(via; h/t @TaigOHerron)
The best way to help parents feel at ease with little ones at Mass is for them to be surrounded by other parents with little ones. If you’re the only one with a crying baby, it’s a lot harder to heed this message. This placard is correct and wonderful, but it’s not addressing the root of this issue: Have more babies.
As a dad of a 4 month year old and a 3 year old toddler, I couldn’t disagree more with you (respectfully) and some others on this forum. I do fret over their fussiness because it is disrespectful and distracting to others, including myself. My toddler can’t understand the meaning of Elmo, never mind Mass at this age, and while yes it’s wonderful to bring him when he’s able and ready to Mass, I wonder if sometimes we bring kids not for their benefit but so I feel good about bringing him. Some kids are not ready, and is serves no purpose having him run up and down the pews – not paying attention to anything. I wish our church had a cry room with the service piped in, it doesn’t. I know we are welcome, but why make it so the elderly women next to us can’t hear a thing – it’s just selfish at that point to have a screaming baby in church. What would really be better is if there was a service geared just for young families. And please don’t say, every service is for young families, because that is not respectful to those who seek Christ in a thoughtful, reflective, peaceful, contemplative, and quiet atmosphere.
My opinion is, do whatever brings your soul closer to Christ. That may mean staying home until your children are older. However, my point was that if your toddler is acting up, it’s a lot more comfortable when three others are also running wild throughout the church. All those glaring eyes will have to look in many places rather than just at you — heh, just kidding. If it helps, remember that most elderly ladies have had a baby and are rejuvenated to see a fresh face next to them. You are performing a charitable service.
No children should be running wild throughout the church. Ever. This is the Lord’s house, not a playground. Such behavior is disrespectful to God, to the priest, and to everyone attending Mass. And it teaches children they can misbehave anywhere, which is a grave disservice to them. Teach them to sit quietly & pay attention.
“Running wild” is included with “glaring eyes” as part of the same joke. I advocate neither behavior and consider both to be inappropriate in church.
While that is completely true, and I am sure every Catholic mother’s intention is to train their children to behave with proper piety and reverence in holy places- I am also sure we are all more than happy to embrace the virtue of patience when we see a small child run full tilt out from the front of the Church to back of the sanctuary filled with the Deo Gratias joy of “whew! that’s over! where are the doughnuts?!” as his or her pregnant mother makes every attempt (or not) to catch up after her unintended whole body workout with that same child or his or her three or four other siblings through the Mass!
Are you suggesting parents shouldn’t go to Mass until their child or children are older? I don’t think that is acceptable in Canon Law, however, I could be mistaken.
“2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.”
I broadly define the word “infants”.
Thank you. It would have never entered my mind not to take my child to Mass.
Caring for a normal, healthy infant does not mean you can skip Mass. Having a small child is not a “serious” reason.
Kathleen, you mean what I call the ‘divide and conquer’ method here I think, right? Where one spouse stays home with the little(s) and the other goes to Mass with total exterior recollection and focus. There is merit in this practice, but I would not recommend it as the sole method with kids. Little kids benefit from the graces of the Mass too, and while it is really a bear to make it a workout for mom and training session for the toddler, I would keep trying to get there as a family on Sunday. Whatever the family ideal is, I would always strive for that even if you have to employ other tactics at various times for sanity’s sake! (I have 13 kids, most of them squirrley as all get out, and my husband sometimes travels with his job.)
You have explained my perspective, from my first comment onward, better than I did. Thanks for jumping to my rescue.
Staying home until your children are older? For some of us that would be a decade or more of sitting out. Not everyone is done child bearing in a neat slice of time. A family of just four or five spaced three years apart means 12-15 years where you have at least 1 three year old.
I’m not a parent. I would say that it is important to get the kiddos into the habits of being in church and learning to behave appropriately (in an age-appropriate way. A well-behaved three-year-old means something different from a well-behaved fifteen-year-old. And part of the process of learning to behave appropriately is sometimes having lousy days).
What exactly does that mean for your family? You’re the parent and I’m not, so that really isn’t my call. Maybe you’re there as a whole family every week, taking a kiddo out as needed and then coming back. Maybe you decide this is nuts and don’t attempt it right now. Maybe you attempt it some weeks but not everyone. That’s up to you.
