In-Laws and Outlaws Part II

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Jokes about mothers-in-law…there are many.  I remember hearing one about a Greyhound bus going over the side of a cliff, but there was no worry, because the only passenger was the man’s MIL.  Ouch.  Where do those punches come from?  Maybe from people who have gotten fed up with that female in-law who crossed the relational boundaries.  But it’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  We may reason that

  • we only want to help!
  • we’ve been where our children are and we think we need to  give them some good advice.
  • we see our kids getting ready to make the mistake of a lifetime.
  • they need help raising those grandchildren of ours.

The reasons for mother-in-laws interfering are many, but for the most part, they may be very unwelcomed  from our birth children and our in-laws.  It can do far more damage than it does help when it’s unsolicited.

What is a mother-in-law to do if she desires to have a good relationship with a son or daughter-in-law?  Here are a few things I’ve learned (and am still learning!).

  1. Only give advice when it’s asked for.  If you see your kids doing something you think is wrong, pray about it instead of speaking to them.  Trust a sovereign God to direct them just as He directs you when you’re heading down a wrong path.
    That would include little “hints” you might want to drop about your DIL’s housekeeping, lack of meal prep, or careless parenting skills.  Or your SIL’s need to turn off the television, get a job, lead his family or attend church.  Take it to God instead.
    I’ve had to ask both of my girls to forgive me for stepping over that boundary once they got married!  We’re so used to being “mom” that we scold, advise and reprimand our grown kids as quickly as we used to throw our arm across them when we came to a sudden stop in the car.  Let’s fold our hands in prayer instead and ask the Lord to give them wisdom to make right choices.
  2. Don’t demand your children’s presence for ANYTHING. would mean Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday, Mother’s Day – you get the idea.  They have lives of their own.  They have a family to care for.  They have burdens to carry.  They have jobs and ministries.  Let them live their lives.  Again, if you feel neglected, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Even if you don’t demand their presence, but you pout because they weren’t there…it’s just as bad.
    Also, be sure you’re building that marriage relationship with your spouse.  Have so much fun together that your kids will know that if they’re not able to come home, you both are fine just being together!
  3. Never drop in to your children’s home without calling ahead.  “Yoo-hoo!” at the front door as you walk in could make an embarrassing situation for you and your children.  It can also turn you into the lady that might be given a ticket to ride that Greyhound bus!
  4. Consider your child’s spouse.  Think to your own MIL and how you liked or disliked when she left you out or included you, as the case may be.  Love them.  Talk to them.  Send a text.  Call them occasionally just to say hi.  Pray for them.  Treat them with respect and give them those kind of words.
  5. Allow your children and their spouse to be adults.  Treat them as such, remembering that you raised them to be independent. Don’t see your son as your little boy.  He’s a man.  Let your daughter be a grown woman. Let go of those early days and let them establish a home as adults.

Remember the story of Ruth and Naomi?  Ruth was said to have been kind to her mother-in-law.  We may cry out – “My daughter-in-law needs to take a lesson from her!  My son-in-law needs to learn to be kind to me!”  But what made Ruth and Orpah want to go back to Bethlehem with Naomi?  She had been gracious to them!  Someone has said,

Maybe if we were more like Naomi,

there would be more Ruth’s.

If you’re guilty of something in this post, be humble and ask the Lord to help you.  You might even need to ask your children and in-laws to forgive you for the way you’ve treated them.  A humble spirit of repentance could be the very thing that will turn those difficult relationships around.

Let’s be more like Naomi today.

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In-Laws and Out-Laws – Part 1

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Someone has said…

Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.

A huge part of the difficulty that can come to a marriage is dealing with the In-laws.   You see, when a girl says, “I do,” to a man she loves, she is also saying “I do” to receiving his family.  She takes them on as her own family, and of course, he takes hers as well.  But that isn’t always the easiest job in the world.  There are so many variables as to why that’s the case, but I’d like to address what to do in order to make those relationships better.

I’ve been both a daughter-in-law and am now a mother-in-law, so I can speak a little to the female side of these relationships.  Tomorrow I’m going to speak to the mothers-in-law.  But we’ll look today at being a daughter-in-law that would honor the Lord and also be a blessing to the other side of her family.

