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Kids and Church & Not Sure You Care Either?


Ordinary Shoes
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I grew up going to Mass every Sunday. We took DD to church every Sunday until the COVID shutdown. 

We left our church and have made a few detours. We went back to being Catholic and then began attending an Episcopal church. 

DD attends Catholic school where she goes to Mass every week. 

DD hates church in general and I'm not sure that I care. I don't know how to tell her that she must go to church when I don't know if I believe it either. 

The Episcopal church is very nice and there are some girls her age there but DD has no interest in meeting them. We decided not to make her attend Sunday school because she does religious education at school. 

Honestly, I'm kind of thinking of church as a way to meet people who think like me and not so much about 'religion.' Sorry that sounds terrible. 

Do you make your kid attend church if they hate it? 

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I don't. It seems likely to increase one's 'hatred' for church services (and religion in general) to be forced into performative religion. I let the good memories of younger years stand for themselves, without adding teenage years of unwilling attendance to overshadow the good memories.

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When I was growing up in the ‘70’s, my atheist parents attended a hippy Methodist church. They didn’t believe in the religion aspect (I don’t think many people did), it was just a way to meet people in a new town. I mostly remember lots of macrame, backpacking trips and guitar music. I stopped going when I felt like it, and they did shortly thereafter. They never would have forced me to go.

DS has never been inside a church except to admire the architecture and art in various European cathedrals. 
 

I know I’m coming at it from a very different angle than you, but forcing a kid doesn’t seem like it would have the desired effect one might be attempting.

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It's not terrible sounding. That's why there are different denominations, basically. Groups of people that think alike in regards to religion, which more than likely bleeds over to their everyday life behaviors.

We never forced our children to attend.  One now is looking for like minded, social activists type friends so has joined a local UU. It as still only meeting online, and that makes it harder. Going to church, dealing with church dramas, that's not important to me. Finding a group of people who choose to help those who may be very different from their church family always trumps a congregation that spends its sermons putting those different-than-themselves down is not worth the worry.

If your child hates church in general, let her. Let her know she can pick and choose for the rest of herife, if necessary. Having a kind and open heart is what matters.

Does she wants to make new friends, or is that you worrying that she needs more friends? Some kids don't develop close relationships until their late teens or 20's. If she says she wants to find mote or closer pals, I'd try to find them outside of church. Which now, I realize, is a sucky time to do that.

Edited by Idalou
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I would try to find out why they hate it before going either way. Music? Preaching (topics/length)? People (not your type/no one your age)? Uncomfortable seating? Worship postures (standing/ kneeling)? Clothing? ??

For me as a Catholic, Sunday Mass has always been non-negotiable. Covid was weird for all of us. I'd try to see if there is a way to make it more palatable until they are out of my house. One likes good worship music. We don't have that here. She attends where the music is better. Another couple don't want to dress up. They can now wear clothing items that are acceptable but not as nice as my dh would prefer. 

IMO, it depends on why they hate it. If it is a belief issue, that's deeper than what I listed.

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No, I would not force it. My dad dragged me to his Catholic church every Sunday, and all it did was make me view the church as a bunch of hypocrites. The stained glass was pretty, though. 😒

If there is a community aspect of church that you or your daughter are craving, look into the Unitarian churches near you. Some are more "churchy" than others. 

Edited by MissLemon
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In my family, for now, church attendance is expected.  But when my kids don’t want to go it’s because they stayed up too late and want to sleep in or because they’d rather play video games or the like.  If one of them came to DH and I and said they no longer wanted to be a part of the church for reasons of belief or conscience it would be different.  

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I'd ask why she hates it. 

I have one I didn't make go, and I sort of regret it. Or rather, I regret not finding a way to make it work. I wish I'd been way more flexible in finding a situation that worked for him. My reasoning is I want my kids to grow up with a church background where later in life they can return to it with a sense of familiarity. And honestly, to make friends. 

