Some people may disagree with me, but I find small children in church distracting. In theory, it is a good idea to expose little ones to the tradition, routine and content of a worship service but in my experience, it doesn't always work out that way. At least not for my kids. I like that the churches we have been to have been to provided safe, God-centered care for our children while they are too young to enjoy and participate in a full church service. I also appreciate the Sunday School classes that give my children a foundational understanding of why we go to church (as a supplement to what we already do at home). Since Jesse turned four I have been wanting to include him in the church service more as a way of introducing him to what goes on. In our new, small church plant we have been given that opportunity. The four years olds up through third grade remain with the parents for the beginning of the worship service through confession and a kid's sermon given by our pastor. I love our pastor's vision for including the children in the service and was excited to have Jesse start participating once we got the church up and going. But, as Jesse has joined me in the service the past few weeks I am growing more and more annoyed and not at all excited about the prospect. I have not been able to sing a song in it's entirety, pray a prayer with my whole heart or even confess my sins without tending to Jesse- telling him to stop making that noise, sit up, stop snoring, don't kick the seat in front of you, stop playing with your car, we are SUPPOSED to be confessing our SINS now, etc. Matt is usually leading or playing music in the service so it is up to me to make sure Jesse is not distracting me or others around me. Not to mention the kid's sermon. I never know what is going to come out of his mouth when the pastor asks a question. One week I felt like I needed to stand up and make a disclaimer: the views expressed by my four old do not necessarily express the views his parents have taught him. Not to mention the tattling he did b/c his friend wouldn't share this past Sunday.
So, I am wondering if I am expecting too much from my four and half year old son or if I have just done a lousy job of parenting him to sit through a church service. What am I supposed to do? I have tried to explain each part of the service to him, tell him why we are doing certain things, he doesn't seem interested. So, do I keep trying and discipline him when he gets fidgety? Is expecting him to sit and stand at the appropriate times too much? Do I let him lay all over the chairs and play with a car? Should I bring small toys or books for him to look at? I just don't know what to do! We have friends who have taken their child out of the service for some discipline so I thought about doing that this past Sunday. But that would require putting coats and boats on, trekking out to the car and then trekking back. It just adds to the exhaustion! And would I be disciplining him for something that is not age appropriate anyway? I haven't been able to look around and see if other people are having this issue b/c I am too distracted by my own son but I wonder if I am the only one?