She’s one mad mom. “With soda, you’ve crossed a line. That was my son’s first drop of soda. And it was given to him AT CHURCH, of all places!”
The furor hit social media, blogs and a television talk show site over the past week. It all started when a California “mommy blogger” sent her six-year-old son to a local church’s vacation Bible school.
The boy, a soda virgin, tasted his first root beer float. At church.
The mom wrote: “Soda should not be served to six-year-olds. This should not have been in the curriculum. I find it disgusting that my son now associates God with soda.”
Others joined the fray:
• “I’m very nice and easy going…until you feed my child soda without my permission. Then I’m not nice anymore.”
• “Has soda and sugar consumption become the last accepted form of addiction?”
• “Fundamentalist Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups.”
• “I’m not a churchgoer, but this whole experience has left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Then others chimed in with alternate opinions:
• “I certainly hope you wouldn’t begrudge volunteers at a soup kitchen for giving the homeless people a cookie with their dinner.”
• “I’m terrified to plan our VBS snacks this year because I feel like someone is going to be angry with me.”
The snack in question is one suggested in Group’s 2012 VBS program, “Sky.” Other suggested snacks in “Sky” are popcorn, strawberries, pretzel sticks, cheese and grapes. However, churches are free to serve whatever they wish during their VBS programs.
Conducting ministry in these days of heightened parental concern for child safety presents ever-changing challenges. From food allergies to scares over sugar, salt, gluten, food coloring, dairy and meat–it’s hard to spend as much time on spiritual food.
With all the fears of the day, what are our kids learning about faith in God? Are we as concerned with their spiritual health as we are with their dietary health?
The mommy blogger wrote, “This isn’t something I think would follow the saying WWJD.” When it comes to refreshments, what would Jesus do? I suppose some would say he’d turn wine into water.
Jesus would still turn water to wine and maybe even root beer.
At our VBE picnic, we made the switch from free McDONALD’S Orange drink to apple juice. We added carrots to the menu and whole wheat hit dog buns….Yes, we as a church should strive to ne healthy, but we also still need to celebrate and have fun.
Root beer floats are welcomed here. Come on.
While we don’t follow Group’s snacks to the “T”, we do look to them for guidance. We serve cookies as well as trail mix and popcorn. We are VERY aware of allergies & food issues among our participants. We have over 300 children on a nightly basis during our weeklong program — there is no way we could have fresh fruit & veggies each night and still be on budget! I think the root beer float “experience” has been blown totally out of proportion and should have been contained to the specific church where this child attended.
When we give parents a permission form which asks for “food allergies or other” it becomes the parents responsibility to say “No soda.” We always follow those guidelines but if parents don’t say it, they don’t have a case. I guess I am fortunate that I have never had any of these type of complaints from my VBS parents.
Yes. This is exactly how I think it should be done. A parent has a right to monitor what food his or her child ingests, but if no restrictions are stated at the outset, it’s not the church’s fault. And Thom–you’re right on. All this hyper-sensitivity to everything makes it next to impossible to pay attention to what really matters. Well posted.
Jesus would have likely served up some fish and loaves to the multitudes as well. I wonder how that would have went over with her.
Sometimes the things that ruffle feathers can be so strange. If there’s something, like soda, that the parent does not want their child to have, it is soley their responsibility to make that known to the church at registration. It’s not our responsibility to try to find out what the child can’t have by trial and error during their time with us.
Would she be nearly as concerned if the snack met her every need for her child, yet we just skipped the Bible Study for the day? Outside of any food allergy, if you’ve sent your child to Vacation BIBLE School, then shouldn’t she be more concerned about what her child is learning from the Bible (or how the snack relates to verse)?
I applaud Group for the efforts to tie the Bible story/verse in to every last detail of VBS, including snacks. By the end of the night, the kids get it! They know it! They share it! But something tells me this little one feels as though condemned, and likely won’t be sharing anything from his VBS experience. I pray it is not the case.
I can’t believe this became an issue. If parents have soda concerns, they should list these under allergies.
