Parenting as a Spiritual Discipline: Worship and Children with Differing Needs

During thanksgiving I had a hankering for some BBQ and Phil’s BBQ in Santee was the place to go. We met some friends that we hadn’t seen in a while and they brought their child who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, specifically, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).
This child did a great job in the loud restaurant. He wore headphones the whole time to help with noise and spent his time occupied with Star Wars Legos. Every once and a while he stopped and we fist bumped. That’s how I roll. These parents needed to bring there son, because he won’t stay with anyone else, we convinced our children to stay home, as they were tired and whiny. I thought it would be a better experience for all of us if they just spent time with their Noni and Papi.

Toward the end of our time together I asked them if they had a congregation they were worshiping with. What they told me was an interesting perspective that I have not had to think about.

If they go to a church where the worship is loud (i.e. Praise Band), then the noise could greatly disturb their son. If they go to a church that is more traditionally liturgical, then the times of quite could turn into large outbursts for whatever reason. Both types of churches brought potential risks.

This particular child needs to be with his mom. He is not able to go to the nursery or even be handled by his father, without mom being close at hand. If they go to a cry room there is a potentially volatile situation because there are more kids freaking out, potentially causing this child to also freak out.

Most of the time they opt to just not attend worship because of the potential mine fields for their child.

Being a pastor, I asked what could churches do to accommodate children with differing needs. Their response was this, “Be OK with a loud child in church.” It’s that simple.

Often we don’t know why a child is loud in church. But, it’s important that both parents and child are there. We need to make room for children, all children, to be in worship.


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Filed under Ministry Reflections, Parenting

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