The following was included in the report on the National LCMS Church Worker Family Needs Assessment Pilot Report.
Households with children (grandchildren)
Few things in life bring us to our knees faster than the news we’re about to become a parent. Topping that short list is knowing when to protect our children and knowing when to let them guard themselves as a church worker parent. With 81% of the aggregate respondents self-identifying as a parent(n=812)—the interaction of ministry and parenthood is of great importance.
And as one can see from the table of current parental statuses—parenting no longer comes in just one size. Further, this study began with the knowledge of a high number of parents expected to be in the parent of Adult Children world of parenting—just not the 45% seen in the table below. That means 55% are currently Active Parents—in the trenches of ministry life with children with them “in the glass bubble”.
Of note is the + 27% parent of Adult Children found of the ordained worker over the commissioned worker. It is important to clarify the context of the current household experience to continue the “now, but not yet” anticipation of ‘New Boomer” pastors with their children into the parishes—and the potential young families their presence will bring. The “grid-iron” of 21st century parenting holds little similarity to parenting today’s Generation-X adult children.
The HomeLifeProfile quickly reminds us that types of parenting contexts have expanded, too. A quick review of each row representing church worker family connections shows a vivid spectrum of colors. With the 2008 financial collapse disrupting the lives of many young adults—the return of adult children, and for some, with their children, forces expanding our vision of children in the homes of church workers.
Assessing Parental Health via the Congregation Needs Assessment
The Parental Health Overall score is the sum of a respondent’s sub-scores using questions adapted from the Parenting/Personal Fathering Profile’s six categories of: awareness, confidence, consistency, involvement, nurturing, and vision. The validity and reliability measures across than span offer great confidence in generating an aggregate of one respondent per record treatment of the data. Put simply, the graphs and tables represent the marital health across these measures of real “souls” and the affirmation of their health, the sense of emerging concern, or the warning of imminent troubles.
Using the analogy of your car’s dashboard…the calm green glow of the instrument panel affirms that you are good to go—and the fuel gauge is really the only reason to focus your occasional attention. Now should a tire pressure be low, your gas cap loose, or some emerging issue unfolding trigger the yellow service required or check engine light to come—you should be concerned—but can still drive the car a while before dealing with the issue. But should a red warning light come on—this warning is of imminent catastrophic failure! Pull over—shut things down and accept that you are probably going to need some large-scale help.
Viewing the 436 one respondent per record Parental Health Overall scores together, we have a lot to celebrate with 82% of all soul’s parental practices seeing that calm green glow as they church worker catch their breath at the end of their parenting day. This should bring a sigh of relief to a lot of church worker households! When the same measures are viewed by gender, no significant difference (+/- 4%) was found in the scores of men and women as parents removing the need to separate the parental roles of father and mother, at this key discovery stage.
When examining the HomeLifeProfile for active parents, a few concerns and warning catch the eye. Again, due to the small n= problem with samples < 25 souls, there is little regression to the mean effect. Simply, with a small group all doing well shows a maximum affirmation, as does a small group struggling show the maximum warning.
Beginning with young married with children (age 39 and younger) we see a very predictable 24% YL with this group facing early parenthood along with most of their peers. As the rate of first births to mothers 35 and older continues to increase, the average age of a first time mother is now 25 (up from 21.4 in 2006).
Again, or “now, but not yet” view must anticipate 1st time parenthood in new staff, much as was the case with the original “Baby boomers”, of the past. This group is highly receptive to help from the church, and colleagues as the II lines in the pregnancy test bring them to their knees. Note: the young single or single again with kids are doing well! Whatever is currently being done—don’t stop.
Parenthood is something that forces finding some sort of rhythm—and should get better until the hormones get rushing and a new rhythm requires new dance steps, as parents. For the middle life single or single-again with kids, both the 31% YL and 8% RL serve as appropriate warnings. God created parenting as a tag-team sport! As one is beaten up in the ring, the hope is to crawl to the corner of the other parent and trust that they jump the ropes and let you crawl away to prepare for the next round. Whether a single parent or solo parent by way of death or divorce, the weight of responsibility to finish the round is immense.
