Kids and UU services, is this normal? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH has been interested in going to church (he misses the things that were a big part of his childhood). I told him I'd find the closest UU congregation, BUT ...

I'm looking at their website and it says

Quote:
On a typical Sunday morning, people of all ages are welcomed into our sanctuary for worship. Following the Words for All Ages, children and youth are invited to religious education classes. We offer child care for infants and toddlers through age 4, and classes for older children up to middle school youth. We have found that offering flexibility around age groups helps us to meet the unique needs of each family. Older youth are invited to join us for Sunday worship, and to participate in youth group activities that generally meet after church service. Every so often, all ages of our congregation stay together for a full, intergenerational worship service.
So they "offer" childcare, but older youth are "invited" to join the service? I take that to mean the kids they're "offering" childcare for are NOT "invited".

The other stuff on their site seems very family-friendly. What's up with the childcare thing? Is this a normal UU approach? I mean, should I bother looking for another or is that going to be the same at all of them?

Me , DH , Emmy (5/08), and new baby Tilda (1/10)
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#2 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 01:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EmmysMama View Post
DH has been interested in going to church (he misses the things that were a big part of his childhood). I told him I'd find the closest UU congregation, BUT ...

I'm looking at their website and it says



So they "offer" childcare, but older youth are "invited" to join the service? I take that to mean the kids they're "offering" childcare for are NOT "invited".

The other stuff on their site seems very family-friendly. What's up with the childcare thing? Is this a normal UU approach? I mean, should I bother looking for another or is that going to be the same at all of them?

Could be just awkward wording. I'd call and talk to someone to clarify.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#3 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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I know it's normal in the UU church that we go to. I really do love it. They are very family friendly for us and sometimes my children like to be with me.

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#4 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh that's what I was wanting, unschoolinmom. I want my kids to be with me. I thought it was odd that kids would be separated since so many MDC mamas have such good things to say about UU churches.

I emailed them to see what they say.

Me , DH , Emmy (5/08), and new baby Tilda (1/10)
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#5 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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it sounds to me like they are just saying the older youth would get a lot out of the regular stuff and should not limit themselves to the youth programs. Where as the younger kids are welcome to sit in but may not get much out of it.

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#6 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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The ones I've gone to, there is always child care available but children are allowed at the services if it's what they and/ or their parents want. Some of them have a soundproof(-ish) cry room and some don't, depends on the building. I pretty much always use childcare for DS though, so I can focus on the service better, but when he was a young baby (under 1) I kept him with me. We just moved so I don't know the setup for what will be our new church, but he's at the age where Religious Education is beginning and I would prefer him to attend that so that he can get the, well, religious education.
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#7 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 02:51 PM
 
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it sounds to me like they are just saying the older youth would get a lot out of the regular stuff and should not limit themselves to the youth programs. Where as the younger kids are welcome to sit in but may not get much out of it.
This.

And it could be a preference of the church itself to not have children in the service. DH and I visited an Assembly of God church like that...if you didn't drop your kid in nursery or whatever you were banished to the "cry room" off to the side. *shrugs* I'd call and ask before showing up just in case.

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#8 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't heard back from them yet but I looked up the other two in the general (VERY general) area. Those also say "we have childcare for little ones and RE for youngsters during the service".

Me , DH , Emmy (5/08), and new baby Tilda (1/10)
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#9 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 04:50 PM
 
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My impression is that most UU churches are (justifiably) proud of their religious education programs and also have the philosophy that most sermons would not be much interest to younger children. Consequently, children are "invited" to go to RE after starting the service with their parents.

Reading the quote from the web site it sounds very much like something we would say on the web site for my UU church. I honestly think they are trying very hard to indicate that young kids are "invited" to go to RE, and that is probably what most kids would prefer, but they are not required to do so. They can stay with you for the whole service if you and/or your kids want. Saying older youth are "invited" to attend the whole worship is just a politic way of saying they don't offer any separate programming for this age group during the service. My church has used that phrase when they are not offering RE when they usually do (i.e. There will be no 4th-6th grade class at 11:30 this week, but kids this age are invited to attend the service).

The childcare mention is just because formal Religious Education does not start until around age 4, but they want you to know there is someplace young children can go if you don't want them to stay with you during the service. I think they are just trying to let you know the option is available.

The "every so often" sentence refers to Intergenerational services that are specifically designed to appeal to all ages. Sermons at these services tend to be very short and kid-friendly. There also tends to be more congregational participation. At my church we have 9-10 of these per year.

