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RandySF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 10:49 PM
Original message
Child is afraid of church buildings
Please, no jokes about religion right now.

We are looking at pre-schools for our three-year old son. Today, my wife took him to the school at Grace Cathedral here in SF and he was too petrified to walk into the door. This is not knew as we had to leave Easter Service at another church for the same reason. Has anyone else experienced this? I deas how to solve this?
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 10:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. Is he just afraid of large buildings?
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RandySF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #1
31. I don't think it's the size
But rather the interior. St. Patrick is smaller but the inside is dark and full of iconography. However, we went to a baptism in Daly City and he had no trouble because the interior was bright and and had a much warmer feeling inside. I just want him to no there is no boogy man inside.
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Rhythm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. High Gothic architecture can be intimidating
to little people, as well as bigger ones. I can understand a 3 yr old freaking out when confronted with having to go "in there?!?!?!"

I'm afraid i have no suggestions for solution, just the sympathies from one parent to another, and best wishes for overcoming this completely-rational-to-him fear.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 11:01 PM
Response to Original message
3. They're very tall and imposing. nt
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 11:16 PM
Response to Original message
4. Smart kid.
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WildEyedLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 03:15 AM
Response to Reply #4
12. Dude, the guy asked for no snark
For once, in a totally innocuous thread that has nothing to do with debating ideologies, can DU refrain from clever one-liners?
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Rhythm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 08:20 AM
Response to Reply #12
21. +1
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newcriminal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-23-09 11:16 PM
Response to Original message
5. Is his name Damien?
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Mad_Dem_X Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 05:28 PM
Response to Reply #5
40. You beat me to it. n/t
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Arugula Latte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:33 AM
Response to Original message
6. There's a good reason for that ... Churches are CREEPY!
Churches even have a creepy smell. Ugh.

Your kid has good instincts! I'd heed them if I were you.
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Robeson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:37 AM
Response to Original message
7. Kid has a 6th sense.
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Lance_Boyle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 01:23 PM
Response to Reply #7
30. or possibly just 'sense.' n/t

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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:53 AM
Response to Original message
8. Are they large churches? Imposing? Do they have frightening artwork where he can see it?
Crucifixes can be terrifying, as can the stations of the cross. If the tympanum has a lot of statues, they could scare him. Especially if they are like the old medieval images of Hell and Judgement Day.

If it's not something like that, it could be the dark, silent nature of the inner church. Some find it peaceful, but it taps into the same fears as the monster in the closet--dark, quiet, empty space, echoing accoustics.

And as someone else mentioned, the towering nature of some churches is frightening. Gothic has a towering, insubstantial feel that could bring out fears that it will collapse on him. Scared the bejeebus out of more than one medieval Christian for that same reason.

My ex was terrified of large ships. She could stand on a dock with a boat or a ship towering over her, with the hull angling out over her head, and even as an adult she had to fight to control the fear. She could never explain it--sort of a tension created by the illusion that it would fall on her, but it was more like she felt like it was going to attack her.

Then there's the possibility he associates something bad with churches, either from real life or the movies. Funerals, scary movies, even weddings with all the noise can be scary for a kid.

Just some ideas. Maybe talking him in to closing his eyes and getting him inside would help--unless it is the crucifix, of course, in which case you might scare him more.


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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:56 AM
Response to Original message
9. Praise his good sense?
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WildEyedLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 03:14 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. "Please, no jokes about religion right now"
But you just can't help yourself, can you? :eyes:
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 03:24 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 04:07 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. You don't think you're projecting just a little here?
Not to mention oversimplifying.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 04:10 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 07:31 AM
Response to Reply #13
18. Stupidity is in the eye of the beholder.
Seeing a church building as a "palace to ignorance and emotional manipulation" itself is ignorant.
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LeftyFingerPop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #13
20. Typical.
So, everyone in DU who embraces religion is "fucking stupid" or "evil"? What a hoot. You are very dependable.
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VMI Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:21 PM
Response to Reply #20
26. That poster is very lonely.
Its sad.
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WildEyedLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #20
29. Looks like I missed a real gem of wisdom
:eyes:

