News / USA

Churches Take Up Fight for Stressed Parents

A generation ago, many churches in the United States were sustained by stay-at-home mothers who worked as volunteers.

Today, the adult daughters of those women are struggling to balance work and children.

Packed schedule

Deanna Troust is one of them. Her day becomes hectic well before she leaves for work.

With two daughters in elementary school, breakfast needs to be made, lunches prepared and homework finished.

But sometimes something in her day has to give, like a school event for her older daughter, Natalie.  

"So you're going to have your Hispanic heritage month celebration at 10:30 [a.m.]," she told Natalie over breakfast one recent morning, "which I'm sorry I cannot come because it's on a Thursday."

Troust is a media professional, while her husband, Vic Fernandez, is a financial executive.

"It’s really challenging and with two careers and if they’re both, I always call them 'big jobs,' if your husband has a big job too, well, you’re just sort of filling in, five minutes here, 10 minutes there, to try and kind of make it all work." Troust says.

Less time for church

So when Sunday comes, it is tempting to skip church.

"Sometimes we need just one day where we don’t have to get out of the house at nine," she says.

Troust and Fernandez are like countless other parents across the country who struggle to balance work and children, who are also finding less time to devote to congregational life.

Church leaders realize stressed-out families are not good for the future of congregational life in America.

Faith as part of the solution

Rev. David Gray of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, believes faith can be part of the solution.

"In our congregation, we have a lot of people who are stressed at work. It comes from living in the D.C. area. It comes from a lot of professionals in the congregation," he says, "and so when I look out in the pews I need to deal with the stress that they are facing."

In a new book, he argues that churches need to be part of the fight for workplace flexibility.

The future of denominations like his depends on young families, according to Gray. The average age of Presbyterians is 61.

"So if a church is going to attract that target audience," he says, "it’s got to understand work-life imbalance."

Time pressures

Gray recently led a discussion on the subject at the New America Foundation, a public policy research organization.

Fellow panelist Brigid Schulte is a Washington Post reporter who is writing a book about the time pressure on American families.  

"We work among the most hours of any country in the world," Schulte says. "We take the fewest days of vacation of any country in the world."

And America is the only major industrialized society with no paid parental leave.

"There is such a feeling of ambivalence about whether mothers should work in this country, which is evidenced by the fact that we don’t have policies to support them," Schulte says, "There’s a feeling that every minute that you are not at work you better be with your child."

Finding time 

The Fernandez-Trousts are Presbyterians and precisely the kind of family the church is trying to attract. Despite the challenges, Deanna Troust says the family does make it to church at least once or twice a month.

"When I share with people that we go to church, often the response is, 'Wow, that’s so impressive,' rather than, 'Oh, that’s important,'" she says. "They're viewing it as another thing on the schedule that’s difficult to make happen."

But church is one of the few places where Troust finds time for herself.

"It did become clear to me at some point that, wow, this is one hour that I can go and sit and there’s child care," she says.

The challenge for American churches is to become a haven for stressed-out parents, instead of just another burden.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid