Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Broken behavior: Going to church with a challenging child

Taking her son with special needs to Sunday services taught Heather Moffitt how to be broken in church. by Heather Moffitt

August 3, 2010 | I am the daughter of a pastor. Among many other things, this means that I know how to behave myself in church. A deacon from one of my father’s early pastorates might add that I didn’t always know how to act right in church -- and tell the story of when he snatched me from crawling under the pews during a service and sternly warned me to sit still. From experience, I discovered (as did the rest of the congregation) that dispensing an entire bottle of air freshener did not in fact make the church smell like a field of lavender. Apart from these missteps, however, I took great pride in the compliments people gave my mother about my stellar behavior.

When I became a mother, I didn’t expect my children automatically to exhibit angelic behavior in church. But I did expect them to learn how to comport themselves. I wanted them to worship with the people of God and learn the Bible stories that had shaped me. They would discover which deacons kept peppermints and butterscotch candies for the children. They would learn that they were a valuable part of the congregation.

Reality doesn’t always conform to expectation. We joined a new church when my son was 14 months old. Just weeks later, he began to exhibit debilitating behavioral challenges. His outbursts were often violent and usually unpredictable, making it difficult to take him anywhere, much less church. I spent most of the time in our new members Sunday school class pacing the halls with him.

In the years that followed, he was diagnosed with an alphabet soup of conditions: ADHD, ODD, ASD and more.

Read the whole article here.

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