Confession 89: My Kids Don’t Like Church
I don’t know how many of you are currently raising kids who don’t like going to church. But if so, I’m joining the club.
At ages seven and five, I find it a travesty that I am already facing this issue in my home. At that age, I thought church was the coolest place on earth. My friends at church were my closest friends. And I couldn’t wait for Sundays, Wednesdays, or other church events to roll around each week.
But in my house, on Saturday nights, without fail, I hear these words from my little ones:
Do we have to go to Haitian church?
Why can’t we go to English church?
The kids at Haitian church are mean.
I don’t understand Haitian church.
It’s a fact: my kids are beginning to not fit in in their own country. Living in Haiti, without ever stepping foot on American soil, they are already becoming American. Being raised by two blans from Tennessee, this transition for them is inevitable. Put us in the states and the change in them would be considered natural. But for our family, who still resides in the birth country of our kids, the change from little Haitian children to little American children adversely affects many aspects of their life.
Six. That is how many times I heard someone at Emmaus House last week tell our kids in mid-conversation that they are forgetting their Creole. We speak some Creole in the house, especially when we discipline. And our kids hear Creole around Emmaus House, when we go into town, and at church. But a majority of their week is filled with their English speaking parents, English school, English music and films, and even those who speak English at Emmaus House. And so the more and more my kids are soaking up their second language, the more their first one is being diminished.
Besides language, their context is completely different than most kids in Haiti. They no longer relate or know how to socialize with the average Haitian child. They may live in the same culture as the kids around them, but their reality is extremely different. They live in a house with 24/7 electricity, eat mostly Americanized meals, have educated blans for parents, are homeschooled, have their own bedrooms and countless toys, and enjoy the luxuries most of the neighborhood kids could only dream about.
Not to mention their personalities are grossly different than most Haitian children. Their life experiences, the games they like to play, and they stories/jokes/memories they like to share aren’t typical down here. Although Nalandson’s favorite toy on the planet is his tin box of marbles, he has no idea how to make his own kite from plastic bags or a toy car made from a recycled Tampico bottle. And he took his first bucket shower the other night since moving out of his dad’s house almost two years ago.
Dalencia, who has lived with us twice as long as her brother, is even more far removed from her own culture. Just the other day, I had someone ask me if she was Jamaican because she has no trace of a Haitian accent. And with her favorite things under the sun being ballet, Frozen, and peanut M&Ms (She is MY girl, after all) other than the girls in her dance class, she barely knows how to relate to other Haitian girls her age.
Which takes us back to Haitian church. A place where all the kids in children’s church speak fluent Creole and zero English. A place where the Bible is read and songs are sung in French (A language my kids no nothing about). A place where a majority attend Haitian school and receive a far different education than my own. A place where the teaching style is simple rote memory and repetition (A learning style unknown at our homeschool table). A place where the kids dress the same, have similar homes, comparable routines, and have never heard of the movie Frozen. And even a place where kids treat my kids’ white parents as local celebrities. As my kids run out of their classroom to meet us on the street after church, they typically have to race and fight off a half-dozen other kids to get our attention first. Their fellow classmates want to touch us, grab for my long, straight hair, ask me for my jewelry, and look to Hunter for money. And when they don’t get the answers they like from us, they turn to Dalencia and Nalandson to assist them for a handout.
Because of this, my kids dread Sunday mornings. They beg us, often with tears streaming down their face, to go to church with other Americans. We do this periodically, both for our replenishment and their sanity. Worshiping with our American friends, our kids can pray, learn, socialize, and sing with others in their new language. There they can play with kids who look like them, speak like them, and who also love to sing Let It Go. There they can be seen with their parents and not feel different. There they can be themselves.
I hate Saturday nights. I hate them because I hate the church conversation with my kids. I hate that in effort to keep a good relationship with the local church and oversee our teens, I am having to push my kids’ needs aside. I want my kids to love the church like I grew up loving it. And at the pace we are going right now, Sunday mornings are their least favorite of the week.
So what is a mom supposed to do?
Honestly, I’m asking…
Related Posts of Mine: