Church & difficult children

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
I'm not the most devout person, I'll share that with you up front. However, I have always attended church on a semi regular basis. Since the tweedles have hit my doorstep,(on that very cold snowy night swaddled in a basket many years ago :smile: never mind, didn't happen that way), church has been a challenge at best. The last 3 years, it's become non-existent.

Our pastor has worked hard to find a way for kt to fit into the congregation; most everyone is accepting - except the parents of children kt's own age. She's more of a leper around those children & in turn their parents.

At one point, our PCAs would attend church with us (stay in the background & step in when needed) & Sunday school teacher actually scolded me for bringing a PCA into church. I kindly informed SS teacher that a PCA was not unlike medical equipment - think of her as a guide dog or wheelchair.

It's been a bust - I've made few efforts since then.

How have your difficult children been accepted in the worship setting? Any ideas to make this better?


Active Member
Linda my difficult child has issues, but completely different and not as severe issues as kt's. He also has a vivid curiousosity (sp) about god, and wants to know all he can about church and so forth. I think he is fascinated with the power of god. He tends to behave quite well in church.

Can you keep kt with you instead of having her go to sunday school, or would that be worse?

Best of luck, and I hope someone gives you better answers than I did.


Well-Known Member
Linda, I like the routine of church and the idea that difficult child has to sit and listen for a short time. However, the svcs at husband church (Baptist) are way too long and it's way too crowded... overstimulating for difficult child. Occasionally we can get him to go and he will play with-a Hotwheels car or draw spaceships. Strangely enough, he is actually able to repeat parts of the sermon.
He is too old for their daycare and the women, generally in their 60s and 70s, were either too strict or too lenient and couldn't handle him (he could climb over the baby gate in a flash) and husband had to spend time watching difficult child and missed the svc.

My church is more liberal (UU) and that means they specifically have classes for kids during the 2nd half of the svc. (a smart move... so you don't have to put up with-kids through the entire svc... we sing them out half way and they all walk out single file). But he rarely participated in their discussions he had absolutely no imagination and most of the discussions were laying out a spiritual or moral premise and saying, "What would you do if...?" so he'd run outside and play or disrupt the class.
Occasionally if his pill kicked in, he'd sit with-me through the entire svc. but that was rare.

Also, last summer I had breast cancer and skipped church throughout the fall and that got us out of our routine.

So we're pretty much in the same boat you are.

I think if everyone goes once a month, for eg. and makes it a routine, it won't be as tedious as every wk, and it will be a family thing.

We have the added burden of belonging to diff churches so we lose that whole family aspect.

Good luck.



I'll say right up front that while I consider myself Christian, I don't do organized religion. Having said that, I would think that church would be the one place where difficult child would be accepted without judgment or pretense and if that isn't the case, I would look for another place of worship. Just my feeling on the matter.

I don't understand why PCA coming to service would be an issue for SS teacher. Is it because PCA is not a member of the church? I'm not Catholic, but I went to church with my Catholic ex-boyfriend and noone thought anything of it.

Just one more area of difficult child-land that makes life more interesting, huh?


New Member
Well, for us, it is just too much of an issue to even try anymore. Now, I will say that back when most of difficult children issues were medical..we got phone calls, prayer letters, cards, and even a few visits. Then, when it turned into something more...dropped. Oh, the preacher may call everyonce in awhile to say he misses the family, far as concern...NOPE,

For awhile we were alternating Sundays. One would go to church, one would stay home with difficult child. Then it became and issue with the other kids who wouldnt want to go. Why do we have to?

So, for now, we go when we can(my mom keeps him) and the older kids do go to youth group and on Wednesday nights. I was raised in church and it kills me to know my kids are not, but we are doing the best we can.


Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I do go to church every week-that said difficult child doesn't come with very often. I wouldn't say he isn't accepted there-many think he is so cute. However, the stress on me and how little I get to enjoy the service is often too much that I don't bring him. We did have a streak late last year and early this year where he came every week and sat several pews in front of us-that actually went quite well but then he started to sit with us again-argh!

