Child invited to attend friend's house of worship - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-20-2009, 01:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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If you had a child who had a good friend, and she went to a sleepover at friend's house and was invited to the friend's house of worship the next morning, would you let them?

Would it depend on your child's age? the degree of difference of the two faiths? Would you exclude a certain faith because of your own negative experience with it? Would you offer to go with your child?

Just curious. We are eclectic Hindu/Unitarian type people, and our 8yo child is good friends with a girl who is Christian. She was not allowed at our child's slumber party because they had church early the next AM and mom didn't want her to be tired for it. Now my dd is invited for a sleepover at their house. They did not mention church in the morning, so I will just pick her up early if they have church. I was thinking about when or if she might get invited, what would I do.

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Old 06-20-2009, 01:45 AM
 
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I was in that situation quite a bit growing up, and tbh, it was always v. uncomfortable for me.

We were raised strictly hindu, in the middle of the bible belt, if that makes a difference.

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Old 06-20-2009, 01:51 AM
 
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I would not allow my child to attend a religious service with a friend or relative until he has demonstrated excellent critical thinking skills and assertiveness. Even then, I would be very wary and avoid it if at all possible. I remember attending services of other faiths when I was a kid and feeling pressured into behaviors and statements that I would not have otherwise done or made. I want my kids to encounter religion with a critical eye from the outside before they are left alone at a faith gathering with people who may wish to plant seeds of conversion.

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Old 06-20-2009, 01:53 AM
 
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To me if I would allow them to sleep over then I would allow them to go. It's not a matter of the difference in faith as I believe in exposure to multiple beliefs but how safe i feel my child is with the family. Does that make sense? Though if I felt it would cause problems in the future (like if the family is over zealous about their religion) then I would refrain.

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Old 06-20-2009, 03:00 AM
 
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we don't allow sleepovers but I *think* if we did and the situation came up i would allow them to attend a friends place of worship. We are conservative Christians (we attend a independent fundamental baptist church) but openly discuss what other churches/denominations teach, etc. We've visited quiet a few different churches over the years finding out where we belong so I'd more than likely view it as a learning opportunity..

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Old 06-20-2009, 03:11 AM
 
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I would not allow my child to attend a religious service with a friend or relative until he has demonstrated excellent critical thinking skills and assertiveness. Even then, I would be very wary and avoid it if at all possible. I remember attending services of other faiths when I was a kid and feeling pressured into behaviors and statements that I would not have otherwise done or made. I want my kids to encounter religion with a critical eye from the outside before they are left alone at a faith gathering with people who may wish to plant seeds of conversion.
exactly this.

i would probably be very wary of allowing my kids to take in a worship without me there. i attended church with my friends after sleepovers a lot as a pre-teen/teen... i dont think it was very beneficial to my developing self.

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Old 06-20-2009, 06:42 AM
 
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I grew up as a Reform Jew in the Bible Belt. I went to various church services with friends all the times (mostly various Protestant denominations). I sometimes found it boring, but never felt particularly uncomfortable and I love knowing lots of beautiful hymns!
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Old 06-20-2009, 06:52 AM
 
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I would not allow my child to attend a religious service with a friend or relative until he has demonstrated excellent critical thinking skills and assertiveness. Even then, I would be very wary and avoid it if at all possible.
Same here. I let my kids go on sleepovers on Saturdays, but am sure to pick them up BEFORE church if it is a family that attends church. Which church it is wouldn't really matter to me, though to be honest, I'd be ok with Unitarian years earlier than anything else.

My oldest is almost 13, and I'm still saying no to church with friends. I think she could hold her own, but I don't want to put her in a situation where I don't know what will be "taught". You tell my kid that gays go to hell or sex before marriage is a sin and I will come unglued.

So no, I don't let my kids go to church services or activities if I can help it.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:23 AM
 
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Unless they belonged to a very unusual church, I'd let my child go with a family I would let her have a sleepover with. It wouldn't particularly bother me if there views were quite different from mine. I'm confident that my influence is greater than that of other people, and honestly, kids are going to hear other points of view whether you allow it or not. Presumably your daughter has already realized her friends family has different religious beliefs than yours.

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Old 06-20-2009, 11:28 AM
 
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If I felt very safe with the family, and my child wanted to go, I would consider it.

We have friends who are River Brethren (related to Amish), and I'd absolutely be thrilled if my ds's had the opportunity to spend summers with them on their farm, and attend all their church stuff with them. I've already asked my friend if when our boys are teens I can ship them down every fall for the youth conference. I never was a member of her church and never will be, but of all the wonderful, safe places my sons could spend time, the RB youth conference is at the top of my list. : Our kids regulalry do Vacation Bible School stuff with churches of different denominations from ours.