What isn’t okay IMHO, is for me and people like me to insist that your kiddos are out of sight until they’re old enough to not bug me because you’re interrupting my quiet prayer time. That isn’t what being part of a faith community means.
Thank you so very much. It is refreshing to see a parent have some common sense & respect for the Mass & others. Most seem to think children can behave anyway they want, which is entirely rude.
I challenge that. I suspect most parents, (myself included, if I may be so bold) *do* teach their children to behave reverently in at Mass.
You need to do what you discern is best for your family- that is your first obligation- what is good for everyone else is ancillary. And they need to get a grip on that.
Have more babies? What kind of advice is that? I read this handout and I didn’t pick that up as the root of the issue. Taking your child to Mass and teaching them to be reverent, respectful, and doing Church related activities was what I picked up from this handout. Nowhere was it mentioned have more babies. That is strictly a personal decision.
I think she means.. if the churches were PACKED with children.. this type of thing wouldn’t be needed. The way to pack the church with children is to have more children. 😉
Exactly Alisa! This is not really an issue in Democratic Republic of Congo, or Haiti, or Brazil.
Indeed! Some of my favorite families have been banished to the “cry room.” smh
Kids are different. Some just aren’t ready for Mass until they are older. And some parents are completely tone deaf when it comes to evaluating how disruptive their children’s behavior is and when it’s time to take them out of the church to settle/quiet down. I don’t mind kid noises but I do mind a fussy, crying teething child being kept in the pew throughout Mass. Unfortunately there are some parents who think ‘stand your ground’ refers to them. I’m all for kids at Mass but the respect has to go both ways.
There is no benefit, to either parent, child, or the congregation, in forcing a noisy, disruptive toddler to endure Mass. None. Not in this life or the next.
Do you have kids? Here are some benefits: they get to go to mass, they learn what it is, frequent participation improves their behavior at mass, children are gifts from God that absolutely benefit the congregation….nevermind. No one is talking about tying a screaming kid to the pew. The message is yes, bring your children, don’t fret over their fussiness, when you take them out because they’re screaming, bring them back. Pretty basic stuff.
They don’t learn what Mass is or how to participate or behave when their parents don’t teach them how to be quiet & reverent. And no one else can focus on Mass when your crying, toy-knocking, talking, walking around child is being disruptive. Of course children are welcome. That doesn’t mean you get to treat Mass like a playground or allow your child to misbehave or fuss.
While i *think* I understand your point, some of the comments seem rather harsh and judgemental. Parents DO get used to all the noise children make and learn to discern “my child is hurt” type of noise from other noises that other people may not be used to. It is not on purpose to annoy or disturb people in most cases. Noise doesn’t bother me in the least.
Mass is a celebration and while there might be solemn moments, we are meant to participate, to sing, to pray, to praise- *In community* – and children are a part of that community, at the very least from baptism, but even before that. They will never “learn” how to behave if they are never given the opportunity to do so. It is NOT always a good idea to take a child out of church when they misbehave because then they connect the action with “getting out of church”, ie “I won’t have to stay there”. In a cry room many times the other children ARE misbehaving as well, and the children get the message they can do the same. It also is disturbing, setting up a precedent that says the children are to be “kept apart” from the adults, that they are somehow “less than”, “not important” as, and should be excluded. when entirely the opposite is true..
I have 11 children and have spent more time in the back of church than I can remember. I *SO* appreciated the kind words, the smiles, nods, and winks of understanding from the older folks, and even more so I appreciated the HELP people offered when my efforts seemed to fall on deaf ears. Most dear to my heart are times when one of my children was particularly restless and someone would come up and tell me things like “oh they are so cute” “:so well behaved”- (even when we both knew it wasn’t entirely true!).
If a child is doing something that is not right or disturbing, YOU correct him/her, (in charity please). Or if they are misbehaving offer for the child to come sit by you- they might become your best friend and you will be helping both the child and the parent. Obviously you will have to ask or talk to the parent at some point, but most parents will appreciate the support, and the back-up. Kids tend to listen better sometimes when someone other than the parent reinforces the behavior. Which means you can also reinforce good behavior as well.
