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Family Forum: When Should My Child Start Attending Religious Services?

A weekly conversation with the Patch Family Council.

Once a week on Lynbrook, Five Towns, and Long Beach Patches, we're going to post Family Forum, an interactive feature in which village families can discuss, debate or brainstorm parenting ideas with fellow families.

Our Patch Family Council  will help get the conversation started. All residents are welcome to comment, though we do ask that all commenters be courteous and respectful of one another.

This week's question is: At what age do you start taking your kids to religious services? What do you have them do during services?

Julie O'Connell April 24, 2011 at 12:22 AM
I started taking my children to religious services when they were infants. I will admit when they hit the age of 2, I found it to be particularly challenging! My husband and I would sit toward the back and one of us would walk out if necessary. We would pack books and cheerios when they were young and we would try to attend the children's mass whenever we could, so the noise our children made blended in! As they got older, we would no longer pack food, but perhaps a coloring book to keep them occupied. Now that they are school aged and understand what takes place in the mass, we expect them to listen and participate. I think the age of your child determines how you handle being at religious services with them. However, I do think they are welcome and should be able to be a part of their faith from a young age.
Jane Grogan April 24, 2011 at 11:04 AM
I agree with Julie, age plays a part of it.But if you do not start bringing them so they can learn how to behave and what is exceptable behavior while in church, when they get older and go they have no clue of what is going on. It's like taking children to a restaurant, maybe the first few times they might now know or have what is called their " restaurant manners" in place, but keep taking them from a young age and they get the hang of it, and know what is expected of them. Most churches have something in place for children these days, and go out of their way to make families feel welcome.. After all, they are the future of our church.
Maura Bermiss April 24, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Going to church each week should be a part of your children's schedule like school, sports and food shopping. The more regular a part of their lives the more likely you will all continue to be a part of your religious community. You should look to attend masses that include children if you worry about noise and disruption. However, you can not always do that. You must bring props that are age appropriate and as your children grow they will need less and less and they will get more out of the service. If we do not bring them to church they will believe it is not important to you the parent so therefore not important to them.
perfectcircles April 25, 2011 at 02:33 AM
It's important to brainwash them as early as possible. If you raise them outside of the church community then later lay out why church is important and the tenets of your religion, it will seem insane. By indoctrinating them while young you can avoid this problem.
Jane Grogan April 25, 2011 at 10:40 AM
I am a little disturbed that brainwash and insane are being used as part of this conversation at all. The question was " When Should My Child Start Attending Religious Services"?"
Julie O'Connell April 25, 2011 at 10:57 AM
I have to say that I had the same feelings as Jane. As a parent, you have a choice on whether to expose your child to some type of religion or not. However, the question simply asked at what point should you take children to religious services? Whether or not "brainwashing" children was a good idea, was not part of the question I attempted to answer.
Rev. Bob Walderman April 25, 2011 at 03:44 PM
The Bible, in the Book of Proverbs, states, "Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Prov.22:6). As a pastor I always encourage parents to bring their children to church. We do provide a nursery for the under 2 yr. olds and have a separate service for Primary and then 1st grade to 5th graders, if the parent chooses to send their children. I believe it is up to each parent to determine what works best for them and their family, and many parents use the suggestions already mentioned by your readers. Obviously for some parents with, shall I say, "very active" children or crying babies, it may be just too distracting for parents (as well as others) to contend with a child in the pew and hope to get something from the service. I believe the most important part of young children being in a service is for them to see a godly example set by their parents. If attending is important and special to the parents, this will be communicated to the children, just as their love for Christ will become evident as the motivation to the child.

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