  1. Give your in-law’s names – When I was newly married, I had a sweet father-in-law who oddly enough had been (and still was) my boss at the school where I taught.  He was also my pastor.  Now all of the sudden, we were related!  That was a strange transition to make!  My mom gave me good advice before my wedding.  She said, “Start calling your in-law’s by the name you choose right after you’re married.  It will sound like it’s bouncing off the walls when you first say it, but keep on saying it. It will get easier.”
    My husband and I had decided to call one another’s parents as we do our own, Mom and Dad.  When you have parents of your own that you treasure and love, it’s hard to throw that title to someone else, but these people were parents to the man I’d given my life to! Could I not “adopt” them as my second set of parents?  So, after the honeymoon, I needed my mother-in-law’s attention and I had no choice but to say it – “Mom…”  It was just like my own mother had warned me.  It seemed like I had shouted it into a megaphone!  But I kept on saying it until it became as natural saying my own name.
    It can be so difficult to give your in-law’s a name that instead, you refer to them as only pronouns.  Love them enough to give them a name – Mom and Dad, Bob and RuthAnn, Mom C., something! It’s so much kinder than “her” or “him!”
  2. Give your in-law’s the benefit of the doubt. If you’re questioning their actions, their absence, or their words to you or your husband, just step back and don’t assume anything but the best.  Instead of asking, Why does your mother only call you and ask about the holidays?  Don’t I count?  Assume that he is the one who could answer her questions.  Then you make an attempt at saying, Hey, I hear you’re wondering about us coming for Thanksgiving.  We’re looking forward to it. Do you have a minute that we could talk about what you’d like me to bring?
    It’s a tendency to get offended, but sometimes if we build a bridge for communication, it will make things easier the next time.
  3. Give your in-law’s time to be with their son without you.  Don’t feel offended that your MIL would love to spend time with your husband.  Instead, help that to happen.  When my in-law’s came to visit us for Christmas, I always tried to encourage my husband to take his mom out for breakfast one morning.  They could talk and spend time together, and I know she appreciated having her son to himself for a couple hours.
    (Tomorrow we’ll discuss what happens if this need becomes obsessive for her!)
  4. Give your in-law’s time with your whole family.  Holidays can be downright dreadful if there are not wise decisions about where and when the holidays will be spent.  Going back and forth to both families is exhausting and sharing that holiday with only one side of the family can be hurtful.
    Our solution to that is to spend Thanksgiving with one side and Christmas the other.  Then the next year do the opposite.  Birthday’s, Mother’s Day and so on can be handled in the same way – back and forth.
  5. Give your in-law’s the same kindness you’d give your own parents.  Most husbands aren’t good at remembering to buy gifts and cards for their mom once they’re married.  Why not consider it your duty as his wife to remind your fella to buy a card for his mom for Mother’s Day?  Or you pick out the card and gift for her birthday and let him sign it for both of you.  She’ll recognize his handwriting and will be elated that he remembered.  Only you will be the wiser!  The point is, be sure to do the same kind acts for your in-law’s as you do for your family.
    In the book of Ruth, we hear Naomi saying to her two daughters-in-law:
    Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
    Both Ruth and Orpah had shown kindness to their mother-in-law and she was fully aware of it!
    Could that be said of you and me?  Take the high road and show kindness. Be first to do it.  Do it even if it’s not returned.  What to do?

    1. Call them.
    2. Send a text to check on them.
    3. Send them pictures of your children.
    4. Send them pictures of your husband!
    5. Pray for them.
    6. Love them with words
    7. Love them with your time.
    8. Love them with actions. A card, a gift, a loving gift of your time.

It would be hard not to love a daughter-in-law who responds with those kind of actions.  I didn’t always do that. I struggled, especially in our early years.  But I thank the Lord for the good relationship he gave me with my in-law’s over time.  Ladies, sometimes the hardship in the in-law relations can make them look like outlaw’s, but if we make the effort, we could very easily turn things around for God’s glory and we daughters-in-law could be remembered as favorably as Ruth was.

What’s your best tip for responding as a daughter-in-law? Who has a great daughter-in-law that you’d like to brag about?

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for tips for the Mothers-in-law!

Training Your Preschooler to Sit in Church

Summer is nearly over and this is my last week to repost some old posts.  This week I’m highlighting some of the most popular ones. I trust you’ll find something here that you never read, or that you need to be reminded of!  The first one is about teaching your children to sit quietly in church.  Have your kids mastered it?  If not, here are some suggestions…

 

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You looked so forward to being in church last Sunday, but by the time the service was over you had wrangled with your preschooler in the pew, your blouse was spotted with juice drops, the floor was littered with Goldfish Crackers, and you’re more ready for a deserted island alone without food or water than you are for the Sweet By and By!

