Reposted with permission from Sarah’s blog: Kalima, the Dark Side of Parenting.
My mother likes to take the kids to church. She knows I’m pagan; she knows we are raising the kids in the pagan beliefs.
Now, it isn’t the church part that bugs me. It’s the way she behaves towards the kids regarding church. She expects the almost 5 year old to sit quietly for an hour.
Seriously?!? Have you MET my kids? There is no quiet; there is no sitting. I can barely get them through sitting at the table for supper. And they have something to do in that situation. But just sit there and listen for an hour? I don’t THINK so…
I'm sure that my mother's heart is in the right place. However, expecting such unrealistic behavior is just silly. And she gets mad and PUNISHES them for misbehaving and (wait for it) embarrassing her. (She should read this.) Just to get this out there, my mother has a very low threshold for embarrassment... the drop of a hat will make her feel looked at and ashamed. It might drive me a bit nuts.
I told her she shouldn't punish them for not behaving in a way they are not expected to behave any other time. I told her she may want to EXPLAIN in DETAIL what is expected of them when they are in church. I also told her it may be ridiculous to expect kids that young to behave the way she wants them to in church (and this isn't something that is only with my kids either... see?).
Her reaction? "You don't want me to take the kids to church because you don't believe in it."
Yeah, there's a bit of a point to that, but just a wee-bitty-bit. I let my kids learn about all religions and experience whatever religious experiences they show an interest in. I don't care if they go to Sunday school, church, synagogue, temple, whatever. I draw the line at forcing them to do something they are not ready for (such as, wait for it, sitting quietly for an hour being talked at), or anything that I see as mental/emotional manipulation. But I have nothing against the Christian/Catholic beliefs... I just don't agree with them.
I also think that the (fairly modern) belief that young children should go to church is ridiculous. As late as the 30s and 40s, many churches expected any child under about age 6 to stay home... BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T SIT STILL!!!
And you certainly shouldn't PUNISH someone for not being able to meet expectations that are, at least, uncommon skills for that person's capabilities. That would be like telling me to run a mile - like run for a whole mile - and getting mad at me cuz I'm a fat girl and passed out after 3/4 of a mile. It's just not right, ya know?
Sarah Burhman is one half of Pangaia Metaphysical Store. She is the brains behind the web design and organizes things for us. She is also the busy mom of two beautiful children, Bug and Lady Bug. She divides her time between the store, a full time career, raising two children and helping Michael Stormcrow to become who is meant to be. When she is not busy with all of that, and sometimes even when she is, she is working on projects for the Pagan Alliance Network, Pagan-Musings Podcast and her own aspirations to be an author.