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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs