Training children to be in worship

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jpfrench81

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have always come from churches that had sunday school for children, but the idea of family integrated worship makes sense to me. My main question is, how do you train a child to sit still during worship?

We have a 20-month old son. He is a wonderful, creative, ACTIVE little boy. It's difficult to get him to sit still for 15 minutes when he can read a book, talk, etc., let alone sitting still for a sermon. What recommendation would you have for making a transition? Obviously, working with him at home must be a priority. How do you train them during the service? How do you get over the worry of distracting other people, especially when there are classes for children?
 

Soonerborn

Puritan Board Freshman
I posted this in another thread. I will repost here. Just my 2 cents. This is what we have done:

We have a 6 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old, and 2 month old.

Since the birth of our first child, we have always had our children in worship with us. Our church does not have nursery during worship for children over the age of 2.

I admit it is very hard work to get the children to sit quietly and participate. The easy thing would be to put them in the nursery but I really feel like they need to sit under the preached word and paticipate in worship weekly, just like I need to. The have been marked with the sign of the covenant, so they should participate in the gathering of the covenant community.

Our primary mode of training is nightly family worship. We sit on our couch exactly like we do in the pew - ie seating arrangements are the same. We have about a 15 minute time of praying, reading scripture, and singing each night. For the most part, our 6 year old and 4 year old does good - have to shush them occaisonally. The 2 year old sits on my lap only. He is so wiggly but I hold him tightly and if he gets out of control, I excuse myself and discipline him.

I must say though that every child has a different temperment when they are very small. What I have found for most of our children is that they are ready to sit through all the service when they are about 20 months or so. Prior to that, the make it for about 15-20 minutes or so and I have to take them to the back or listen to the sermon in the library with them.


This regular time of family worship I believe really prepares and trains them for corporate worship. On the practical side, it trains them to sit still and participate in worship. At dinner time, I also try to "encourage" them to sit still during eating and I think this nightly practice may also help train them to sit still. By no means do I think I am doing everything right. We often have "melt downs" - if you know what I mean. I pray God is redeeming our efforts to train our children.

Regarding the preached word, I pray that God is opening their hearts to receive the word. Often, my 6 and 4 year old will make comments after church about some point the pastor made so I pray that God is allowing them to "hear" the word.
 

TrueConvert

Puritan Board Freshman
I posted this in another thread. I will repost here. Just my 2 cents. This is what we have done:

We have a 6 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old, and 2 month old.

Since the birth of our first child, we have always had our children in worship with us. Our church does not have nursery during worship for children over the age of 2.

I admit it is very hard work to get the children to sit quietly and participate. The easy thing would be to put them in the nursery but I really feel like they need to sit under the preached word and paticipate in worship weekly, just like I need to. The have been marked with the sign of the covenant, so they should participate in the gathering of the covenant community.

Our primary mode of training is nightly family worship. We sit on our couch exactly like we do in the pew - ie seating arrangements are the same. We have about a 15 minute time of praying, reading scripture, and singing each night. For the most part, our 6 year old and 4 year old does good - have to shush them occaisonally. The 2 year old sits on my lap only. He is so wiggly but I hold him tightly and if he gets out of control, I excuse myself and discipline him.

I must say though that every child has a different temperment when they are very small. What I have found for most of our children is that they are ready to sit through all the service when they are about 20 months or so. Prior to that, the make it for about 15-20 minutes or so and I have to take them to the back or listen to the sermon in the library with them.


This regular time of family worship I believe really prepares and trains them for corporate worship. On the practical side, it trains them to sit still and participate in worship. At dinner time, I also try to "encourage" them to sit still during eating and I think this nightly practice may also help train them to sit still. By no means do I think I am doing everything right. We often have "melt downs" - if you know what I mean. I pray God is redeeming our efforts to train our children.

