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Sooo I’ve been meaning to talk about some of the trauma I have around this but haven’t yet. I saw this tweet so now is as good of a time as any.

I grew up in the rural black church. We had Sunday school but not “children’s ministry.” I grew up with there being kids in church.
When I started attending a white Pentecostal church in college was when I first encountered children’s ministry, nursery, and a nursing mother’s room. Kids and even teens were kept separate from the rest of the church.
I spent several years at a church that had a kids ministry and an area for nursing mothers, but it wasn’t compulsory. Kids ran around all over. If I’m real, there were times when it was distracting.

Even before I had kids I was attentive to child noises.
And the way that I’m set up, I can find extraneous noises to be distracting or even anxiety inducing. You can ask my husband and kids, I’m particular about noises. I’m a mess. The lord is working on me.

Anyway, a lot of my formative adult church exps were w/o kids.
I attended a church we’re the pastor actually came off pretty hostile about kids in the sanctuary during services. Kids, esp babies, were not allowed in the sanctuary. if a kid made noise the family wld be flanked by ushers. You might even hear a comment abt it from the pulpit.
I want to insert here that I am someone who is easily distracted by extra noise when I’m talking. I have to be able to hear myself think and speak. It’s hard for me to talk with extra sounds and movement that I’m not prepared for. But I also preach and noise doesn’t bother me.
Anyway, I’m pulling at several different threads here to paint a picture.

I thought that it was a normal thing for kids not to be in church. I thought it was normal for families to be surveilled and policed during church.
When my family started attending our current church back in August, I found myself experiencing tremendous amounts of anxiety and discomfort in church. I don’t consider myself to be an encouragement person in most contexts, but I felt like I could not breathe in church.
I have a two year old (turns 3 in Jan) who is noisy. She has no chill and no behavior. We can’t do a thing with her, but that’s another story. I also have a five year old who has lots of feelings and many of them are big.
That should say anxious not encouragement. I don’t know why autocorrect hates me. Anyway. I found myself feeling really anxious in church with my kids, even though everybody said they were happy to see kids at church.
My family’s church doesn’t have many kids at all. Often, my girls are the only ones in service.

Anyway, I felt really on edge and everything every time we went to church.

My kids were experiencing something new too. They had only sat in church at my in-laws.
Gosh. I’m rambling and don’t mean too. Anyway...I realized after about two months of feeling so much anxiety and everything else that I was responding out of trauma from one particular church setting I was in.
Like I said earlier, the pastor at the church that I attended in college (same church we left in August) seemed to be borderline hostile to kids being in the church service and could be abrasive when distractions happened during his sermon.
In full disclosure this pastor also has ADHD, so I can see where that could add to some frustration, potentially. No justification for the abrasiveness though.

Anyway, I realized that I was carrying the anxiety from being in that context into my new context.
And I realized that there was an entirely different value system at play.

I think that having a nursery for babies and a kids ministry during service is a valuable service for parents and kids. At the same time, kids should be part of the community and not seen as a problem.
Anyway I rambled and did not unpack tat the wat that I wanted. I just realized that I was carrying so much internalized nonsense from a particular context.
I am especially thankful to the rector at our church who suggested we sit in the front instead of hiding in the back. My kids still act like they ain’t got no sense (well really my 2yo mostly), but I feel better about it.
The other thing that helped was hearing people and leaders in the church communicate that the were welcome and that they loved hearing our kids in the service because of what it meant to them.
I’ll say this and then I’ll shut up:

If your church is cool with kids being in the service, especially if you are a liturgical church (doesn’t apply as much to churches that are noisier and less structured), it’s so important that you communicate this to people.
Communicate it on your website and in your bulletin or worship folder. Please, go out of your way to communicate how y’all aren’t put off by noisy kids. That’s so valuable to parents if noisy kids.
And make sure people know where they can take fussy kids also. It’s so helpful to have a plan. If you’re renovating or building, I strongly suggest having a window into your sanctuary/auditorium/nave or some other way that parents and kids can still see what’s happening.
If you don’t have that (our church doesn’t), just knowing where we can step out is helpful. We only step out when our 2yo cries (she is LOUD).

My kids have basically made the adjustment although my oldest misses going to Children’s ministry.
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