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zee_four

A question about Baptist youth groups- AWANA curriculum?

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zee_four

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask but I figured if anyone could give me a straight answer it would be the wonderful people at FJ.

My son is 4, he'll be 5 in September. He's been living with his grandparents for the last 2 years due to some problems (I had been in an abusive relationship with his dad, after we split up I struggled for a bit) They're wonderful people and I know he's happy, loved, safe and cared for. The thing is his grandparents live in Texas and are very religious. They're not fundies, both their sons are tattooed pot  smoking snowboarders. But they're definitely deep south Baptists.

My son was in the weekday preschool last year, he'll be in Pre-K through the school district this coming year. He still goes to Sunday School every weekend and has been in Vacation Bible School all summer. He's getting to the age where he's internalizing a lot more of the messages he's getting. His mom is a biracial (half white half  Native) liberal from the west and knows nothing about this. I did some research of my own and their church uses AWANA curriculum.

Everything online says it's for evangelical Baptist churches which is slightly disconcerting to me. Does anyone have personal experiences with it? Anything I should be concerned about? I want my son to my raised respecting equality of all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, etc. 

Thanks for any information anyone can help with!

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EmiGirl

As far as I know AWANA is mainly Bible memorizationand not big on the theological implications of those scriptures. I'm not 1p0% though. 

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Inky

The baptist church around here (southern Ontario Canada) runs an awana program. Years ago my daughters friend went to awana and sometimes my daughter went along. This would be in the 12-14 age range. They used to do a bit of bible talk at the beginning, then go on to the fun stuff. Movies and popcorn, games nights, etc. It always sounded like the kids had a lot of fun. They welcomed kids from any of the local churches, or not church-goers. - my daughter is United church of Canada, another friend was Catholic. 

BUT...there could be a big difference between Texas and southern Ontario, plus the different ages. There is usually information online about programs like this and what they teach. 

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AliceInFundyland

If his grandparents are good people, I hope an early exposure to some Christianity will not be harmful. It shouldn’t be. Religion shouldn’t be a damaging experience....(says an optimistic Alice) 

My father was a strict atheist, but I found some of my own experiences with a Southern Baptist youth group in middle school very enjoyable.

It’s all completely subjective of course and I certainly would want to know the same things.

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meowfundiecatz

AWANA mainly focuses on Bible memorization with quick little lessons. At that age, it's very simple, nothing heavy. Things like help your parents, be kind to others, be a friend, etc. It's going to, of course, talk about Jesus and going to Heaven and that sort of thing.

For reference, I have taught AWANA for many years. (Only at the pre-k and k level.)

Also, for reference, my husband grew up in AWANA in Utah and many, many of the children were LDS, which does differ quite a bit from Evangelical Christianity in theology. And they thought the messages would be okay for their kids (since it's mostly just basic moral stuff).

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Anonymousguest

If you were in a relationship with his dad, and you are not his mother, how are you related to him? Whose parents is he with? It's late and maybe I'm just not making the right connections. 

We had the same experience with AWANA as had been mentioned. The lessons were fun and moral and the kids earned prizes by memorizing verses. We aren't Baptist and didn't attend the church where they had AWANA and they were very friendly and welcoming and not pushy for us to go there. But it was also a more liberal area than I imagine most places in Texas. 

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jakesykora
4 hours ago, meowfundiecatz said:

AWANA mainly focuses on Bible memorization with quick little lessons. At that age, it's very simple, nothing heavy. Things like help your parents, be kind to others, be a friend, etc. It's going to, of course, talk about Jesus and going to Heaven and that sort of thing.

For reference, I have taught AWANA for many years. (Only at the pre-k and k level.)

Also, for reference, my husband grew up in AWANA in Utah and many, many of the children were LDS, which does differ quite a bit from Evangelical Christianity in theology. And they thought the messages would be okay for their kids (since it's mostly just basic moral stuff).

Ditto to the above from another who worked with AWANA for years in California.

They also do a lot of games and stuff, as well, and things like AWANA Olympics, etc. which is very fun.

And I'd say regularly where I worked we were nearly a 50/50 split of churched (any local churches - not necessarily even heavily the one it was held at) vs. completely unchurched kids (who either came as friends of kids from the churches or else who had parents who used it for sort of evening childcare/date night once a week)

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zee_four
9 hours ago, Anonymousguest said:

If you were in a relationship with his dad, and you are not his mother, how are you related to him? Whose parents is he with? It's late and maybe I'm just not making the right connections. 

