My Partner in Parenting
by Lynn Klammer
As my children and I pulled out of the church parking lot Sunday morning I decided to scold my daughters, Rachel and Sarah, for not paying better attention during the service. Instead of focusing on the pastor, my seven- and eight-year-olds had spent the hour creating their own personal artwork.
“So what did you think of the sermon?” I called to the back seat of the van. “Can you tell me what you learned?”
I was prepared for silence. I was prepared for a poorly veiled attempt to bluff their way through an answer. I was even prepared for a blatant admission of guilt. I was not however, prepared for the response I received.
“Well” said Sarah, “it was about Moses and the bush that was on fire.” I was amazed, but even more surprised by what followed. Sarah went on to describe in some detail what the pastor had said, and even related the sermon to the children’s sermon they had that day. Little Rachel’s voice often chimed in, adding particular details here and there. I couldn’t believe it.
As I sat there, mystified by my children’s conversation, I was reminded of another incident. I had been sitting in church, again annoyed that the girls weren’t listening. The girls had children’s activity bulletins that indicated a spot to draw a seraphim. They had both asked me what a seraphim was, but I had promptly shushed them and directed their attention back toward the altar. My frustration mounted as both girls played with the paper in their laps, seemingly unaware of the pastor’s words . . . until suddenly they jumped into action. Both girls simultaneously grabbed up pencils and began feverishly drawing on their sheets. It was then that I realized the pastor had mentioned, and described in some detail, a seraphim. They had been listening after all.
These incidents of religious attentiveness are not unique in my family lately. Over the last several months, my children have asked me many questions about our faith, and often ask me to take them to church, but I’ve been suspicious of their motivation. Were they really interested in learning about their faith? Why did they really want to go? I continually wondered about these questions and worried over the possible answers. I couldn’t make any sense of it.
As most parents do, I worry about my children. I worry about their health, their education, their morals and values. But most of all I worry about my ability to guide them. I can take them to church, read them the Bible, and remind them daily of their faith. However, I can’t forge their faith. That’s something they must ultimately come to on their own, yet I haven’t trusted that to happen. When the girls drew the seraphim and Sarah related the message of the sermon, I doubted the truth that was so obviously in front of me. I questioned what I saw. Why did such small children want to go to church? We had just recently begun attending this particular church, so perhaps it was the novelty of the situation. Why did they suddenly have such an interest in their faith and ask so many questions about it? Maybe it was because they were seeking approval from me. Why was the adult message of the service reaching them? Perhaps it only seemed like it was.
As parents we often assume that our children are incapable of many things. We teach them, hear them say the words we want to hear, but often doubt what is really happening inside them. I don’t worry about my ability to guide my children quite as much anymore, now that I realize I have a little help. I don’t have to do this alone, and I don’t have to worry because God already knows and loves them. The quiet miracle God’s working within my children is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed as a parent, and I’ve decided to put my doubting questions aside and trust my partner in parenting. God’s there to help us all.
Reprinted from InSpirit
Lynn Klammer is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist from Michigan.