Friday, 23 November 2012

Toddlers, Tantrums and Church

How many of you have had this experience.

Me: "Right time to get dressed for church"
Toddler: "No"
Me: "Well we are going get your clothes on"
Me: "Come on it will be fun we will sing songs"
Toddler: "Ahhhhhhhhh" (pure screaming as you force their clothes on)
You leave the house
Toddler: "Come on mummy are we there yet."
Toddler: "I wanna go home then"
You arrive at church
Somehow manage to survive the whole Sabbath/Sunday school process with only minor cuts bruises and punches thrown at the other children to make it into 'Big' Church.
Then you give them colouring books, reading books, favourite toys, they escape your grasp run up and down the aisle during children's story. You manage to grab back your beautiful child only to have
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (screamed at you)
You flee church child under one arm other hand clasped over their mouth
Outside you start with the real bribery every piece of food you can find thrown at the child. Manage to negotiate getting back into church sit down only to find they are still no where near the sermon and you have another hour of this till its time to leave.
Big sigh how will I cope?
By the end of the service your just desperate to get out as the little angel at least managed to avoiding kicking and spitting this week.

It can be stressful being the parent of high energy toddler. Church can go against everything a toddler is but yet still we expect them to conform to adult standards that if we are honest we struggle with. Well a couple of friends of mine who understand this plight just fine and are actually willing to do something about it are gonna do something for our 5 boys.

I am not sure what shape it will look like but a space on Sabbath where the boys can be boys yet also have a meaningful encounter with God in a way that doesn't leave their parents completely frazzled. Is it possible? Yes but if we work together. I am amazed by how many parents want that for their children but do not want to make it happen for themselves but would rather let someone else do it.

Now don't get me wrong here is the contradiction. I go to church where they have a creche for my angels and I can't wait to drop them off to have 5 mins stress free time to myself. However when the creche leader asked if I wouldn't mind helping out once a month I jumped at the chance not because I love little kids but because I got the other three weeks off and so I would do anything to keep that time including helping out with the toddlers. All I have to do is help once a month and for the other three weeks your gonna help me. Sounds like the best deal to me.

Putting all that aside I ask a number of questions of myself and other church leaders. When we prepare our sermons/service are we thinking about the whole congregation or are we just thinking about people like us. Can you imagine if your 85 and sitting through a service which has more rise and fall than a merry go round. All that up and down can make you feel excluded because you might not be getting up as much as you used to and there is just a see of people standing in front of you.

When we get together as Christians and call it church it should be a time when we feel at home with one another. Isn't it a time when we should be considerate of the needs of those around us instead of thinking all the time what am i getting out of this service.

I can now speak as a parent and tell you that going to church is not easy when your children are usually well behaved and lovely till you ask them to sit still for three hours in a row! So I will join with some friends and see how we go in organising a place for our boys to get together so that I can stop feeling so stressed every single week.

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