We had the same experience with AWANA as had been mentioned. The lessons were fun and moral and the kids earned prizes by memorizing verses. We aren't Baptist and didn't attend the church where they had AWANA and they were very friendly and welcoming and not pushy for us to go there. But it was also a more liberal area than I imagine most places in Texas. 

Heh it's okay. I am his mother. He lives with his dad's parents if that makes sense. I could have possibly explained it wrong it's unfortunately complicated.

Thanks for the info for everyone! For some reason I thought AWANA was Southern Baptist like the church they go to, so I guess the curriculum itself  can't be too bad. From what I've read online it seems pretty straightforward, I wasn't sure if it was Southern Baptist specific and had a lot of stuff added to contextualize the lessons at a church level. But seeing churches use it in California, Ontario and even Utah (I'm from near the Utah border so that's something I can wrap my head around better) is helpful.

His grandmother is pretty hardcore SBC, but his grandfather isn't which I hope mediates it a little. His dad is atheist after being raised SBC in the 80s and 90s but is also a libertarian nutter, all about his guns and weed. I guess the best I can do is just expose him to as much positivity  about equality and loving everyone and things like that we Facetime a couple times a week and I'm hoping to be able to see him more often (with the end result getting custody back but I'm working on being patient and not rushing that and resulting in his dad getting some form of physical custody which I'm not okay with until he's sober, done anger managment/DV and isn't allowed to have semi assault weapons just lying around in grasp of children, something that still hasn't happened despite him having a toddler in the home with his new wife) 

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Anonymousguest
8 minutes ago, zee_four said:

Heh it's okay. I am his mother. He lives with his dad's parents if that makes sense. I could have possibly explained it wrong it's unfortunately complicated.

It was you referring to yourself in the 3rd person that confused me! Assuming you are the biracial mom from the West. 

Do you have a good relationship with his grandparents? Can you talk to them? That is great you are working towards getting custody. And that you are patient. Best of luck to you! :group-hug:

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zee_four
56 minutes ago, Anonymousguest said:

It was you referring to yourself in the 3rd person that confused me! Assuming you are the biracial mom from the West. 

Do you have a good relationship with his grandparents? Can you talk to them? That is great you are working towards getting custody. And that you are patient. Best of luck to you! :group-hug:

Ah my bad, sorry how that could be confusing. But yep that's me.

I have a decent relationship with his grandparents. But as far as religion that's a little harder. My ex brother in law is very close with his parents and has a lot of influence over them. So I'm not sure how much they'd keep me at an arm's length on something like thinking they have his best interests at heart and my liberalness is just another shortcoming like my mental health and former substance use. 

Thank you so much for the support! After a rocky breakup with my son's father after his drinking and drug use and physical violence towards me got really bad, I unfortunately relapsed into my own substance use which led to some legal problems. The thing is I got help and have been sober for going on 3 years and really committed to my recovery and getting my life back on track but because I admitted I had a problem it's all on record. My ex on the other hand got away with breaking my arm, giving me black eyes, etc. and still drinks and smokes but there's nothing on record. My ex was remarried with another child on the way within 6 months of us breaking up and he's playing happy husband and father with them. He really doesn't want anything to do with our son until i do, and then he says he'll go for full custody. Unfortunately with the local courts that means he'd probably get custody and like I said I want my son no where near him regularly. So having an amicable set up with his parents has been the best of a bad situation.

Just as he's getting older I'm thinking more of things I wasn't as concerned about when he was younger such as the ideology and education he's exposed to.

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Rubaiyat

All the congratulations on 3 years of sobriety!  That’s a hell of an accomplishment.   I don’t really have anything to add, but wanted to send you encouraging backpats.  Hope you’re able to continue with a happy medium between you and your son’s grandparents.  

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zee_four
10 hours ago, Rubaiyat said:

All the congratulations on 3 years of sobriety!  That’s a hell of an accomplishment.   I don’t really have anything to add, but wanted to send you encouraging backpats.  Hope you’re able to continue with a happy medium between you and your son’s grandparents.  

Thank you so much! I still feel a lot of guilt. It doesn't help when I talk about my son and people find out he doesn't live with me. I know it's no one's business about my sobriety and it has never been about not loving my son, I struggled with severe mental health issues which went untreated for a decade which led to self medication starting as a teenager. An abusive relationship didn't help. I guess it's really hard knowing what my ex used to do to me and knowing he has an upper hand over me legally  because my "problems" are documented. Knowing that the system would give our son to a guy who snapped bones, got drunk and brought me outside at the end of his loaded AR-15, etc. than a mother with a history of Bipolar 1 and substance abuse, despite getting help.

But seriously, it means a lot to be supported for my sobriety and not judged. Thank you!

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Okie_Bokie

You've already gotten good answers, but I wanted to chime in nonetheless.  I went to AWANA meetings with a neighbor when I was in middle school.  I had a blast and I have never been religious at all - I jut went for the activities. 

I do have to complain, however, that decades later, I still have the AWANA theme song in my memory.   Now it's back for me as an earworm because of this thread!  Arrgh!

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danvillebelle

My youngest did a year of AWANA at the Baptist church across the street when she was 11-12.  We are Orthodox and we had no problem with it; it's almost totally Bible memorization.

It holds a special place in my heart because it is where she met her best friend - probably for life.  :)

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fluffy

I just wanted to chime in and say you have my sincere admiration for how hard you've worked to turn your life around. Your resilience and determination and faith are an inspiration to me. Congratulations on taking care of yourself so that you can also be the mother your child needs. Sometimes being that mother means finding a place where your child will be loved and cared for while you take care of your own issues. I think that is selfless love, and it can't be easy. You are putting his needs ahead of your own. Our world would look different if more parents could  prioritize their children's needs rather than parenting from a place of selfishness. Thank you for that inspiration and model of taking responsibility and turning your life around. I wish you and your son and in-laws the absolute best.

 

 

 

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WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?

I'm just chiming in to agree with the other poster's experiences of AWANA. My kids attended for 5 years, and we didn't stop because of any problems with the church, people, or curriculum, but because the long weekly trip just got to be too much of a hassle. The church we went to isn't Baptist; it's a non-denominational protestant church associated with Village Missions. 

Our AWANA program divided kids by age. The preschoolers (mostly 3 and 4 year olds) were in Cubbies; the kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders were Sparks; and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders were in TnT (Truth 'n' Training). The Bible verses they memorized were mostly age appropriate, although I would have preferred a more kid friendly translation than the KJV or NKJV. I imagine that each program can vary, depending on the volunteers who run it, but I agree with the people who said that it's mostly Bible verse memorization, singing, games, and crafts. My kids always seemed to have fun. 

On 7/23/2018 at 3:46 PM, Okie_Bokie said:

I do have to complain, however, that decades later, I still have the AWANA theme song in my memory.   Now it's back for me as an earworm because of this thread!  Arrgh!

I can't remember my kids learning an AWANA theme song, just a Cubbies song and a Sparks song. Maybe it just wasn't as catchy? :think:

@zee_four, it sounds like you've made some amazing positive changes in your life and that you have worked really hard to do the best you can for  your son. So much real love. Add me to the list of people hoping for all the best things for his life and yours. :my_heart:

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larrysmom

I will also chime in. I was in AWANA from 4th-6th grade and didn't feel particularly negative towards the experience. It was mostly Bible memorization, lots of fun games, and I met some good friends there. That, however, was in the late 80s/early 90s, and at a Pennsylvania Baptist church so YMMV.

I can contrast this with a non-AWANA-related experience where I went to a friend's church a few years later (can't remember the denomination) and heard fire and brimstone, as well as anti-Semitic and misogynist comments being directed towards mostly an audience of kids/teens. I remember having to stand up to recite a Bible verse to get a prize and when I choked and couldn't remember part of the verse, the ancient guest pastor decided to ridicule me in front of the whole group. I remember my friend's grandmother being made at *me* for making them look bad(?) or something. Anyway, I digress. Just saying that AWANA was much better than some other church-related experiences I have had growing up.

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zee_four
On 7/25/2018 at 4:33 AM, fluffy said:

I just wanted to chime in and say you have my sincere admiration for how hard you've worked to turn your life around. Your resilience and determination and faith are an inspiration to me. Congratulations on taking care of yourself so that you can also be the mother your child needs. Sometimes being that mother means finding a place where your child will be loved and cared for while you take care of your own issues. I think that is selfless love, and it can't be easy. You are putting his needs ahead of your own. Our world would look different if more parents could  prioritize their children's needs rather than parenting from a place of selfishness. Thank you for that inspiration and model of taking responsibility and turning your life around. I wish you and your son and in-laws the absolute best.

 

 

 

Thank you so so so much, everyone. I can't tell you how much your support means. This has been on of my major insecurities. When people find out I have a son, and that's he's still pretty young but he doesn't live with me I get so much judgment. 

Leaving the abusive relationship with his dad was hard (I came home a week before our wedding after my first day at a new job his best friend got me, and the apartment was packed up in his truck and he was walking out the door with our almost year old son in one arm and his AR-15 in the other and he was stoned, just to start). I relapsed with opiates and I went without my psych meds for my severe Bipolar 1 for a little. I've been stable for about a year and everyday is a struggle but I've been working really hard .

