Houses of worship

Should We Tell Our Religious Community About Our Child’s Learning and Attention Issues??

By Jim Rein

My daughter has trouble sitting still and staying quiet during religious services. We bring small toys and silent activities to keep her busy. But she still talks too loudly and disrupts the sermon. Should I tell the pastor about my daughter’s learning and attention issues? How would I begin?

Jim Rein

Former Dean, Vocational Independence Program, New York Institute of Technology

Yes, it’s OK to discuss your child’s learning and attention issues with a member of your religious community. Chances are good that your house of worship already has some experience helping its younger members deal with challenging behavior. Some religious organizations even have online guides to educate staff about learning and attention issues.

Ask a clergy member for advice on how to help your child participate in religious services and activities. For example, if you belong to a synagogue, see if the rabbi can help you find a Hebrew tutor who has experience with learning and attention issues.

You mentioned you’re bringing toys to help keep your child occupied. But there may be another room for kids so you and the other adults can focus on the sermon. Ask what resources are available.

It’s also a good idea to speak with the Sunday school teacher or summer program director. Be prepared to brainstorm. If you’re building a good relationship with your child’s teacher at school, you may want to ask her to speak with the Sunday school teacher too. The goal is to provide insights and strategies that work for your child.

Keep in mind that what you say to a clergy member is confidential. This can be an important resource for parents who don’t feel like they can talk to friends or family about their child’s learning and attention issues. In addition to helping your child, you may want to talk to your pastor if you’re having trouble dealing with your emotions.

About the Author

Portrait of Jim Rein

Jim Rein has lectured on postsecondary options and summer programs for kids and young adults with learning and attention issues.

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