Been there? Most of us have! But there is hope for you and your child to be able to sit through an entire service and actually hear the message and get a blessing out of it! Read on!

The picture below is the best place to train your preschool-aged child to learn to sit in church…

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This is your living room or family room couch. That’s right, the best place to train your child about church is in your own home. If you wait until Sunday morning to try to teach them to sit down rather than run the aisles and to whisper, rather than shout out their requests, you’re headed for disaster and major frustration. Here are my suggestions for training a preschool-aged child to sit in church:

  1. Clear the area you’re going to sit in and make it free of  distractions. TV is off and toys are stashed away.
  2. Get one or two quiet activities like a Bible flannel book or other quiet book, and perhaps one quiet toy like a coloring book and a few crayons (no markers!). These toys will be reserved only for your Quiet Time, so they’re “new” each time they’re brought out. Purchase or make several books/quiet toys to keep only for this teaching time and Sundays. Take a look at this! Find similar ideas on Pinterest!
  3. pocket sized magnetic fishing set | doodle craft - would be great little addition for quiet bag at church
    This is a magnetic fishing pond! Super easy to make and super fun for your child. Also super cheap!
  4. Set the timer for five minutes to start. Gather yourself and your child and tell him he is going to sit on the couch with you until the timer goes off. Give him one book or toy and tell him he may play with it while you sit on the couch, but that he may not get down or talk. It’s time to listen. Show him how to sit, and remind him this is QUIET TIME. Tell him If he talks the toy will get taken away – he must play without talking.
  5. Turn on a Podcast of your pastor, if available. If your pastor’s sermons aren’t online, use another broadcast. Have your Bible out and you sit still and listen.
  6. When/if your child starts talking, try not to answer with words, but put your finger to your lips and shake your head “no.” Don’t answer a question for those five minutes. Give a couple silent warnings the first couple of days, but after two heads shaken, take the toy away as you promised you would do. If the child throws a fit or screams, take him out of the room, go to his bedroom or yours and remind him what you’re asking. If he continues to disobey you may need to apply loving discipline to correct his disobedience. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Prov 29:15
  7. When the timer goes off, discuss how they did. “You talked to Mommy, but remember, this is Quiet Time; time to listen to pastor preach. Or, “Yay! You sat so quietly and played! I’m so proud of you and so is God! We got to listen to Pastor preach and that makes God happy!”
  8. The next day and for the whole week, keep up with the five minutes. The next week extend it to ten minutes. Keep at this until you’ve worked up to 30 minutes. A three or four year-old will be able to sit and play without food for thirty minutes. They’ll wiggle, they’ll sigh, but don’t give in and don’t give up! It will be worth it!
  9. If you have more than one child, have a separate bag for each child. Give only one toy at a time, and have each child on either side of you. Be consistent! If they talk, warn once, then remove the toy.
  10. If they throw a fit, discipline in another room, but then bring them back in and complete the five minutes. This will be the same routine once you take them into the service at church.  If they disobey, you must discipline, and it shouldn’t be just that you go out and play in the foyer – that’s what they want! Either discipline, then bring them back to the back row where you were wisely seated, or sit out there with your arms around them so they are not able to get down and play.
  11. Make this training time at home something to look forward to – not a miserable drudgery. That can be accomplished by the activity you choose to put into the bag, but again – just a quiet toy – not treats or lots of toys. Make it biblical, if you can, so they’re also “hearing about God.”

Who knows? You might even glean some wonderful Truths during your at home Quiet Times! It won’t be long – just a couple of months until you’re able to sit in church and actually enjoy the service. You know what? Your child will enjoy it a whole lot more, too!

Any questions? Any other suggestions?

Lovingly,

School, Seasons and Sad Momma’s

I want to take just a minute to encourage moms today.  From one who has been there, I realize that this time of year can be an emotional roller coaster for women who may feel they aren’t needed in their children’s lives quite like prior years.  My only longing is to give a biblical perspective to guide a mom’s heart.  So, here we go…

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Late August can only mean one thing for children – school is back in session. For some of their momma’s, there is relief of no more slamming screen doors, frantic baseball schedules and camp-bound teens.  They greet the fall and its changes with a happy sigh and open arms.

But for some moms, this school session brings sadness because they’re not just staring at lunch boxes and back packs; they’re staring at the changes it has brought. Perhaps…

  • One child has left home to head to their first year of college. 
  • A daughter is in their last year of elementary school.
  • A son is in his last year of junior high.
  • All children are out of school and out of the home due to graduation and/or marriage.

The type of changes could go on and on, but the truth is, every year we live is going to be full of what we often stiff-arm – a change in the seasons of our life. Here’s a beautiful reminder in God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 3 about the seasons of our lives:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

God has given us a mother’s heart to love our children, to love parenting and nurturing them, so how are we to deal with an end or a change of those seasons? How can we find joy and a reason to move on when our role is different and we don’t feel quite as useful or needed as a mom?

  1. Think on Truth. We are commanded in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Therefore, if I let myself constantly think about those early days of my child’s life, and how much I miss when my girls were toddlers on teenagers, all I have to do is look into their current photos to realize that that is not the truth for today. Today they are grown, married and moving on in God’s will.Thinking about the truth of today could remind us that our kids are maturing; they’re developing into people that can serve God. Are they doing what we raised them to do, to serve and love God? Wonderful! Praise His name! If they’re away from the Lord, we can remind ourselves of the Truth that the Word we poured into them will not return void. God loves them more than we do and is pursuing them. What comfort Truth gives!
  2. Enjoy the memories of former days with a proper perspective. Isn’t God gracious to allow us the blessing of being able to remember those past seasons? It’s fun to flip through photos and recall the years now behind us. But while you’re recalling those times, be honest with yourself and remember that those days also brought some hardships.We home-schooled our girls almost completely through, meaning I was a home-schooling mom for twenty years. While I loved it and was thankful for the opportunity to pour into my girls’ lives, I remember days when I just wished I could go to Walmart alone! Some days I tired of dissecting earthworms and reading book reports. It’s easy to focus on the highlights and get discontented with here-and-now. Be real when you’re looking back.
  3. Honor your children and God when you reflect. If this next description is you, I honestly mean no ill, but I ask you to consider the reality for a minute. What adult wants their mom to post pictures or comments about their child, desiring that they were “a little boy once again?” I’m sure none of us would have wanted our mother-in-law to post toddler pictures of our husband because that’s how she wished she could see him.  What girl wants to be remembered today as only what she was many years ago? If we really want to honor our children and be respectful of them (and their spouse, if they’re married) we will remember those former days only in our heart, and not on social media. Being considerate of their maturity is one small way to honor who they are today.How can we honor God in the way we remember our past seasons? Don’t think that your best days of serving Him was when you had children at home, or when they were littler, or more needy of you. Do you have a mate? Are you pouring as much energy and time into him? Each year as your children need you less, transfer that energy to your husband.  If you have a ministry at church, give it your all. Find a younger woman to mentor and be a blessing in her life by spending time in God’s Word, working on projects together, praying with/for her and helping her in this busy season of her life!

I’m really not trying to get hate mail, but I only desire to encourage women to live as God would have us. Today is a gift from His hand, meant for serving, enjoying and laying up treasures in heaven. Don’t regret what’s gone – reboot and move on! This is a new season, Mom! Thank the Lord for yesterday and ask Him for a new opportunity to get out of bed, then put a smile on your face and be happy today!  That might just mean going grocery shopping…alone! =)

What has been the most difficult time in your role as a mom?

Refresh your “momma” heart,

Help Other People Love Your Kids

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I love little children.  They are cute, funny, spontaneous and full of faith.  But there are times when that love for youngsters can be tested.  A favorite “old story” at our house happened many years ago following the Sunday night church service.  A visiting family was going to be staying the night with us.  There were two or three little ones, I can’t remember exactly, but the memory began just as we were unlocking the house for entry with our guests.  Their little guy, about 4 or 5 said to me as he was pushing the door open and scurrying inside,

Hey Lady, where’s the toys?!

What ensued afterwards was little ones running through the house, overturning toy boxes and chests, emptying their contents and having the most fun a child can have while in a stranger’s home and discovering new treasures.

This was a whole new experience for me, and I’m sure I needed a lesson in graciousness, but all I remember was the sigh of relief when the battle of toys and home was over and we were left with the quiet dust of the invasion the following day.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE children, and I try to always have things on hand for little ones to play with, but the issue came when the parents seemed too relieved to have their children busy with something other than needing their attention (or so they thought).  They were pretty much oblivious to the destruction and havoc that their offspring brought to a complete stranger’s household.  I’m sure those children were precious and I know Jesus loves them, but me?  I wasn’t feeling it.  Oh, I don’t want to sound harsh, but it was like the invasion of enemy troops.  Our home was open territory.  There were no restrictions, no guidelines from the mom and dad, no parental looks that give a warning without words, saying, “Stop what you’re doing.”  No, the children were on their own, and we were put in a place where we had to step in and draw the line in the sand. Ugh.

Every parent gets weary of the day-to-day demands, the need to correct and rein their children in, but taking time to let down your guard is not only dangerous, it’s putting other people in a very uncomfortable situation.  It’s making it hard for others to really love your children.  You see, it puts them in the place that only you belong, Mom (and Dad, if you’re reading).  Someone besides you will be the one to have to say,

Please don’t step on my feet; that hurts.”  

“Could you please play  with the trucks outside,  instead of on the coffee table?”

“Children can get hurt if they climb up on the ladder in the store; you really better get down, .”

“My bedroom is off limits.  Could you please come out and play in the family room with the rest of us?”

Step up, parents and make your child a blessing to be around by guiding them before these scenarios cause someone else to need to speak up.

Often, parents watch their children being the “wild child” and think it’s cute, or that they’re just “doing what children do,” which is true, but Scripture says,

Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Proverbs 29:17

They act that way because they have an old sin nature, and God gave them parents to give them guidelines and restrictions, to teach them what is acceptable and what is not.  So how do you help others love your children?

  • Talk to your children before you leave home or before guests arrive.  Tell them what you expect in simple 1, 2, 3 format.  They need to know what you’re expecting of them, what is okay and what is not.  For instance, 
    • When we get to Mrs. Jones’ house, please stay in the same room I am in.
    • I have brought a bag of toys for you to play with, so there will be no need for you to touch anything at her house.  Play with those unless Mrs. Jones offers you something at her house to enjoy.
    • If you need to speak with me while Mrs. Jones and I are talking, come and put your hand on my arm and I will acknowledge you, but wait until then to speak to me or I won’t hear what you’re saying.If you’re going to a store or restaurant, the same principle applies.
    • You must stay in your seat while we’re at Cheddar’s.
    • You may not climb under the table or change places with someone else.
    • I have a snack for you to enjoy while we wait to be seated and served.
  • Don’t ignore bad behavior at home and then expect your child to be obedient in public times.  Deal with the situation.
  • If you ignore your children fighting or misbehaving and the people you’re with don’t seem like they notice, don’t be fooled; they notice.  Deal with it.  This is another area that should be addressed beforehand. They should know what the consequences will be.
  • Practice good manners at home.  “May I please?”  “Excuse me…” “No thank you.”  Table manners, speaking manners, greeting manners – they’re all important and can make the difference between a child who is learning manners and one who is demanding and rude.

I began with a sour example, let me end with a sweet one.  I’ve had many opportunities to have children in my home for one on one time, meals with their parents and even overnight.  One family had several little children, both girls and boys.  They looked to their parents for the go-ahead when desiring to go outside, ask for a toy, or enjoy a snack I provided.  They sat at the table for meals, obeyed when their parents stopped them from poor behavior, were thankful for any small gesture that was done, and responded sweetly when either of their parents had to correct them. Were they perfect?  Of course not.  There were messes to clean up when they left, but they were done so with joy.  Oh, and they left something behind – love in our hearts for each one!  They made that so very easy, thanks to the loving leadership and training that came from their mommy and daddy.

Moms, I’ve been there with my girls when they were home, even dealing with some very embarrassing situations, but every parent needs to ask the Lord where we need to do a little more training, a little more teaching and preparing so that the presence of our family will bring a smile and a heart full of love because they got to spend time with our children.

Refresh others by allowing your children to be a blessing.

What makes you love being with someone else’s children?

With nothing but love and care,

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Keeping Children On the Peripheral

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Many homes today put the children at the center of the home.  Everything revolves around them, their wants, and their preferences.  Of course when you have a baby in your home, you have no choice but to make them the center.  But often we fail to allow them as they grow to move farther away from the center to the peripheral.  Let me explain.
In the book, The Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund, Anne makes a statement I had never heard, but totally agree with and have taught in principle:

In the home, children should be on the peripheral.”