Regarding the preached word, I pray that God is opening their hearts to receive the word. Often, my 6 and 4 year old will make comments after church about some point the pastor made so I pray that God is allowing them to "hear" the word.
I concur w/ everything here. We do family worship for around 20 minutes that mirror our expectations for the children during corporate worship (along w/ the discipline, etc). Earlier on we found it helpful to have the children sit w/ us and listen to sermons as well. Our local body has made it abundantly clear that it is NORMAL for us to have our children in worship, and also NORMAL for children to need discipline from time to time. We worried about distracting others and sometimes got huffy when we ourselves couldn't hear all of a particular sermon due to disciplinary needs of the kids. Then our Elders told us that the gathering is for more than us to come and get our needs met through the sermon. When we started going to church with the understanding that if we don't hear a whole sermon, the purpose of gathering is nowhere near defeated, we enjoy all the other aspects of gathering w/ believers a lot more. It was humbling, because at the core of our frustrations was selfishness. "I didn't get to do what I wanted to do by coming here, I"M upset that I didn't hear all the sermon!" Then at the end, instead of enjoying the building fellowship w/ other believers, we'd be flustered and go on home. It's been a while since that, but a bit of a perspective change made a big difference regarding our thoughts about distractions. Oh, and our pastor said very clearly, he is NOT EVER distracted by children in the congregation. That helps too!
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
My main question is, how do you train a child to sit still during worship?
I don't have a great answer, as I've only successfully trained one child. My nieces had no trouble learning to do so at an early age, but they are not nearly as active as my daughter.
As I posted in another thread, it took over 2.5 years before my daughter was able to do it. She is a highly active child. My younger son (12 months) is a much better sitter, so we will transition him into the service sooner.
With our daughter, we just practiced patience. Some of our peers went "cold turkey" with taking their kids out of the nursery, and it worked for them. We gradually worked our daughter into the service. Starting out we would just make her stay for 30 minutes, and just a couple months ago we started making her stay the whole time.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
While your point is well taken. To say that there is no excuse may be true, but at the same time you underestimate the, shall we say, lingering effects of the fall remaining in them. Some children are raised in good, godly homes and yet they still act terrible in public, even public worship. I just feel it is a little bit unfair to that it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out of control behavior at home. While this is a contributing factor, and probably is the main factor most situations, it is by no means the "ONLY" reason.
If we follow this logic out then any child who later defects from the church must be placed directly on the parent, and no one else, rather than the individual having any kind of accountability.
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
I would ask if you include seizure disorders in your statement. I choose the extreme case because there are varying degrees of uncontrolled behavior that are not within the control of the person exhibiting the behavior. Grand mal seizure being the most extreme ... and others which are less well understood, but just as much a physical disorder with varying degrees of visible presentation.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
While your point is well taken. To say that there is no excuse may be true, but at the same time you underestimate the, shall we say, lingering effects of the fall remaining in them.
Of course the dear little things reflect the effects of the fall.

It is the responsibility of the (hopefully) saved parents to counterbalance those fallen tendencies in their offspring.



Some children are raised in good, godly homes and yet they still act terrible in public, even public worship.
If they do, the blame is upon the parents.



I just feel it is a little bit unfair to that it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out of control behavior at home. While this is a contributing factor, and probably is the main factor most situations, it is by no means the "ONLY" reason.
I disagree.

This can be the only reason.

The parent is supposed and obligated by God to be in control of the child, regardless of the spiritual state of the child.



If we follow this logic out then any child who later defects from the church must be placed directly on the parent, and no one else, rather than the individual having any kind of accountability.
Eh?

Does this accord with the spiritual principle taught in Ezekiel Chapter 18?


Are you saying the Christian parent should relinquish authority over their own offspring in matters of faith and worship in order to permit "individual accountablilty?"

Not wise advice, in my opinion . . .
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
No I am not saying that the parent should relinquish authority. I am saying that you are oversimplifying the situation.

Children develop gradually, you cannot automatically assume that the parent is not doing their duty because their child throws one fit. That is have a far too idealized view of the ability of the parent.

I would disagree again with your statement that the ONLY reason a child acts up is because of the parents. What about those children with disabilities? What about the child who just beginning to be aware in worship? Should we expect that child to never whimper or cry once?

