A cherished component of our faith community is encouragement to ask questions and receive support as we seek our own truth. For families, I believe a question often asked is, “Is it worth it to muster not only myself, after a long and busy week, but sleepy and sometimes resistant children to church on Sunday morning?” I can only answer from my own truth, but I say, YES! And it’s all about the BIG QUESTIONS. Not the questions about whether there’s a god or even why bad things happen, no, I’m speaking to these questions:
- Why can’t I watch that show? (Everyone else does)
- Why can’t I have unlimited screen time? (Everyone else does)
- Why can’t I eat those foods? (Everyone else does)
- Why can’t I stay up later? (Everyone else does)
What Tahoma UU offers that is so valuable to us as parents and to our children is not only support, but also amplification of our values. Parents are always a child’s primary religious educator, but sometimes those values we’d like to impart run up against a heavy battering by the winds of perceived social normality: A.K.A. “Everyone else does.” When we make attending church as a family expected and routine, our personal values — whether it’s recognizing and celebrating diverse viewpoints and life choices, or a chance to receive and practice kindness — are reinforced and modeled by many.
I confess that I am on the tail-end of getting resistant children out the door, and for the most part my children are agreeable, but I have employed a variety of motivating techniques over the years. I have:
- Presented as fact our attendance
- Brought “sleepover” friends along if my child seemed to need a buddy in order to want to attend (friends generally have a great time in RE)
- Occasionally cajoled, and sometimes bribed
- Plugged in to service “responsibilities,” such as being a chalice lighter, a greeter, and even a service celebrant
Attending church, like many things, benefits from practice, and becomes a richer, deeper experience over time. The preschool through elementary years build a sense of belonging, engagement with the rituals of the fellowship year, and an age appropriate understanding of Unitarian Universalism. In middle and high school, our youth are doing the hard work of defining their values and deciding whether to “buy-in” to our faith. Participation provides them with the opportunities to grow deeper into our faith, not out of it!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions, and I’ll see you on Sunday!