I was part of a conversation yesterday in which these words were uttered.... "One of my biggest regrets is giving my teens the choice about attending church." Throughout many years in the church, I have to admit that I've heard way too many parents express this sentiment. I've been in counseling with families who have regretted the fact that church attendance was not a priority for their family. Hindsight is always 20/20.
The statement I mentioned was made by a broken dad who was expressing heartache over some of the choices his 24 year old daughter was making. His kids were now grown and out of the house. Because he and his wife didn't want to engage in yet another battle, they allowed the kids to stay home from church.
Why do we give them the choice? Because we're tired and it's one more battle. We're tired of fighting battles all week long with our kids. It's easier to let them sleep than to have to get up and get around, all the while making our lives miserable........it's just easier.
One of the many arguments parents make is that "I was forced to go as a kid and I hated it. I don't want my kids to resent the church the way my parents did." I don't agree with this line of reasoning....kids often hate going to school, yet we still make them.....kids hate going to work when their friends are going to see a movie, yet we teach them to be responsible and go to work.....kids hate going to the dentist but its in their best interest to do so.
Dr. Kevin Leman has this to say regarding attending worship as a family, "Far too many parents tread on their teenagers' feelings on this issue and ramp up this situation until it becomes a war." He offers these suggestions....
1. Don't deny your child's feelings. "Let's be honest. There are a lot of geeks and weirdos in churches. So if your child points out that the majority of the kids in the youth group are weird, then tell the truth: "You're right. They are weird." By telling the truth and agreeing with your child you're allowing them to see that you see eye to eye with them."
2. Make your expectations known. "Your mother and I only ask you to do a few basic things, and one of the things we expect you to do is go to our place of worship.......we know you don't want to be there, but we want you to know how thankful we are that you are willing to come with us out of respect for us. There are many things that parents don't want to do but we do them out of respect for you. So please get ready for church." (Have a New Kid by Friday Kevin Leman)
Bottom line: "Too often, parents believe the end goal is to make their kids happy.....Parents don't like it when their kids are in a bad mood. Things are easier when everyone is happy.......Whenever we define a child's happiness as our ultimate goal, we settle for something far less significant than what God has designed for them or what He has designed them for." (Reggie Joiner)
This isn't about not wanting to engage in yet another battle. This about teaching our kids that church is one of God's priorities so it must be one of ours. Are there weirdos at church? You bet. Does that mean we don't go? Nope.
It's worth it. Remember, hindsight is 20/20. Rest up, parents. This battle depends on you. You can sleep when you get to heaven!
How about you? What do you think about this issue?