Also maybe a child is crying, not out of rebellion, maybe it just has diaper rash? I suppose you could say that this is parents fault though, and you'd probably be right.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
This comment is untrue, cruel, and does not take into account the differing nature of young children. It is unbelievably offensive.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
I would ask if you include seizure disorders in your statement.
This is a medical problem that produces sympathy, not a behavioral problem that produces unnecessary disruption.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
:eek:

and again I say

:eek:

:banghead:


After a post like yours I hope to be treated to a follow-up post in which you describe how amazingly angelic your children are and how remarkably successful each of them have become.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
This comment is untrue, cruel, and does not take into account the differing nature of young children. It is unbelievably offensive.
Why?

Why should the nature of any young child be allowed to disrupt a worship service, when under the rule of a mature and spiritual Christian adult?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
This comment is untrue, cruel, and does not take into account the differing nature of young children. It is unbelievably offensive.
Why?

Why should the nature of any young child be allowed to disrupt a worship service, when under the rule of a mature and spiritual Christian adult?
Because it is a young child, and not a robot. I can't believe I am having this conversation.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
:eek:

and again I say

:eek:

:banghead:


After a post like yours I hope to be treated to a follow-up post in which you describe how amazingly angelic your children are and how remarkably successful each of them have become.
Our child and grandchildren were taught at home to honor the Lord and to reverence Him in worship.

They reflected that honor at church as well as at home, and they honored us as their parental authority; reflective of God's authority in their lives.

Why am I being criticized for believing and advocating this is possible and expected of all Christian parents?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
This comment is untrue, cruel, and does not take into account the differing nature of young children. It is unbelievably offensive.
Why?

Why should the nature of young child be allowed to disrupt a worship service, when under the rule of a mature and spiritual Christian adult?
I can answer that: Because the nature of that sinful little child is to want to rebel against the "rule" of the "mature and spiritual Christian adult" every chance it can. Sinful little children have something called a will of their own. Believe it or not, sometimes kids will act out because they know that their timing of it is embarrassing or difficult for you... and they'll do this EVEN THOUGH they know they're going to be punished... yes, I'm attributing vindictiveness to children. (What, you think it suddenly emerges in adults?)
Children are not robots. They will continually strive to break free from your "rule." This is why the war is never completely won and a parent cannot get lazy and rest on their laurels.... the children will rise up. It is the nature of rebellious human beings to want to cast off someone else's authority over us.
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
If they do, the blame is upon the parents.
Directly from Eze 18, which you raised:
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
I disagree.

This can be the only reason.

The parent is supposed and obligated by God to be in control of the child, regardless of the spiritual state of the child.
Hmmm... I don't know of any scripture that says that a parent must be in complete control of a child, and that the child's sin is the fault of the parent. In fact, I see just the opposite. That does not mean that a parent must not rear the child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but the result is not in a parent's control.

If we follow this logic out then any child who later defects from the church must be placed directly on the parent, and no one else, rather than the individual having any kind of accountability.
Eh?

Does this accord with the spiritual principle taught in Ezekiel Chapter 18?


Are you saying the Christian parent should relinquish authority over their own offspring in matters of faith and worship in order to permit "individual accountablilty?"

Not wise advice, in my opinion . . .
I thought what Grillsy was pointing out was the contradiction of your position with Eze 18.

I have to ask ... do you have children? More than one?

The reason I ask is that you come across like those that have never raised more than a couple of children. They are all different, and while the best parenting in the world can be used with some, the children ultimately are responsible for their own sin.

You have made several statements that the only reason for a child to behavior badly in public is because of bad parenting ... please supply your scriptural support for that explicit statement (not that parents are responsible for rearing children, but that they are responsible for the behavior of the child in every case without exception (that is, that the parents are in control of the outcome).

