Do the childless feel welcome at church?

My last post about religion and childlessness has brought in so many comments I think we should keep talking about it.

Let’s talk about another aspect of the religion question. I wonder how many childless people stay away from organized religion because most churches are so family-oriented. The pews seem to be filled with couples and their children. The older folks bring their grandchildren. And here you are, sans offspring. If you’re like me, widowed, divorced, single, or married to someone who doesn’t share your faith, you also come sans spouse. It’s lonely. You feel left out of all the “family” activities. Perhaps you stop going to church.

On the other hand, the people at church can become your family. They have for me. I sing for the children, sing with the choir at Mass, share lunches, dinners and picnics with the other parishioners, and spend holidays with my church friends and their kids. On my last birthday, it was the church ladies who surprised me with a big party and a pile of presents.

I suppose it’s a question of attitude. Organized religion, with its “go forth and multiply” philosophy, can make us feel worse about not having children, reminding us that we are different. But if we can get past the fact that we aren’t like the other parishioners (or members of the temple or mosque), if we can join in the activities and trust that God knows what he’s doing, religion can be a great comfort. When I really look around, I realize I’m not the only childless woman or widow there, and it’s good to not be alone.

What do you think about all this? Again, be kind in your comments. No religion-bashing, okay?

4 thoughts on “Do the childless feel welcome at church?

  1. You're right– although I may feel alone in my child-less-ness at church, I'm not. Others are without children. Those who are not married may have the same left out feeling.

    So many of the anecdotes told during the homily involve parents and children, so it would be nice if more pastors occasionally “thought” about those who are child-free or single, for whatever reason.

    I tend to feel more left out on Mother's Day, when typically all the mothers are asked to stand for a special blessing. This must be a tough moment for others, too, though, so once again I'm not alone.

    I'm learning not to let it get to me or drive me away from church services.


  2. Being one of Jehovah's Witnesses, its not as focused on having kids now. In fact many view the best goal to remain single to focus on preaching or work, or just remain a married couple to do same. So it’s not that hard, but all the same this year at convention, there was the release of a children’s video. I cried when they announced it. It’s such a great provision, but it cut deep that it wasn’t something I would be able to really use to the full.


  3. I also feel a little bit out of place with all the families. Our town is very religious ( Baptist) and everyone has a family. It seems if you don’t, people seem to move away because of the pressure. I did move here with my husband with the intent to start a family. We bought our house with four bedrooms. I thought one would be a nursery. My husband was mostly focused on bedrooms for each of his sons and an office. I should have said something, but I didn’t. I thought he would change his focus. I don’t want to move and have many friends and a wonderful business I have built. I have been asked to work with the youth groups etc. I have done this, but on some days it is too painful, holidays especially. I haven’t really found a church that I feel comfortable in. I can still be in a huge room full of people holding my husband’s hand and feel totally alone.


  4. Anonymous, that sounds like an uncomfortable situation. But if you otherwise like it there, I'd find a way to make it work. Also, you need to talk to your husband about having the sons share a room so you can use the other for a nursery. Seems fair to me. I wish you the best.


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