Sunday Morning Showdown

What to do when you hear, "I don't wanna go to church!"

I felt battle-weary as I limped from my preschool daughter's Sunday school room. She had started church as a member of the newborn class?a pastor's child, no less. My husband and I had worked to help our children love church. But little Allie was shifting into battle mode, complete with her own air-raid siren, as soon as her classroom came into view.

Well-meaning friends gave plenty of contradictory counsel. "Just let her cry it out, Hon'." Around the next corner I'd hear, "Never force her to go, Dear. She might hate church for the rest of her life." I carried the additional burden of trying to get to my class with this cute, dimpled child wrapped tightly around my left leg!

If you're like most parents, you have experienced at least one of those leech-like moments. Or maybe your deathly ill child has made a miraculous recovery as soon as he's sure it's too late to leave for church. Maybe you've experienced the "pew slouch" or the classic "eye roll" from your 10-year-old.

We can force our children to go to church, but can we make them like it?

Make a List

A good place to start is asking your child why she doesn't want to go to church. Help her talk about her feelings, remembering that they can be difficult to express. As she talks, make a list. Then you can begin to work through her concerns, item by item.

While you're listening, carefully guard your responses. When I hear, "My Sunday school teacher doesn't like me," my natural response is, "Of course your teacher likes you." Instead, I can guide my child in a positive way: "I'm sorry you feel your teacher doesn't like you. Can you tell me why you feel that way?"

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