My pastor has a daughter with a seizure disorder ... her behavior is beyond anyone's control other than God. Saying it is his lack of proper child rearing is much like Job's "friends" that council him with what sounds logical, but is without merit.
It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. “Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job.
Job did what was right, yet suffered greatly. His friends told him it must be because of some sin in his life, and that is what God was critical of his friends for saying. We do not know the end from the beginning, and what works with one child does not necessarily work with another. The best Biblical parenting in the world will not write a child's name in the book of life, nor will it eliminate the will of a child and make them putty to be shaped as a parent wants.

Parents are responsible for doing what they best can, and that will be tainted by sin (as everything we do is tainted by sin). But the behavior of a child is the child's fault in every case. Every man will die for his own sin, the children will not die for the father's, nor the father for the children's. (And sometimes, disruptive behavior in a worship service is not sin at all.)
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
This comment is untrue, cruel, and does not take into account the differing nature of young children. It is unbelievably offensive.
Why?

Why should the nature of young child be allowed to disrupt a worship service, when under the rule of a mature and spiritual Christian adult?
I can answer that: Because the nature of that sinful little child is to want to rebel against the "rule" of the "mature and spiritual Christian adult" every chance it can. Sinful little children have something called a will of their own. Believe it or not, sometimes kids will act out because they know that their timing of it is embarrassing or difficult for you... and they'll do this EVEN THOUGH they know they're going to be punished... yes, I'm attributing vindictiveness to children. (What, you think it suddenly emerges in adults?)
Children are not robots. They will continually strive to break free from your "rule." This is why the war is never completely won and a parent cannot get lazy and rest on their laurels.... the children will rise up. It is the nature of rebellious human beings to want to cast off someone else's authority over us.
Of course it is their sinful nature, but do we as responsible Christian parents acquiecse to their natural inclinations . . . or do we, before the Lord, teach them otherwise and assert parental controls and exhibit governing authority, for their own good (and for the good of the church at large)?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Why?

Why should the nature of young child be allowed to disrupt a worship service, when under the rule of a mature and spiritual Christian adult?
I can answer that: Because the nature of that sinful little child is to want to rebel against the "rule" of the "mature and spiritual Christian adult" every chance it can. Sinful little children have something called a will of their own. Believe it or not, sometimes kids will act out because they know that their timing of it is embarrassing or difficult for you... and they'll do this EVEN THOUGH they know they're going to be punished... yes, I'm attributing vindictiveness to children. (What, you think it suddenly emerges in adults?)
Children are not robots. They will continually strive to break free from your "rule." This is why the war is never completely won and a parent cannot get lazy and rest on their laurels.... the children will rise up. It is the nature of rebellious human beings to want to cast off someone else's authority over us.
Of course it is their sinful nature, but do we as responsible Christian parents acquiese to their natural inclinations . . . or do we, before the Lord, teach them otherwise and assert parental controls and exhibit governing authority, for their own good (and for the good of the church at large)?
I remind you that your initial comment had nothing to do with motives, desires (not to acquiesce) or anything of the sort. Your statement was a blanket condemnation of all parents who do not get the "right" result:

Originally Posted by TeachingTulip
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
Such blanket condemnation is wrong and foolish, and does nothing to encourage the correct behavior of parent to properly deal with his child.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
Our child and grandchildren were taught at home to honor the Lord and to reverence Him in worship.

They reflected that honor at church as well as at home, and they honored us as their parental authority; reflective of God's authority in their lives.
I can say the same about my kids - we teach them to honor the Lord and to reverence Him in worship.... and my kids reflect that honor.

Generally. I can affirm everything you just did while still realizing that my sinful children on occasion act up.

Why am I being criticized for believing and advocating this is possible and expected of all Christian parents?
Because it reflects a faulty understanding of depravity, a parent's ability to "control" or "rule" their children with absolute responsiveness on the part of the children, it makes a standard Scripture doesn't make, it levels guilt where guilt should not be directed... and it comes across as just plain old judgmental, because the sweeping scope of your remarks implies that every time a child acts up you blame and find fault with the parent. Being found guilty by someone of faulty parenting so rashly is profoundly irritating.