While churches are taking on the welfare of kids while they are in their children’s ministries, we are not called to lead the charge in nutritional agendas. The snacks in the curriculum are healthier than what most families eat during the week.
This is such a hard situation. Sometimes people are just plain mean, and they will lash out at almost anything. Allergies are certainly something to be concerned about, but coming unglued about soda as part of a snack in a VBS program is insane and unnecessarily hurtful. I worry about the children of parents who would attack volunteers with such words. What kind of example are they setting? What are people thinking?
By the way – the children at our church LOVED the root beer floats that are part of SKY VBS. You should have seen their eyes light up! One of the things we treasure about Group’s VBS products is that they are so memorable and fun.
Tony Campolo has been known to say to a church group that” millions of people in our world are starving to death and most of you don’t give a damn. In fact you are more concerned about the fact that I said damn then that these people are starving to death.” Are we going to get so hung up on a bit of sugar when many many kids have nothing to eat on a daily basis. Get off the pot guys!! Let’s gain perspective folks!
If the parent did not indicate that the child was not to have ‘soda’ then perhaps the church cannot be responsible for failing to adhere to this. It is not, however, a good snack to be giving to very young children.
I would wonder about the culture in the community around what children eat. Where I live, for instance, schools and daycares would not have peanuts (or, often, nuts) because of allergies and children that young would not get ‘soda’. Was her upset that in that community one wouldn’t expect ‘soda’? It is important that the church not have lower standards in care than the larger community.
At our church, we do not use the suggested snacks in the curriculum…. They are worse than the families eat at home!
I wonder what the parents thought the time was for—learning something or just being there. The parents are responsible for letting the volunteers know that their children don’t get “soda” at home and not to have any. However, if that would happen, it would take away the feeling of the event from the child. The parent needs to just keep their mouth shut now that the event is over and be happy that their child learned something other than how to do as they just did. At least I hope that they learned not to react like an idiot.
If a parent is truly that concerned, why didn’t they ask what was planned to be served before registering their child? Why didn’t they provide their particular child’s drink? Why didn’t they train the child to say, no to root beer? I wish I had the opportunity to address these questions directly to that mentally mad and ridiculous mother.
Really? I mean, really?!?!? Billions of people are on their way to hell and you are upset that a church gave your son soda. Really?!?!? God forgive us . . .
Children’s Ministries are so different than what they use to be…we have come a long way in being more sensitive to allergies, both food and environmental such as latex balloons etc. However, this mother isn’t dealing with an allergy she is expecting the church to meet her personal preferences and that is a whole different area of expectation that is approaching the ministry these days. Sort of reminds me of a certain mother who asked that her sons sit on the right hand of Jesus. I am sure the church would have been more than willing to work with her on her preferences if she had properly communicated it to their staff, and provided an alternative for her child. Seems we may need to put in one of those vending machines which gives each their personal choice and maybe the church should start charging for these treats…instead of blessing generously. Again, the treat has no significance whatsoever with the gospel message but was meant only to be a treat…and a blessing to the child. Perhaps we may need to be aware that some have difficulties in recieving a gift and when they do they only want what they want. The least this mother could have done is to have thanked the church for their generousity, instead of finding fault with them.
If you’ve been raising your child as a Christian, they’d already know better than to associate God with soda. If you haven’t and are concerned about their perception of God, grab a bible and start today. It’s a great way to foster your own relationship with God AND your child. I don’t think this infraction warranted national attention. Simply ask the VBS leader to not give your child soda in the future and I bet they’d willing oblige.
We post the day’s snacks on the doors into our elementary large group area for parents and kids to see (and sometimes our snacks do include root beer); we also post snacks on each preschool classroom door. Here’s something we didn’t expect…one morning we took the kids outside to play in bouncy houses we had rented for the church picnic that day. One of the kids has an allergy to plastic and had a reaction that morning. We learned that we have to make sure EVERYTHING is clearly communicated. Next year…postcards will be sent home listing the morning’s activities (in addition to more prominent signs)!
