How can we tell our children’s nonmember friends that our children can’t play on Sunday?
June 1979

“How can we tell our children’s nonmember friends that our children can’t play on Sunday?” Ensign, June 1979, 34

Without hurting the relationships and possibly giving a negative impression of the Church, how can we tell our children’s nonmember friends that our children can’t, “come out to play today” because it’s Sunday?

Sharon Dequer, mother of three, Primary Blazer leader, Monrovia Ward, Arcadia California Stake Ever since our children were quite small, we have participated with them in quiet, spiritually-oriented Sunday activities such as reading, drawing, and music. The emphasis has been on a “oneness” together as a family in the environment of love and spiritual refreshment that comes with the Sabbath.

Of course, this means that we parents, too, have to plan to set aside our regular routine. Obviously, there is the Lord’s work to be done on Sunday, but activities such as preparing meals are simplified for this special day.

As our children grow, they begin choosing for themselves what they will do on the Sabbath, but always within the value framework that has already been established in our home.

Like other parents, we have found these values challenged in a very subtle way when neighborhood children, watching for our return from Church meetings, have rushed over with shouts of “Can you play?” We had erroneously thought that we wouldn’t have to face the challenge of peer pressure until our children felt the independence and individuality that come with teenage years.

However, faced with the problem, we find that a simple no in this instance really doesn’t satisfy the children for very long, nor does it help us give a glimpse of the gospel to others.

For us, the solution is in showing the same respect and consideration to the neighborhood children as we do to our own. All children need to know the “why” of decisions that affect them, in order to understand the values they are expected to share. Each time our young friends come to the door on Sunday, we gather them together with our children to explain that Sundays are very special to us as a family and emphasize that we do different things on this special day. Positive terms are most effective: we go to church, and we do things together in our home that we don’t get to do on other days of the week when we’re shopping, working, or playing with friends. We make the point that we’re glad for their friendship, and then we invite them to come back the next day. This invitation is important in helping our children feel that they are not rejecting others, and to help the neighbors feel they are not being rejected.

After two or three such experiences, our young friends start supporting our children instead of being a temptation to them.

Our children then begin to learn that we can live in the world and still maintain gospel standards, and perhaps their friends begin to understand that there is more to Sunday than “coming out to play.”