How to explain to your kids when one parent goes to church and one doesn’t.

You may be in a situation where you are taking your kids to church and your spouse stays home.  Your spouse may not be interested in church, may not be a believer, or be against church.  Whatever the reason is you attend church without your spouse and are responsible for getting the kids there.

Your kids may ask you why mommy or daddy doesn’t go to church.  It’s good if they do and is an opportunity to teach them.  It’s important at times like this to show our spouse respect even if they don’t go to church.  Our job is to demonstrate Christ to our kids and we can do that by treating our spouse with respect even when they don’t do things we would like them to do.

Here are some ways to handle this question.

  • Explain that mommy or daddy does not want to attend church and then explain why you feel it’s important to go to church.  This is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids about Hebrews 10:25 “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some”, and Proverbs 22:6 “train up a child in the way he should go”.
  • We can explain to our children that we are called to love others.  Daddy or mommy may not go to church and even oppose us going, but we are to love them.  We can teach our children about John 13:34 “love one another”, Matt. 22:39 “love your neighbor as yourself”, and Romans 12:10 “be devoted to one another.”
  • We can pray.  This is an excellent opportunity to pray for our spouse and other people who don’t attend church.  Always show your spouse respect.  We want to show them grace and mercy just like God shows us.  We don’t want to put them down or make them look bad.  We want to show genuine concern and care.

This isn’t a time to share with the kids how upset we are because mommy or daddy doesn’t go to church.  This isn’t a time to get angry and convey bitterness about how we have to do all the work to get them there.  This isn’t the time to put down our spouse because they don’t love God like we do.  This is a time to teach our children about why we should go to church and why some people don’t.  It’s a time to share about how God is leading us to teach them to go to church and how we should respect those who have a different opinion than we do.

God does want both parents to go to church, but He is not blind to what is going on in our lives.  God’s model is best, but God can work through any situation.  When things aren’t the way they should be in our life is a perfect time to show others what God can do.  Ultimately we need to be concerned with our walk with God and leave all others to God to deal with.  We need to do what God has commanded and that is to prayer without ceasing, love others, demonstrate Christ, and trust God to work things out.  Show your kids that and the rest will pale in comparison.

It can be difficult to explain to our kids why our spouse doesn’t attend church.  It is difficult to be the spouse that gets the kids to church every Sunday.  We do it because we want to please God.  When He is our focus we will be able to diligently attend even when our spouse doesn’t.  When we struggle we can ask God for strength and to help us not develop bitterness or anger because we have to do things alone.

If you attend church with your spouse, remember those who don’t.  It can be a lonely time.  It can be frustrating to watch married couples attending when our spouse doesn’t.  It’s hard to get the kids up by ourselves, get them dressed, fed, and out the door to church while our husband or wife sleeps in, stays home, or goes out to have fun.

You are doing a good job mom or dad.  You are pleasing our Father and that will not go unnoticed.

Marcy Pedersen


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