Some people really ought to remember that old adage about keeping silent and being thought a fool versus opening their mouth and removing all doubt.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 03:12 AM
Response to Original message
10. How is he at museums?
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RFKHumphreyObama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 03:36 AM
Response to Original message
14. I think children at that age can quite often have phobias that seem puzzling to us
I don't have kids so I'm going on a limb here but I'd encourage you and your wife to talk to him about his phobias and concerns and try and address them as much as you can. Perhaps you can also arrange for him to meet the Priest or Pastor at a particular Church where you feel comfortable and that could also take away some of the fear for him
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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 04:05 AM
Response to Original message
15. Having survived raising a child, I'd advise not sweating it.
Sometimes kids get wound up about random stuff. It means your kid has an active imagination, which is a good thing. It can sometimes be dissipated with making a play time activity out of going to a place that he fears. If there's some silly or fun activity yall do, arrange a free day to be doing that activity near the church--maybe include along with that play date a friend or a favorite pet--and then just so happen to drift along toward the church as you all play.

It's probably just some random association the kid's formulated. Human beings at that age are weird, but surprisingly resilient. I think it'll turn out okay after you apply a little patience and model the place's safety.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 07:42 AM
Response to Original message
19. Seems like he associates churches with something harmful or traumatic.
Did he ever suffer an injury in one? Maybe a fall or whatever?
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dembotoz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 08:36 AM
Response to Original message
22. does it generalize into other types of buildings
like a court house of a museum.

or a costco

big ornate structures or big in genernal.

has he seen monster movies however tame that had castles in them
-old dracula
frankenstein
even harry pottter...
he associates it with something
hospital???
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 08:39 AM
Response to Original message
23. Do you believe in reincarnation?
My immediate reaction was that he was hurt by the Church in a prior life. Unfortunately, the Church did inflict a lot of pain over the centuries.
If you are receptive to the idea of reincarnation, ask him why he is scared of the building. Let him talk. You might be surprised by what you hear.
I believe in reincarnation so please, no snark for me either.

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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 05:58 PM
Response to Reply #23
43. That was my first thought too
GMTA, SC! ;)
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 07:10 AM
Response to Reply #23
50. Self-delete
Edited on Fri Sep-25-09 07:32 AM by Orrex
inappropriate snark.
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Sanity Claws Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 07:25 AM
Response to Reply #50
52. Couldn't resist, could you?
BTW, I never said it was the most likely explanation but I did ask for no snark.
Apparently, for some people, the ego boost they get from putting others down is too much to resist. Sad.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 07:32 AM
Response to Reply #52
53. Point taken.
No "ego boost" involved, but I apologize for the the ill-placed snark regardless.
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brendan120678 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 08:42 AM
Response to Original message
24. Could be one of a number of factors...
As some have said previously, it may be your son is afraid of entering large, imposing buildings.
As gorgeous as Grace Cathedral is, it is a large building. Is the Preschool in a building connected to the cathedral, or actually in the cathedral itself?


I've never been inside the building (being Catholic, I've never had a reason to go into an Episcopal church), but I have admired the building the many times I've been by it (and I've been to SF a good number of times).