My UU church is extremely family-friendly. I could be wrong that the church you are considering is family-friendly as well, but based on what you say about the rest of the web site I think it is unlikely that it is not family-friendly. My only caution is that if you come from a religious background that feels there is some sort of higher purpose for training kids to endure church quietly and that they need to be there every week for every minute of the service itself even if they are miserable, well that is definitely not UU. My daughter loves her RE class. While she enjoys the occasional Intergenerational service, on a regular basis she would much rather go to class than stay with me. However, when we first started attending my church and she was very young and experiencing some separation anxiety, she just stayed with me and it was never a problem at all.

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#10 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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We attend a UU Church and my 16.5 yr old actually runs the nursery (under 2 area). She kinda rocks it though because my middle is 9 and my youngest is 10 months so she is a pro at the whole baby thing, breast milk, pumps, cloth dipes, etc. :

I am also on the RE committee for the program and we do it this way (and it is typical in all UU Churches)

Everyone is upstairs in the hall for the beginning of service, then the littles go up front for a story (or stay in their seats for a story) with a meaning/ moral. Then the littles go down to the RE rooms (divided by age) and they get to do an age appropriate craft, learn a little bit about what is being taught (last month we did Buddhism and what it means to me which was SO cute for the 3-5 yr olds) and sometimes we play a game.

We teach about being a good friend, being gentle, respecting ourselves, our community and our environment. Quite often the program for the 3-5 group is about the environment, recycling, composting or how we can all help the Earth. The 6-8 group does a craft about recycling or composting, learns about another religion for 15 min (usually through a story with photos and question and answer period) and then they play a quiet game. The older group 9-12 learns about something more complex and interesting, we challenge them to go out and do something different this week, make a difference, take field trips to other churches (we went to a Buddhist Monestary last month and they had a special feast and ceremony for the kids and they LOVED it!!) and learn about making our own cleaners at home, how to follow refuse, reuise and recycle effectively... all kinds of things.

If the kid are too young for an age group class by alot, they play in the nursery. For us Denise has board games, blocks, lego, shape puzzles and teaches them songs. She usually only has 3 kids max in the nursery at once. When the nursery is quiet (one child) and that child is about 2-3 she takes them to the littlest group and helps them sort of participate if they like, or she keeps them with her and they have stories or go into the garden.

Another thing our kids do during RE class is time in the community garden beside the Church and they LOVE weeding then picking something to take home and eat. Our little grden is full of little garden tools for littles to use and they get to put on a special garden apron to keep their clothes clean.

After service we have coffee/ tea/ juice and baking to snack on while we socialize. I am the Hospitality Committee Chair so quite often I am organizing that and the kids love to get juice and a cookie or piece of banana bread and sit with their new buddies from class and chatter on in the corner. It gives the parents time to chat as well.

Go a few times, get a feel for it. Be open minded and I am sure you will find after the first time that the kids WANT to go with the others and play games, do crafts and talk about stuff that we all believe in. We had one mom come who told me for sure that her kids would be staying beside her all the time, only. Weeeeell... it was hard for them to sit through the 3 min meditation time quietly, it was boring for them to sit there and listen and they were curious as to where the other kids went. Next thing you know my teenager had her 2 yr old on her hip, her 3 yr old and 4 yr old trailing behind her and they were downstairs making paper mache mock-composter homes for the worms in the garden. : It lasted 2 weeks of them sitting with her and then they were in love with the little kids program and the people who ran it.

For us we have a few trained RE teachers and we usually have a parent helper or two per week. We usually have 12-16 kids.

Another way to get to know them is volunteer to help out in the RE class for a few weeks, give the kids a chance to get to know friends and the teachers and for you to get comfy.... then enjoy the service and the kids can enjoy their little kids service.
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#11 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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I'd just call to ask. Our website though well intentioned, doesn't nearly explain our style. I'm United Church, which is somewhat similar. We have a nursery in the back of our sanctuary, which the kids stay in, although if they are old enough for Sunday school, they're welcome to take the class (songs, crafts, age appropriate lesson etc.), or they can stay in the nursery with their parents, or pews if the parents/kids want.

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#12 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No, I don't think kids need to learn to be quietly miserable through a church service, I just didn't expect them to be totally separated. I'd read about RE in the UU thread but somehow I didn't catch that the kids are taken out of the service to do it. I guess I figured it was separate like my nephew's Catholic catechism classes.

I'm sure DD1 would like playing with the other kids, I just don't want to feel pressured to send her, and me to be sitting there with DD2 while the other infants are in the nursery. I don't like sticking out. I guess especially on a visit, I want to blend in as much as possible. I'm shy. (Which is why I posted here and emailed instead of just calling them, lol!)

Oh and I'm sure they're extremely family-friendly. Their calendar has some sort of gym class for littles and parents, and there are tons of pictures of kids.

