Over the years the question that I have been asked many times is, “What do we do as parents when our children don’t want to go to church anymore?” As difficult and worrisome as those words can be, don’t make plans to sleep in on Sunday mornings yet!

Listen to your child. Allow them to express their thoughts and feelings. At this stage, it may be difficult, but let them talk. Avoid the temptation to be defensive or argumentative. It is natural to want to defend your parental decision to attend church, but at this point just listen.

Discern. Is there any validity to why they don’t want to attend church? Their feelings may have nothing to do with spirituality, but could have to do with other things. Explore to understand where these feelings are coming from. Are they feeling disconnected from friends? Is there a personality clash with a teacher? Do they like their class?

Talk. If you discover that there are some issues that can be easily resolved, communicate on your child’s behalf. You can talk to other parents and maybe set up times for your child to spend social time with other children in their age group. Talk to your child’s leader at church and include them on what is happening, our desire is to partner with you. And my door is always open to you. I would love to help in the spiritual development of your children.

Answer their questions. As they mature they will have spiritual questions that you may or may not be able to answer, and that is great news. We want them to question. They cannot have a personal relationship with God if they don’t know Him. As parents, you get the opportunity to help in the development of this awesome relationship. Keep the lines of conversation open.

Understand. As children mature they have a need to start having some control about their lives. Let them have some options about themselves. They are trying to understand who they are and as part of this process they may begin to reject who everyone else wants them to be. Be sensitive to this stage, it is an important developmental part of their lives. If you allow them to make minor choices then they will not resist bigger decisions that are made for them, like church.

Pray daily for your children. God is a great partner for parenting!!

Dr. Debbie Porter