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Demoiselle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
25. Do any of the churches have smaller rear entrances?
(I spent some time trying to come up with a non-double-entendre description, and gave up.)
It sounds like your son is very observant and sensitive to his surroundings. That'll be a good thing as he grows up, for sure.
I guess big churches can be particularly scary because they tend to stand alone....which exaggerates their impressiveness.
...or does he worry about entering other big buildings as well?
I was terrified of the movies when I was three years old. (Apparently a baby sitter took me to a scary flick.)
I grew out of it very quickly, although the smell of lobby popcorn gave me butterflies in my stomach for several years.
Good luck.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:22 PM
Response to Original message
27. You know I am trying VERY HARD not to be snide...so how about back entrances?
I mean, don't pull up to the front of the Church/Daycare where it looks grandiose and towering, but in the back, where the basketball courts are?
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snooper2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 12:30 PM
Response to Original message
28. Reminds me of a movie
circa 2006...little boy...car scene in front of church
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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
32. Wow, it's really impossible for people not to be snide, isn't it?
Don't worry about it. Kids get weird phobias and feelings that come and go. Get a priest or pastor to talk to him and walk with you guys through the church. That might help.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #32
34. Yeah but make sure you keep an eye on them.
Snide? What good ever came out of teaching a kid to believe he will go to hell if he doesn't believe A, B and C?
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. That's not how it works.
And this isn't the thread to tell you why not.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 04:54 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. Well, I'm just saying that if the kid is afraid of churches...
Edited on Thu Sep-24-09 04:58 PM by Deep13
...maybe there is a reason for it.

I gotta say, I found them scarey too. The idea of going to hear about how a guy was tortured to death and that it was somehow my fault while seeing artistic representations of it being done was pretty disconcerting. Maybe you went to a church that wasn't concerned with Jesus Christ, but mine was.

And I am not going to stiffle my worry that children are being harmed by religion just because someone says--oh don't mention that. Nothing good comes from indoctrinating children and much suffering results.

Did you ever lie awake at night wondering if somehow--even unintentionally--you might have offended the holy spirit and doomed yourself to hell forever? I did and I went to a liberal church.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. No, I never did.
Maybe I was taught something - or heard something - that you didn't. But, that's for another day.
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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 05:37 PM
Response to Reply #34
41. Following huh?
Sorry, you're not proving any points here either.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. Huh?
I'm at the office working on a major felony prosecution (the guy raped a child over and over). The subject matter is such that I have to take a break every so often so I don't puke. That's when I check DU.
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frogmarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 03:45 PM
Response to Original message
33. Did something upset him at
the church where he was with you for Easter Service? Did it resemble Grace Cathedral? If something frightened or otherwise upset him at the other church, that might explain his fear of a similar-looking building.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
35. Fortunately, the problem is easily avoided.
There are plenty of schools that are not in churches.
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Fleshdancer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 05:19 PM
Response to Original message
39. I found a website that might help
When exactly does his anxiety increase? When he first sees the building? When he walks through the door? Seeing it from the inside?


I found this link to be informative on how to help kids cope with fears and anxiety:

http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/Ca-...

The Caring for Every Child's Mental Health Campaign offers these pointers for parents and other caregivers:

- Encourage children to ask questions. Listen to what they say. Provide comfort and assurance that address their specific fears. It's okay to admit you can't answer all of their questions.

- Talk on their level. Communicate with your children in a way they can understand. Don't get too technical or complicated.

- Find out what frightens them. Encourage your children to talk about fears they may have. They may worry that someone will harm them at school or that someone will try to hurt you.

- Focus on the positive. Reinforce the fact that most people are kind and caring. Remind your child of the heroic actions taken by ordinary people to help victims of tragedy.

- Pay attention. Your children's play and drawings may give you a glimpse into their questions or concerns. Ask them to tell you what is going on in the game or the picture. It's an opportunity to clarify any misconceptions, answer questions, and give reassurance.

- Develop a plan. Establish a family emergency plan for the future, such as a meeting place where everyone should gather if something unexpected happens in your family or neighborhood. It can help you and your children feel safer.
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otherlander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-24-09 09:40 PM
Response to Original message
44. Dude, that was ME.
I went to a private pre-school... I remember in pre-k there was one part of school or whatever where we had to go into the room of the building where they had mass... I don't think it was actually for religious preaching; just assemblies or something, because it was the only room that was big enough for all the kids, and I remember sitting in the benches looking at the crosses and the stained glass pictures, and it scared the fucking hell out of me, I was like, four, and I was thinking, shit, they kill people with those things, don't they? Why the fuck are they here? And who are those scary looking people in the windows? What if they come back and use the crosses to kill people?
:yoiks:
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AlienGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 05:21 AM
Response to Reply #44
49. Interesting that you understood ancient execution tools at that age!
:yoiks:

