It’s the little things

After I picked the kids up at school today, we swung by church to deliver some presents for the angel tree. We saw the rector from afar, and I waved as he was conversing with someone else. We kept heading towards the angel tree, and the kids kept chattering about their day. At some point once we reached the tree, the rector caught up with us and I didn’t quite notice as I was busy depositing the presents and keeping A from knocking over the water cooler.

I heard C say “Hi!” The rector responded with “Hello Father XYZ, how are you?” to which C blinked and dutifully repeated him. I blinked as well, and then, unclear how I was supposed to respond at that point, escorted the kids out of the building.

The whole interaction basically ruined my day. At first I was terribly embarrassed because clearly I had failed as a parent since the rector felt it necessary to parent my children in front of me. Then I got rather upset because really, my children are polite and interested in other people. They are three and five. The fact the C even had an interest in saying hello in a friendly tone of voice to a figure of authority is more than I can say for most of the children I interact with in the church.

By the end of the day I was ready to take our pledge card back from the stewardship office and rip it up. I have gone out of my way to instruct my children in the religion in which I was not raised. I have gone out of my way to volunteer, befriend members of the church who need befriending, and do the best I can to be an active and involved parishioner. I have done the best I can in raising my children, and yes, in an ideal world, they should have addressed the rector with ” Hello Father XYZ, how are you today?” But I can’t come up with a scenario in my mind in which I would have responded to a child’s friendly hello in such a manner.

This is not a child-friendly, or even a family-friendly, church. It is a critical and insular church, which resists change and deters newcomers. And I really have no interest in continuing to participate. So the rector who has been nothing but unresponsive, condescending and insincere to my family can look for another family to drive out of this church. I’ll fulfill my pledge and other commitments for the upcoming year, but after that I’m done.

It’s the little things that keep a family in a church. And the little things that drive them out.


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