In an effort to give parents an option to steer their child’s dietary habits (and remove some of the guess-work from my loving volunteer staff), we will make a list of the ingredients for each day’s snack for the week and have copies at the registration desk for parents to take home (it will also included in the email confirming registration). The note will let parents know that our snacks are an integral part of the Bible point each day – BUT – if their child has an allergy or is not allowed to eat certain items, parents will be encouraged to send a comparable snack for their child – sealed in a bag that is clearly labeled with the child’s name. Allergy/Warning bracelets on each of these children will prompt their crew leaders to pick-up the alternate snack in a designated area.
The list of dietary allergens seems to be growing at an exponential rate and my servant-hearted volunteers are not dietary clinicians. I do not want to place them in a situation where their best efforts could cause a potential health risk to a child (or an emotional risk to the volunteer).
In my opinion, this mom is overreacting. I read the original blog she posted and heard my inside voice gathering a case against her, such as a couple words and terms she used that, in my opinion, are inappropriate for Christians – and moms in general – to use. However, God paused me. Who am I to judge her parenting technique? Sure, if she wasn’t taking care of her kids or abusing them even by what she was feeding them, I or someone else might need to step in. That’s not the case. She has a logical reason for not wanting her kids to have soda: she personally had an issue with soda and the large intake affected her health. She has baggage, and her knee jerk response concerning that baggage seems excessive to me, but I have to admit: I have knee jerk responses because of my personal baggage, too. There are some things I can easily let slide and other things I will fight for even though, in reality, they’re not a big deal…especially when it comes to my kids. My hope is that this mom’s response to her kids, the VBS staff and everyone who reads her blog doesn’t tempt anyone to respond in frustration or disrespect. Anyone who works and serves in the church knows there are going to be issues like this. How we respond will speak volumes to our faith and the impact we’ll have on others.
I like what SusanHLawrence said. And there may be deeper issues that thisfamily is facing. I am not saying we should go overboard and cater to evryone, but when they do react negatively, we should resond with humbleness. The question isn’t WWJD inregards to rootbeer. It’s WWJD to show love to a mom and her kids in the midst of disagreement?
BTW, I elected to not serve the super sugaring small snacks at our SKY VBS because I know how some kids would get that sugar high and then later crash. It might happen during games, or Bible story. I didn’t want that feeling to be what they remembered.
“…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; FOR BODILY DISCIPLINE IS ONLY OF LITTLE PROFIT, BUT GODLINESS IS PROFITABLE FOR ALL THINGS, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. -1 Timothy 4.7-8
Yes, Stephen, the Bible does say that and we should take care of our bodies, but does that justify how we treat people? I don’t think going off half-cocked and blasting people on a blog is called for. You know the Bible also says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Ps. 25:11).
We as a nation have got to get it together about what really warrants moral outrage. If a person does not give their child pop, that’s fine. And it’s their right to ask that they not be given it, but does EVERYTHING have to be blown up and out of proportion and raised to the level of a crisis? I also think as believers we need to make sure we’re not buying into the rhetoric of the world without critically thinking things through.
Pat, you might have misinterpreted my intentions. I quoted that verse to show that it’s more important to worry about our spiritual self than our physical self. While I actually agree that we shouldn’t give our kids gobs of sugar (I have a son who can’t have sugar because of eczema), I don’t think making a campaign against it should be our focus. The focus of VBS is to bring children into a relationship with Jesus. I apologize if you thought I was “blasting” people. There are very few ways to highlight text in this format other than caps. Please forgive me if I’ve offended you. That was not my intention.
Hi Stephen. I wasn’t talking about you when I used the word “blasting”. I was referring to the mother and her reaction. Thanks for clarifying what you meant by the scripture that you used. You and I agree about the whole making a campaign out of the issue which is what I was trying to get at. 🙂
I had an upset mom one Sunday morning when I served frosted flakes to my 1st-5th grade class as a snack. She proceeded to talk behind my back about it, but I never spoke to her. If she would have asked me directly I could have told her that our lesson that day was on Manna…and I thought the frosted flakes clearly were the closest earthly thing the kids could visulaize. And before you get on me…no I didn’t make them eat it off the floor!