Me , DH , Emmy (5/08), and new baby Tilda (1/10)
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#13 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 06:42 PM
 
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I went back and re-read my post and realized that line about the kids being miserable was harsh and not what I intended to say at all! Sorry about that!

When I first started investigating UU churches I read a line on a website about the kids going off to their own programming and it turned me off too.

After attending and being a member of a UU church for years now I get more where they are coming from. The thing is with Catholics and some other religions attending church is not just something you do for fun, it is an obligation, and the kids are brought up with that in mind. Kid's Sunday School is offered at a different time than Mass because everyone is supposed to go to Mass, at least from Confirmation on. At a UU church attendance is not obligatory and for many kids more spiritual growth can occur in a class than listening to a sermon. I think UU websites may be trying to make that difference in perspective clear, and end up going too far the other way.

I certainly hope you will not feel pressured to send your dd to RE and I would be surprised if you are. At my church visitors frequently keep their kids of all ages with them, and there are always as least a few kids who don't go to RE at every service, so you should not stick out.

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#14 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't really take offense, I just didn't want you to think *I* thought that.

I guess I can understand that kids might get more out of a little gathering just for them. I just wasn't picturing a greeting and then all the kids leaving. Reading it that way really reminds me of some of the churches here where kids just aren't welcome, period.

I guess I thought we'd light some candles and everyone from newborns to centenarians would hold hands and sing. You know, since I read about it on MDC.

And thank all you UUers for explaining it more. It really does sound different than their website blurb!

Me , DH , Emmy (5/08), and new baby Tilda (1/10)
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#15 of 19 Old 08-04-2010, 07:54 PM
 
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They do leave. But they leave so sweetly, to a song; in my UU we sing them out with "As you go, may joy surround you, as you go, go in peace". It's really sweet.

ETA: Usually that's in a partially intergenerational service. The kids are there for the first part, where there's usually a story and they call all the "kids and kids at heart" down to the front to hear the story, which is often illustrated and animated by adults in the church. Then they get sung out.
In a regular service, that's not an issue, as there are rarely kids. Most of them are in RE. They're not given any special attention in a regular service. In a fully intergenerational service, the service is geared more towards kids. Not entirely, but some.

HTH.

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#16 of 19 Old 08-05-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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sounds typical to me. We move a lot, and every congregation we've visited is VERY family friendly.

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#17 of 19 Old 08-05-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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WE have something similar on our website but my kids/all kids have always been welcomed to stay at the service if they preferred. Lots of moms have little ones with them especially if they are still nursing. And there is a fair amount of parents moving about to meet the needs of their kids.

We also have a room in the back where parents can go if their kids need to move around and/or be louder. You can still hear the service but the service can't hear you -lol.

A couple of things - there have been some services where I prefer my younger kids not stay as the content can be upsetting for them. The RE program is wonderful and for the vast majority of the time they would rather be there.

Go and give it a try.
Good luck
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#18 of 19 Old 08-09-2010, 07:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EmmysMama View Post
I guess I thought we'd light some candles and everyone from newborns to centenarians would hold hands and sing. You know, since I read about it on MDC.

I love this! And even though it is very funny, I can see where you might get this impression from reading about UU on MDC because, well, I've probably given that exact impression in my own posts about UU.

When I think about my church, the feeling I get is actually fairly well-represented by this image. All of the weekly services aren't like this of course, but just being at church often is for me. My DD was pretty shy and very attached to me when we first started attending and now she is so obviously completely at home there, it warms my heart to see it. She will walk right up to the minister without me to ask him a question. This past Sunday our Ministerial Intern for the past year gave his last sermon. In the sermon he made a joke about one reason he felt so totally welcomed by our congregation was that it took him about 3 months to figure out which parents went with which kids. Kids at our church are welcomed and cared for by the whole community.

We have had a party at the church on Valentine's Day the last few years. At the last party there was called dancing (folk dancing and square dancing) and it was so much fun! Some kids danced with their parents, some danced with other adults and some danced with each other. Some did all three at different times. It was wonderful to watch them having fun and feeling comfortable enough to do that.

I have had other people's kids run up and give me a spontaneous hug or ask for help with something. I have had parents ask if their child could sit with us for the first part of the service because they needed to be working in the kitchen or down in RE getting a classroom ready or something. One time there was something I needed to do, so my daughter sat with one of the oldest members of our church who is 92 now! And we do light candles and the chalice and sing at every service and I have seen and admired many babes in slings and wraps, so there you go!

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#19 of 19 Old 08-09-2010, 07:43 PM
 
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We belong to a UU congregation. You are welcome to keep your kids with you during the service if you'd like, but almost no one does. They have a really excellent RE program which my kids enjoy a great deal. On the rare occasion they have to sit through the service, they are pretty bored.
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