Monday, August 17, 2009

Humbly Asking For Your Thoughts

Time has come for me to seek out advice from my dear friends who read this blog. I wish I could actually talk to you all in person, face-to-face, as our little ones play on the floor together. But as that will have to wait for another time, I'll just pretend we are sitting in my living room, toys spread across the floor, inteacting with our children as we try to hold a steady conversation.....

[Now imagine if you will, we're sitting on the floor, because heaven forbid we sit on the couch while our not-perfectly-steady babies explore and reach for the myriad of toys we have out. We must be in range of little baby-hands, that sometimes accidentally claw and push each other. Where were we? Ah yes. We also have Vanilla Lattes in hand, as I've lovingly made them with my Breville espresso maker. We begin a conversation.]

So, I have this concern. My heart is torn about what I should be feeling, and how to have the right perspective on it.

[Do go on...]

It's about church.

[Worried look.]

No, no. More specifically, about Church Nursery. You see, if I had "my" perfect way, Sunday service would not involve separating from my child. Church feels anti-family to me! Not all churches, but ours and many I've attended do. I definitely see the value in a "Nursing Mother's Room" and "Baby Cry Room", but I don't understand the idea that church is for adults and older children only. That babies should be "removed" because they are always disruptive. That it's unacceptable to sit in the back or top balcony and let your baby play quietly, and if they start getting noisy, to take them out. I am not advocating screaming, yelling, or even happily-squealing babies in church. But I do not see why it's inacceptable for generally quiet babies/children to be present if the parents want. I have heard from the pulpit, "we have places for them" (nursery/sunday school), where it's clear they aren't really accepted in the service.

[Horrified Look]

Let me get a little more specific. I do want my (or any) children to have the opportunity to be in nursery/SS if they want it and like it. Growing up, in every church we went to, from the time I can remember (6 years old or so?), I did not enjoy Sunday School. I hated being away from my parents, with a strange teacher with strange classmates. If the Sunday Schools weren't age-separated, and I got to be with my siblings, I wouldn't have minded as much. In contrast, even as a young child, I never remember thinking church was boring or disliking it. I was glad to be there.

Also, my child is still little and cannot communicate what is wrong. As her mother, I know and can read her best. I want to make sure she is happy where I leave her. If she is crying or upset, I want to be able to come attend to her. Tell me, would a nursery agree to tell you pretty quickly if your baby fussed, or would they try for 5-10 minutes before contacting you? Because that seems like a long time for my baby to be upset for "no reason." (i.e. something avoidable) I guess that question depends, but what have your experiences been?

With all that said, we are putting Elyana in the nursery next week. I'd been delaying until she got her DTaP, Pc, and HIB vaccines. By tomorrow she'll have the other two, and that's been my agreement with Jonathan. He wants her in nursery. He wants an uninterrupted service sitting with me (not apart from me) and listening to the message not distracted by her. He is the leader of our family, and I trust his judgement and his desires/preferences on this. So nothing we say here will change what we do.

I just want to know what are your thoughts, as mothers, on this? I am looking for perspective as well, for how nursery can be good for our children. I want to hear things other than what's rattling about in my own head. My heart does not like this, but I trust the leadership Jonathan has in our family is a perfect balancing out of me and my tendencies and weaknesses. So we move on to this new event next week. But until then, I'd appreciate some wisdom from my friends.

[I put my cup to my lips, turn my head in a listening pose, and await your responses....]

7 comments:

Herb of Grace said...

You've pretty much detailed my exact views, although I would add that a large reason behind my feelings on the matter is wanting my children to feel (from an early age) that they are a part of the Body. We keep our kids with us till about 18 months and then they spend one and a half years in nursery during the sermon only. They're with us during communion, worship, prayer and all the rest. Then by age three, they are sitting quietly through the whole service, reading their own Bibles, or coloring quietly. Sofi, at age six, is now required to join in all the liturgy and hymns and may only turn to her Bible and crayons when the sermon starts.

I know this can be a pretty heated topic for some people, and I can respect Jonathan's opinion, but for us, it's a matter of training. It's just as important to have this training opportunity (that of how to participate in an age-appropriate way in the Body of Christ) as any other.

We're lucky that our denomination supports this approach pretty much across the board. Our particular church doesn't even provide childcare past age three. So there are lots of little people learning to sit and still and participate appropriately all across the congregation. We feel quite at home.

Herb of Grace said...

I should add that now at age two, Judah is learning to sit through more and more of the service. It's a gradual thing.... Last Sunday he made it all the way through, contentedly playing with his Bible book. But usually he gives out about halfway through and needs to go play.

That's my brag on my kids for the day :)

karen said...

yes, yes...I want to leave more of my thoughts, but do not have the time right this moment. So, I will 'join' you for another vanilla latte (please) later this afternoon or tomorrow and share my thoughts.

Susannah Forshey said...

So, we went through this exact series of discussions when Violet was Elyana's age. Ben & I both treasured the quiet, focused time together just listening to the sermon, taking notes, sharing notes, and praying. So, that seemed a priority. But I was still nervous about leaving her, just like you. What helped me out was when we tried looking at "nursery" from Violet's point of view: a social time with her friends that she looked forward to every Sunday. I think using that perspective helped nursery look less alarming to me since part of what I look forward to on Sunday mornings is fellowship, anyhow....why should I deprive my daughter of fellowshipping with her age members of the body of Christ? It was obvious she thoroughly enjoyed it. After the 3rd or 4th time, she did not want to leave when it was time to pick her up! I ended up being glad that she looks forward to church with excitement, and I hope that these times of childish joy at "playing" will help establish a love for "church" for the rest of her life. "We know that we have passed from death into life because we love the brethren." 1 John 3:14 I guess this is a *form* of loving the brethren---for a 2 year old, at least!