Next week we're bringing difficult child-he wants to wear his suit for Easter-hopefully he'll behave as well as he is dressed.


Well-Known Member
Maybe because the lead SS teacher is a retired Special Education teacher, and the 2nd SS teacher is an lpn with strong willed kids, but Duckie has been embraced as part of our congregation. She, too, sometimes gets the odd looks from kids but the parents most often correct them. We try hard to accept and accommodate people where they are at rather than expect them to conform completely to any arbitrary standards. Our last church sounds like yours, Linda. Going to church became a chore and duty, there was no joy in it. Both churches were the same denomination, but the warmth and acceptance we get from our congregation now is wonderful.


New Member
We go to a great church here in SC. Non denom, great music and the SS teachers are fab! We have podcasts and are on the internet. The Children's directors all know my son and have been there for me and him. We are there every Sunday, first Wed, and the girls just finished discipleship class. Whenever my son has an outburst, he is removed and then they try to calm him down. If unsuccessful, I am notified. So far, they have dealt with some rages and violence, and I have yet to have my service interrupted. Most of the time, Terri ( Director of Children services) is playing with my son. He doesnt like the other kids. He doesnt have to be involved, but most of the time when he sees the other kids listening, he will be a bystander, so some of the message gets through. He loves to read through his Bible, but I have to keep it so he doesnt destroy it. I am sorry that the church is not there for you - i guess anyone can call themselves a christian, but you have to imitate Jesus, to be one.


Well-Known Member

my church is very accepting of difficult child (although every now and then some of the elderly look a little perplexed). Fortunately we have a balcony in our sanctuary and I sit up there with the "kids". When I say kids, I mean the teens and difficult child. I am the only person over 17 up there.

It's a great way to have difficult child in church with me, but not worry that his coloring, fidgeting, whispering or game boy is bothering anyone around us. I also feel I can enjoy the service since I'm not worrying.

I agree with the poster who said that church should be an enviornment where everyone is accepted. If not, find another one. Another idea is to skip ss and just do worship. If you want her to get some of the ss lessons, do those yourself at home perhaps at bedtime.


hearts and roses

Mind Reader
I think I would visit several other area churches and see if you can find a better fit somewhere else.

It stinks that the one place that should not be judgemental is. Makes me sick.

Gentle hugs - I hope you find a place that's right for all of you.


New Member
I belonged to a church with an adopted child from another country who did not speak english, had no clue of social behaviors, and was quite difficult child, as well, prone to this high pitched wailing keening sounds, jumping on people and punching them, wild as a little banshee. He actually did hurt my son on more than one occasion, never occured to anyone to have a problem with him attending church. DUring the service itself, his sisters and parents took turns being his 1-1 shadow, and after church the congregation included him in fellowship and visiting in the foyer.
My oldest difficult child and her mentor (hired by WRAP) attended church regularly, was NEVER an issue for anyone anywhere....They attended both my family church AND mentors church for several years together.

Having said that, tho, the church my sister belongs to, well, my sister anyway, and the other church where my brother is a minister, both of them have said to me more times than I can count that my husband, my oldest child and my son and me, none of us would have the "issues" we have if our faith were only stronger. Ironically, my minister brother is a brittle diabetic. (and my sister is a closet drunk)

I am not certain why kts PCA would cause ANY issue? In the churches I have gone to over the years, occasionally there have been adults sitting with kids in sunday school class. - for MANY different reasons. Did PCA speak up and say things in SS class that conflicted with SS teacher? Is the course content in SS class too difficult fr kt to emotionally cope with? Is kt or mentor disruptive to the other kids, keeping and preventing them from learning their SS lessons?
Have any of the other parents said anything to you about it? Could you talk to your pastor and see what the concerns might be with the SS teacher and the other kids kts age and the other parents?


New Member
I am a christian and raised a southern baptist.

I no longer attend my southern baptist church.

I had one too many pp tell me what I should do for my son. I also heard one time too many that I should quit barrel racing and be in the kitchen cooking.