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We stopped making our kids go, and honestly, I don't know if that was the right thing or not.  Church is important to me, honestly....I think the community is important, and faith is very, very important to me.  I have one kid who was a skeptical agnostic from the time she was a preschooler and one who had loads of faith until they were about 11 or 12 and became aware of hypocrisy and the way Christianity is perceived by the general public.  We have not made my kids go, since around the beginning of middle school, and I've been sad about it, but my husband feels strongly that I sort of burned them out on church, between attending church, Catholic school, VBS, reading Bible stories and praying at home, going to religious education, etc.  I talked about it with my youngest recently, the one who is the born skeptic, and she says that while she does not think she's likely to attend church as an adult, there are things about church that she likes and appreciates, and that she might go if circumstances made sense.  She thinks oldest is more likely to return at some point, but she isn't sure how likely that is.  

My kids do come along occasionally.  Pre-covid, we went to an evening service, and we would sort of bribe them with a "since church is half way to McAlister's Deli, we're going there afterwards, but it's too out of the way to come home and get you and then go back."  Once in awhile they'll come if the timing works out better for them to come with us to outdoor church before going to Social Gathering TM with friends.  

I don't know if it was the right thing, to let them quit going.  My reasoning was that they were in Catholic school, too.   I think in retrospect, the fact that I got angry at the church we were attending when they were in elementary school, was bad.....my anger was more of a feeling of hurt, and it wasn't super rational, and I think I should have stuck with it.  I think they'd have been more likely to have continued attending and being involved if we hadn't changed then.  There have times we've left a church for theological reasons, and I think that is more important, for sure.  

But...if you don't really care, I think it's totally fine not to force the issue.  

Edited by Terabith
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No, but I would encourage multi-age community. 

I grew up Catholic, and when I was a teen, even before I was confirmed, I had questions that could not be answered sufficiently.  I started dreading church and I made the decision not to go.  It hurt my mom, but honestly, it was best for me to find other ways to explore my questions and find a spiritual path of my own instead of pushing it down.

As an adult, I can appreciate the ritualism and comforting dependability of mass.  As a teen, I needed something different and to do some deep searching that lasted about 15 years.

I would encourage her to find a spiritual path of some sort, but part of church, for me, at least, should be a feeling of acceptance and patience.  It shouldn't ever be forced or felt as a burden.

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As others have suggested, I would find out why she doesn't want to go.  I'd also explore why she has no interest in meeting the girls her age at the church (maybe you already know why and just haven't said here, and if so of course that's fine). 

Church was a matter of course for me growing up; I wanted to quit in my teens but my mother asked me to wait till I was confirmed, as she wanted me to be sure leaving was what I really wanted. I waited, and then left a short time after that. I then was in and out of various churches for many years till my husband and I started talking about getting married, and settled on what we wanted. 

And so it has been for my kids. When they haven't wanted to go, it was mostly for superficial reasons, such as their friends were all out of town or something. If they had what seemed to be a decent reason they could stay home, but "I don't feel like it" wasn't a decent reason.

Now my kids are full-on adults, though still living at home, and as far as I can tell they are not attending anything - I mean, I know they are not going out to church but may or may not be doing anything online. 

However, if I did not agree with the beliefs of the church I was attending, I would have a hard time making my child attend if they did not want to/did not share the beliefs of the church, depending on the child's age. Also depending on age, like perhaps high school and up?- I might discuss it and express my own doubts and perhaps look together to find something that worked for us.

Edited by marbel
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We presented weekly church attendance as "an activity our family does together" and "expected."  Exactly what that looked like differed at different times.  We allowed, for example, volunteering in the nursery during worship time as an alternative to being in the worship service when they were teens.  We strived to make church participation something that our children enjoyed (or could at least find something positive to tolerate about it at different points in their lives), whether that was participating in a water balloon fight, getting to learn how to bake from an adult who brought their favorite cookes to a social hour, etc.  We did not require them to go through confirmation or believe anything particular (and we conciously chose churches where the minister was open to questions).  There were some periods in the teen years where we got some "I don't believe and don't want to go and be a hypocrite.." we bent on worship attendance, choosing to spend Sunday mornings working at the homeless shelter, with a hurricane relief effort, or some other community service project.