Now, we have always kept her with us during worship. I think music and singing is something age-appropriate for even the tiniest of church-goers, plus, she obviously enjoys it.

I realize people are vastly different, and while you, Denise, as a child, seemed *not* to enjoy being apart from your family with strangers during church, Violet is actually quite delighted to be with her own friends during church. Of course, this probably depends a lot on how close you are to the members of your church. Is Sunday a day of fellowship for you? Or do you dread having to interact with strangers? I've actually been in both scenarios during my lifetime...dread, and delight, depending on what church I was in at the moment. I bet Elyana is a pretty social creature, tho, and loves being with people. Violet NEVER had even one incident where she cried for us in our own church's nursery. She knows all those children and sees them during the week, too.

'Course, there was one time in a friend's church nursery (strange environment) where she did cry for me in a moment of panic...

but anyhow, these are things that we dealt with...and I hope they help you rest easier with Jonathan's decision to leave her in the nursery. Maybe you could consider getting to know the nursery caretakers and their children better?

Carolyn said...

I think I would miss my baby too much (and worry about her) to leave her in nursery at this age. Plus, I wouldn't want to expose her to all the germs. Lately I have been sitting against the back wall during the sermon and discreetly nursing there. Yes, there is a nursing mother's room (but no audio/video there) and I don't want to feel so disconnected from the church.

Wesley was not ready to go into class when he was 1 (the age it was offered) and I kept tryign to make him go. Eventually we decided to pull him out for a season. When he was at a better place developmentally we put him in, and he did fine. Savannah on the other hand was quite happy to start going when she turned 1. I'm sure it helped that she was in a class with Wesley. I like the idea of having them worship with us...but then again I'd probably be too distracted then especially without Seth to help (since he's in the band).

For me, it is very indivdual to the child and I wish that I hadn't felt "pressure" to put Wesley in class when he was not ready. I'd say - go with your motherly instincts of when you feel your child is ready and when you are comfortable with it - and of course, deciding in discussion with Jonathan.

By the way, do you think Jonathan would consider waiting an extra week or two after she gets those vaccines before putting her in nursery to give her immune system a chance to de-stress before she is around other kids?

Susannah Forshey said...

Oh yeah, I have to agree with Carolyn about maybe giving her a couple weeks after the vaccines....it really is a stress on the immune system to go into nursery/day care type environments. When Violet started playing at the gym day-care 3 days a week, she was sick for about 6 months straight. Nothing serious, but runny noses, coughing, and cycling through some low fevers here and there. But, don't worry too much. Their immune systems have to get on their feet sometime. Better getting runny noses from day care/nursery now than waiting till she's 23 (like Polly) and going to a foreign country and nearly dying from every germ that blows her way!

I've been told that the more colds and such that they have when they're still breastfeeding, the better. Gotta build those antibodies.

Crystal and Dustun said...

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint, (LDS, or Mormons), and here is a typical Sunday, In our church, there are many things to be done. It is very structured and a very organized religion seeing as it has so many members. (2008 Deseret News Church Almanac lists USA total as 5,779,316, world total 12,868,606)

Starting at the smaller positions. 18 months is when they begin go to Nursery, where they play and basically get babysat while their parents and siblings attend meetings. When the children reach schooling age, they go to Sunday School and Primary. Primary is where they meet with other children and the Primary Presidency who teach them kid-friendly gospel songs, the children get to give doctrinal talks in their own words, and they even get to have a program once a year in front of the whole congregation. In Sunday School, they have lessons from teachers out of the scriptures.

Girls from age 8-12 participate in Achievement Days. They separate by age with someone like a den mother, and learn about health and spirituality while having fun with arts and crafts - things that will help them find their talents.

Boys, all the way to graduation participate in Boy Scouts. At age 12 to graduation, boys also participate in a program called Duty to God. It has several tasks such as reading certain scriptures and writing their feelings about them, helping others, and otherwise developing their testimony. These boys also begin attending the Priesthood class which focuses on what God expects from man, how to keep the family safe and happy, and general gospel doctrine.

Girls age 12 to graduation go to Young Womens, where they also learn more about the gospel, marriage, the importance of what they do to become a loving mother, how education is important to having a family, and developing and sharing their talents.

Women 18 and older go to Relief Society. It is a support system where they learn from gospel books and journals about service to others, how to keep the family well, duties as a member of the church and other things. They also have Sunday School with the men 18 and older.

Men 18 and older attend Priesthood where they learn the same as the boys 12 and older.

All meetings include prayer and hymn singing. The youth/teenagers have something they recite each time in their meetings that include the memorization of their general worth, well-being, and the love for God and God's love for them.

There are many presidencies to lead each section and/or class and activity in the church. It continues from there.

I am a Mormon so I will tell give you as best an answer as possible. Mormons go to church on Sundays. A lot of churches have different wards which start later than others. Our Church goes for 3 hours. First is Sacrament (Where the whole ward meets together.) Next is Sunday school (Where you learn about the gospel from a teacher with children your age.) And Finally there is either Priesthood or Relief Society.

I am very grateful to be Mormon, we are good people with good Christian values, and we are very centered around family.

If you have any questions or want to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints here is a link, www.lds.org