If a religion or denomination had radically different values than I did, I'd hesitate. If it was something I would be extremely upset about if my child decided to join, I wouldn't let them go without me, and without the opportunity to talk about it later on.
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:29 AM
 
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To me if I would allow them to sleep over then I would allow them to go. It's not a matter of the difference in faith as I believe in exposure to multiple beliefs but how safe i feel my child is with the family. Does that make sense? Though if I felt it would cause problems in the future (like if the family is over zealous about their religion) then I would refrain.
If I am comfortable enough with the family to allow a sleepover, then I would trust them to take my DC to church, even if we are not fo the same beliefs. If I suspected that they belonged to church with a mission to convert or force prayer, then iprobably would not be sending my DC to thier house for a sleepover to begin with. I am not particularly religious...perhaps if I were, I would be less comfortable having my schild exposed to another faith without my being there to explain how it fit in with our own beliefs, etc. There is also nothing wrong with picking your child up before they go to church, if that is what makes you most comfortable.

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Old 06-20-2009, 04:00 PM
 
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My gut reaction is that if my child is interested, I'd let them. No one wants to be the mom refusing their child a diversity of experiences, right? However, thinking back to the kids I knew when I was younger who totally earnestly -- just from not really knowing any better -- were approaching me with a persistent "but I don't want you to go to hell" take on discussing their religion ... I honestly don't know. It would have to be case by case.
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Old 06-20-2009, 05:44 PM
 
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I think it would very much depend upon the religion/denomination. In particular, there are a few Christian denoms in which I had experience with as a child, in being pressured to convert--even though I was already being raised a Christian of a different denomination--at VBS, at a revival, and once or twice at church services, as a preteen. I would prefer to not ever put my DD in that situation.

I am not raising my daughter as a Christian. She is, however, exposed to other households that are--relatives and friends both. Right now she's spending several weeks at my mother's house. My sister is taking charge of her on weekends for the most part, so that so far the issue of whether she'd go to church with my mom hasn't come up, though DD and I talked about it before she left--mostly about how to behave. I'm not too worried about the Lutherans (even Evangelical Lutherans) trying to convert her in the course of a couple of weeks. Just as I would not worry about one or a few visits at many, many other churches.

My mother told me DD had a conversation with my teenage foster sister about religion. sis was worried that I'd be mad at her, but all she did was honestly answer DD's questions about what she believes, and I have no problem with that.

When she's in middle school, we will do a comparative religion study, and I will take her to the services of as many different religions, churches, etc., as I can, as part of that. After that, once we've had a chance to discuss religion and she's begun to gain her own understanding and form her own beliefs (rather than parroting what she's taught), it will be different.

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Old 06-20-2009, 05:56 PM
 
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It would really depend on the religion/denomination. If it was a group that made a point of praying for "unbelievers" and proclaiming its way to be the only way or did a lot of preaching about hellfire and damnation, I'd pass. Otherwise, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
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Old 06-20-2009, 06:38 PM
 
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It would depend on my feelings about the friend's family and the particular religion. If I thought there was any attempt to proselytize or if it were a denomination that I find troubling, then no. Otherwise it would be OK, but we'd talk about it afterward.
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:04 PM
 
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My gut reaction is that if my child is interested, I'd let them. No one wants to be the mom refusing their child a diversity of experiences, right? However, thinking back to the kids I knew when I was younger who totally earnestly -- just from not really knowing any better -- were approaching me with a persistent "but I don't want you to go to hell" take on discussing their religion ... I honestly don't know. It would have to be case by case.
See, this is the thing. One, I don't think the situation the OP is describing - or that my kids have had occur - is child-driven. It is situational; they happen to be at the friend's house on Sunday morning due to a Saturday night sleepover.

So I'm not saying no to something my child is interested in learning more about. That would be different. In that case, I'd probably go to that church's website to do some reading, and attend a service myself, and try to talk to the pastor or youth group leader BEFORE letting her go.

And I am all about my kids having a diversity of experiences, but not ones I consider harmful. There are many things that are said in sermons that I consider against my moral beliefs, and I don't want my young, impressionable kids being exposed to that - especially without me there to know what is happening.
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:50 PM
 
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I grew up in a non religious houshold and not only attended several diferrent churches with friends' families and went to VBS with a friend but went to a Christian College. I am still pretty ecclectic when it comes to religion. My DD has attended at least three different services with friends. And she's still ecclectic with us
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Old 06-20-2009, 09:11 PM
 
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I would allow my child to go to a religious service, as long as I trusted the family and thought they would work to make my child feel comfortable at the service.

When I was a kid, growing up nonreligious, my best friend was Catholic. Her family was pretty devout, so my friend always had to choose whether she wanted to get church over with on Saturday afternoon or if she wanted to wait until Sunday morning. So often on Saturday afternoons she and I would walk to church and I'd sit through the service with her. I always found the experience mildly interesting, but always realized I had NO desire to ever be Catholic.

My kids are growing up Unitarian Universalist, and I'd expect that when confronted with a stricter faith (as almost all are....), they would also feel happy to have such freedom in their religion.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:46 PM
 
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Even as an adult, I am VERY uncomfortable attending services with my friends of other religions. I recall attending service with a friend of mine once, and AWANAS with another. I was very uncomfortable with the whole thing, and didn't really like the approach the teachers/pastors had. I have issues going to service with my in-laws and my father's family. Even weddings and funerals weird me out.
Personally, I would not allow DD to spend Saturday night at someone's house. Friday night to Saturday would be better to avoid the whole mess.

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Old 06-21-2009, 09:24 PM
 
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we simply do not do sleepovers on Saturday night. if someone must sleep over with us on a Saturday night I let the parents know that they either need to pick their child up before church or they will need to attend with us (such as a babysitting sort of deal).

i do not allow my children to attend church with their friends. they attend with their dad because I have no choice but i feel church s really important I don't want them being given close but contradictory doctrine that would confuse them.

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Old 06-21-2009, 10:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all your answers!

I agree that my kids would need critical thinking skills before they were to attend another church or house of worship. They are very much aware of different beliefs. Some of their school and neighborhood friends go to church and we have talked about why they go and why we don't. We are careful not to put any faith down, just to explain that people pray in different ways, they go to xyz church to pray, we stay home and pray or go to the temple.

I also remember going to churches with friends. Sometimes I felt awkward and other times it was fun. Mostly I just felt lost because I didn't know what was going on.

As it turns out the sleepover was cancelled. I decided before that happened not to let her go to this girl's church just because I don't know what church it is and what the environment was like there. I am more open to some churches than others, becuase some don't pressure people like others do.

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Old 06-23-2009, 03:50 AM
 
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It would really depend on the religion/denomination. If it was a group that made a point of praying for "unbelievers" and proclaiming its way to be the only way or did a lot of preaching about hellfire and damnation, I'd pass. Otherwise, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Totally agree. I grew up hearing about "burning in hell" and that people who were gay, women who spoke out/wore pants/didn't cower before their husbands, and anyone else who dared step out of line would go to hell. And, of course, that the Bible prohibits interracial coupling. I won't allow my children to be exposed to that at a young age, but to be honest, I wouldn't allow them to spend the night with a family I thought believed that way.

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Old 08-15-2009, 01:28 AM
 
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It would highly depend on the family/church/etc. One that pushs others to convert to their religion/denomination would be a BIG no-go on my list. than again - i likely wouldn't allow my child to send the night in a situation like that either.

Also - i dont think my worry would be so much with the family she is attending church with, but other people my children may encounter/interact with.

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Old 08-16-2009, 08:47 AM
 
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glad that you came to a decision that you didnt have to use ultimately.

for me a lot depends on the child and personality.

where my dd is concerned i would let her go coz she is v. curious. we also have a fellowship we go to which is a combination of hindu/christian group. my dd has a v. strong sense of who god is to her. to the extent of politely arguing with our fellowship elders. as well as logically exchanging ideas with a jehovah's witness who was kind enough to talk to her.

before she went i would explain to her what to expect - basic outline if i didnt know. i know if anyone says service she wont go as she knows they are boring because at our fellowship she finds it boring. and then i would let her go. mainly coz it would open up dialogue with me and we could explore our faiths more openly.

we've come real close to her going a few times. however they were always canceled at the last minute.

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Old 08-17-2009, 11:33 PM
 
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I would do what my mom did and encourage her to go. I'm pretty comfortable in a variety of worship formats and I generally understand the basic rules - when I can take communion, when and what needs to be covered, when and where.

I don't worry too much about the affects of a single church service on my kid, but "vacation bible school" or a faith-based sleep-away camp is another matter.

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Old 08-18-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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I'm totally cool with it. We're UU and what better way to learn about religious diversity then to experience other religions first hand?

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Old 08-18-2009, 04:25 PM
 
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As another poster said, if I trust the family enough to have my DD sleep over, I trust them to take her to a service without trying to convert her.

Afterwards, it would be great fodder for a discussion...I try to allow my kids to have many diverse experiences and to come in contact with many different beliefs and lifestyles.
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