I was counseled to QUIT my job and homeschool my son.

I live in the real world were my paycheck pays most of the bills and staying home was not an option. I was looked at very differently for keeping my job and riding my horses.

I let the guilt of my difficult child's action's make me stop riding. I even sold my good horse, but now I believe that just helped my depression take over.

I would find another place of worship. I plan to do that but I haven't wanted to answer all the questions that come with visiting a new church.

Karen & Crew

New Member
Small churches

We attend a very small Baptist church on a fairly regular basis. It may help that the pastor's son and my difficult child are in the same classes at school and in the same Cub Scout pack but we've really found that this little church we're attending "gets it" with R. The pastor is so laid back and when difficult child acts up we just step quietly in the hall and if he's really having a bad time we go outside.

Another thing that really helps is a busy-bag. difficult child can fixate for hours on word finds and other puzzle books. I have a little canvas "church bag" with some favorite puzzle books and some pencils inside. That really helps keep him settled.


Active Member
I also second the idea of looking around for a better fit. You may find a more casual type of church that may be a better fit for you and kt. You'll know the right place when you go there. You will feel comfortable and so will kt. I hope you find it soon. Saying a prayer that you'll find the right fit for you and your family.


New Member
I think I would look for a differnt church environment as well, if they are non-accepting. That is the one place that should have no problem accepting everyone as they are. I think I would find it disturbing if they didn't. I like the idea of the busy bag or even walking out to calm a child. That really shouldn't disturb anyone, if it does, I wouldn't attend that particular one.


Active Member
When you're dealing with church you're generally dealing with uneducated (on matters of Special Education kids) members of the public. The trouble is, spiritually a lot of them think they have all the answers. to NOT have all the answers is a challenge to their faith and they often do not like having their faith or authority challenged.

We were unfortunate in having a community where I had the only pre-teen boys. In an atmosphere of strong-willed girls a number of them ganged up on my boys simply because they ARE boys, and excluded them. Or they would annoy difficult child 3 and keep niggling at him until he lashed out, then they would go and 'dob'. I watched it once, just to see what was happening. I also had a few friends who kept an eye out because they realised the girls were bullying and their parents were enabling it. The dear little pets had blocked the only way off the veranda and declared their area to be a 'boy-free zone'. Adult males were not stopped, only difficult child 3. Then they blocked the inside corridor so he had NO way to get back to us. At the time difficult child 3 was non-verbal, he was unable to tell us what was happening. I was angry at the parents of the worst offenders who kept insisting that it was MY kids who were the cause. We stopped going to church, stopped sending difficult child 3 to Sunday School and when I was asked why, I told them.
Interestingly, those same girls later on became difficult child 3's strongest supporters, but by then too much damage had been done and he hates going to church unless he can sit in the 'cry room' (now, with no babies, it's becoming a teen escape) and play with his DS.

We used to keep the kids with us in church but we had a few people (single, middle-aged childless females) complain that ANY sounds were interrupting their time of spiritual contemplation. My response was that these kids' sounds are part of the world and part of life, we cannot manufacture a 'life-free zone' for the purpose of worship, we have to worship where we can and with what conditions we have. It's wonderful to have silence to fill with your prayers; it's so much better to be able to pray in a noisy, crowded room. I also reminded them of the "Suffer the little children" verse.

Currently, I've not been a regular attender for months. Life, circumstances, needing to spend quality time with family on weekends, has stopped me. Plus, needing to have someone with difficult child 3. Despite all this, both my boys have a very strong faith. difficult child 3, though, still has a poor understanding of the details. Attending church and Sunday School (we haven't got one anyway, now) never has taught him much. He learnt more at Scripture class in school and absolutely adores his former Scripture teacher. He & I talk about matters of faith when they come up, and he talks about it with his Scripture teacher whenever he meets her in the street.

