough love and force him to conform. I can't count the number of times a helpful member points me towards the nursery. But I'm still stubborn and while I might give him the option, I don't make him go. Because you can look up "youth group" in the concordance all you want - it's not in there.
The beauty of God and His word and His church should be that of diversity. It should be elderly mixed with babies (don't they gravitate towards each other anyway?) It should black mixed with white. Old with young. Teenagers with toddlers. We shouldn't separate into segregated classes and forums and workshops and shuffle our young around, never to be seen or heard. The job of teaching my children - whether it's reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, or the Word of God - falls on ME. It doesn't fall on you. It's nice of you to want to help and I really do appreciate your heart, but it is my responsibility. I don't always love it. I don't always LIKE it. There are times I want you to take it off my plate. But it's my plate. These little gifts that God gave me are mine, mine, mine. Mine to shape and mold. I want to be the one to tell them...whatever it is they need to hear. No one loves them more than I do. No one knows them inside and out like I do. No one wants what is best for them the way I do.
That's why I won't send Moose to class. That's why I am seriously not allowing the girls to go anymore either. That's why we want to get back to a church that God invented and created, not atheistic philosophers who leaned very heavily towards socialism and communism. Their children were their business and their responsibility.
Mine are mine. And you can't have them.
Well, OK, when they get to calculus and geometry you can have them.