Sunday morning: You and your spouse just spent a good part of the last hour struggling to get your two young children ready for church. They were a little cranky when they woke up, but they have settled down and are excited to go to church. Your daughter looks beautiful in her frilly yellow dress and your son looks very handsome in his little clip-on tie and button-down shirt. Your two-year-old little girl has been attending her Sunday-school class for about a month and really seems to enjoy it. You’re surprised at how well she has adapted to her new classmates after her recent birthday. You can’t help but think how big she’s getting and how fast she’s growing. Big brother is two years older and feels very comfortable with his church friends. He loves his ‘church teacher’ as he calls her, and talks about her a lot during the week. You smile when he tells you his teacher will like his tie.
After you’ve all piled into the car your better-half gives you a feeble smile as you pull out of the driveway and head toward church. You smile back but shake your head and slowly exhale. The look on your face says it all. You both feel lucky to have survived another frantic morning getting ready for church.
You wish you had been able to get a good breakfast, but you remind yourself you’ll have time afterward for a leisurely lunch.
Everything is fine during the five-minute ride to church but upon pulling into the church parking lot, the emotions in the back seat are ready to burst.
Your daughter’s vocabulary is still very limited. Her response to her brother playing with her frilly yellow dress is a high-pitched scream. You are so surprised that you slam on the brakes in the middle of the parking lot. This sudden stop forces the car behind you to do the same. It barely misses hitting you. The driver lays heavy on the horn. You fail to stop the expletive that spills from your mouth at the impatient driver behind you.
A quick slap on the wrist and a glare from the passenger seat is enough to cool your temper but the damage has been done. Your son has started crying and the contagious emotion quickly spreads to his sister. In seconds, your peaceful morning drive to church has erupted into hysterical crying and road rage. You are embarrassed and decide sitting at home on your couch is a better idea.
After driving up and down a couple lanes you finally find a parking spot, but your kids are still crying and your spouse has already unbuckled his/her seat belt and is turned back trying to console both of your out-of-control children.
What do you do now?
You want to drive back home, put on a t-shirt and shorts, and sit on the couch to watch TV.
- This is the foundational stage of every child’s life. Don’t miss the opportunity to establish a life-long habit of healthy church attendance.
- It’s normal for young children to have wide emotional mood swings. There’s no need to call the exorcist. As parents, we need to be the stable rocks that are unmoved by the sudden shifts in current.
- Back-seat outbursts can be prevented by wise diversions. Expect the trouble and direct an annoying sibling’s attention to something less bothersome.
- Our children learn to react to things the way we do. If they hear us say please and thank you, they will do the same. If we control our anger they learn to also.
- We make the mistake of expecting kids to act mature but they’re not. Remember the Lord said we are to be as little children not the other way around.
Maybe we need to remember how cool our first clip-on tie or frilly yellow dress was.
Thank you for our precious young children. We love them so much. We know you love them more. Church is an important part of their spiritual growth. Help us to be the steady rocks when our kids swing so quickly back and forth. Help us to laugh more at the silly little challenges that only happen with young kids. And when we get angry or things don’t go just perfect on Sunday morning give us strength to push through the challenges and go to church anyway. Thank you Jesus, Amen!
What challenges do you experience when trying to get your small children to church?
Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3 ESV