Dear Martha, Is our family the only family that fights and yells at each other on the ride to church on Sunday mornings? Somehow, it seems to contradict all the reasons we are attending church! Rattled Rhonda
I can assure you Rhonda, you are not alone. Many families have the same struggle you describe. I remember the nightmare of going to church most Sundays when I was growing up. Then we would get out of the car and smile at everyone when we arrived at church. How awful!I can assure you Rhonda, you are not alone. Many families have the same struggle you describe. Click To Tweet
There are a number of issues that relate to this problem. #1 is the self-centeredness of all involved. We and our kids have different motives, but basically the underlying motive is to have our own way. The fights and arguments in the car are often the culmination of fights and arguments that have already been taking place in the house before getting in the car.
What are the root causes of the problem?
The only person you can change is yourself. It’s easy to see the faults of your spouse and your kids. It is much more difficult to see the factors you contribute to the problem. So you, personally and you and your husband need to prayerfully consider where the root issues are. Here is a suggestive list of common parental motives/idols:
- People pleasing: I want my family to look good at church including behaving well, dressing well, etc. I feel it reflects well on me if they perform well and poorly on me if they don’t. (I didn’t say this was true. I just said it is what you believe.)
- Love for comfort and peace: I want peace at any cost. I don’t care why my child/spouse is unhappy or complaining. I just want them to be quiet and leave me alone, particularly if the complaint is one I have heard before and don’t feel able to fix it!
If you can’t think of any root issues, ask a few close friends who know you both to be very honest with you where they may see some root issues. Yes, it is scary. But this is no small problem. The difference between dealing with it now is the difference between raising children who can be honest regarding their sin and children who are self-righteous little pharisees!So you and your husband need to prayerfully consider where the root issues are. Here is a suggestive list of parental motives/idols: People pleasing and Love for comfort and peace, to name just two. Click To Tweet
As you and your husband pray together and ask GOD to show you where the root problem(s) are, ask Him for wisdom to deal with them.
Start with being honest with your kids and as you work together as a family to make Sunday morning a time that better prepares the hearts of your family for worship. It may help to have some guidelines for yourselves as you train your hearts.
Here are some suggestive ways that helped us. Did we never ever have trouble again? No, because we are still sinners.
- Don’t stay up too late on Saturday night. Plan ahead for bedtime.
- Set out clothes to be worn the next day on Saturday. Be sure they are clean, ironed, shoes polished if needed.
- Set out anything that needs to be taken to church on Saturday so it doesn’t have to be hunted for on Sunday.
- Simplify noon meal preparations, if not done already so that isn’t causing added stress to the family member who cooks. I know some who prepare the meal on Saturday and only have to heat it up on Sunday. Others have a light meal after church and bigger meal at night. Crock pot meals are other options as well. Think through what works for your family.
- Have an early car and late car that leave for church so people that have to be there early are not penalized by those who are straggling.
- Have penalties for people who aren’t ready to leave that hit them where they hurt. For different kids it may be different… fees, loss of privileges, etc. when the last car leaves, they have to go whether they are ready or not. The penalty hits and that is the end of it. no more about it. no continued scolding. no arguing about whether the penalty with be meted out on them. It will. This is a life skill, not some mickey mouse rule you are enforcing. You are helping them be considerate of others in their life who don’t want to always be waiting for them.
- When people lose their temper in the car…adult or child, they will be expected to apologize (preferably before getting out of the car at church.) I wish we had done better here.
- The whole reason we need to go to church is that we are sinners who need Jesus’ righteousness. We will not always do the right things. When we fail, we need to easily repent and apologize. The sooner both we and our kids learn that, the better we all are.
- Realize that there are some days when we have too many issues to deal with in our family that we may need to stay at home and talk/listen to each other. Preferably, our church is a good place to go to hear GOD’s Word and have it bathe over us. It is a good place to go to be ministered to by GOD’s people. But on the rare occasion, we may need to stay home and pray together and talk/listen to each other and forgive each other. It can be more difficult than not attending church and having a friend ask where we were.
Next week I’ll include more information about a good apology. It helped me a lot. I had rarely received a good one and knew very little about what constituted an adequate apology.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God,
for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink;
for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.