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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: Question on keeping our children with us

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Question on keeping our children with us

I received some great comments on this post about keeping our children with us. One particular comment included the following:

Jennifer said,

If I had permission to be an authority for you (which I am not qualified for and not asking for), I would want to know the following:
-are you still providing play time for them with children their own age?
-are you making sure they are receiving Bible-teaching on a level they can understand at home since they aren't in an age-leveled class at church?
-are you ensuring your children are respectful of the space other adults need in your classes and in worship?
-really? you're doing this over plastic toys? do you genuinely believe that 1-2 hours a week with those toys will harm your children?
-how will your children learn that there are different rules for different social settings? It makes sense to want to avoid the behavior that comes after some of these settings, but do you have a plan for helping them understand this?
-do you have a plan to integrate them back in with their peer group at church?

Wow Jennifer, what great questions. I do appreciate your thoughtfulness and I'll try to answer. Let's tackle this in order, shall we?

1. Re: playing with kids their ages, Sweet Pea is just 1 year (and a few days) and doesn't care about kids her age quite yet. :) Tornado (2) has a couple friends at church and enjoys playing with them after church for a few minutes each week. We also get together to play on occasion. Sunday evenings My Beloved and I teach the children's choir (ages 4-7) and Tornado really enjoys playing with those kids during the play time and sings right along with them. Overall, he is still only 2 and he does get practice playing with his sister. Beyond that, we are looking forward to the warmer weather that spring and summer bring and hope to spend more time at the park and such then. I'm sure this will be a continually changing thing as they reach new ages and stages.

2. Re: Bible teaching… yes. At least 3-4 days a week Tornado and I are spending time learning. We sing songs, many of which are “church” songs, songs which are actually Scriptures set to music, songs about the attributes of God, and we’ve begun learning some of the old hymns. It is such a treat to hear Tornado sing It is Well with My Soul all by himself, or to request “When peace like a river” during our song times. It is my hope that learning these songs will make it easier for him to participate in our church services as well as to begin learning the great Bible doctrine imbedded into so many of these songs. We work on memorizing Scripture too. In fact, Tornado already knows Genesis 1:1 and can say it complete all by himself. We’ve begun John 3:16-18 in the last few days. Another part of our learning time is a Bible lesson of sorts. We have been using a Bible activity and coloring book that includes a number of stories. Each day we read a part of the story and do the sticker pages. These last couple weeks we’ve been reading about Noah, little bits at a time. He loves this activity. I believe he is learning more during times at home with me than he would during an hour of blocks, snack, singing and story in Sunday School, and definitely more than an hour and a half in the nursery playing with toys.

3. Re: respecting the space of others in the adult services and classes: We require our children to sit still, either beside us or on a lap during this time. While we let Tornado “socialize” before our Sunday School class begins, once it does, he is required to sit quietly. Now, don’t think this is easy for either of them. They aren’t perfect every week, but we are learning. That is, after all, what this age is all about. Training, training and more training.

4. Re: the plastic toys. No… really, that has nothing to do with our decision. It is however an afterthought. We added toys to the decision we made long after we made the decision to keep our children with us. It is however an added benefit of not putting them in the nursery. Children are much more sensitive to the chemicals that are leached out of the plastic toys and into their skin (or their mouths when they chew on them)… so we try to keep those chemicals away from them as much as possible.

5. Re: different social settings: As our children get older and have more and more opportunities to be in different social settings, we will teach them what is expected. This summer when we make our regular visits to the park, Tornado will have the opportunity to learn that we must take turns on the slide, or not throw wood chips or sand. In the mean time, I don’t think he is at a loss. As I think about it a bit, it occurs to me that he is already learning how to act in different social settings… just not the ones that are created for him. The social settings he is learning are more realistic… ones he will need to know for the rest of his life. He is learning how to behave in the church service, or to sit quietly while someone is talking or teaching. He learns that he must respect God by being quiet during prayer or the reading of God’s Word. I think these are just as important.

6. As far as integrating my little ones back into their peer groups at church someday? There will come a day when our little ones are ready to go off to a Sunday School class all their own and benefit from the teaching of another Godly adult. This day will probably come at a different age for each of our children, as their readiness will probably come at different ages. We trust the Lord to lead us when the time comes… just as we are trusting him in the decision He has led us to make now.

Now, all that said, I am so deeply encouraged that it wasn't hard to answer these questions at all, as they were all things we've either talked over or thought about already.

Thanks again for your questions! Anyone else have some thoughts?



At March 13, 2009 at 5:08 AM , Blogger Pilar Stark said...

Although these questions are great, you still have the responsability to train you kids as you believe God wants you to do, as you are doing. I appreciate well intention people telling me what I should do, but still the responsability is ours.We are the ones that are responsable for our own children and the decissions we make depends in what works for one family or another one.You are doing what you believe God has for you and He will bless you for your faithfulness. If someone keeps her kids in classes and do it because believes that is what God wants, He will bless her faithfulness.
All these to say, you know best what your children need and no one else.

At March 13, 2009 at 1:32 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

So well thought out!

As a sideline, here is some food for thought. When else in "real life" are we required to be grouped with other of our exact age, as in, "All the 30-year-olds must sit in this section of the restaurant," or "If you are 41, line up over here." :-)

At March 13, 2009 at 1:36 PM , Blogger ~Babychaser~ said...

I love that point Kristin... and I've thought of that a number of times. Thanks for sharing it here!

At March 19, 2009 at 9:35 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I am so glad you had ready answers to my questions... they were never meant to question your decision, so much as they were things I would want to know before making a similar decision for our family.

It is clear you and your husband are very intentional with your children. I only wish more parents were so thoughtful and resolute!

At March 25, 2009 at 9:11 PM , Blogger webkinzfan said...

I've never heard of the "hazards of plastic toys" discussed before.

I'm so glad that you have an answer for all of these tough questions.

I am the "anon. single lady" who commented on your "Unpopular" post.
I just felt shy about revieling my identity that day for some reason.

May God bless you and your husband and your children. I respect your position, even though I would not make the same decision unless I had a very compelling reason (like a child w/ asthma) to do so! I know that the two times I babysat the children I used to take care of on a Sun. I took them to church and left them in the nursery/ Sun. School and was happy for the break.
I did, however get the little boy out of the nursery when a worker told me he was crying histerically.
I tried him in church, but he couldn't be quiet, so the two of us left the service early.

Best wishes to you and your family.



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