She goes on to say that if children are at the center, when they are removed, there is a huge gap in the husband/wife relationship. Do you think it’s remotely possible not to make your children the center of your home?
How does one go about not putting them in that place when they require so much time, attention and discipline?
Anne didn’t detail this point, but here are my thoughts –
  1. The children shouldn’t dictate what is going to happen in your home. “I don’t want to go to Pizza Hut for supper! I want to eat at McDonald’s” It’s not that they can’t make the choice sometimes, but when Mom and Dad have made a decision, it should stick.
  2. Mom and Dad need their own time. Children sleeping with their parents should be a rare occasion. Bedtimes give Mom and Dad an opportunity to talk, spend time together playing a game, or share a snack.
  3. Parents need a date night. Don’t let the children’s cries keep you from leaving them occasionally. Let them know you’re going away to make a better home for them.
  4. As the mom, recognize your husband’s needs and make sure you’re meeting those before doing extra things with/for your children. Are you always jumping up to do something for them, and don’t spend time just being with him?
  5. Be sure you’re spending your recreational times together as a couple and not making it the norm for one parent to be running here with one child, and the other taking another child there. Be a family.

We all know that children have many needs – especially when they’re little, but the tendency is to keep allowing them to be needy and being the very center of the family’s circle where the parents ought to be.

Take a good look at the circle of your family; who’s in the middle and who’s on the peripheral? Does there need to be a change?

 

With love,

Training Children To Sit and Participate in Church

Children can do some really funny things in church.  When I was teaching the five year-old Sunday school class I remember asking my students how we get to go to heaven. A little girl raised her hand confidently. Her answer?

Die.

That remembrance still makes me laugh!

Sometimes, though, the things children do in church aren’t so funny – especially if you’re the parent.  I’m not sure if there’s anything more stressful or humiliating for a parent than trying to teach their little one to sit quietly anywhere, but especially at church.  Your child gets fidgety and talkative just the time there’s a need for quiet, right?  We’ve all been there, and I want to encourage you that there is hope!

I’ve blogged about this before, but I just felt the need to rehearse a few ideas about teaching your child to sit through a church service.

  • Train them. Talk to them before you leave home.  Tell them what is going to happen when you get there.  Remind them that you’re going so you can worship God and learn more about him!
    • Will they be going to Sunday school?  Remind them that you’ll be back to pick them up.
    • Tell them what kind of behavior you expect from them while they’re in class.
    • Will they go to Pastor’s Pals or up front to sing with the children?  Prepare them for what you expect.
  • Fortify them. Feed them a nourishing breakfast to hold them over through the service time.
  • Equip them. Pack a bag to take to church.  Keep it only for church times and fill it with quiet books, crayons, etc. that will help them to listen if they’re old enough.  They could draw a picture of something pastor is talking about.  If they’re older, they might have a special book to write down important words he hears in the message.
  • Help them. Don’t bring or give them sugary drinks or snacks – you’ll only be making it more impossible for them to sit still!
  • Reward them. I read about one mom who played the “Seat game.”  After training her two children to sit quietly in church, their mom told them they could sit one row in front of the parents next week since they’d done so well.  Each week that they obeyed and sat quietly and obediently, they all moved up one row.  Eventually they were seated on rows two and three!  You obviously couldn’t do this with really young children, but it would might be a great incentive for school-aged children.
  • Discipline them. If your child misbehaves, don’t wait for it to get better and stay in the service where they’re causing a ruckus! Take them out immediately and deal with it, and deal with it in a way that they won’t want it repeated.  If they get to go out and run around the foyer, they’ll learn that this is more of a reward than a punishment!
  •  Model for them. Encourage worship.  By your example of engaging in the singing and worship, teach them to follow your lead!  Sing!  Pray!  Open your Bible!  Take notes!
  • Praise them. Be sure to review the service on the way home.  Applaud their good behavior and obedience!
  • Warn them. Deal with the disobedience and use it as a teaching tool for the next service and warn them about what will take place if this happens again.

Training, training, training.  This must be consistent and loving.  It also really, really helps if you attend regularly.  Sporadic attendance will lose any training!  When this is every week, several times a week, they’ll get it!

This takes time, of course, but you probably won’t be getting called to their classroom nearly as often for behavior issues!  Instead, the teacher will pull you aside to ask what you’re doing at home that’s made such a difference. Oh, she may also tell you about the hilarious thing your child said to her in class that day!

Stay at it!  You will make it!

With love,