Thursday, July 21, 2011

Village Raised Children

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.


  1. I completely agree.

  2. We've been struggling with the same thing. Heard of a movie called "Divided" that some friends have and we will be watching it. :) We pulled our kids from "children's church" at a very young age, although I was always thankful for the nursery in the pre-toddler years. :) I used to volunteer for the nursery just to get out of boring services. :)

  3. Amy, does that mean I'm going to find you in church one day? (wink, wink)

    Lorna, that's the movie I was talking about.

  4. Woah... Be cautious with the "teenagers should be with toddlers" statements... Geesh... :)

    As Gen was growing up, she only ever participated in "childrens church" a handful of times. I feel strongly about families doing church together.

    In re: to schooling though, i want to clarify: even if a child attends a class or school, it is us they learn from. Always... and it is up to us to be as proactive as possible in that...

  5. We have been very blessed to be part of churches who believe kids should be in the service...shocker! I have had my kids in church since they were tiny babies. They grew up knowing what church was and slowly how to "behave" or somehow contain their energy for an hour or so. Even though there were many Sundays I left in tears with half of my hair missing, I wouldn't trade a second of it. God's word is for all. His word creates faith in all His children, young and old. I love seeing a church full of people from the youngest to the oldest come together to makes my heart smile :)

  6. God's church IS for all and the word can be spread to all of us in many different ways including through children's classes. I guess I'm someone who doesn't necessarily agree with the extreme viewpoint that children's church is paganistic. I attend a church that leaves the choice up to the parents as to whether or not they want their children in service so to each his own. My kids, personally, LOVE their children's church so I see no need to mess with it. We are ultimately responsible for raising them to know and love God, not the church, I completely agree but I see no paganism in allowing other people to also share their love of God with my kids and teach them as well. The more teaching the better.

  7. I don't remember ever saying one word about children's church being paganistic....!

    I'm not sure I agree with two things there:
    1. 'My kids LOVE their children's church so I see no need to mess with it.' My kids LOVE a lot of things. That's not usually a good indicator, at least to me.
    2. 'The more teaching the better.' Only if you are in very sound agreement with the teachers. How many of us drop our kids off with someone we don't even know the last name of, never mind their background, education, or theology? Just a thought. Re-teaching a child who has had wrong ideas put in their minds is tiring and frustrating work!

  8. did i tell you why we just left our current church? It is a PERFECT example of this...

    So, we started attending this church last spring after an 8 month search. We settled in, quite honestly, because our youngest fell IN LOVE with the youth group. From the outside looking in, it was a brilliant system. I've never seen one to compare... So, about 6 weeks ago we were doing family devos and an issue came up. my husband just wanted to clarify that "some people believe ___________, (so as not to cause furter issues on your blog, I'll refrain from what it was) but we just want you to know this is what God says..." at this point our daughter (12) looks at us confused and begins going into all of these things that happened during a retreat last year. A LOT of things... BADDD things, not to exclude exorcisms... She goes on to talk about how they youth who were confused by what was happening were told that when God felt close enough to them, and that they were far enough in their walk with Him, he would give them these gifts and remove the veils from their eyes so they could understand... We spoke to several youth volunteers who confirmed her account. Then, we never went back...


  9. PS... you never said Pagan and that honestly was a horrible thing for anyone to imply... that word carries a lot of weight/accusation.

  10. Misty, that IS scary! It's so easy for us as parents to assume the best out of "Christians." I hate learning things the hard way!

  11. Correct, paganism was, in no way, mentioned by Melyssa. That was completely my bad in expressing it as though it was. Reviews of the movie and excerpts from the movie state the viewpoint that children's church is paganism. That is what I was referring to that I personally disagreed with. Did not mean to cause the hulabaloo that I did for many of you. Did not intend to accuse Melyssa of discussing paganism. I was not clear in my writing as to what I was referring to.

  12. Love you, Mariah, no worries, girl. Just stop being such a pagan, ok? Wink, wink.

  13. I never went to youth group and my parents got an earful from everyone in the church about it, including our homeschooling pastor. But, I never WANTED to go to youth group! For the same reasons my parents didn't want me to go. I did sometimes go with my parents to Sunday School classes and I often went with my grandparents to their Just Older Youth group! :-) I loved hanging out with all of those elderly folks and I still see some of them when I visit that town and say hi! My husband and I attend a home church where all ages meet together in member's homes and everyone offers to help us out with the kids on various nights so we can all get involved in the study. I completely agree that the church is meant to be a diverse group. There have been occasions on which my husband or I (or another member) have taken the kids out of the room if a mature subject needed to be discussed, but for the most part, I feel that excluding the kids from the proceedings is to their detriment.