For older life married parents, parenting can take on a lot of forms. Most of these 20 souls are doing pretty well, what with 80% seeing that green glow. Sufficient to say more inquiry is in order to better understand parenting age 60+. And with 45% parents of Adult Children, the adventure of aging dramatically changes the parent-child relationship as health or the stuff of life force transitions far too early.
The thing about original research is that it is wise to ask and test a number of exploratory questions, whenever possible, to try to clarify long-standing confounding variables that are often anecdotal, but lack any data to verify. Of these, two are appropriate to introduce, here.
The first was the result of a crosstabulation of active parents, response to “As parents—we are in agreement in our approach and actions involved in parenting”, and the respondent’s Marital Health Overall score. This type of crosstabulation is possible using the one respondent per record methodology.
The visual representation of the relationship in both instances is quite easy to see. In the first crosstabulation of “As the (Active) parents-we are in agreement in our approach and actions involved in parenting” X Marital Health Overall category we clearly see the very strong connection between marital and parental health by way of being a team-of-two in both approach and actions of parenting in the church worker households—yet such agreement by itself, cannot offset other marital hic-ups.
The second crosstabulation of “As (Active) parents, our children do not manipulate our marriages relationship” X Marital Health Overall category we also see the strong connection between marital and parental health by way of being a team-of-two in resisting manipulation by the child(ren) in the church worker household. Keeping the marriage, the primary relationship is a daily task, which if left unguarded, leads to marital isolation and dysfunction.
Felt Needs: Life with children
A strength of the CNA has been the inquiry of the presence (or absence) of current unmet needs in the respondent’s life. The 31 issue (see in Appendix 8.2) options are clues to the sorts of problems people are facing and the forms of family life education or restorative care connected to the felt need.
To read the table, first look at Rank (listed in descending order). The most common “current unmet need in my life” sets the order of the listing of the actual needs, with the additional columns offering further insights for that list. The middle column lists the percentage of those with the current need who also are open to District help. The higher the percentage—the great receptiveness to help. Conversely, the lower the percentage—the more creative the help might need to come. The last column ranks the current unmet needs in terms of having been ticked when asked, “if you could only list three needs, which is most important to you, second most important and third most important”.
In light of the 55% Active parent / 45% parent of Adult Child ratio, a second, ACTIVE parent listing needs was compiled highlighting the unique aspects of care regarding the heart of a parent, will need to be considered as the future care decisions, are sought out.
Again, the drawing attention to the Top 10 Needs in no way diminishes the remaining 21, with which so souls wrestle with daily in their lives and/or marriage. Again, with 93% of the aggregate respondents having experienced marriage, and 88% currently married—the Top 10 list should provide insight into potential one-to-many and one-to-some opportunities for enrichment or transition-readiness.
Note that all intersect the problem with myself, problem with others, problem with the environment (world around me) continuum of life span of family life education, as well as care
When asked about interest in Parent Life family life education resources: "Practical biblical couple or small group studies on various parenting topics" was viewed favorably by 1 in 3 without regard to current marital status; "Church worker-oriented parenting conferences" were viewed favorably by nearly 1 in 3; "Practical couple or small group studies for childless and/or empty nest couples" was favorably viewed by slightly more than 1 in 4 of married and unmarried; and "Parent mentoring" was viewed favorably by slightly more than 1 in 4 married respondents.
When asked about interest in Life with Children family life education resources:
Nearly one in three (across the marital-relational spectrum) favorably viewed church worker oriented parenting conferences.
Clearly one in three viewed practical biblical couple or small group studies on various parenting topics of special interest is the just under one in three viewing favorably practical couple or small group studies for childless and/or empty next couples. And of those married, parent mentoring was viewed favorably by just under one in three.