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Your child wants to go to church, but you don't

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Supporting the faithful young

My middle child loves church. He loves it to the extent that I often wonder if he's going to become a clergymember when he grows up! That's a wonderful thing! But, for various reasons, I don't have as much of a need or want for organized religion in my life right now, and that makes for an interesting family dynamic: my son wants to go to church - and I don't.

Supporting the faithful young

When I was growing up, I didn't like going to church all the time. Although that changed somewhat as I was older, I resolved never to force my kids to church multiple times a week as I had experienced. As such, we've always played the church card a little loosely: we attended, but not 100% of the time. When, over the last year, we decided to take more of a break from church, we never expected our nine year old to miss it so much.

Whether you are regular church-goers or not, there may be times when you child wants to go more (or less) than you do. In either situation, figuring out a way to support all levels of faithfulness in the family is a worthwhile effort.

Find out why

The first step to figuring out this situation is to figure out why your child is so interested in church. Some kids may think it's fun, or the youth minister gives our candy, or they like the music. Sometimes it may be about fitting in; if your child has a friend who goes to church or is at the church, that relationship may be the driving factor. Some kids who haven't been regular attendees are just plain curious about what church is like. Some kids can't articulate a specific reason, they just "like" it - and when it comes to faith, that's valid enough!

Once you know why your child wants to go, you can then make some decisions on whether church is the best way to meet those needs or desires - and knowing there's a reason at all may be enough of a reason for you to make a change to support the desire for church.

Compromise on attendance

Perhaps you and your child need to compromise on attendance. If your child wants to go every Sunday and you only want to go once a month, perhaps twice a month is a compromise? With some other activity together on the off Sundays?

In addition, if in this compromise it's only you and your child going, not your partner and other kids, look to your church time as special one-on-one time with this child. And maybe that's really what your child is looking for in the first place.

Enlist friends

If you just can't bring yourself to go to church, what about enlisting a trusted friend to take your child? Particularly in smaller communities you are bound to know someone at the church. This way your child can get what he or she needs, and you can stay in your comfort zone, too.

Or say no

In some situations, it's appropriate to say "no" to your child's wish to go to church. If the church in question has beliefs or values or has acted in way contrary to your beliefs and values, you can say no. You as the parent get to guide this development at this young age, and you can refuse if the church is not meeting your standards. It may be a harder conversation with your child, but it likely will work out over time.

Finding and committing to a faith community is a highly individual process. Your child's interest in church may just be a part of his or her process, albeit earlier in life than many kids. Like you wanted to be supported in your interests early in life, so finding a way to support your child's religious interest can be quite rewarding. And keep an open mind! You might start to like church, too.

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