Gridlock or Grace?
Patty, a first grade Sunday School teacher, just read a blog post from her church that suggested she tell parents how their children behaved during Sunday School. Okay, she thought, but how do you tell someone their child was not obedient or that she had behavior problems? How in the world do you approach the parents? Should she just put up with the bad behavior and “gut it out” every Sunday? That’s what she had been doing, and it made for a miserable experience for everyone in the classroom. Patty also wondered if most parents were even interested in how their kids behave in Sunday School.
Meanwhile, across town, Christy, mother of Luke and Emma, read the same blog. Ask the Sunday School teacher how her kids behaved? She wasn’t sure she wanted to know. Honestly, she thought her kids were just “active”. Didn’t those teachers understand that? Her kids weren’t perfect, nobody’s are, so what was the big deal? Besides, it is so embarrassing to be told your child is the “problem child”.
God’s church should be a safe place for parents and kids to get help. As Christians, we all, both parents and kids, are sinners who have been saved by grace and are in need of correction when we do wrong and encouragement when we do right. [That’s a large part of what Christian community is about: helping each other through difficulty and celebrating God’s work in our lives.]
Parenting with Grace
Christy can choose to act according to God’s Word and not let her embarrassment rule the day. She can crucify her pride and say, “How was Emma’s behavior today? Did she obey? Was she quiet during the story?” Christy can ask older, experienced parents for help. She can pursue biblical counseling offered for free to our church and community.
Teaching with Grace
Patty, the teacher, can take courage from the fact that she is pleasing God by seeking to help Emma and her parents. Instead of bottling up frustration or fear, she can look for repeated behavior patterns and humbly let Christy know, by saying something like, “I see a lot of potential for good in Emma. She has lots of energy and if we could get that under control, she could end up doing great things for Christ. You might want to consider getting some help with teaching her self-control.” Patty should start by saying something good she sees in Emma, then mention the problem, and finally finish off with restating the potential Emma has.
Partnering with Grace
Finally, mom Christie can learn to say, “Thank-you for your help,” to the teacher. Both parents and teachers should remember that though these conversations may be difficult, they are a perfect opportunity to serve the children and to enjoy the benefits of true community in the local church. The intentional cultivation of a thoughtful dialogue between parents and teachers not only helps parents, teachers, and children individually; it contributes to the church body as a whole by seeking to build up its individual parts through real and meaningful community.
Part 3 of this blog is forthcoming!