When I was a kid, Sundays were always church days at the insistence of my born and bred Southern Baptist mother. The only thing that got me out of attending services was if I was sick. I was hardly ever sick.
As I got older, I attended church unforced, and was very active in the youth groups. Once I was out of my mother’s house, college age, I attended on my own. Finding a church I was comfortable with and where I would eventually marry.
Since I married, I haven’t attended church much. I’ve become disillusioned by organized religion, even more so in recent years. Despite my reluctance, I did take my kids to services when they were young.
My daughter would attend more with friends than with me, and my son never enjoyed Sunday School. After a while, I stopped going, but didn’t discourage either of my kids if they wanted to join friends at local services.
I wanted them to come of age, and make their own choices about religion. All along they have been exposed to my beliefs, and I’ve tried to answer any questions they have without forcing those beliefs on them.
This week, my son has been attending a church revival with one of his close friends, and to be honest, I am concerned. I’m familiar with the denomination, and the church, and it’s pretty standard. But, I’m also remembering ‘fire and brimstone’ revivals I had to attend as a kid. They can be very intense, especially for a kid who has no idea what to expect.
I know this is my bias, and I tried not to taint him with my fears… and it is fear.
The Boy has what I call Placebo-Effect tendencies. He is easily suggestible and I worry that a hard-sell evangelist will literally scare the hell out of him. For a kid with phobias and an anxiety disorder he can be very vulnerable.
I don’t want to tell him he can’t go. He needs to be able to go places with his friends without me. I can’t shelter him forever, and as far as sketchy places go, church isn’t the worst place to be. He also needs to be exposed to things that may trigger his anxiety and find ways to deal with that on his own. I’m still worried for him.
When he left, I told him if he had any questions when he got home, I’d be happy to talk with him. He’s not a talker, so I’m not holding out for a deep, philosophical discussion with him. I’m just hoping that he enjoyed the experience and won’t be up all night afraid to go to sleep.