I remember when we had only one child... I was working and my wife had to go to the store (it has been years so I can't remember what we needed, but it was important and we needed it right away). Our son was sick, but she couldn't find someone to hold onto him. So she took him to the store. He was irritable and fussy and everything was a battle. At one point a lady told my wife that she needed to get control of our son now (he was about 18 monts old) before it was too late. My wife came home in tears. Our boy was a model boy, but he was sick and being sick brings out the worst in anyone. Yet that lady didn't know the story. She only knew that my son was crying and struggling against everything and in the span of about 16 seconds exposure she passed judgment on my wife's parenting. I have no tolerance for your sort of sweeping judgmentalism.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
If they do, the blame is upon the parents.
Directly from Eze 18, which you raised:
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.


Hmmm... I don't know of any scripture that says that a parent must be in complete control of a child, and that the child's sin is the fault of the parent. In fact, I see just the opposite. That does not mean that a parent must not rear the child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but the result is not in a parent's control.

Eh?

Does this accord with the spiritual principle taught in Ezekiel Chapter 18?


Are you saying the Christian parent should relinquish authority over their own offspring in matters of faith and worship in order to permit "individual accountablilty?"

Not wise advice, in my opinion . . .
I thought what Grillsy was pointing out was the contradiction of your position with Eze 18.

I have to ask ... do you have children? More than one?

The reason I ask is that you come across like those that have never raised more than a couple of children. They are all different, and while the best parenting in the world can be used with some, the children ultimately are responsible for their own sin.

You have made several statements that the only reason for a child to behavior badly in public is because of bad parenting ... please supply your scriptural support for that explicit statement (not that parents are responsible for rearing children, but that they are responsible for the behavior of the child in every case without exception (that is, that the parents are in control of the outcome).

My pastor has a daughter with a seizure disorder ... her behavior is beyond anyone's control other than God. Saying it is his lack of proper child rearing is much like Job's "friends" that council him with what sounds logical, but is without merit.
It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. “Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job.
Job did what was right, yet suffered greatly. His friends told him it must be because of some sin in his life, and that is what God was critical of his friends for saying. We do not know the end from the beginning, and what works with one child does not necessarily work with another. The best Biblical parenting in the world will not write a child's name in the book of life, nor will it eliminate the will of a child and make them putty to be shaped as a parent wants.

Parents are responsible for doing what they best can, and that will be tainted by sin (as everything we do is tainted by sin). But the behavior of a child is the child's fault in every case. Every man will die for his own sin, the children will not die for the father's, nor the father for the children's. (And sometimes, disruptive behavior in a worship service is not sin at all.)
The subject of the thread is about the behavior of Christian offspring in public worship . . .not the salvation of those offspring.

The Christian parent is responsible for the private and public conduct of his children; even if he cannot determine or control their eternal destiny or salvation in the Lord.

-----Added 10/19/2009 at 11:31:48 EST-----

Our child and grandchildren were taught at home to honor the Lord and to reverence Him in worship.

They reflected that honor at church as well as at home, and they honored us as their parental authority; reflective of God's authority in their lives.
I can say the same about my kids - we teach them to honor the Lord and to reverence Him in worship.... and my kids reflect that honor.

Generally. I can affirm everything you just did while still realizing that my sinful children on occasion act up.

Why am I being criticized for believing and advocating this is possible and expected of all Christian parents?
Because it reflects a faulty understanding of depravity, a parent's ability to "control" or "rule" their children with absolute responsiveness on the part of the children, it makes a standard Scripture doesn't make, it levels guilt where guilt should not be directed... and it comes across as just plain old judgmental, because the sweeping scope of your remarks implies that every time a child acts up you blame and find fault with the parent. Being found guilty by someone of faulty parenting so rashly is profoundly irritating.
Why?

I truly do not understand or comprehend the aversion to my advocating and encouraging Christian parental control over the behavior of their (totally depraved) children when attending worship services.

???
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).
This comment is untrue, cruel, and does not take into account the differing nature of young children. It is unbelievably offensive.
I wish I could thank you 100 times for this one post. Having an autistic child means they will melt down, they will have behavioral disruptions that are sometimes a result of the autism, and sometimes not as a result of autism. It is unbelievably difficult to know which is which at any one moment. For us, we have a child that is very easily diagnosed with autism (while our child is high functioning, there are issues that make the diagnosis clear).

The idea that a child is wax in the hands of the adult and should be able to be controlled completely in any situation I have to believe comes from those that have never had to deal with handicap or worse yet, a strong willed child that is not among the elect. My eldest, I am very grateful, was strong willed, but among the elect (as far as I can tell, being that she is 24 and serving God to her best ability to this day). If she were not, I cannot imagine the grief she would have been to her mother and me. Even so, there is the time she got away during a diaper change and ran into the church service quicker than her mom could catch her ... the disruption was immediate and comic, but no more her mother's or my fault than the man-in-the-moon. She had not done it before, and never did it since ... she invented that particular obstinate response right then and there (she was two at the time).
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
I wish I could thank you 100 times for this one post. Having an autistic child means they will melt down, they will have behavioral disruptions that are sometimes a result of the autism, and sometimes not as a result of autism. It is unbelievably difficult to know which is which at any one moment. For us, we have a child that is very easily diagnosed with autism (while our child is high functioning, there are issues that make the diagnosis clear).
Brother, I rejoice with you on your oldest's perseverance in the faith! And I commend you for striving to teach your autistic child to love and obey the Lord in spite of his providentially dealt disability. May the Lord grant you much patience and wisdom!
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
Brother, I rejoice with you on your oldest's perseverance in the faith! And I commend you for striving to teach your autistic child to love and obey the Lord in spite of his providentially dealt disability. May the Lord grant you much patience and wisdom!
One of the most gratifying things that I have when I have to take him out of the service, is he almost always is shouting "I want to worship God! I want to worship God!" While some Sundays are difficult beyond belief, our son always wants to go to church and worship. It is difficult in the extreme not knowing what he does and does not understand, but it is also wonderful knowing that he loves to sing with the congregation, read the Bible (yes, at 6 he reads well), can (at times) recite the Lord's prayer, the two creeds (Nicene and Apostles') and can usually sit through prayer and sermon (though the sermon usually requires constant supervision). It is my hope that faith is even now present in his life, even though he cannot express himself as well as what I would want (but what I want is not what really matters ... what matters is what God has wrought).
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
TeachingTulip,

What I believe is at the heart of the issues here raised is the idea that parents are not in control of their children's behavior anywhere near as much as what you believe they are. If we can control all of their behavior, then we should be able to control their thoughts and beliefs ... that you admit is beyond the parents' control (their faith or lack of faith is not in our control). Everyone here would say that parents have at least some control over a child's behavior at least some of the time. The issue is the placement of the divide between in control and not in control. I would think almost anyone that has many children would say that the line varies from child to child. (Those with lots of kids learn quickly to exercise appropriate control, or they go crazy). Some parents get a real tough nut at the onset, and they stop having kids right then and there (my eldest displayed a strong will at 3 days of age! But thankfully, she also displayed faith at 2 years of age as well -- I believe she knew what sin was, understood that Jesus died to take away the penalty of her sin, and grant her his righteousness, and claimed that for herself at, yes, two years old).

My 4th child is autistic, and it is hard to know what he thinks (communication is affected by autism in the extreme). He has good days, and sometimes he has bad days. ("Bad" meaning the autistic behavior is more prevalent.) Sometimes a day can change in the middle for no apparent reason. (At least days can go from "good" to "bad" ... the other direction is not so easily seen, though I have had some success on occasion with him changing from a bad day to a good day, but it can take hours to turn the day around.) Is there a formula? None that I have found (and that is with me being a teacher and learning about autism on a regular, professional basis). Some think autism is a sensory disorder. (How do you discipline a child when they don't even hear/see/feel/smell/taste the same thing twice the same way, including hearing the words of discipline, or feeling a spank?) Almost all believe it has neurological expression (it affects the way the brain works.)

