THE VAN TRIP HOME from worship can be “the cherry on the sundae” or can undo every good thing that happened during worship. Part of the reason it is so volatile is that everyone is ready for lunch, ready to be “on their own” rather than participating in a group, tired, and maybe ready to change clothes. Three parental disciplines can make a big difference.
1. Keep the conversation positive. Talk about good things that happened at church. One parent urges his children to look for one worship “take away”, i.e. something they want to remember (and yes, jokes from the sermon count). His children know he will ask about theirs in the car on the way home each week and so they try to have an answer ready to get Dad off their case if nothing else. Other parents kick off this discussion with questions like “what was one good thing that you did this morning at church?” or “which song did you like best?” or “what did you think about….?” “who did you see at church this morning?”
2. (Really the flip side of #1) If at all possible hold off on discussions about unacceptable behavior until you are home and everyone is a little more relaxed. Parental anger will have settled enough to enable a reasoned presentation of the problem and expected changes and childhood confined energy will be released enough to respond with reason rather than emotion.
3. Savor worship together before thinking ahead to whatever is next on Sunday afternoon. This is a good time to reinforce something that was said or done with a parental “how about… this song or that rite even what the preacher said about….?” It is also a good time to hear children’s ideas about what they saw and heard in order to explain or de mystify as needed.
The church helps parents raise worshiping children when we give them these hints, rather than expecting them to figure it out for themselves.