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DH and I were both forced/coerced. He attended three or more days a week. I usually did two days/week. We both learned a lot but not necessarily what was intended. We watched what people did about as much as we watched/listened to what was preached. So many affairs/come-ons, money mishandling, backbiting, gossiping. We never made our kids attend church. We felt like regular attendance/involvement was more likely to lead to them avoiding faith/religion altogether than exploring a personal relationship separate from any specific congregations. We still feel like we made the right choice. One has faith, the other is questioning.

Edited by Sneezyone
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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I grew up going to Mass every Sunday. We took DD to church every Sunday until the COVID shutdown. 

We left our church and have made a few detours. We went back to being Catholic and then began attending an Episcopal church. 

DD attends Catholic school where she goes to Mass every week. 

DD hates church in general and I'm not sure that I care. I don't know how to tell her that she must go to church when I don't know if I believe it either. 

The Episcopal church is very nice and there are some girls her age there but DD has no interest in meeting them. We decided not to make her attend Sunday school because she does religious education at school. 

Honestly, I'm kind of thinking of church as a way to meet people who think like me and not so much about 'religion.' Sorry that sounds terrible. 

Do you make your kid attend church if they hate it? 

Yes, I do. They also do not like brushing their teeth or eating their veggies. I make them do that too. Also, I am not being snarky. I had this same question not long ago and someone responded just like this. There are lots of things in life our kids don't want to do, from wanting to eat candy for breakfast to not wanting to go to bed. As parents, we need to teach our children, and draw the lines where they should be drawn. I would give her a choice..Sunday school or service. That is the choice my children get now.

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2 hours ago, ktgrok said:

I'd ask why she hates it. 

I have one I didn't make go, and I sort of regret it. Or rather, I regret not finding a way to make it work. I wish I'd been way more flexible in finding a situation that worked for him. My reasoning is I want my kids to grow up with a church background where later in life they can return to it with a sense of familiarity. And honestly, to make friends. 

I think it's just boring. It is boring, honestly. This church isn't crazy. The people are nice. The music isn't terrible. DH really hated the Catholic church because the music was pretty cringe-worthy. Those of you who have been Catholic know what I'm talking about there. 

But you sit and listen to people sing and talk. Boring. The sermon is directed at grown ups. They have a children's chapel where the little kids go out during the sermon and do kid things but DD is too big for that. 

She's not interested in meeting the kids there because she's a little shy and doesn't like to meet new people. She has a large group of friends from her school. 

I think what we really need is some kind of social justice thing. I think DD would be more interested in that than in sitting in church and listening to people talk. I just need to find the right kind of activity which is hard during a pandemic. 

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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Do you make your kid attend church if they hate it?

I wouldn't because I do believe in the religious aspect of the whole thing. Thus, I don't believe you can force anyone to have a relationship with God if they don't want to. Of course my kids are < 5 so technically they don't have a choice right now (I'm speaking hypothetically if they could stay home by themselves). 

I would ask why and see why though just in case there is something that needs to be addressed. Especially if you continue to plan to continue to make friends and have a social life in that circle. I've known people who didn't like church because the youth there weren't nice (or they were clique-y), or because of a wealth divide (true or perceived).  

If you do like having a family church social thing trying out a different less boring church could be fun. Or perhaps a church more focused on service in stead of services.

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I didn't like church as a kid, but I'm glad my folks made me go until I was a young teen.  (After 8th grade it was our choice.)

I made my kids go to church and Sunday School, even though they attended a Lutheran school 5 days a week.  I don't think my kids hated church though.

I've always been open with my kids about the fact that I don't agree with everything taught in church.  However, I do believe that church is one of many good ways to build a foundation for spirituality.  Even, or perhaps especially, when our thinking differs from the sermon, attending with our kids opens the door to really good discussions with our kids.

There are lots of reasons I chose church.  For one, it's always good to have another person or entity that teaches the values I try to teach.  I've observed in life that most people don't really believe anything that is told to them by only 1 person.  As soon as a 2nd person tells them the same thing, it gains a lot of credibility.  This is especially relevant to a single-parent household, but I suspect there is also value for a two-parent household.  Besides this, Christian instruction provides a good body of knowledge to explain many phenomena in our environment, and even a lot of vocabulary that needs to be learned.  It incorporates various things that exercise and challenge the mind.  It provides a caring community should we ever need certain kinds of help.  And I think most of us believe most of the church's teachings, e.g., most of the Ten Commandments, the beatitudes, the fruits of the spirit, etc. etc.

I currently force my kids to listen to the weekly church sermon, which is maybe about 20 minutes long.  At their age, my parents did not require me to attend church, though I sometimes chose to.  One of my kids is seriously questioning Christianity right now, and I'm glad she told me this, as it is an excellent opening to discuss what spirituality is to me.  Old boardies may recall that I have said I do not call myself a Christian.  I have studied all the major religions and I am more interested in the common truths.  For my kids, I want them to have enough knowledge as well as enough freedom to decide for themselves as adults.  Just rejecting it is not what I'm aiming for.

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17 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I think it's just boring. It is boring, honestly. This church isn't crazy. The people are nice. The music isn't terrible. DH really hated the Catholic church because the music was pretty cringe-worthy. Those of you who have been Catholic know what I'm talking about there. 

But you sit and listen to people sing and talk. Boring. The sermon is directed at grown ups. They have a children's chapel where the little kids go out during the sermon and do kid things but DD is too big for that. 

She's not interested in meeting the kids there because she's a little shy and doesn't like to meet new people. She has a large group of friends from her school. 

I think what we really need is some kind of social justice thing. I think DD would be more interested in that than in sitting in church and listening to people talk. I just need to find the right kind of activity which is hard during a pandemic. 

Gotcha. If she goes to chapel or mass during the school week I'd let her be I guess. Or maybe, take a break "since we have such high exposure with school already". 

Maybe check out some youth groups locally, rather than attending church, for a while? Or a church that has a program for her age during the service? The one I found locally that we are going to try has all the kids through middle school leave partway through to do stuff. 

Edit: Oh, another question is are you happy with what she is learning in the Catholic School, or would you like her to have some other Christian or religious influences who approach things a bit differently?

Edited by ktgrok
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5 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Gotcha. If she goes to chapel or mass during the school week I'd let her be I guess. Or maybe, take a break "since we have such high exposure with school already". 

Maybe check out some youth groups locally, rather than attending church, for a while? Or a church that has a program for her age during the service? The one I found locally that we are going to try has all the kids through middle school leave partway through to do stuff. 

Edit: Oh, another question is are you happy with what she is learning in the Catholic School, or would you like her to have some other Christian or religious influences who approach things a bit differently?

DD and most of her friends at Catholic school ignore what they hear at school about religion. These kids don't see anything wrong with homosexuality. I'm not sure that I'm unhappy with she hears at school because I don't think the problematic parts sink in. 

i would like DD to be exposed to a female priest but our Episcopal priest is male.

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I am sure most kids find church boring at times, maybe most of the time. When my kids were little we let them read and/or color. Over time we found they were paying attention and if we talked about the sermon or whatever they would engage at least somewhat, on their own level. For the most part the churches we've attended regularly had good preachers who were able to speak in an engaging way, I guess. I think also any hypocrisy at church was well-hidden from them, even from me (not so much from their dad who was an elder), people seemed to walk their talk. Well there were a couple of exceptions where they saw church discipline in action which was troubling but also good as they saw the church body and leadership deal with some bad behavior in an appropriate way (including helping a woman out of a long-term abusive marriage). Maybe we were just lucky with the churches we went to. 

But I also wonder if she is picking up on your ambivalence about it. Our kids knew we were committed; we were involved in the church in several ways, and we did Bible study, family prayer, etc., at home. Our good friends were mostly people from church or similar churches. We had lots of church people in our home.

For the past couple of years (starting before covid), through some unusual circumstances, we have not been in a good church situation. So I know it is not always as easy as I have presented it above.  OP I hope you find what you are looking for.

 

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For us, church is important to our family life. However, I am consciously choosing to be at a church where my children enjoyed attending. I actually put that first over my own preferences for a church. 

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4 hours ago, SKL said:

I made my kids go to church and Sunday School, even though they attended a Lutheran school 5 days a week.   

She said her kids actually go to church during the school week. I'm Catholic, so I know this doesn't 'count' for weekend mass, but OP doesn't seem to care about that and it does mean they would be going twice. 

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1 hour ago, katilac said:

She said her kids actually go to church during the school week. I'm Catholic, so I know this doesn't 'count' for weekend mass, but OP doesn't seem to care about that and it does mean they would be going twice. 

My kids also had “chapel” every Wednesday during school, but that was not comparable to Sunday church.  In fact, our school had an expectation of regular weekend church attendance, and records were kept by the teachers.

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If you think she’d be more into something social justice related- try your local Unitarian church. There’s usually something for everyone there. They also run the Our Whole Lives sex Ed program that is amazing & even our small rural area has a great UU youth group, religious Ed (social justice based) program, & does lots of community events.

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I have not yet read replies. No, I dont make kids go to church against their wishes. 

My son said, several months ago, that when/if we start going back to church since Covid shut it down, he did not want to go. So we have effectively quit church, although I do tune in to streaming sometimes. I dont believe the things I’m “supposed” to believe anymore; it is largely moot. 

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Personally, my biggest thing would be that my child understood that there were many "flavors" of Christianity, and has experienced some if at all possible. Beyond that, I wouldn't force her. And again, I think Covid risks are a good excuse for a break, given her exposure. It gives you an "out" right now while you figure things out for yourself and how you want to handle this. 

But I would keep an eye out for a youth group you think she'd like. 

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My husband was forced to go to church every time the doors were open and the very first thing he did after moving out was stop attending church.  He believes in God and the Gospel, but church(and his church was steeped in purity culture/quiverfull/homeschooling) was very damaging for him.  
I would love to go to church now but he’s so against it and I have too much social anxiety to try to find a church on my own.

My younger two go with my in laws(who attend a different, loving Baptist church that doesn’t even blink when my 6 year old son wears a dress).  My oldest hates church and we don’t force it.

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5 minutes ago, Mrs Tiggywinkle said:

My husband was forced to go to church every time the doors were open and the very first thing he did after moving out was stop attending church.  He believes in God and the Gospel, but church(and his church was steeped in purity culture/quiverfull/homeschooling) was very damaging for him.  
I would love to go to church now but he’s so against it and I have too much social anxiety to try to find a church on my own.

 

And this type of thing, which is SO common, is why I'd want to make sure she experiences a variety of "flavors" of Churches. So often people who grow up in just one type, especially if it is one that is very strict, refuse to attend later even if their family would like them too because to them all Christians are "that type" and they don't like that, or don't believe that, anymore. 

I'd want to make sure she knew not all Christians are the same, that there are a lot of variety of beliefs in say, how we worship, how leadership is run, how Scripture is interpreted, etc etc. I actually as an assignment in my college Religion in America class (or was it my Intro to Christianity class?) had to attend a variety of denominations, and that, on top of attending several in my youth really gave me a sense that now matter what, I could find a church that "fit" as an adult. I think there is a lot of value in that. 

I've also read, but don't have the source to cite right now, that attending a mainline church as a kid (think Episcopal, PC-USA, UMC, UCC, etc) can help "inoculate" against rejecting religion as an adult. That those who grow up with no church attendance are more likely to end up fundamentalist and those who grow up with more strict and/or fundamentalist attendance are more likely to grow up to be a "none" and reject religion. I'll have to look for a source for that. I want to say I heard it on The Liturgists or The Holy Post. 

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14 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

I've also read, but don't have the source to cite right now, that attending a mainline church as a kid (think Episcopal, PC-USA, UMC, UCC, etc) can help "inoculate" against rejecting religion as an adult. That those who grow up with no church attendance are more likely to end up fundamentalist and those who grow up with more strict and/or fundamentalist attendance are more likely to grow up to be a "none" and reject religion. I'll have to look for a source for that. I want to say I heard it on The Liturgists or The Holy Post. 

I think that when people raised in mainline churches leave the church as adults it’s less likely to look like rejection and more like just easing away.  It’s like the difference between having a big break-up fight and being friends who don’t have much in common anymore and haven’t seen each other in awhile. 

