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Sophie Lavery

Being a parent in church can be tough

Do you ever feel the demands of church and family get too much? You might not be alone.

I grew up in the church. I am a pastors kid and in many ways went into the life of marriage and ministry with my eyes open - but I don’t think anything prepares you fully for it, nor does anything prepare you for juggling it all alongside work and children.

In the past few years, God has brought many mothers (and fathers) into my ministry path, both Christian and non-Christian. Often they are struggling the balance of being a mum and raising children with very little sleep whilst often feeling lonely and guilty.

The church can be one of the best places to get support and feel part of a community yet somehow it manages to also be the place we feel so exposed and fearful about how we are managing church/ministry alongside our life outside and being a parent.

Both Jamie and I have always believed in church facilitating families and constantly remind parents that they and their children matter. It’s ok to be in the service with a child who isn’t happy to sit in silence and remain on a seat.

The biggest priority is that we are in church and show our children what it is to attend church regularly. You don’t always have to feel perfect. It is ok to be tired or feel a little under the weather and still come to church, in fact, to go is the best choice you can make.

Being a parent in church though can often lead you to feel the opposite. When we have had a full Saturday and church is the next day, with grouchy kids and a tired mum it can be a mammoth of a task!

My husband leaves pretty early every Sunday and there have been many times I have wondered how do I get the house straight and make the lunch ready for visitors, set up the crèche and speak to everyone I need to before the service with two kids in tow?! It can cross my mind…..argh I don’t want to go!

Really what my flesh is doing is trying to hide and avoid a morning I feel I can’t conquer. Its’ not unusual I get to church already exhausted and out of sorts.

Church and parenting is a juggle, but I want to show my children it is still worth it. I don’t have to have it all together and feel full of energy with perfect health. It’s ok to come to the cross with baggage. I’d rather be there with my baggage than not be there at all. It's important to me that I raise my children to know that avoiding church when I’m tired or low isn’t the answer.

I think parents have something to be proud of. However, in all that God has shown me recently, I feel God urging us to speak out a little more, relate and support one another much more than we do. It is so easy to post the beautiful flowers from our husbands on social media and ignore our hidden struggles.

If you are reading this and you are a parent who has overcome some of these challenges can I encourage you to chat to another mum who is going through them too? Help them to make the most of the season, not resent it. So many parents are relieved when they hear another say they have been there.

Every parent has experience of a sleepless night, a tantrum, or just a challenge they don’t know how to solve. Talking helps, it opens us up and builds relationships and community. It gives us a chance to pray with people and stirs us up to pray for those we meet; whether that in our toddler groups or in our churches. Wherever it is, it makes a difference.

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