I know it doesn't sound like it, but our church is like a close-knit family. The problem right now though is I'm not happy with the family; various members have hurt others and it hurts me. In an atmosphere like that, it's best to keep difficult child 3 out of it. husband is also dissatisfied. This church is also becoming far more fundamentalist than we're happy with, because it is bringing with it a close mind, blinkered approach that was never present in the old-fashioned, conservative church where I grew up.

Narrow-mindedness is increasingly prevailing. And while I can tolerate that to a point, it brings with it a judgmentalism that extend to anybody and anything not fitting into very narrow parameters. This includes difficult child kids and adults. And in my opinion, it flies in the face of true Christianity.

The problem may be worse in Sydney, because of a unique phenomenon - the Sydney Anglican. They are influencing far more than they should, in Australian Christian viewpoints (especially Sydney). And although husband grew up in Sydney and an Anglican, he will never be able to be described as a Sydney Anglican. It is the opposite of everything he ever believed.

If you want to know more of the horror that is a Sydney Anglican, Google "Anglican", "Sydney" and "Jensen". The Jensen brothers are responsible for a lot of what I refer to as mind control and brainwashing. I can't use that language to Sydney Anglicans because they call me a heretic for even thinking it. And in Sydney right now, if you get called a heretic it actually has led to court, in at least one case in recent years. That was scary.

Having a difficult child is, in some churches, considered a sign of lack of faith from the parents. THAT is also worrying. And judgmental. When you stubbornly refuse to be healed, then it is no longer the responsibility of any 'right-thinking Christian' to have to care about you, because you must be sinful, clearly. [Please note - due to recent misunderstandings in other posts, I will point out that I am being sarcastic here. It's not always obvious, apparently.]

I feel the most important thing here is faith. While fellowship with others is generally better than isolation, sometimes it's just not viable and you have to nourish your faith alone.

Do what you feel is best and keep in touch with your own beliefs. If there is someone you are good friends with, with whom you can share a cup of coffee and some deep and meaningful chat sometimes, that may be the way to go for a while.



Well-Known Member
Reading your post makes me very sad, Marg. It is so opposite of my experience. Our priest has been very supportive of our little family & many parishioners have offered help & support when Duckie was at her worst. No judgement (good or bad) has been apparent to me. Just acceptance. Our priest, in particular, has noticed that Duckie seems to have the ability to understand some of the finer points of faith and has encouraged us to allow her spiritual seeking to be Duckie-led. She also feels that she is quite bright, and even though she's a pistol at times, Duckie adds a vibrancy to our parish that would be missed if we weren't there.


Well-Known Member
Okay, Marg, I took the bait and found this interesting, bizarre, and funny interview:

My husband's Baptist church, by the way, is Southern Baptist, which typically does not allow women to become ministers. They have broken from the ranks (yay!) but still call themselves members of the Southern Baptist Convention. I would prefer they'd change their name to reflect their more modern views, but no one asked me. :smile:

difficult child made a comment once that reflected something chauvinistic "Women can't... whatever" and I jumped all over him. "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?" I yelled.

Moms are fun. :smirk:

house of cards

New Member

My kids attend the Sunday school at our church and they enjoy it. Our church has 2 services with different teachers and I need to go to the early one because they understand my group, the later service commented to me how distracted and unfocused my boys were, which I didn't value hearing but was true. My difficult child will not go to the second service though because of the teachers. So I agree to search til you find what works but it could be different even between two services in the same church.


New Member
we have attended our church since the kids were 3 so they were accepted before all this started. we have our issues like last wk when we had to leave so not to ruin comfirmation.

our congregation has been a great source of strength for the past few yrs(my operation, illness and death of my dad and now difficult child)more so then my own family at times.

i am very involved as being church treasurer, lay speaker, childrens sermons and now vbs director. i guess that helps cuz we are high profile with-in our small church.

i think church like any enviroment takes understanding and education. i have let people know that we are having issues with-difficult child and ask for their prayers. i think more people have an emotional interest in difficult child now so they are more accepting(ok now not totally).

our church has a great 'tract record' of reaching out to the difficult child's of our small town. one of our characters is an adult difficult child know as big al.

i guess we will have to see how things go as difficult child gets older.