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I've definitely been through periods when I didn't care so much about church, but I've always cared deeply about faith, and this life doesn't make too much sense to me without it.  Because of that, we always made sure we lived that faith in different ways with our children.  If they really hated church, we'd try and figure out different experiences that our children could relate to better.  Faith doesn't have to be experienced through a church.  It was and still is (even with adult children now) more important to us to find ways to learn and live out our faith that is meaningful to them when we're together rather than forcing them to go to a church they don't like at all.  This will mean different things at different times and with different children.

I personally think it's important to instill a sense of habit about it though, in some form, because it's easy to become lazy. 

We began listening to an online service several years back that we all loved, and that became our church for awhile.  We'd have rolls and coffee in our living room while watching church online.  I also began a theology online book club with my girls and a couple others a few years ago.  We read through different books and then meet on Zoom to discuss a couple chapters at a time every few weeks.  I let the girls pick out the books -- we've read some really terrific ones! -- all ones that encourage great faith discussions.  For some of them, this is their only "church" right now. 

 

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25 minutes ago, Danae said:

I think that when people raised in mainline churches leave the church as adults it’s less likely to look like rejection and more like just easing away.  It’s like the difference between having a big break-up fight and being friends who don’t have much in common anymore and haven’t seen each other in awhile. 

Very true. It does seem less...damaging? Not sure if that is the right word. Less painful, maybe, than the massive deconstruction that I see in those leaving more fundamentalist type religions. And it also seems like people who drift away are less likely to refuse to attend later if a family member would like them to attend. Maybe I'm wrong. 

22 minutes ago, J-rap said:

I've definitely been through periods when I didn't care so much about church, but I've always cared deeply about faith, and this life doesn't make too much sense to me without it.  Because of that, we always made sure we lived that faith in different ways with our children.  If they really hated church, we'd try and figure out different experiences that our children could relate to better.  Faith doesn't have to be experienced through a church.  It was and still is (even with adult children now) more important to us to find ways to learn and live out our faith that is meaningful to them when we're together rather than forcing them to go to a church they don't like at all.  This will mean different things at different times and with different children.

I personally think it's important to instill a sense of habit about it though, in some form, because it's easy to become lazy. 

We began listening to an online service several years back that we all loved, and that became our church for awhile.  We'd have rolls and coffee in our living room while watching church online.  I also began a theology online book club with my girls and a couple others a few years ago.  We read through different books and then meet on Zoom to discuss a couple chapters at a time every few weeks.  I let the girls pick out the books -- we've read some really terrific ones! -- all ones that encourage great faith discussions.  For some of them, this is their only "church" right now. 

 

Truth. This goes along with OP's idea of finding a social justice movement. It would be important to me that my kids didn't equate "social justice" with "totally secular" or "non religious" though. 

But that's my own personal bugaboo. I don't want my kids to be part of the majority who think all Christians are one particular way. May have nothing to do with OP. 

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7 hours ago, SKL said:

My kids also had “chapel” every Wednesday during school, but that was not comparable to Sunday church.  In fact, our school had an expectation of regular weekend church attendance, and records were kept by the teachers.

When I was a kid I went to Catholic school, where we had Mass every school day. We had breakfast afterward so we could take communion every morning. Anyway, I remember making the mistake of commenting/complaining to my (very devout) grandmother that I went to church 6 days a week and she responded that I should be going 7!

I'm not Roman Catholic anymore but I believe Sunday is still holy day of obligation, so going to church during the week doesn't matter. I was still Catholic when Saturday night church became a thing, but I never understood how that fulfilled the obligation. 

(I know OP is Episcopal so not relevant to her situation.) 

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13 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

 

Truth. This goes along with OP's idea of finding a social justice movement. It would be important to me that my kids didn't equate "social justice" with "totally secular" or "non religious" though. 

 

I agree.  Any social justice work/projects would be an off-shoot of our faith, not a substitute for it.

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11 minutes ago, marbel said:

 

I'm not Roman Catholic anymore but I believe Sunday is still holy day of obligation, so going to church during the week doesn't matter. I was still Catholic when Saturday night church became a thing, but I never understood how that fulfilled the obligation. 

