In November, Crosswalk.com published an article about parenting called “Should You Force Your Kids to Go to Church?” The article was pro-church, but the author, Jennifer Waddle, did provide a flip side for each point. Waddle compares going to church much in the same vein as requiring kids to go to school or to brush their teeth. Should faith be thought of in the same way as education? Waddle makes four points about why children should go to church.
- Kids need to hear the word of God to receive Christ. Alternatively, parents can help their children learn more about scripture through apps, podcasts and personal reading time.
- It is the hope of most church-going parents that their kids will stay in church. Research shows just the opposite. Many teenagers drop out of church as they get more freedom, such as when they obtain a job and driver’s license. Many young people stop attending church while they’re in college. Keeping a child in church doesn’t guarantee that they will continue to worship.
- Fellowship with other believers is important. On the other hand, fellowship doesn’t just happen in the church building.
- Church provides a community of connected people. The church is a community of support that you might not find anywhere else. However, there are other ways to enjoy fellowship outside of church.
Why Would You Want To Force a Child?
Religion is a personal matter. Some children do benefit from spirituality and religion, but when they start to fight going to church, it might be better to take a look at what’s going on in the child’s life. Certainly, parents have a right to expect certain behavior from their kids. As children age, they also become more independent. Forcing behavior that isn’t mandatory may backfire.
Should you force a child to go to church? It might depend on his or her age. If everyone in the family is going, it isn’t possible for your six-year-old to stay home alone. A high school student who has midterms next week might benefit from the extra study time. Junior high students who don’t fit in may have their own reasons for needing to stay home.
Does your church have a strong youth program that includes all children? Children need to feel that they are a part of things. If your church doesn’t engage with the children and motivate them to stay, why would your child want to go? Church-goers are not perfect. Your child may be having difficulties with someone and doesn’t want to tell you.
Ask questions about why your child doesn’t want to attend church. Have you ever wrestled with your faith? Could it be possible that your son or daughter is struggling with what is being taught at school against what is being taught in the church? Younger children may not have doubts about their faith, but many high school students will begin to. This stage is important to the development faith. It helps faith become more real and relevant.
Forcing a person to go to church without getting information may backfire. It might push your daughter or son away from the faith. As parents, it’s important to find a balance between respecting your beliefs and giving your child a chance to form his or her own beliefs.
What Happens When Your Adult Child Goes Another Way?
Forcing children to be in church teaches them that their parents are rigid. When a child becomes an adult and makes up his or her own mind about religion, it could be a wedge in the relationship that tears a family apart. By keeping the lines of communication open, children can talk to their parents about faith. Wouldn’t it be better for an adult child to be at peace with his or her own spirituality than to be at war with his or her parents?