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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: Unpopular

Thursday, March 5, 2009


My husband and I have made a decision for our family that has us a bit...unpopular... right now. At least that is the way it seems.

We've made the decision to keep our children with us. Now, understand, this was not an easy or whimmy decision to make... especially for my husband who loves time with just me and generally needs more of a "break" from the kids than I do.

So what does "keeping the children with us" actually mean? What does it look like on an average day. Well...
  • no babysitters as much as we can help it.
  • cutting back on our business in this next year so we don't need babysitters (see above).
  • Keeping the kids with me during the day (chores, playing, etc.) -- this one is hard for me and I'm still learning. It is easy for me to have them play by themselves while I do whatever, so breaking that habit is a constant battle.
  • Not using the church's "Skippin' Out Night" to go on a date or get shopping done.
  • No more dinners out just the two of us (we make time for each other after bedtime, so it's not like we never get alone time... fact is we probably get more than most.)
  • Scheduling dentist appointments and such when My Beloved can come home to be with them.
  • and... (the big one) keeping them with us in church and Sunday School.
It's this last one that has been getting the most attention recently. We started this new life back in the Fall, but we didn't want to bring attention to ourselves. We don't want anyone to think we look down on them for their decisions and we don't want people looking down on ours either. We told only a few people what we were doing and why at the time: Tornado's Sunday School teacher (I didn't want her thinking she'd done something to offend us), and a friend or two. No one agreed with us, but at least one friend said that she supported us in our decision.

In the last couple months more and more people are noticing the children with us, and not in the nursery, and more and more people are bringing it up. A couple said it was great seeing them with us in worship, but others are actually concerned about our decision. Still others seem to be making comments meant for us, but have not yet addressed us directly. Like I said... apparently this is an unpopular decision.

So why have we made this decision? Really, there could be a number of reasons. First, (and in no real order here) it seems like whenever our kids are in the nursery (at least in the winter), someone gets sick the next week... and with Tornado's asthma, we really can't afford for him to get sick. Second, most, if not all, the toys in the nursery are ones we've purged from our own house because of the health issues associated with the plastics.

Really though, the real reason has nothing to do with physical health and everything to do with spiritual. We want to offer our children a consistency in what is expected of them. Have you ever noticed how our children know when they can get away with more. They know that the nursery worker, or babysitter, or grandparent, etc. aren't going to hold them up to mom and dad's standards. And really, it's not their job to do so. One of our dear friends put it very well when she said, "I don't want to be the reason he cries." That is a fair estimation for most, I think.

What is the nursery workers job, really? To keep our kids safe and happy while we are away.

What is the babysitter's job, really? To keep our kids safe and happy while we are away.

What is the grandparent's job, really? To love our little ones... and to keep our kids safe and happy while we are away. (I have some slightly different thoughts on this, but I'll save them.)

Truly, God has not commanded all these other people to raise up our children. That is our job. So when my little one steals a toy from another kid, or pushes him over, or whatever; instead of discipline, he gets a few words and redirected... or worse, they don't see it because of the other half dozen kids in the room.

In the time since we made this change, we've seen remarkable change in our toddler too. It no longer takes the first few days of each week to re-train him what is expected after he is in someone else's charge. He knows what is expected of him and can be expected to obey... even when it is to sit quietly through the church service. We are content with our decision... I just wish it weren't so unpopular.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this, especially if you have practiced keeping your children with you. Feel free to share differing thoughts too, but I don't need anyone being critical of our decision to raise our children this way. Your thoughts and opinions are great, but I reserve the right not to publish anything that makes me feel worse and more lonely!



At March 5, 2009 at 7:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

All your posts of recent have sounded like you are depressed and overwhelmed. Try to make us laugh for a change. We all have struggles in life, but it makes life a bit better to smile and laugh a bit... Jenni Birch

At March 5, 2009 at 9:11 PM , Blogger IF said...

I think that is an awesome thing to do!!!

At March 5, 2009 at 9:21 PM , Blogger IF said...

My mom always taught me, No one can watch your kids like you (the mom) can. I have found that to be so true- No one holds their hand as tight as I would, no one watches them or corrects them like I do, etc. So I think trusting your mommy instinct is the best thing to do, even if it is unpopular.

At March 5, 2009 at 11:03 PM , Blogger Christy said...

