sugar coating doesn’t cut it anymore


My kids are getting old. I can no longer trick them into thinking that medicine is candy (I’m totally that parent), shots won’t hurt, and leaving friends is an adventure.

Our church recently asked us to leave our big fat friendly congregation and attend a teensy weensy little group out in the sticks. They’ve recently had a lot of families transfer out of that part of Germany and the attendance has dropped so low they aren’t even holding regular hours.

This was a tough choice for us. Our church has provided a welcome fellowship of love and friendship for us and our children. It has supplemented family and we absolutely love attending. Going from 450 to 40 members is a massive change.

I’ve been to the little Baumholder building to visit, I know how bare the benches are and how badly they need a few warm faces. It was a crushing no-brainer–you go where Jesus needs you. Still, sometimes the easiest decisions are the most painful to swallow.

About a week before our first Sunday we decided to tell Harrison, our nine-year-old.

“Sweetie,” I said with a super fake high voice and plastic smile, “Guess what? We get to change churches! We’re going to head to the super awesome Baumholder branch and start going there! You’re totally going to love it.”

He looked like we’d just taken his Nintendo DS away for a year. “Wait, what? You mean for a visit, right?”

“No,” Jason said, sans the fake smile and enthusiasm, “We’re leaving Ramstein. They asked us if we’d help out over there and we said yes.”

So much for a spoonful of sugar.

“What?!” Harrison yelled, “Why? I don’t understand! This is so stupid! Is Jake coming? Tell me Jake is coming,” he said.

“Well,” I said, “No. But you’ll still see–”

“No! I’m not going!” He stomped from the room and I ran after chasing him with phrases like “so much fun” and “best thing ever.” Hogwash. The kid isn’t stupid.

Two mornings later before school we sat as a family doing morning scripture sleep reading. You’ve heard of sleep walking? This is kind of like that only we like to involve Jesus.

As soon as we finished Harrison slumped off to an old chair in the corner and sat down. I walked past him just as he started to cry.

“Honey!” Tears at 6:00 am? Bad sign. “What’s the matter with you?” He shook his head and refused to look at me. “Is it school?” Negative. “Friends?” Negative. “Did someone show you a dirty picture on the bus again?” Double negative. I looked around me and saw the scriptures sitting out. Why not? “Does it have to do with Jesus?” He nodded his head up and down. “Tell me.”

And the floodgates opened. He doesn’t want to go. He doesn’t want to leave his friends on Sunday and go to a new church, a small church where there aren’t any kids he knows. He hates this, why do we have to do this?

Every cell in my body wanted to reassure him that it was going to be awesome. I wanted to slather on the famous It’s Going To Be Okay mommy balm and tell him that these things always work themselves out. I wanted to smile and make him laugh and fool his little head off.

But I didn’t. I just didn’t have the energy to cough up that much crap.

“You’re right,” I said. His head snapped up and he looked me in the eye. “This is going to be really hard for us. It’s hard for Dad and it’s hard for you and it’s hard for me. Honestly honey, this really stinks.” I opened my arms and couldn’t help my own tears. “Let’s hug.”

It actually made him feel better. His tears stopped and on Sunday morning he didn’t whine or complain about going to the new building. On Sunday after church he even informed us that our new church is awesome and he loves it.

Now if I can only remember to implement this don’t-tell-them-lies routine during the next big drama we’ll be good to go.



  1. Good on you for respecting his intelligence and leveling with him. Validating his feelings and being honest about your own were more reassuring to him than the sweet nothings we shower on “little” kids. Darn it, but they do grow up on us!

  2. You’re a much kinder parent than me. We totally ended Santa when our oldest turned five.

  3. Maybe I just need to do this. We go to a really small branch out here—and you know what? it kinda does suck and my oldest maybe needs to hear me say that.