Do you go to church – just for the kids?

I take my son to church every Sunday, at least now that I am teacher in a high-school confirmation class. Before I signed up for that weekend gig, we made to the sanctuary three times a month or so, opting every few weeks to lay around on the couch and be thankful for coffee (me) and Lego (him). Although I've made a commitment that will make us more-regular regulars, my commitment to being a church kind of family is just the same as it was when we took breaks from bible-type stuff. I want my son raised with a spiritual foundation and this is one way I want him to get that.

One day, he may opt to head elsewhere to find his enlightenment -- a temple or yoga studio or hike through the redwoods. I am fine with that, but I want him to have a church where he can always return, a community inside a big city where he can be still, sing, pray, question, even leave.

People I know are often surprised to hear me mention church. That's probably because I don't talk about it often, might not seem to be the church-y type with my political, feminist, outspoken ways and killer heels. But I am. In fact, I was the one who asked my parents if we could please go to church when I was a middle-schooler, which led our family to being members for decades at the place where I now take my son and teach. Yes, I ditched the service when I was a teenager. My high school Sunday school classmates and I once hid the bibles above the ceiling tiles in protest. As an adult, I have done much wavering in my beliefs.

But here I am. Every week. I want it for my son. And I think I need it for myself.

This isn't the path for everyone on Sunday mornings (or Wednesday evenings or Saturdays or whenever your place of faith gathers together). I know plenty of families who convene on the weekends over the New York Times or piles of pancakes, just as I know others who pop in for a quick chapel service every so often and those who are no-excuses attendees.

When I read Ellen Himelfarb's post on Mommyish about being a mother and a nonbeliever, I didn't feel judgy. I read her confessional about hating all the religious education and family piousness she grew up with and I appreciated that she waited to be hit by her own spiritual awakening when she became a parent. But when it didn't come, she explains she felt surprised that not even the "miracle of birth" could sway her lapsed spirituality.

"For doesn't having a child give you ample opportunity to pray to god and actually mean it?," Himelfarb writes. "And besides which, so many of my friends and relatives - some even bigger cynics than myself - had, in parenthood, returned to the family fold and put their own children on that same religious path they once scorned."

This quote made me wonder how many parents sitting in pews (or kneeling or however we may be in our places of worship) are there mostly (or solely) for their children.

Did parenthood change your commitment to attending church? If the kids weren't around, would you still get up and go every week?

Can we talk about this with judging neither the nonbelievers nor those who bribe their little ones into their Sunday best nor those who quietly don't buy into church but want their kids to nor those who have not made a decision about any of it nor those who are buried in the sports section on Sunday? I hope (and maybe even pray) we can.

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