Religious Services and Kids

Parents weigh in on a vital family ritual

by Cece Kaye | Updated 05 Aug 2015 at 8:40 AM

Should you take your kids to church (or temple, or mosque, or other house of worship) on a regular basis throughout their growing up years?

For many parents of faith, this is an easy question to answer (of course you should!). But for other parents across America, it’s not quite that simple.

Parents from many walks of life shared their thoughts about taking kids to religious services regularly:

I think church, temple, or mosque attendance for kids can be helpful in many ways. I fully expect (but hope not) that my girls will pull away from church, but look for something later in life. I want them to have deep-seated memories of what a safe, wonderful community our church is. When they go back, I want church to feel like a comfortable old sweater.  Bill from Alexandria, VA

I want my girls them to have deep-seated memories of what a safe, wonderful community our church is.

Just like brushing teeth. Better when done regularly. — Hester from Memphis, TN

Families “should” do whatever fits with their beliefs and makes them happy and fulfilled. (Unless it’s Scientology … from what I’ve read they don’t treat children well.) On the flip side, I’m finding there is almost more stigma for secular families. We don’t go to church. I’d much rather spend my Sunday morning hiking than in a pew. We celebrate Santa and the Easter Bunny, not Christ. I rarely mention this because it’s still very much frowned upon.  Erin from Alexandria, VA

I love my [Episcopalian] church, but to be honest, I think I’ve taken my kids just a handful of times. As someone who was formally raised Jewish, I would have exposed them to more of my religion if the children’s service wasn’t so long and longer than any other service. The children’s service should be 20 minutes max, or there should be an abbreviated service at church school for the kids.  Gina from Alexandria, VA

It’s part of our culture and part of their education. That being said, I think the decision is a function of personal belief and circumstances. Neither of my sons would go unless we insisted. They’d rather stay home and play video games. However, that’s what parents are for. My children will get to choose their path when they are older. My wife and I have ensured that they will make their choices based on knowledge. — Joel from Orange County, CA

YES!!!!!! And sit in the front row!!  Kim from Owensboro, KY

No, but my daughter always wants to go. Worst mother of year. — Sharon from Indianapolis, IN

Neither of my sons would go to church unless we insisted. They’d rather stay home and play video games. However, that’s what parents are for.

Yes. Doing anything positive together as a family ties you to the community at large. Find a group that is healthy and happy and shares your values and lifestyle. Whether it is a traditional church or a spiritual practice, positive rituals within a community are a win-win. Furthermore, countless studies show that families who have a spiritual practice and go to church, synagogue or temple tend to endure. (This is dependent on whether it’s a healthy environment for your family and there aren’t bad influences.) — Mai from Alexandria, VA

We attend church regularly and participate in a range of activities. So far at least, our kids enjoy going and get a lot out of their experiences, friends, and ministers. Even if I didn’t believe, I hope that I would take them so they could make their own decisions about faith. At the very least, I want them to know and understand what church, faith, and religion are all about. Chris from San Jose, CA

Kids need exposure to the spiritual and the moral discipline of organized religion.

Yes. I believe kids need exposure to the spiritual and the moral discipline of organized religion. If nothing else, it’s part of being a well-educated person, so that one has a frame of reference when studying religions different from one’s own, and for when it comes time to make one’s own choices with regard to religion. — Gigi from Chicago, IL

If church weren’t a Sunday morning thing, would it be more popular with families? But if not then, when? My husband’s family is Hindu and I am Lutheran. We go to church most Sundays and whenever there’s a Hindu ceremony to attend. I feel good that we’re exposing the kids not only to the diversity of religion but also acknowledging that culture and religion are, for many, intertwined. I expect that some day they’ll choose their own path. I suspect it will be an interesting mashup. Cynthia from Queens, NY

We go often, not always, and love the opportunity to serve others through the church outreach programs.

We take our young boys to temple. They like it. A phrase that my mom was never able to say that we have said to [our oldest] is this: “If you don’t behave you can’t go to temple tonight.” But it’s building a foundation, we hope. — Howie from Hartford, CT

We go to church often and the kids sit through the service. We all practice good manners, listening to others, following instructions, learning about history, singing in public and feeling welcome and included. Can you tell it’s about community and not just religion? We love the opportunity to serve others through the church outreach programs. Of course, the kids also get a religious foundation and a wonderful community of people who know and care about them. — Sue from Alexandria, VA

Yes. We go for faith, family and so that our children know they are loved by God regardless of what may befall their parents. Caryn, Columbus, OH

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