Tucker

P.S. I like your signature. "Amanita is their name..."
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otherlander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-26-09 10:34 AM
Response to Reply #49
58. Well, they told us he died on the cross...
So... cross = death... 0_0
And I'm glad someone appreciates the sigline. :D
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wickerwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 02:30 AM
Response to Original message
45. Are you sure it's the building and not general shyness/starting preschool?
I remember changing schools right at the beginning of second grade and going to the new classroom with my mom and being too petrified to walk into a room full of strange kids. I ended up running back to the car and refusing to go in.

Does he have experience playing with other kids in a school-like setting and it he normally shy around strangers?
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Jamastiene Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 03:19 AM
Response to Original message
46. Good kid. n/t
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ProudToBeBlueInRhody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 03:35 AM
Response to Original message
47. Find a smaller, "less churchy" church, and walk around it and then go in
Edited on Fri Sep-25-09 03:35 AM by ProudToBeBlueInRhody
See what happens. It's possible he saw a scary "Exorcist" type image from a movie somewhere, and connects large cathedrals with scary things happening or haunted houses.
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msanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 05:06 AM
Response to Original message
48. It might be the noise factor. If you had to leave during services
at Easter, he may find the echo/boom of the typical church cathedral very uncomfortable.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 07:16 AM
Response to Original message
51. Perhaps you've answered this already elsewhere, but why a church?
Are there no other preschools available in your area?
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 09:46 AM
Response to Original message
54. Has he seen a horror movie set in a church?
I'm guessing not if he's three, but it's possible. When I was small, I thought War of the Worlds was a documentary.
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LeftinOH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 10:24 AM
Response to Original message
55. Perhaps he's seen the giant "bloody-Jesus-on-a-cross"-type of ornamentation
which some churches use -or maybe just saw one on TV and associated it with the kinds of things that one can expect to see in churches. To a small child, this sort of thing is right out of a house of horrors:
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 06:42 PM
Response to Original message
56. It's actually quite simple.
As a person with a minor background in architecture and its uses in antiquity, I can tell you that all churches built before roughly the 1800's were designed specifically to create a feeling of awe and insignificance in every soul that entered.

Of course, churches in the US tend to be younger than that, but they still take their design cues from the old school.

And this doesn't even get into the fact that to a 3 year old, churches are just chock FULL of old people, and I don't know about your son but I was terrified of adults outside my family at the age of 3.

In short, he has a lot to be scared of, but it'll pass. That reactive phase is something we all go through as children, and soon he'll be a little explorer. I wouldn't take him to church then either, as you never know what secret passage, air duct, rectory, or baptismal font he might find his way into just because it looked interesting.

OK, that last sentence might have been a little snark... :)
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-25-09 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
57. As a young adult I refused to go into a catholic church with my two catholic friends.
I felt like an interloper and they were true believers. I was too sensitive and soon got over it. Now when I'm in Europe and being a tourist I'm not afraid of seeing magnificent churches.

Could it be your child senses something serious going on in churches but doesn't really understand what church is about? Maybe you could take him to a United church for a sermon and see if that helps.
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FloridaJudy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-26-09 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
59. I remember being terrified of nuns as a child
And, no, I never attended a Catholic school or was abused by one. But I was once a patient in a Catholic hospital (on the polio ward, but that's a long story) and the sight of those silent women draped head to toe in black scared the fertilizer out of me: I thought they were there to carry away the dead people.

Who knows why kids develop the strange phobias that they do? I also worried that I'd somehow get hydrocephalus and my head would explode, or that if I accidentally stabbed myself with a pencil I'd get lead poisoning and die. Ask him why the church scares him. Maybe he's just misinterpreted something - such as a fear that they're infested with rabid bats (well, some churches are - of the human variety - but Grace Cathedral is pretty benign as I recall).
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