If we were omniscient, we might be able to know our children perfectly and know exactly what will "work" to have their behavior proper at every time. We are not omniscient. What we do is what we know from the Bible (teaching, admonishing, disciplining in love) praying for them, showing them what they should do. Sometimes I have seen what is clearly willful behavior in my son (sinful nature) but I also know that I've seen at the same time manifest autistic behavior which makes "standard" discipline not only ineffective, but counter-productive (the input of standard discipline throttled by autistic sensory disorder changes what works to what not only does not work but produces regression rather than progress). Sometimes it is easy to see when the behavior is autism sparked. Others, it is near impossible to see.

Saying that it is always the fault of the parents when a child's behavior is disruptive is either very naive, or just plain mean. I lean toward naive in your case rather than mean. Your statement that having a seizure disorder is not the fault of the parents shows that you did not think through your statement completely (the behavioral manifestation of seizure disorder is having a seizure ... it is a "behavior" because it is what the person with the disorder does.)

I would venture to guess that you would put autism spectrum children into the same category, but I doubt you would be able to tell when a child is autistic unless they were well past Asperger syndrome on the spectrum (there are plenty of older children that were never identified as spectrum kids for any of a number of reasons). A parent might not know, and in our case, our doctor did not see it even when he should have (at least from my perspective -- several "red flags" were present, but he did not push for additional evaluation even when we were raising concerns).

[Side note to parents: If you even *suspect* there might be a problem with development of your child, do NOT let your doctor decide on his own if there is a problem. Insist he refer you to a child development specialist, or seek help through "child find" at the local public school ... there are times when public schools can do some good!]

If parents and even doctors don't see autism when it exists, and it affects behavior (it does) then I would challenge you to loose the "fault finding" in behavioral issues with children, especially for the parents of the children. While I have a really good reason my child sometimes melts down in church (or goes ballistic, depending on how it is affecting him at the time) that still doesn't mean that we don't do what the Bible says in rearing him. If we have followed God's commands, then we have only sinned in as much as everything we do is not perfect. We can stand in our integrity just as Job did ... yet we also know that what God does is always just and right and true, having his experience as guidance for us when we have done all we can, yet things still go wrong. I would admonish you to think carefully before you join the sins of Jobs advisers. Not everything we see is as it appears to us. There was no blame to assign in Job's calamity, and those that attempted to assign it to Job were rebuked by God. I am very careful not to assign blame to people where there is no obvious sin because of what we learn from Job. Please have that grace for others as well.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
Dealing with our children, we have to remember that they are children, with their associated limitations. If we do not, we are simply gonna get frustrated as parents, and, in the context of worship of the most Holy God, we will not be worshipping, but we will be having a powerstruggle with an infant. That is not glorifying to God, nor is it edifying for the rest of the congregation.

Our nursery is meant for those under 2. What we do as parent is, that around the age of 2 we start training our children to sit in church. Some of this training has been previously completed in the home, such as teaching them to sit down at mealtimes...

The approach we take is that we divide the worship service into segments. For the first while, the child may perhaps be in the service till the first psalter is sung, and then go down to the nursery. And this is sometimes (often at first) hit and miss, but the idea is to not have the child go to nursery as a reward for bad behavior. So the child goes to the nursery when it is nearing the end of its 'capability for sitting in worship'. When the first period is mastered, we move on to the next, until eventually the child is capable of sitting during the whole worship. Which time period varies from child to child.
 

moselle

Puritan Board Freshman
My now 4yods has some sensory issues and whenever the congregation would start singing, he would cry and hide under the pew. After 1 1/2 years of bringing him to service, he has been able to adapt and even attempts to sing with us now. We would keep him in service with us as much as possible, but take him out when he just fell apart. He's also very active and often didn't seem to realize when he was being noisy (humming to himself or making other noises).

