Attending Church Together

Attending Church with your grandchild(ren) offers the sweetest opportunity for bonding that I can think of. I use the phrase "attending church" because that is how my belief system plays out, but of course I mean any significant healthy spiritual community activity where you perceive the highest principles are being upheld and taught. I am speaking solely form my own experience and opinion here, and apologize if I come across as self-righteous or preachy-- that is not my intention!

  • Jesus was taken to the Temple eight days after his birth for his dedication to God. Later in the Bible we have a clear indicator of how greatly Jesus loved children and taught that we would all do well to have the faithful, loving, innocent, worshipful attitude of a small child. We were thrilled to go to church services in Hong Kong when we rendez vous'd there with our new granddaughter and her parents. She was five months old and was an old hand at church-going.

    My Opinion: You will be able to tell how serious a faith community is about the spiritual welfare of its membership by observing the quality and congruency of programming it offers to its youngest members. I appreciate the age-focused programs in the Children's classes at our particular church, and the fact that there is a "Parents' Room" (fathers and grandparents also make use of what used to be called a "Mothers' Room")where restless or sleepy infants and toddlers can be provisioned. I spent a lot of time in the Parents' Room with my granddaughter last year when she visited. I was able to watch the sermon through the window into the sanctuary with the usual high-tech audio system that allows pumping in as much or as little of the Pastor's voice as desired. I also have no problem with going for a walk in the parking lot, if needed, or with sudden illness or other circumstances, just leaving early. It should never be seen as an Endurance Test, or 'breaking them in'. This is the richly potent theatre of God's love. All age groups deserve to be there to receive the blessings and pass them along to others.

  • If we are referring to a verbal-staged child, then it is a great idea for you to "naturally" speak of your church-going and "church family" along with your particular beliefs about God. As in anything else, your genuine interest-- commitment, faith, conviction-- will be picked up and emulated by your grandchild. On the other hand, children are excellent at sniffing out hypocrisy and modeling that as well. Yes, it would seem that this is also another one of those "identity crisis" times in your own life. Funny how they pop up every few years, just when you think you've got it all together.

    I am also a big fan of talking about rules and expectations before an upset (based on anxiety?) erupts. "Today is a very special day for us. We will use soft, indoor voices and wear our best clothes. We are going to go to visit someone that Granny loves and respects the most in the whole world-- and who loves and respects each of us-- in fact, created us." (There are lots of excellent picture books to help with this.)

  • Speaking from my own experiences, this is what I generally pack for a small child:

    ***special soft toys or doll or small vehicle that will NOT scratch up the pew if it is driven along it-- soft toys work best

    ***a couple of board or cloth books; many grannies have "felt" books with a series of pockets and flaps for children to occupy themselves in a manner related to their being at Church.

    ***some kids have their own special go-to-church bag or backpack for their 'kit'-- I have a special bag I use, too

    ***a clipboard with coloring pages or blank sheets and a few crayons (you don't need to provide 260 colors-- really, they are happy with 4 or 5... sometimes it is a good idea to have doubles of popular colors like red, because that is generally what other small children will want-- something "the same").

    ***snack, drink, changes of clothes, disposable diapers, washcloth in a plastic baggie, soother, bottle-- what their parent identifies as "necessary"

    I thoroughly love the experience of having my granddaughters join me in my church community, and joining them in theirs when we visit there. Attending church with your grandkids will be another positive memory that they will have of you to savor into their own years as grandparents.

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