Sunday, April 18, 2010

Parenting FAIL or yes, we were totally THAT FAMILY this morning during church...

Sometimes I feel like a complete failure as a parent.  Today was one of those days...

We have been attending the 9:30 service at our chuch - Faith Church in Oakland.  A few months ago, Faith started a second service, so that there is a modern/contemporary service at 9:30 and traditional worship at 11:00.  I spend my teen years attending churches with a contemporary worship - so I was very excited about this new service.  I attend most Sunday mornings with the girls. 

I reallly love the format of the modern service.  There is just a teensy problem though. 

Right now since attendence at the modern (early) service is pretty low there is no children's service for the kids during the sermon.  Now, I know what you are thinking - when I was a child, there was no such thing as children's church - we sat through the entire sermon and we were quiet as little church mice...or else! 

Well, there is where the FAIL part of this post comes in.

It seems like we have yet to have a Sunday where I have not had to take one (or both) of the girls out of the service for not being quiet or just flat out being disruptive.  Most of the time, I am pretty philosophical about it - they try to behave for the most part.  But today...oh, today...

It was awful!  I took Tara out twice during the praise service - she kept wanting to go back and forth between her seat and her friend - the preacher's daughter...of course.   Who is always perfectly quiet...  After the second time she came back to our seats, I told her she could not go back to her friend.  Much drama ensued, leading to the first visit to the vestibule.  The second time, she literally made a break for it and went all wet noodle on me when I tried to keep her in her seat.  Cue the second visit to the hallway. 

After a sterm lecture from me and a pop on her bottom that she sullenly told me she was going to wipe off...she settled down and started coloring in a coloring book quietly.  I'll take it.

Then Savannah, who up until this point was behaving perfectly, decided to snatch the coloring book from Tara and, when Tara (understandably) protested, she stage whispered that she wanted to show her something.  She began flipping pages - loudly - and after a moment, I notice several disapproving glances our way.  I realize she really doesn't intend to show Tara anything and to settle it, I take the book back.  

Cue the drama - and just plain out orneriness from Savannah. 

I had had it at that point.  I was near tears with embarrassment.  I had not been able to listen to the message and I knew that they were being disruptive to others there trying to worship.  I yanked them both up and we left right in the middle of the sermon.  Well, not really yanked, but you know what I mean.

I have never been so embarrassed by my childrens' behavior!!  I fussed all the way home and sent them both to thier rooms until I calmed down enough to talk to them about it.  Actually, Dan took Tara and I took Savannah. 

Intranets - if there is some secret to getting your kids to behave during the church service, PLEASE let me in on it.  Nothing I do seems to make an impression. 

I love our modern worship, but right now, I feel the only alternative is to attend the traditional service from now own, so that the girls can attend children's church during the sermon.  Honestly, I think that is the only way I will be able to actually spend my time in worship and not as referee. And the traditional service is beautiful and the girls love children's church, so maybe that is where I am supposed to be.  I will go back to getting my praise fix from K-LOVE.

I am pretty sure that after today the other attendees of the modern service will not be sad to see us go...


  1. As the parent of the friend on the front row, I totally take the blame. If only the sermons/and singing were more engaging for your children, then they wouldn't be able to to have time to chit chat. Don't know if Savannah and Tara do the Nintendo DS or gameboy or whatever it's called, but I know I've seen several children in worship playing these to keep busy. I wouldn't see this one episode as a parenting failure. Keep in mind - it was a gorgeous day and they probably just felt it would be better to have church outside than have to sit and listen to the sermon :)

  2. Ahhh, thank you!!! I really want the girls to participate in church rather than do some non-church activity like Nintendo during the service, but it is a thought!!! Thanks for making me feel better!!!

  3. So, I found this from All Kinds of Pretty.
    My kids are a little younger, but we go to a very small church with no true nursery or kids service. So, the kids sit with me. Until recently, my husband manned the AV equipment, which meant I had to deal with a 2 yr old and a newborn on my own. There was one Sunday were the 2 year old was doing the running back and forth, talking loudly, etc. And it was no fun! So, I understand how you felt!

    One thing that may help is to talk up church the night before and in the morning before getting to church. Explain your expectations. Allow your kids to pack a bag of quiet toys to play with in the pew. And then realize that they may still not behave every single week. Praise and reward them for doing well.

  4. Make a point to lay out your expectations of them before you go into church. Tell them very directly that they are expected to sit in one seat the whole time, stand when everyone else is standing, and sing when everyone else is singing. You may want to consider having them earn the privilege of sitting with another family (2 weeks in a row of good church behavior sitting with your family, for example).

    I recommend only bringing out the coloring/toys during the sermon part of the service. If you bring them out earlier, they may get bored by the time they really need the distraction. There is usually plenty going on before that to keep them alert.

    I agree with you on not playing on handheld video games. While they do allow the child to behave like an angel, they're behaving well because they have totally blocked out all that is going on around them. We are all there to learn and fellowship. If they are coloring or playing with a small toy, they are most likely still listening - I am always surprised what little ones are actually picking up when they seem to be distracted!

    If the girls are a distraction for each other (which it sounds like they are, from the coloring book incident), put yourself in between them. Have identical activities for each of them (2 coloring books and 2 sets of crayons). Or have each child pick out one thing from your approved quiet-church-toy list to bring.

    If you have to take a child out of the sanctuary, make sure it is not an enjoyable outing. I have seen many parents take a child out into the vestibule and then let the child run around or play - that just rewards their bad behavior instead of correcting it.

    Remember that child-rearing is a process, not an event. It takes time to learn good habits. Sometimes a lot of time...

    Best wishes to you!

  5. Thank you for all the feedback. More than anything, I think I just need some encouragement and you have definately done that.

    @AJU5's Mom - great idea about the quiet toy bag. And @Amy - you are right on about listening while they are coloring and such - I think that is why that does not bother me in the same way that video games do.

    I am going to try to do a better job of setting expectations. And I am going to talk to them about what they prefer - early service or later service and see what they think.

    Stay tuned! I will update as we go!


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