(I know OP is Episcopal so not relevant to her situation.) 

I think OP is "complicated" as Facebook would put it, lol. 

As for how it fulfills the obligation, my understanding is that it goes along with the idea from Jewish tradition that sundown is when the day changes from one to the next. So after sundown on Saturday is technically Sunday. It is why the Sabbath observation in Jewish traditions starts on Friday evening. And why the Easter Vigil is on Saturday evening, etc. 

That said, plenty happen before Sundown, but are not supposed to start before 4pm. And then there are Sunday masses after sundown on Sunday, but meh. I REALLY can't imagine God is tracking the minutes. 

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Just now, J-rap said:

I agree.  Any social justice work/projects would be an off-shoot of our faith, not a substitute for it.

It is one reason we are going where we are going, and why we went where we were. But may be my personal issue. 

But yeah, if my kid disliked church, I would want her to find something she did like about a church. Be that a youth group or service project or whatever. 

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Church isn't about a social group, or meeting people.

but our religious observations weren't a sunday morning type of thing.  We had family prayers and scriptures every day.   we talk about things, it's part of our lives.

I had one who didn't attend for awhile.  teen was always invited, and always invited for family prayers scriptures.  Now very participatory because J wants to be.

dudeling has been very affected in his life by his ASD-PDA, and several other comorbid diagnosis.  we found something that works for him, and he wants to do.  He will attend our main meeting - but he's not interested in the teenage sunday school class, or other activities for his age.

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Our family is complicated as we are an interfaith family. My husband is Jewish and I am Episcopalian. We decided when we got married that we would attend services for both traditions as a way of supporting each other. Our children both only identify as Jewish (and have officially converted) and our 14 year old is not happy about going to church. My husband explained that this is what we do as a family to support each other and that it is expected. Will that be the right call in the end? Will she resent us? I don't know... I hope not. I want my kids to have an appreciation for Christianity and a knowledge of basic theology/hymns/traditions even if they are actually Jewish. I hope that knowledge will benefit them in the long run and make them more culturally aware. Christianity is so pervasive in our culture that I think familiarity and knowledge of it are important. 

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I think it depends on the family. If you (or other adults) want to attend church, then the kid needs to attend at least until they are old enough to stay home. If your beliefs cause you to want the child to attend even if they don’t want to, then make them go if your beliefs out weigh any battles. (Not making any judgements towards anyone’s beliefs or behavior). Perhaps there are ways to think outside the box to make it more enjoyable for the kid or the parents. 

It is harder when the main parent doesn’t have strong religious convictions. If there is not a religious purpose to attendance, then I would not force a child to attend if they really didn’t want to do so and was old enough to stay home. There are other was to build a social circle, and if the child gets 0 pleasure out of attending, I doubt any social connections will continue outside of the church setting.

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I was forced. It was damaging. For myself sister as well. But same parents never forced our older brother. Guess who is the only Christian of the three of us? Brother.

Coercion is not good "discipleship".

OP, I personally think she gets plenty of religious education attending a faith based institution. I would look for some other meaningful activity for her.

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I grew up attending church every Sunday, non-negotiable with my parents. My parents love church, they would even find churches to attend on our summer trips in random cities. 😄

I think it was a good thing. They never forced us to sing, or sit with them, or even be a Christian. But the effect is that by the sheer force of habit, all of their children still attend church as adults. Even when I was hanging to religion by a thread, I attended church. There is enormous amounts of data that show people who attend religious services regularly and are engaged in their faith community are happier, and I think children do well in establishing a regular faith practice.

Edited by GracieJane
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I was forced to go twice on Sundays and every Wednesday for kid activities and choir.  My parents were all about the routine, less about the actual substance, so even if they had known that the kids would bully and tease and have in groups and out groups, they wouldn't have cared.  The church was filled with hypocritical people in positions of leadership, and overall it was a very negative experience from 6th grade on.  I left the church at age 16 and never looked back.

In retrospect, if we had changed churches, maybe it would have made a difference. But my parents do not like change, and I grew more and more unhappy, until I finally demanded to quit. 

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