Spiritual education is a keystone of how I am raising my sons, and I am always inspired to hear how other parents are working to raise their children along a spiritual path. In the series Parenting and Faith I feature posts from bloggers discussing how their religion or philosophy influences their parenting. I am so pleased to share today’s post on finding a church, from Carrie of Crafty Moms Share, a fellow member of Multicultural Kid Blogs.
When I first got married I had not been active in a church for about ten years. When I was in graduate school I had been active with a church due to a friend wanting help running the youth groups. Unfortunately the distance to the church eventually was too much for me to deal with while working full time (and my friend had moved out of state). I did not find a church I liked locally in any of the three towns I lived in while teaching. My Catholic husband and I got married by a non-denominational minister in the lobby of the place our reception was. I did not have a local church and I was not Catholic and we did not want to wait the year that it would take to be married in the Catholic Church.
Now that I was married, finding a good church was important to me. Before we were engaged I told my now husband that I wanted to bring up children in my church/religion. He agreed as long as it was a Christian church. We began visiting the congregational churches in my town. One was not the same affiliation as I had grown up in and always been a member of, but it was a very active church with many groups and activities. When we visited people would say hi to us, but that was about it. (I always took my husband church shopping with me.) The other church was the same affiliation (United Church of Christ) as I knew and I loved it, however there were hardly any children in it. I knew I wanted a church I felt comfortable bringing my future children up in, so this was not the best choice. At this point I was thinking I would have to go with the other one even though it was not my favorite. Then one day we were driving through the next town over (we actually live very close to the town line) on our way to get ice cream at a local farm and noticed another congregational church with the United Church of Christ affiliation in the center of town. The center of this town is the same distance as the center of our town is to our house. We decided to visit it. One Sunday in February we did and I loved it. I felt right at home. We continued going and eventually I started going on my own. Steve occasionally goes to mass and occasionally comes to services with me, but for the most part is just trying to recover from his work week and have time with us.
Five years ago my daughter was born. At the time I was a deacon at my church. My daughter was seen as the church’s child. I have never seen anyone get more gifts at church than my daughter. We had gifts left with our baby stuff when she was baptized. During the baptism the minister asked anyone in our family to stand up and someone made a mistake and the entire congregation stood up following that one person’s lead. After the baptism I was told they really meant it–the entire church is our family. In many ways this is true for us. Church friends are the ones who come to Hazel’s birthday parties along with our parents and my sister who lives somewhat close. My extended family is too far to come for most of these events. I also got my babysitters from church. I know the families and know the teenagers well and of course Hazel knows them as well.
We go to church just about every week. At church Hazel interacts with people of every generation. As a toddler she found it to be overwhelming since everyone would come up and talk to her. Now she is more adjusted to it. She has played catch with one of the older members of the church by throwing her Ducky (her lovey) to him and he would throw it back during the fellowship time after church. One of her best friends is a three-year-old at church. She loves to play with him and he looks up to her like an older sibling. Now Hazel is old enough to go to Sunday School and she loves to go and hear the Bible stories and make a craft. She also loves the Bible she received from the church. We read a story from it just about every night.
|Hazel’s Story Bible|
I am no longer a deacon, but am now on Parish Council as the chairperson of Stewardship Ministries. I am also a member of the Christian Education Ministries and last year was the Christian Education Director’s Assistant/Substitute since she had to have surgery and could not move around easily. Hazel hates me having to go to meetings at night, but I remind her they are for church and therefore for God. She still complains, but understands a bit why I go. She also seems proud to tell someone about what I do at church or am in charge of at church.
This past year we decided to switch the school we were sending Hazel to due to some issues at the first school. We chose to switch her to a Christian school. We all love it! She now has even more a sense of God and our own values and really seems to enjoy it.
Throughout my journey thus far of trying to teach my daughter about God, my beliefs and values, I have discovered that I have grown closer to God and stronger in my own beliefs. It always amazes me how a parent learns so much through the experience with the child. I also know the lessons are sinking in because sometimes Hazel will say something about God or Jesus liking what we are doing when I don’t even think of a religious connection at all. Overall I know this is a wonderful thing. We are teaching her to be a caring and compassionate human being as most religions do and let’s face it, the world needs more compassionate people. I know our church and Hazel’s school give her examples of being a good Christian and thus a good person every day.
Carrie is a former high school math teacher with diversity training and helped advise many diversity clubs at the schools she taught. Now she is a stay-at-home mother of an almost five-year-old and very active with her church. She writes about her life with her daughter and the fun things they do at Crafty Moms Share. You can also find her on Pinterest and Google +.