Monday, March 10, 2008

Do you want guilt with that?

My spouse's work has been requiring an awful lot of travel recently. This week he left home late Sunday afternoon and won't be back till Thursday or Friday. We knew this was coming, so I'd been scratching my head about how I was going to manage the 4p.m. until 8pm Presbytery meeting tomorrow. I was pleased, therefore, when the e-mail that went out a couple of weeks ago from the Presbytery office regarding this meeting stated, "If you will need childcare during the Presbytery meeting, please make those reservations when you make your dinner reservation. Let us know the names and ages of your children." There is always supposed to be childcare available during our Presbytery meetings, but lately it's been kind of hit or miss whether the host church actually gets its act together to have a sitter available. So I was glad to see that there seemed to be renewed effort in this regard--even though I've only ever needed to bring my kids with me one other time since we moved here.

Today I got a personal e-mail from the people actually doing the childcare. In the course of asking if my kids had any food allergies or special needs they should be aware of, they managed to mention that I was the only person who had indicated a need for childcare. Maybe I'm being over sensitive--but it seems to me that bringing this up was a not-very-well-veiled hint that perhaps I should just get over myself and not put them through this bother.

What are things like where you are? Is there childcare for major regional denominational meetings that involve pastors and laypeople? Does its availability or lact thereof make a difference in who participates?


Juniper said...

Ugh. I get this ALL THE TIME and it is a major pet peeve of mine. The mainline churches are all scratching their heads about why there are no young people in our denominations and yet when they do grudgingly provide childcare at a function, it is usually some irritable teen in a basement room with a movie on DVD and box of fish crackers.

Hellloo, if you want us to bring our families to church, please act like our families matter even just a little bit to you, bigwigs.

I guess I"m a little cranky about this, but it is just so annoying. And persistant.

And hey, why are you having a presbytery meeting this week? Isn't there some kind of law that you cant do that the week before Holy Week?

Presbyterian Gal said...

Not being an attender of big denominational meetings I can only relate to the one church's business.

I would like to be more involved with committees and church programs. And our church will provide child care. Sometimes. If more than one person asks. And they charge. And it's excruciatingly boring for the kids. A room with 10,000 year old toys and silent movies. And I've had the same "you're the only one who's requested it", with the long pause, the pasted smile and the tilted head, waiting for you to retract.

Juniper's point is mine, on a more micro scale.

(word verification: "ufuzzy")

Preacher Mom said...

My presbytery does NOT offer childcare for major presbytery meetings/events. Okay, maybe they did one time - but just once in my memory. I can't add much to what has already been said in the previous comments. Just hear the voice of one more mother/pastor who faces the same challenge.

Quotidian Grace said...

We always offer childcare for major presbytery events. In fact the ability to provide childcare is one of the major factors the Ecclesiastical Affairs committee takes into account when choosing a venue. The best is when we have meetings at Cho-Yeh the presbytery's camp and conference center because it is provided by young adults who take the kids all around the camp. That really impressed me when my two daughters were in elementary school and my husband was on the camp's board of directors!

Still, I hear what juniper says and know we can do better. It's one of my personal crusades, too.

I don't think that letting you know your children would be the only ones in childcare for that meeting necessarily was meant to encourage you to find an alternative, though. It may have been meant to help you prepare the kids who often don't like not having more company. I think I would want to know that so I might bring homework or a special activity to help pass the time.

Kathryn said...

Goodness - I can't think of a single thing ever that the C of E has offered that has included childcare, apart from the ordination services in the Cathedral. It has simply never crossed their minds...which was, surprise surprise, one reason why it took me 10 years to be obedient to God's call to ordained ministry.
Mind you, re Juniper's comment, they can even cap the childcare horror since there is a meeting of a diocesan group next Weds. Yup. Weds in Holy Week. Aaaaargghhhh

Purechristianithink said...

QG--You may be right about that. We always bring our portable DVD player along to these events along with a stock of appealing movies.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I look at it this way...they OFFERED it. You need to take advantage of it!

Songbird said...

It used to be offered regularly in my Association, but I later realized it was because a single mom pastor served on Church and Ministry and saw to it.
In this era, there is only one pastor in the Association with a youngish child, and when they need babysitting, my daughter often provides it. But that's a private arrangement.
You are so right about this, and so is juniper. We, and I will include myself in the "we," are assuming that only older people want to come to these events. Yet I know I went to them in my 30's. I just had a spouse at home to watch them, and then an older child.

Anonymous said...

I would never have had this problem when my children were small. I'm not a minister or a church employee, but I do work for a living - so a meeting that starts at 4 pm on a Wednesday automatically excludes me with or without childcare. Childcare is an important issue. So is making meetings like this accessible for everyone.

Gord said...

ALways is childcare offered. ANd there are two families that use it. And my partner is always there as a guest, not required to be at the meeting. ANd we never feel, nor are made to feel, guilty for requiring it.

But this hasn't been true everywhere. In fact at the PResbytery level it is more of a rarity, more common at Cpnference level.