“NO!” Our daughter screamed. “I . . . don’t . . . WANT to go to your church!” She tilted her chin downward, crooked her hands into her armpits (like she was trying to put them on her hips, but was way too high—much funnier and cuter), looked up with her most defiant glare, and stamped her foot.
That was our household this past Sunday morning. The person she was yelling at was her father. The church she didn’t want to go to was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was my Sunday to visit her father’s church, so I wasn’t going to my church, either.
Our daughter has developed a preference, and a very strong one at that. She loves my church and periodically asks to attend it throughout the week. She dislikes her father’s church and throws a fit every time she has to go. She does well enough once she’s actually there, and certainly the members and Primary leaders are super-nice to her. It’s getting her there that’s the problem. Will this preference last? Who’s to say. For now, it is what it is.
She’s over 6.5 years old. I used to worry that I’d be telling a disappointed little girl that she wasn’t allowed to get baptized Mormon at 8, that 12 was the minimum age that I would allow for baptism. Now, unless things change dramatically in the next year and a half, it’s more likely that I’ll be telling disappointed LDS relatives that of course she isn’t getting baptized at age 8, she doesn’t even want to go to the LDS church anymore. In fact, I’m guessing all of those Mormons who argue so passionately that 8 years old is more than old enough for a child to choose a religion will be doing an about-face when confronted with the prospect of an 8 year-old member-of-record who doesn’t want to attend anymore.
It happens sometimes during the week that my daughter will say to me, “I want to go to your church this Sunday, Mommy!” If it’s my week, I reassure her that she will. If it’s her father’s week, I tell her to talk to her father about it. Let him be the bearer of bad news.
On the drive to the ward, I asked my husband how long before he would allow her to choose my church indefinitely, assuming she keeps this up. He looked stricken and asked what I thought. I said the earliest I would have allowed her to choose Mormonism was age 12, so if he wanted to wait that long for her to choose evangelical Christianity, I would accept that. He took it. I could have pushed him and pointed out that he has always said that 8 was old enough to choose a religion, but I didn’t. I know this is hard on him.
For the time being, it looks like we are raising a little proto-evangelical. What can I say. One of us is pretty happy about that.