Rector's Ramblings July 2, 2014
The busiest people I know are often parents. My spiritual director once coached me to use the word active instead of busy, so I’ll also admit that parents are often the most active people I know. It’s not that there’s merely a correlation between the type of parents who are active and the type of people who have kids – it’s most definitely causal. Children below the age of high school take over their parent’s lives, more so now than ever before, which makes for some crazy home calendars.
I am amazed at the families that have several kids in several activities and sports at the same time. Not only are there chauffeuring duties to be taken care of, there are other things that come with being a parent, from PTA, to classroom volunteering, to assistant coaching, to homework helper, to teaching Sunday School. There are studies that suggest our kids and our parents are under more stress than ever before. Kids and adults alike are on anxiety medications more than they used to be and it’s no wonder. I’m not looking forward to the crazy days that are on my doorstep even now, as both of mine enter elementary school next year.
Those of you who are done with active parenting remember what it was like. And unless you have your grandkids regularly, what you remember is nothing compared to what family life has become. Unstructured time is almost a thing of the past. Everything is programmed, and often, things are double booked. There is no easy way to get on top of it and get ahead of things. One of the questions I ask myself regularly is how the church can help in this regard? What can we do to support families and kids, who are plagued by being too busy?
I have one idea that I want us to try, but for it to work, I need your help. One of the dynamics that I referenced above is within our control to address. Like most churches, if you look around the Sunday School classrooms on Sunday mornings, you are likely to see a bunch of moms teaching the classes. These are the same moms (in theory it could be dads, but really, it tends to be moms) who are trying to keep 50 balls in the air, and to make sure their kids have a Sunday School to attend, they add the 51st ball to the mix. Some of our teachers are so strapped for time that the only way they can prepare for Sunday School is to skip church and prepare their lesson while church is going on! It happens all too often.
As we look at next year, I want to be able to minister to and with parents with kids, and the easiest way to do that is while their kids are in Sunday School. While the children receive their education, the parents can be partaking of their own spiritual formation, either by having a peer-centered group or by attending one of the options for adult formation that we regularly offer on Sunday mornings. The only way to do this, of course, is to recruit teachers outside of that demographic. Yes, that means finding teachers who don’t have kids in school right now. Maybe it’s empty nesters or those without kids. Maybe it’s those who miss their grandkids or don’t have grandkids of their own. Maybe it’s those who simply love to have fun and teach others about loving God. What I hope is that some of you reading this will pray about it and ask God if this is something you might be called upon to engage in.
Some of you are saying, “Hey, I put in my time, it’s someone else’s turn.” I understand that, and I appreciate where you’re coming from. And if you were one of those parents who did it all and “paid your dues,” stop and think for a moment about whether you would have found it helpful to drop the kids off at Sunday School and feed your own soul for a while during the most hectic part of your life? The Church has long believed in the concept of raising children as a village. Our baptismal services asks the whole congregation if we “who witness [their] vows will do all in [our] power to support [them] in their life in Christ?” Most of us have jubilantly responded, “I will”, without a second thought to how that will actually happen. This is one of those ways.
If you’ve got other ideas, we welcome those too. No matter what your response, however, be sure to pray for those parents you know. They work hard, and they can use our prayers.
Heavenly Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named, bless we beseech thee, all children, and give to their parents, and to all in whose charge they may be, thy Spirit of wisdom and love; so that the home in which they grow up may be to them an image of thy Kingdom, and the care of the parents a likeness of they love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.