All Moms struggle to connect, but Christian working Moms have unique challenges that make building connections at church very difficult.
Christian Working Moms Struggle With This Unique Challenge At Church
It wasn’t meant to be a slight. At least that is how my friend chose to view the incident. There was a birthday party for one of her 5-year old son’s church friends and he wasn’t invited.
He was the only kid in his age group not invited.
Publicly she chose to put on a happy face and chalk it up to an innocent oversight. However, privately she told me that she was actually pretty hurt. You see, she is the only Mom with a kid in Kindergarten, who works outside the home.
This latest episode was just the last in a long line of subtle slights and unintentional snubs that left her feeling completely unconnected to her church family, unconnected to the very Moms that should be her best support network.
Have you been there? Do you have your own story to tell?
The Unique Challenge Faced By Christian Working Moms At Church
If you are a Christian Mom who works outside the home have probably felt left out at church recently.
It hurts when you hear about the Tuesday play-date to the park. You can almost see your kids laughing and chasing the other kids around the playground. You long for the connection of a long lunch at Chick-fil A while your hooligans go crazy in the play zone. It seriously stinks to be left out of all the mid-week fellowship opportunities.
You know your Mom friends at church aren’t actively plotting to destroy your Christian social life. However, for a wide variety of reasons, sometimes you feel left out, isolated, and very much not ‘connected.’
Why do Christian Working Moms struggle to connect at church?
- It’s not just a problem for working moms. All Moms, but especially Moms of young children, struggle with feelings of isolation. This is true regardless of the Mom’s working status.
- The New Mom Spiritual Connection Problem: Unfortunately, even though a new Mom probably needs more spiritual when kids are young, this is likely the time period of maximum disruption to all opportunities for spiritual encouragement. Between breastfeeding, coaxing an infant to sleep, diaper changes, and the whirlwind of age 1-2, many Moms don’t even get to hear an entire sermon for years at a time.
- Different family schedules for different families: Play-dates with the other young children at church are generally scheduled for weekday mornings. Again, this makes perfect sense, right? Public places are less crowded, Daddy isn’t home, and Mommy needs connection with other Moms. For the working Mom midweek play-dates are out of the question. That leaves Saturday– family day– as the only real opportunity for the working Mom to schedule play-dates with other church kids. Every family places an emphasis on quality family time during the weekend. However, especially for Moms who don’t work outside the home, Saturday is a sacred time set aside for family bonding, especially if Daddy travels for work, or has a long commute. Play-dates are not high on the priority list.
It seems like the schedule of a Christian working Mom is incompatible with the schedule of the Christian SAHM or WAHM.
Why Should a Church Community Care? Consider this:
- According to an April 2014 Pew Research Center Study, in 1970 41% of mothers, whose husbands worked outside the home, were considered Stay-at-Home Moms (SAHM). By 2012, only 20% of all mothers, whose husbands worked outside the home were SAHMs. This statistic does not include single mothers, or other demographics like families where the Dad is unemployed.
- Even though public opinion has shifted away from the traditional model of Mom staying at home and Dad working outside the home, 60% of the respondents in this study still believed it was best for the children if Mom stayed at home. If you break that statistic down further according to the views of various Christian groups, 69% of white evangelical protestants, 58% Catholics, and 54% other mainline protestant religions hold this view.
- Another Pew Study from 2009 touted these findings:
- Only about 10% of respondents believed a Mother of young children (not yet in school) should work outside the home.
- Yet, at the same time, Moms of all types (SAHM, WAHM, Work outside the home Mom) experienced similar levels of being stressed, feeling rushed, and interestingly… feeling happy.
There is a huge disconnect between the number of Moms who work outside the home, either by choice or necessity, and public perception of the ideal situation for raising young children.
Within the Christian community there seems to be a stigma attached to being a working Mom. However, there are most likely a huge number of Moms at your church who are not served by the classic model of weekday social and church events.
All Moms need to feel connected to each other!
All Moms, regardless of work status, are stressed out. The logical conclusion is that all Moms need to feel connected to each other. Our overall emotional health is directly tied to perceived spiritual growth and feeling connected to other Christians. Maybe there are easy steps a church community could take to address and perhaps alleviate some of the isolation felt by all Moms, including working Moms.
How a Church Can Minister to All Moms (and their kids):
- Hold Ladies Bible Classes on Wednesday nights, or even another week night. That way all women have the opportunity to connect with each other through prayer, singing, and Bible study. The fact that it is during Wednesday night mid-week Bible Study is perfect, because then working moms don’t have to worry about disrupting the evening family routine multiple times a week.
- Plan Family Events/Playdates for Saturdays. Not every week. Sacred family time needs to be honored. However, sometimes it is easier to incorporate a Saturday morning playdate into a church-organized event, even if that ‘event’ is merely a bagels and orange juice meet up at a local playground.
- Hold an evening VBS as opposed to VBS in the middle of the day. Even the most dedicated Mom will probably not take vacation time off for VBS. Make that time special for the entire congregation.
- Consider holding some (not all) Mom/Woman’s fellowship events during times that all Moms can attend. Mom’s Night Out, Crafting Events, Ladies Day luncheons, Day trips. Why not plan these events for the evening or weekends?
- Provide babysitting/nursery services. Ok, so this last tip is relief for all Moms. Babysitting is super expensive and many families with young children will just opt out of events if they have to pay a babysitter $60 or more to attend.