Some things that we've done to help all our kids: we don't take out activity/snack until the sermon starts. After a few weeks, we'd see how long the kids could sit quietly BEFORE taking out the activity or snack. Sometimes it was several minutes, sometimes 5 seconds . Stickers are fabulous if they can keep them off the pew. My ds used to cover himself with stickers. When their interest in the activity begins to wane, we take out a baggie of cheerios or goldfish.

On a slightly different thread, there have been many Sunday mornings when my own parenting is way off kilter because I'm exhausted from being up all night with a fussy baby or other things and my brain simply is not functioning properly :p. For the most part, people have been very gracious. But it was extremely stressful for me the first year at our church because our pastor's wife would frequently complain to me about one or more of my children (2yo wouldn't sit down for snack, ds tried to climb the bookshelf, older daughter peeked into the nursery and made the baby cry, etc.). I loved church, but dreaded it at the same time and would often cry all the way home. So please be willing to show parents a bit of grace - we're all at different places in learning to parent well.
 

Soonerborn

Puritan Board Freshman
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).

You are taking one sin (disruption in church), and saying that children should never commit that sin. Do you hold that same standard for yourself? For many children, this is one of the main sin issues they struggle with. They are learning self control and they struggle mightily to overcome it. This is no different than an adult struggling with their "pet" sin issue. What if I told you that there is NO excuse for you as a Christian to EVER ------- fill in the blank with one sin you struggle with. That is an unattainable standard for anyone.

I think it can be dangerous to expect children never to commit a certain sin. I don't want my children to only focus only on their exterior behavior for the sake of not actually committing the act. Like Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brotherwill be subject to judgment".

Exterior obedience can be a dangerous measuring stick for children. I would rather my child struggle mightily with a particular sin and repeatedly confess that sin to me, than to remain compliant on the outside, to avoid discipline, and all the while sinning in their heart.

Do I train my children to have self control and sit in church? By God's grace, yes. Do they occaisonally cause disruption? Yes. Do I discipline them for this disruption? Yes.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
If a child of any age displays out-of-control behavior in church, it is ONLY because the parents are allowing out-of-control behavior in the home.

in my opinion, there is NO excuse for any Christian offspring to EVER cause uncontrollable disruption in formal church services, and there is NO excuse to prohibit those same little children from being included at all worship services (the actual partaking of communion, excepted).

You are taking one sin (disruption in church), and saying that children should never commit that sin. Do you hold that same standard for yourself?
My comments in this thread have had nothing to say about sin, salvation, or medical disabilities.

My comments have been about "out-of-control" behavior exhibited in public. Not the occasional crying spell, or diaper-less (and funny) exhibitionism, or uncontrollable seizures.

The necessary discipline required to prevent "out-of-control" behavior, begins in the home. There is where parental sovereignty is learnt (which is a necessary precursor for the child to eventually grasp the sovereignty of God in his life).

It is the responsibility of the parent to exhibit authority and control in the home, in order for the child to know how to behave outside the home, and especially to gain respect for worship of God amongst the church body.


For many children, this is one of the main sin issues they struggle with. They are learning self control and they struggle mightily to overcome it.
Little toddlers cannot struggle against their sins. Little toddlers require training to obediently function despite their ruling inclinations. It would be "mean" and "cruel" for parents to expect their little ones to gain control over themselves without instruction and adult example. They are incapable of doing so for several years (this varies according to the individual child).

Meanwhile, the parent has the responsibility to help the child learn and gain the necessary disciplines of appreciation and reverence for the spiritual things of God.


This is no different than an adult struggling with their "pet" sin issue. What if I told you that there is NO excuse for you as a Christian to EVER ------- fill in the blank with one sin you struggle with. That is an unattainable standard for anyone.
There is a world of difference between a Godly adult struggling with sin, and an undeveloped and unsaved child being taught to behave properly in public worship.

These behavioral goals are not unattainable or unreasonable at all.

Do you not educate children very early, not to play or run into the street, where they might get injured or killed? Can such a restrictive, home rule, be wrong?

A Mom or Dad is obligated to use such parental authority to control the child, both physically and spiritually, for the sake, protection, development, and well-being of the child


"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

"And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
 
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