ADDoration Ministries
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
God is SO GOOD; although I have ADD.

ADHD children and church worship

ADHD CHILDREN AND CHURCH WORSHIP

Parents with ADHD children do have a challenge. This writing is partially an expression of sympathy to the parents. I will not give any cut and dried recommendations, because each case is different.

MY CHILDHOOD CHURCH BACKGROUND

I begin with my own childhood memory, having been an ADHD. When an infant, I was baptized in a Methodist church, by sprinkling. As a toddler, my parents seldom went to church, possibly because of my ADHD. Mother did teach me a little about God and Jesus, when I was small. At about age 8, my parents switched to an American Baptist church and began to regularly go to church, and also take me to Sunday school.

In church, I was very fidgety. Dad frequently reprimanded me for my misbehavior in church. Dad especially was intolerant of my giggling, when something in church struck me as funny. In retrospect, I wonder whether Dad was really worshipping, if he was making sure that I behave. Mother also expressed disapproval of some of my actions in church.

The word "irrelevant," as a child I thought that meant to do something bad in church. I had the word confused with "irreverent." I could go on with other childhood word misunderstandings. When I first came upon the Psalm, "How manifold are your works," that was shortly after I learned a little about automobile engines -- hence I thought the Psalm spoke of that engine part that carries the fuel mixture to the cylinders. Also in childhood, I thought that the Chrysler automobile was named after Jesus Christ (Christ-ler). It was named after Walter Chrysler.

However, I thank God that my parents did regularly take me to church, as a child. That laid the earliest groundwork for the spiritual relationship that I have today. My Sunday school lessons were my earliest exposure to the Bible.

At age 13, as a Baptist, I was immersion baptized; however that really was equivalent to what other denominations call "Confirmation." As a teenager, I was active in BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship). I had a crush on the pastor's daughter.

WHETHER TO BRING ADHD CHILDREN TO CHURCH

Among Christians, there is considerable disagreement. I shall not give any cut and dried recommendation.

Some Christians argue that all children should be welcome in God's house. This argument is scriptural, because Jesus said, "Let the children come." As one sister in Christ once pointed out, "When Jesus said 'Let the children come' he didn't make it conditional on that the children behave." And besides, it can be argued what better way is there to get the child into the habit of worship.

Some churches even encourage children to take Communion, as my own church does. But that brings up the issue of firmly entrenched denominational traditions that sometimes say, "Not until Confirmation."

On the other hand, misbehaving children does definitely disturb other worshippers. This is regardless of whether the child is ADHD; although ADHD children have more of a tendency. In some cases, the hyperactivity causes the children to swing their legs like a pendulum and kick the pew in front. Kicking the pew is annoying to anybody sitting in that pew. Keeping quiet is often a tall order for ADHD children. But it also is a disturbance to hear parents say, "Sh-h-h-h-h."

In some cases, the parents ought to consider being considerate of other worshippers and wait until the child is older. However the parents want to worship. Can you really worship while monitoring your child's behavior?

If your local church has a nursery, that's the way to go. Some churches have a junior worship where children go after the children's sermon.

 

Speaking of the children's sermon, sometimes it is educational to adults, as well. If your pastor is gifted at children's sermons, you want your child to benefit from that.

I have heard of two cases where parents felt discriminated against, because of their ADHD children. One reported to me that she can't find a church that will accept them. In the other case, a Sunday school teacher asked point blank, "Are you here to interrupt me? If so, leave the room." Sunday school teachers have not been to teachers' college. The discrimination is because of a sin of the parishioners. If you experience discrimination, look for a church that more successfully has Christian love and acceptance.

 

PARENTS' CHALLENGE WITH ADHD CHILDREN

For one thing, many parents these days are concluding that they themselves are ADD, after their child is so diagnosed. So I doubly sypathize with you.

With ADHD children, it isn't as simple as commanding the child to become as motionless as a statue. Maybe the child needs an outlet for the excess energy.

We desire that church be a place to feel God's presence. But if the child is frequently reprimanded for misbehavior, the child will NOT feel God's presence. Instead the child will only feel that church is a place where talking is verbotten, or where you are restrained like a straitjacket. The child might feel close to a damnation god who is here to punish you.

There might be times that you need to take the child out of the sanctuary, to get him/her to cool down. Don't spank, though I have known for that to be done. Some churches have a crying room for crying babies. You might take disruptive children into the crying room.

In the church where I worship, they provide doodle pads for the children -- and pencils are next to the guest register books. If doodling on paper helps, bring paper and pencil for that. The church bulletin is another paper that can be used for doodling.

I'll tell you what I admire in parents, whenever I see it in church. Show love gestures to the child, such as affectionate touching (as long as it's an appropriate place to touch). Pet their hair. That demonstrates the child is accepted. Jesus accepts the child. In addition, this is evidence that the parents are worshipping -- in view of that God is love.

Take the children to Sunday school. Here is a wonderful place to learn Bible stories and to get an early foundation for spiritual life in future years. Memorizing Psalms can be a grueling discipline for ADHD children, requiring focusing, but later in life they will be glad they did. Many adults gladly quote from memory, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want -- etc."

Most of all, I encourage parents to spiritually educate children when away from church. When with your child alone, teach him/her that God is good, and that Jesus came to love and save us. Whenever the weather is sunshine, teach your child that God sent the sunshine. Whenever there is a beautiful sunset, teach that God sent the sunset. Whenever wonderful coincidences (sometimes called God-incidences) happen, teach that God caused the coincidence. Teach some parables of Jesus, such as The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son. Teach that The Red Sea parted for Moses. Around Christmas, in addition to teaching about Santa Claus, teach that Jesus was born in a manger and that shepherds visited Baby Jesus. Around Easter, in addition to teaching about the Easter Bunny, teach that Jesus arose from the grave. Also teach, "Because Jesus arose from the grave, HE is with us today." Especially teach that Jesus loves your child. Jesus loves your Mommy and Daddy, your brother, your sister, your grandparents, and your dog and cat.

Your child might ask profound questions that you cannot answer. You might answer that God is so awesomely wonderful that we will never completely understand him. As with adults, some mystery is spiritually healthy.

Most of all, live a life that demonstrates love to your child. Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before men." Demonstrating love is far more effective than preaching.

Let Jesus's love guide you in this challenge.

<*(((>< your ADD brother in the Risen Christ,
Lester Hemphill
Founder of ADDoration Ministries