Thursday, March 28, 2013

How my middle school daughter found her way back to church

How my middle school daughter found her way back to church
My daughter now finds joy, friendship and connection at the Center thanks to the Middle School Group meetings.

I began attending the Center for Spiritual Living when my oldest daughter was just starting first grade and my middle daughter was in preschool. They loved coming to see Rev. Pattie every Sunday. In fact, they asked almost daily, "Are we going to church today?"

Imagine my dismay when my middle daughter, now a preteen, said, "Can I just stay home from church today?"

"NO!" I said in complete shock.

I believe that at least once a week my girls need to connect with our spiritual center and that was non-negotiable. I am the parent so I set the rules, right? Well, she challenged and I explained my decision week after week, until I finally talked to Rev. Pattie. Yes, I called in the big guns!

Rev. Pattie listened. She considered my struggle. Then, she went to the source. She called several middle schoolers together to uncover the problem. You see, my preteen wasn't the only one expressing discontent. I wasn't the only parent battling the dragging feet.

In her wisdom and armed with information, Rev. Pattie concluded that what our preteens really wanted was greater connection. She explained, "Once a week isn't enough time to build connections."

The next week, Rev. Pattie started the Middle School Group on Tuesday afternoons. The first Tuesday four girls attended. Then they invited a few friends. And they invited more friends. Soon, the Middle School Group grew to 10 to 12 preteens, laughing, playing, building connection.

When I asked my daughter why she likes Middle School Group she says, "Because it's fun." Then, I questioned, "Why do you like hanging out with Rev. Pattie?" The answer..."Because she's fun." Hummm...I'm seeing a trend, aren't you?

I recognized right away the wisdom in Pattie's solution. We all need to feel connected. We all want a sense of belonging and to know that when we show up we will be greeted by people we know and like. And, I think the preteen insecurities only magnify that longing. When we only show up on Sunday, the process takes longer. But, if we get an opportunity to be social, well, those friendships just bloom.

Is it easier to get my daughter to church on Sunday now? Yep! Has our preteen room grown in attendance? You bet. Is Rev. Pattie one of the wisest women on the planet? Yeah!

If you have a sixth or seventh grader, stop by the Center's Middle School Group on Tuesdays between 4 and 5:30 to check it out. Everyone is welcome!

Everyone Is Welcome!

Rev. Pattie creates connections with preteens.
At a recent meeting, the Middle School Group created outdoor sculptures with Charlie, a local artist and volunteer.