I commend you in your decision. I'm sure it's not an easy one. I fully believe that mothers (or fathers if that works for you) should raise their children. Regardless WHO it is, one parent should be home full-time. Why have kids if you are going to pay a daycare worker to raise them for you. That's my soapbox. I know a family who keeps their children with them during church and have never thought badly of them, but have often wondered why. Your reasoning has given me something to think about. And I totally agree with IF's comment - I tend to always be a little nervous when someone other than me is watching my son, even Daddy, because I am not there to know what is happening. So I tend to use people who have children of their own. They are a little older, wiser, more experienced than a teenager. I do, however, think it's healthy for a couple to get out on a date once in a while. A babysitter or grandparents once a month won't ruin a child. Thanks for sharing!

At March 6, 2009 at 7:10 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Well, I firmly believe that a mom who takes the time to think something like this out, is to be trusted with her own children and to make the decisions that are best for her family.

I've thought about bringing our daughter into service with us (but not my adult Bible study), and ultimately it wasn't the right choice for us because of the level of the service. I had many long conversations with a Children's Pastor friend of mine and his main concern about taking children into these adult-oriented studies and worship is that they would miss connecting to God on a level they could grasp.

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?

I really am just listing concerns off the top of my head. I am a tad skeptical, but can't argue with the improved behavior and reduced illness. So, I hope you'll take my questions as food for thought, and not an attack. This is an important decision that only you and your husband can make for your family.

Best wishes!

At March 6, 2009 at 8:45 AM , Blogger ~Babychaser~ said...

Wow Jennifer... what great questions. I started answering them here and realized how long it was going to be. I'll put some thought into those and post on it next week sometime.

And if anyone else has comments or questions I'll include those too.

I'd love to make this a discussion and help any of you who want to, to give this some thought.

At March 6, 2009 at 12:17 PM , Blogger MyKidsMom said...

I'm stopping by through Nikki's (Notes) link and thought I would say Hi:)

I am curious as to why people in the church have a problem with your children in the service. I know that at our church mostly it's due to children not sitting still, making noises, ect during the service. Babies especially are good at drawing away the audiences attention, they're just too cute when they gurgle and talk. So I understand the distraction issue. On the other hand, I think that kids are kept in childrens classes too long often, to where they don't know how to sit still and behave when the time comes for them to stay in "big" church (as we put it). I know from experience how some nursery workers and the situations there can be challenging (we've suffered a few biters and whatnot).

I've been a stay-at-home mom for 11 years, and I'm so glad I made that choice. But it definitely has it's challenges at times. We rarely (as in 3 times a year at most) have a babysitter for a date. It's kind of unusual, but it works for us.

At March 6, 2009 at 2:08 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

Wow! This is a topic I feel passionately about!!! I need to try to keep my attitude pure because I tend to think that my way is the only way, but I can't make that decision for others.

That being said, I think it is so important to keep our children with us as much as humanly possible. While it may NOT hurt a child (although it can) to stay with another adult, how much more beneficial is it to our children to have them be with, learn with us, grow with us, experience life as a family.

I get a lot of criticism, too, about keeping children in church with us. I've been told that that need to be taught on their own level and that worshipping with adults is "over their heads." My question: how is the Word of God over anyone's head? Sure the pastor may use big words or big ideas put the seed is planted and will be watered over and over at home and as they grow in knowledge. (And why do we feel we have to water things down for kids anyway?) It bothers me when churches frown on children in the service or demand quiet. Somehow I can't imagine quiet when Jesus was preaching to the people on the hillside.

Oh my, I could go on and on.

My husband and I have made it a point to rarely go out alone. We're not being martyrs, but we love being together as a family and think our children should see a relationship in action. I don't have to go out to dinner with my Hubby to be romantic and show I love him. (We DO go out occasionally, but this is an extra, special treat. We appreciate it more that way.) We choose instead to set aside most every evening to be together. Even if we are silent (reading, sewing), this time is our time together.

At March 6, 2009 at 4:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- you and your husband are devoted parents! I commend you for your decision. I am a childless single woman, but I love children very much. I took care of 2 children 50 hours a week- sometimes more- until Aug. 2007.
I know that I could not do what you are doing. I do, however understand that because of your son's asthma it is wise to limit his exposure to other kids and their germs.

However- I think that you owe it to your husband to have at least one "date night", preferably two a
month. It will be good for your relationship. I also think that it is good for children to have the chance to get to know their grand parents and a slected few reliable adults. Also, it's good for them to be used to being cared for by others just in case some emergancy- illness or accident occurs and you and your husband are unable to care for them for a period of time.

On a personal level, I find it distracting to have young children at adult Sunday School classes, Bible Studies, ect. Like I said, I LOVE kids, just not when I'm trying to consentrate on a lesson or a message.

I am aquainted with a couple who have 10 children, and the mother once told me that her children were not permitted to go to many activities with children their own age until they were old enough to be in youth group. The did make an exception so the 3 youngest could sing in Living Christmas Tree children's choir, but the mom was usually close by. I can testify that the younger children are very well behaved. I did not know the family when the older children were younger.

At March 6, 2009 at 6:44 PM , Blogger ~Babychaser~ said...

Thanks so much for your comment Annon! I sure do wish I had even a "code" name to call you buy, but this will have to do!

I'm not sure I would say we are "devoted" parents. There are so many others who do better than we do on the minute by minute, day by day basis. We are simply answering the call God has given us... and trying to be joyfully content in it as the days go by.

I'll probably mention some of the things you mentioned in my post next week, but in the mean time I will say that we do have lots of other adults in our children's lives. We have several good friends who we do things with regularly. These are certainly people who our children would easily be comfortable should there be an emergency or other unavoidable circumstance in which we had to leave them. Unfortunately, we are not blessed to have grandparents living anywhere nearby. If we did, I am sure there would be plenty of time spent with them.

Like I said, I'll probably mention more later. Thanks again for your comments!

At March 6, 2009 at 11:21 PM , Blogger Cynda Western Felini said...

I just found your blog and as a first time mom of a one-year old, I am encouraged.

We keep our child with us in church too for several reasons, but allow me to say good for you!! Your children will see you worshipping and studying the Word and have a greater understanding for attending church than they would have if they spent all their time in Sunday School!!

At March 6, 2009 at 11:39 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

Oh, yes, certainly children should be acquainted with other adults. However, like Babychaser said, they become acquainted with them WITH their parents! Somehow we've come to think that children need to be on their own and dependent so early...

As for NEEDING to get away, it simply is not true. God gave parents the responsibility to care for their young and while it isn't wrong to take time as a couple, exclusive time out (and alone) is not NEEDED or OWED to anyone! :-)

At March 15, 2009 at 9:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really have to disagree with a few things. Keeping your child in church is not one of them. I think it's important for the children to see worship and the service and have never known otherwise. We do not have a nursery at my church, and the sound of babies making noises and toddlers talking a little too loud is just such a sweet reminder of the fact that these parents find church being important enough to show their children, and the blessing that children are. I do have to disagree with your babysitting thing though. Unless you don't have a babysitter that you feel totally comfortable with, i don't understand what the harm is in it. My daughter, who is 2 goes to The Goddard School 2 days a week, and she loves it. She gets the social interaction that she can't get at home being the only one so far. She gets to learn new things that are things that i don't think to teach her, she learns new social skills, how to share, how to be patient (all things that i try to teach her, but they just reinforce). I also have to disagree with "Christy" because it seems as though she is saying that everyone that isn't in a position to stay at home shouldn't have children, and that is just not the case. The day care workers aren't "raising" your children.

At March 15, 2009 at 10:17 PM , Blogger janie @ mommy has a blog... said...

I admire, respect and TREASURE this post! My husband and I have pretty much decided the same thing...with the exception that a grandparent can "spend time" with our daughter if OFFERED (which is pretty non-existent) and we have noticed a major change as a FAMILY UNIT and her behavior. We have grown stronger as a family and do things to suit our family as a whole. If we want to watch a movie, we do it when she is asleep. If we want to go out to eat, we go as a family. Its forced us to get creative and more thrifty and we know what behavior we can expect when we take her out. My daughter plays independently while doing what I do or alongside me. If I am doing dishes or cooking, I am teaching and talking to her or she is playing in her kitchen which I have set up in our kitchen. I wouldn't worry a bit about naysayers. You will have smart and polite children on your hands that will have wonderful family values.
We had these children to RAISE and TEACH them.

At March 15, 2009 at 10:19 PM , Blogger janie @ mommy has a blog... said...

And might I add that my husband was deployed last year and just returned home. I missed my husband but my daughter also missed her DADDY. We are catching up on much needed "time" TOGETHER, not separately. Adults can catch up at night when little ones are asleep!

At March 19, 2009 at 1:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I don't use babysitters except for my mother. My 2 1/2 year old and 13 month old both have a lot of food intolerances and allergies. The little doll can only tolerate 4 foods as her stomach was born immature.

We prefer this b/c this gives us a chance to raise our kids instead of "dropping" them off somewhere.

My oldest knows that the Bible is the Word of God, God created the world and the moons and stars (her focus is the sky lately), and knows of the Trinity. She insists on praying before eating.

This is all b/c we are a part of their lives (correcting and instructing)



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