I know that with my ups and downs it wasn't the best place for a toddler. I needed to be able to take care of myself before I could take care of him. I didn't "choose drugs over my son", in fact the drugs were only a symptom of my severe psychotic manic episodes. Mental illness isn't a choice, it doesn't get better or go away just because I love my son, though I wish it did.

He's been very stable and happy with his grandparents. At first when he was 2-3, I was really consumed with getting my life back on track. I moved back in with my mother in the city. I got into an outpatient program that required daily attendance, groups, medication, etc. Once I got stable there I started going back to school to get my degree in addiction counseling. When I was finally able to move back home to the mountains. Now we have a lot more contact. We Facetime a couple times a week. I send him little care packages and presents and he  sends me cards and art projects he's done in school and Sunday school.

His dad doesn't send any money. He claims he has a wife and a daughter to take care of. It's pretty frustrating but :shrugs: I'm in a really tight financial situation for a little bit but I still send what I can, I saw a lot of women in treatment and group who were fighting with their exes with the kids in the middle, having them taken by CPS (Child Protective Services), etc. I got a lot of judgment for my situation. That I'm not a good mother that I'm not "fighting for my baby". But honestly, I don't want my son to be around me when I'm cycling. I've been on my meds for a couple years now and have done a lot of work to be stable and sober. Someday I would love for my son to live with me. But I know I need to make the sacrifice for him to live where he is now, super stable with a loving grandma and grandpa.

Oh and back on topic about AWANA. I signed up for the free downloads on their website and now I get all these e-mails about giving my life for Christ, heh. I'm not in good standing with the Catholic church I don't think but I still take communion when I do go to mass every so often.

Every Sunday after church he calls me and tells me about what he did. The lessons all seem good, be nice to your friends, love your neighbors, obey your parents and teachers. I talk to him about how important it is to love everyone, Jesus taught us that. People with two mommies or two daddies, people who look different than us, people who believe different things.

He's such a sweetie with a big heart. I'm still a little skeptical when he's older being in a Texas Southern Baptist Church but I guess we'll take things one at a time. 

Edited by zee_four

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AliceInFundyland

@zee_four You sound like you are doing the right things. You also sound like a smart and thoughtful person. I hope you stick around with us :) Lots of people here have been through lots of crap. We listen pretty well.

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starfish

I'm in a Texas Southern Baptist church. We're not that scary, at least our congregation isn't. Our congregation does not do AWANA; we stick with R.A's for the boys and G.A.'s for the girls. AWANA is a curriculum for younger children that tends to be used by slightly more evangelical congregations but my understanding is that it is co-educational and that the children are not divided by gender.  Our G.A. curriculum is mission oriented and fairly interesting. It's often a  geography education as well.  We have numerous children that attend our Wednesday night activities that do not regularly attend on Sundays and they seem to genuinely enjoy the activities.  For instance, we offer a English as a second language class that evening for anyone in the community that cares to attend. ( It is very popular). The children of these students come to our G.A. classes. We have lots of snacks and music, but we also work on age-appropriate projects that focus on missions (visiting nursing homes/assisted living centers, etc.). Anyway, what I'm saying is that your child should be fine. Our kids play lots of games, get lots of snacks, and generally enjoy themselves. And best of luck to you with your recovery. I'm rooting for you! 

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Destiny
On 7/23/2018 at 2:46 PM, Okie_Bokie said:

I do have to complain, however, that decades later, I still have the AWANA theme song in my memory.   Now it's back for me as an earworm because of this thread!  Arrgh!

You had to say that, and now I'm hearing it in my head too! Expect to see the bill for my therapy in your mail tomorrow. :crying-pink:

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katilac
6 minutes ago, starfish said:

I'm in a Texas Southern Baptist church. We're not that scary, at least our congregation isn't. Our congregation does not do AWANA; we stick with R.A's for the boys and G.A.'s for the girls.  

 

What does RA and GA stand for? 

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starfish

I'm sorry. G.A.'s = Girls in Action and R.A.'s are Royal Ambassadors. 

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AmazonGrace

Why do the boys get to be royal and girls just girls?

On 8/14/2018 at 7:42 AM, starfish said:

I'm sorry. G.A.'s = Girls in Action and R.A.'s are Royal Ambassadors. 

 

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formergothardite
On ‎8‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 12:42 AM, starfish said:

I'm sorry. G.A.'s = Girls in Action and R.A.'s are Royal Ambassadors. 

I now have the girls in action song going through my head.

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