I think the measure by which we welcome children (and their parents) into church is a real true measure of how pro-life we are.
If we banish young children and their parents from church, or effectively do so with our dirty looks, how can we claim to be pro-life?
This is the time when parents need our support more than any other time. It is also a critical time in determining whether a family will continue to practice the faith.
If they send them away now, they may never come back. And I wouldn’t entirely blame them.
I would also hope that we could build a Catholic culture in our parishes such that a placard like that would seem redundant.
Yes, a culture where children are taught to be quiet, reverent, & behave, not run around, bang toys, talk, shout, fuss, and disrupt.
Which exists in every Catholic family I’m aware of.
do you know if this is copyrighted? I’d like to put it in my bulletin. I’ve made similar comments at the announcements when I’ve noticed the glares of parishioners when a little one was particularly fidgety. I also make a point of thanking the parents for bringing their child/ren to Mass that day. I think, however, putting it in the bulletin would reach more of the parents who need to know that their children are most welcome at Mass.
Fr. I don’t know if it’s copyrighted, but I was the one that took this photo and posted it. If you would to email me, I could give you the parish info and you can contact them and ask. I had purposely cut off the parish name on the top of the insert just for the protection for me and the family. jiza.zito (at) gmail (dot) com I
We have a beautiful cry room with changing table, sink, speaker to pipe in the service, windows with blinds to see or not see the service, rockers and chairs for adults, toys and cribs for kids. AND a full nursery downstairs for those who would like to drop their kids off with paid professionals and attend the service themselves. You would be surprised at how many will not use EITHER. I agree a child should be there to see parents and the role models that they respect participate in church worship….however, if they are not taught HOW to behave in public…and we are speaking of even older children who should know better…then they should be in the age 3-6 class that meets after communion through sermon for additional education, art, music in the education wing. As for this card in the seatback, please check for typos before reprinting – there is one glaring typo already.
Yes, Jesus said “Let the little children come to me.” That’s not an excuse for allowing your children to run riot during Mass, chatter constantly, bang toys on pews, open snack wrappers, scream, cry, move around in pews or aisles, etc. Parents apparently think anything goes these days. Can you imagine our grandparents raising children who behaved this way at Mass? You must teach your children to sit quietly with reverence, respect, manners. You must teach them how to follow along at Mass & how important it is. You aren’t doing this by bringing them to Mass & letting them behave as they do at the playground. I often see large Catholic families with well-behaved children. Those children are well-behaved because their parents have taught them to be, not because the parents got lucky & birthed good children. You don’t get to go to Mass & focus on it while your kids misbehave & ruin Mass for others. You must focus on getting your children to behave properly, which means you don’t get to focus on Mass like you would if you didn’t have children with you. If your child is fussing you should quietly carry him to the back & hold him until he quiets. Then you may go back. Do it as often as he is disruptive. Mass is a solemn, sacred space. A screaming child is a hindrance to everyone. I’m really tired of seeing people excuse bad manners just because children are welcome. Welcome does not mean “do whatever you want.”
Not sure which generation you are, but my grandparents raised the least faithful generation in ages. The past 40 years have been nothing but decline for all Christian denominations. Not sure if its a good idea to harken to their child rearing techniques.
I think that 40 years was lost because there wasn’t a domestic church. I’m 39 with six kids.. and I’m grateful for my dad’s stearn approach. I would not be Catholic today because he didn’t live his faith outside of church. (thanks be to God for my husband I am.) But having Dad make me behave at church (and nicer restaurants and other places covered in adults) is not what keeps kids out of church.
There is a difference between making kids behave and having an unrealistic expectation. If you are sitting next to a toddler or preschooler, you will notice. Whether it be in church, at the library, or even just in the grocery store. And yet often it seems that when it comes to Mass its expected that young children not be noticed at all. Its never going to work that way no matter the parent or child. No Mass is not a playground, but neither is a young child an adult.
Something has changed drastically since the 1960’s. SMALL children certainly did sit quietly during Mass..this does not mean that they sat like frozen statues hardly breathing in fear for their lives…it means that parents TAUGHT the little ones to sit and look at books, eat cherrios, and if they must speak, speak in a whisper. Modern children somehow aren’t “capable” of learning how to behave in church? Balderdash.
Hear, hear! I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that the same parents who claim their kids can’t sit still in church have kids who can sit still in front of the TV or their favorite video just fine.
Mass is so not ‘My Little Pony’ or ‘Curious George’. And to expect that a kid who might sit quietly for the mesmerizing effects of a video should therefore be able to behave in Mass is off the mark. Its not the same thing, and frankly, if the music were better and if everyone in the building were compellingly loving and holy, I have no doubt even the most recalcitrant toddler- probably one of mine, would be enraptured and experience ecstasies, let alone behave with dignity and decorum. But little kids are like puppies or ponies, they know when and where they are not welcome if they exercise their independence, and they stir it up that much more, often at the instigation of the devil and his minions, I am sure. So anyone who wants to defeat the devil per those prayers we pray to St. Michael after Mass should come to church armed with holiness and immutable charity in order to deal on the devil before he has a chance to strike against the little kids by provoking them- by the disposition to love and accept no matter what- to have gratitude for this gift of God in our midst no matter how much it might need to be on bread and water instead of donuts and hot chocolate on the Solemnity of this that or the other. If everyone took that stand for about a month in the parish, the whole complexion would change, no doubt in my mind.
You’re right it’s not the same. The problem is that kids are growing up being entertained instead of being taught how to entertain themselves which is a crucial skill. The point is that if the child can sit still for videos they are developmentally capable of being taught to sit still without them.
Sometimes welcome does mean ‘cope however you can’, yes it does. If you want quiet Masses go to Europe where no children attend, ever. Very clean, very polished, very worshipful, and very dead. If only well-behaved children are allowed at Church-that Church that demands that society eliminate the concept of birth control, because it is contrary to God’s heart and mind about humanity, we are doomed by our own standard. Children don’t become good at Mass overnight and a lot of them do not become well behaved at Mass without a few thorough thrashings in the parking lot- oh, but wait, don’t get that on camera or you will not only not go to Mass, you will spend the next three days in jail…. What has happened in this culture is that we have given mothers an impossible imperative- let me be clear. Women from the Birth Control mandate generation (1960- 1970s) have set the standard of perfection so high that now no one can live up to it. Those who managed their fertility through the pill and Roe v. Wade now demand this new generation of women use NFP to accomplish the same standard- because if you have more kids than you can control, clearly there is something wrong with you. And control, well that looks like well-behaved at Mass, but you better not use any kind of corporal punishment to bring about that control or you will be filmed and get arrested. This new generation of Catholic women thinks they are supposed to have kids, lots of them, but only as many as they can control by being like the BVM (never spanking anyone) and then if they get ‘overwhelmed’ they are supposed to have mastered NFP because its a can- do easy, and Church approved! That way none of us has to enter in to their share of suffering because of sin, and of course, because God helps those who help themselves. What is happening here is a generation of women is being shackled with burdens they cannot hope to be capable of carrying- and that is why this notice from the PASTOR is necessary, and why it is way past time for us to become far more tolerant of having our Mass ruined by little kids who act like animals.
You sound very angry ! I had 5 children and 11 foster children..there is never any reason for playground-like behavior at Mass. If moms are overwhelmed, accept help from us older women who have been there and done that. I often take under my wing a restless loud toddler for a mom seated nearby who has not enough hands…perhaps it’s time for your parish to discuss how older folks can help the younger families at Mass ? We are all one community, and helping one another to participate in worship of God at Mass should be the priority..at least it seems so to me
(Leslie this comment is directed at this issue in this forum, not just in response to your comment) I am very angry. I have suffered a lot personally, and I resent it when I see others also suffering the same persecution of sorts. And I suffer even more when I see our whole society perpetuate a hostility toward children where women who take their two or three little kids out in public are constantly on the receiving end of comment, just because they have kids. And, the problem is because the Church, and especially we, the women and mothers in the Church, have not countered this prevailing perverse social construct in a way that undoes the current paradigm. Instead, we have played along and recreated the same kind of atmosphere within our churches that we find in our culture- this is a problem. Yes, I am very angry- as soon as I start to say something about this I am castigated, and the discussion turns to how we have a right to expect this, that or the other thing for our own personal worship experience from the rest of the community, instead of what can we do as a group to fix this mess we have participated in creating. And in the meantime, the rest of our country thinks they have a right to contraceptives at our expense- these things are related- people want birth control because children are annoying and ‘expensive’- and they don’t want to be afflicted with that irritation, their own or ‘yours’. In a first world country, the richest country on earth, with the most advanced technologies for almost everything especially enhancing quality of life, in a Church where we are supposedly the last bastion of Truth regarding the value and dignity of human life, we don’t really want to be bothered by ‘your one more… ‘; or ‘one too many for my taste at today’s Mass’ babies. Angry, why yes, I am very angry and I am very offended. Here’s a situation for consideration: In my area if you send your child to Catholic school, your pastor has to sign a form saying you are a Catholic in good standing, which means you put your monthly offering in the plate every week. He has to do that because he also has to cough up a parish contribution to the school for every one of your children that you send. SO if you do the math, in my area where Catholic school is about 7-10 grand per head with a few discounts for the more you have in school at one time- (after the fifth child the sixth etc is free)- but when you have five in school at one time in my area spanning all grades you are owing about 25-30,000/ year for education alone- and then your pastor has to donate another 1700/per child from the parish coffer on your behalf.
(I have eight children who are school age. I would cost my pastor about $10,000.) My church is in the middle of a financial campaign to improve and expand the facility- how likely is my pastor going to be to encourage openness to life and our local Catholic education system? Frankly, he is between a rock and a hard place if the people accessing Catholic education are not making a boatload of money- and those of us with a lot kids, well guess what- we aren’t.
Young married people are graduating from Catholic colleges with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, because Catholic higher education is $30000/year (going rate) and no one can afford it without help. Consequently, they can’t get jobs that pay a living wage let alone manage these debt loads (x2 his and hers), and so they can’t really ‘afford’ to have children. If they take this leap of faith into marriage and family life- well, then the subsequent education cost issue for their children I described above rears its ugly head. This set of circumstances is stressing people out to the point of despair- and they come to Church on Sunday hoping for a refuge from this only to find more of same.
Someone explain to me how this is ok with Jesus and Mary.
I will keep you in my prayers,Jo…that God will send you not only one “Martha” but several..and you will be refreshed.
Leslie, I am sure you are a relief to suffering moms if you have this disposition. But it isn’t just my parish, it is an overall problem- so if each one of us, where we are gives that kind word or loving gesture to a suffering mother- or if we just endure with patience, and offer our inconvenience to Jesus as an act of suffering, the spiritual benefit will be huge, right?
Yeah. You know who else is a burden to the Mass? The elderly. The ones who have lost so much of their hearing that they can’t whisper, the ones who have no bowel control so they’re constantly passing gas, and oh my gosh, the ones in wheelchairs or walkers. I mean, they don’t even realize how disturbing they are or how much their loud movements affect My Mass. It’s like no one has taught them reverence, respect, or manners. They’re passing gas for pete’s sake! Someone ought to teach them better. I often see other elderly who are well behaved. Those elderly are well behaved because they were taught to be, not because they got lucky and have few to no health problems. The disruptive elderly don’t get to go to Mass and focus on it while they pass gas or get their walkers and wheelchairs in the way and ruin My Mass. They must focus on not passing gas, not being a burden, or walking properly, which means they don’t get to focus on Mass like they would if they didn’t have health problems. If you can’t stop yourself from passing gas, you should quietly walk to the back and pass gas until you’re quiet. Then you may go back. Do it as often as you need to pass gas. My Mass is a solemn, sacred space. Elderly who pass gas and get their walkers in my way are a hindrance to everyone near them. I’m really tired of seeing people excuse bad manners just because elderly are welcome. Welcome does not mean “do whatever you want.”
For the record, I have been in this positron, sitting next to the elderly who couldn’t stop himself. Instead of being irritated, I threw him a smile, ignored the issue, and realized that he couldn’t help it, and was trying his best. Much like parents with children who are sometimes disruptive are trying their best. And 29 years as a Catholic, I still have yet to see any parent of a disruptive child just lettin’ ’em go nutso crazy. Also for the children running up and down the aisle, again that I’ve seen maybe twice ever. So, I guess t comes down to whether you choose to have charity for a situation you don’t comprehend, or you sit back as a Pharisee and thank God you’re sooo much more holy and together and perfect and tell God you’d love to worship Him appropriately if He could just get “the least of these” our of Your Mass.
As a senior citizen, I truly enjoy seeing children at Mass…when their parents are being parents..I am not the least bit disturbed by hearing a father whispering to his 4 year old what our priest is doing on the altar..nor do my eyebrows raise in annoyance when a baby cries…that’s what babies do..they cry…and usually are comforted readily, or walked out for a bit. How wonderful to hear a little one lisping a prayer along with the adults!
Unfortunately, I often am disturbed by children being permitted to bang their feet against the back of the pew where I’m sitting, throw toys into the aisle, chat incessantly with a parent about whatever is going to happen after Mass, and in general, be allowed to behave as if they were NOT in church.
This is a modern phenomenon, in my opinion. Welcome children? OH YES! Children whose parents realize the difference between Mass and a playground.
Lesley – I once sat in front of a pair of 7-8-9 year old girls who were there with their grandmother. All during Mass they chattered away. I glanced at them sideways but they didn’t get the message. After Mass, as they were leaving, I just had to say something to them. So, I did! Calmly, without raising my voice, I told them they were disturbing my prayer and that they were making it very difficult for me, etc. Then, the grandmother started to talk to me. I thought “uh oh, here it comes; she’s going to get all defensive and lay into me.” Surprise, surprise! She thanked me. She had been telling them so long not to talk during Mass that I think she just gave up. She was thrilled I said something to them. The little girls were shocked that someone had actually called them on their behavior. I think they got the message.
Good for Grandma!..and good for you! More than one time during the CONSECRATION, I’ve asked teens and their parents to please stop chatting away about soccer, what’s for supper, etc. I find it so sad that it becomes necessary …yet if no one speaks up in charity, how are these people supposed to change their behaviors?
Liz, this is helpful to me- especially when you are talking about kids who are old enough to know better- when you chime in kindly, but with the truth it helps the kids understand more thoroughly what the parents/ grandparents are asking of them, and that goes miles in reinforcing a kind of respect that is lacking in the children at the time- and this is not a virtue you can ‘make kids have’ (like wearing their shoes or something like that) they have to learn it, and develop it- and it does take the aid of the community to help them ‘get it.’ And it is a balm on the soul of their primary caregiver if the correction is administered to the child, understanding the child’s own ability to be attentive and respectful, and the child’s autonomy over his or her behavior- and then given in such a way as to give the kid a perspective he or she might not have otherwise. Those ages are the ones where kids don’t quite realize how their behavior affects others, but they are beginning to, and it is really helpful when the broader correction comes if it is necessary with charity and soundness.
Perhaps one could actually enlist the assistance of someone relatively unknown to the children, someone that could be trusted to deliver the message with all charity.
This reply is in general for anyone on here. Raising up children is big job and requires diligence and patience and Gods grace. I agree that families need to come to mass, some families deside when each parent goes while the other stays home during certain age periods of children. Most all parishes have a childrens room. Within the Church even with a mic on the priest cannot be heard in whole sections when children are loud, it can effect alot of people trying to participate in the mass. My experience has been helping care for grandchildren for 7 yrs 48hrs a week since their infancy and raised my own children. Parental obedience is key. I feel that childrens conduct is learned by being repeatedly taught what is expected as acceptable behaviour and is set by parents, grandparents and nani’s. It is learned with loving repetition, and then having learned they behave without needing to be told. I believe it is out of true love for the child we do this and will be the foundation of the quality person they become as a teenager and adult. So many ways they experience this developement within the family settings: eating meals, doing set activites, riding in the car and when they go for outings in stores, resturants, at other peoples houses, etc. How to behave at Mass will then be within the childs reference of experience of obedience as they have been taught. With this at home parental loving care as a base children will need to have a little training of how to behave in church during Mass too. For very young children the paramiters of how to behave during Mass can be developed in the childrens room of the church without distraction to the congregation. After a few times they understand how they are expected to behave, making it interesting to them to notice specific points in the mass of what Father says and does, and the consecration, sitting kneeling standing, then everyone can come into the main church. The childrens room is a great place to train them in correct behavior and will encourage others in the room to do the same. I’ve seen young child who had this experience and are now the youngest altar servers! Of course some babies and children might be fussy that day or week and the childrens rooms is there to manage the situation without disrupting the whole congregation.
When I was pregnant with my third and going through a some very rough emotional and family times, I started attending daily mass. I didn’t have the option of leaving my 4 year old and 2 year old home, and I desperately needed the mass every day. Daily mass is quiet, and other than myself, the youngest person there is my mother. Most of the regular daily attendees remember when I was three. I was so nervous about every little sound my little one made. With no music or congregation sounds as cover, every move they made sounded incredibly loud–to them too. The shorter, quieter daily masses became good practice for them to sit quietly with a book, and I am very grateful to the priest and congregation who were and are so welcoming. If you have little ones, a bit of extra practice behaving at mass is very worth it.
The truth of the matter is, as baptized members of the Church, children have every right to be at Mass, just as much as any other baptized member of the Church. All children.
Do I let my children run all over the church? No.
Do I take my child out if they are screaming and I can no longer console them in the pew? Yes.
If I can quickly console my child who just let out a scream in the pew, will I take them out? No.
Does my 13mth old sometimes play with the echo, or try to “preach” along side Fr? Yes. Do my 2 and 4 year olds sometimes ask questions too loudly, or roll around on the pews because sitting perfectly still for 1 hour is an unreasonable expectation for children under the age of 6? Yes. (As a former Early Childhood Educator, you’ll have to trust me on that, some kids can, most cannot, and their inability due to lack of development is not a reason to keep them from Mass).
If you think children who make a little noise, or who don’t sit still shouldn’t be at Mass, because they might distract you, tell me. Would you also ask the 30yr old baptized man with Tourettes, who has a tic that causes him to shout every time the Name of Jesus is mentioned, or smack the back of the pew with his head every time he hears the word Amen, to leave?
And what does that say about you?
Mass belongs to everyone. Not just those who deem their own reverence worthy, not just to those parents who “understand”, not just to those who make quick judgments about the motives of a family without taking the time to get to know them and offer to help them when the need it. It belongs to everyone, especially the sinners.
I agree with just about everything that’s already been said about kids at Mass. If they can’t sit quietly, take them out for a bit but bring them back when they’ve settled down. I would also like to add that some people (such as myself) like to get to church a few minutes early to pray. Other people like to get to church early to socialize. Sometimes before Mass it sounds more like the inside of a bus station than a church. Quiet prayer and reflection is impossible. If the choir must rehearse, must they do it right in the church before Mass while people (me) are trying to pray before Mass? Similarly, I think it’s bad form to be surfing the internet on your cell phone during Mass. Finally, church is a bad place to be having a conjugal visit. If you love your significant other very much that’s great. But would you please refrain from rubbing her butt until you get her outside?
Please don’t just automatically assume that people are surfing the internet on their cell phones. There are a lot of fantastic Catholic apps that people use for prayers and/or the readings of the day. Since I don’t have a subscription of Magnificat or a similar publication, if I am having a difficult time understanding the lector, I will pull out my phone so I can read the readings and actually get something out of it.
Little kids at mass has to qualify as one of the happiest sounds in the world!
I really like the post, but I’m a little disheartened by some of the comments. I find it sad how very few kids are in our churches. I wish there were more, without them the parishes will die out. They’re merging parishes like crazy up here. There were four churches in town when I moved here, now we’re “one parish, with three churches”–yes only three now. There were at least five priests, now only one. The others retired and one left.
I really think we should be welcoming the families and not pushing them out. It’s a struggle with little ones and it helps when people aren’t giving you the stink-eye. No, children shouldn’t be treating church like a playground, but there aren’t a lot of children in church to set a good example for the ones that do come. I’m always thankful when I see slightly older, well-behaved children so my daughter can see what’s possible. She’s getting better all the time and the comments on this card are some of the things we do and they seem to be working.
Be sure you are not mistaking demographic shifts for Catholics leaving the faith. In my area they are building new churches, adding Masses, and shuttling people from off site locations because parking lots are overflowing. It’s standing room only at many Masses in my area and there are lots of little ones at church.
This topic is very near to my heart as the mother of a 3,2 and 1 year old. Going to Mass with littles is.so.hard. Some of the comments act as if we are bringing unruly kids to church selfishly. No one brings kids to mass selfishly. Its the hardest thing I have to do all week. Period. And yes, I know that half the congregation is judging me. We come because as Catholics we live to celebrate the Mass. Its what makes us who we are. I want to see Jesus as much as anyone else, and though my vocation of motherhood makes it more difficult, I still come. I come when my kids are angels and everything goes right and people tell me how great my kids are. I come when it all runs downhill and people glare and judge and use hand sanitizer after saying “Peace be with you” to my sticky toy banging echo yelling small world singing brats.
I have enough children to know that no one knows a family enough to judge. Kids are totally a grab bag and you do sometimes “get lucky” in that some kids are easier to parent than others. I have a three year old who can pray the rosary by herself, sits quietly the entire time, reads the bible for fun, etc. I have a two year old who will find something to smash, kick, or jump off of the entire time we are at Mass and who cannot talk below a scream and who likes to sing songs and be a drummer through all the important bits. We raised both kids. (The 1 year old is still just pudgy and cute but now that he can walk he is getting harder too.) And thats not even getting into whether or not any of the kids you are glaring at have disabilities which look no different than an unruly misbehaving kid, like autism for one example.
We are all imperfect. Its easy to point at someone else and say what they are doing is not ok. But no one maintains total reverence at Mass all of the time. Harboring ire over other people’s child raising decisions during Mass isnt helping anyone.
Just KEEP coming! it gets SO MUCH easier as they get older… and then olders can help with the littles. As Mom’s we need the eucharist. Man it gets me through the week! And littles that go become big kids that behave. God Bless you mama! Keep up the good work.
As a mom to five (almost six!) littles.. (9 and under) this is wonderful to read. I know of a few Ladies in church that get their panties in a bunch.. BUT they do that with regards to almost everything. (so why would noisy kids be any different?) The four older kids are very well behaved At mass.. Mostly because Dad makes them repeat it at home if they don’t behave. The baby cries and acts up (15 months) and I just pick him up and head to the back of church. We don’t leave. We just stand. I learned early on that kids will misbehave simply to be taking out or to the cry room. So I’m careful to make sure we hear the Mass and stay with the congregation..even if we are in the back of the church. The 15 month old is the only one with toys.. or snacks. Toys and doodling etc..(quiet bags) for kids 3 or older actually distract THEM from the mass. And I know my kids and I know they are perfectly capable to sit for an hour and 15 minutes ANYWHERE else.. (if they couldn’t do it elsewhere I wouldn’t expect it at Mass). But they CAN do it elsewhere so they are expected to behave and pay attention at Mass. Also.. My husband and I are VERY active in the church.. (KC’s, PCCW, etc… ) so we know a lot of the people in our parish.. and that TRULY helps…
I am a convert of almost 20 years, I have THIRTEEN highly imperfect children- (they take after their mother!) One of them is perpetually professed with the Legionaries of Christ and in formation for the priesthood. If my opinion because of my experience has any merit then here is my comment from my own share on Facebook: As it stands right now, in many parishes in the US where I have attended Mass, up and down the Eastern Seaboard and and across the to the West Coast, the typical cultural hostility toward ‘disruptive types’ is a fixture on the landscape. In my town, one parish posts a note to parents in the bulletin about the availability of the cry room/ training room in order to emphasize the expectation that you get your kid out of the sanctuary if they make any noise. Yes, it can be distracting and yes, we need a place for parents to take little ones who just can’t hold it all together- and yes, parents need to teach their kids to behave at Mass, in the Church and in the cry room- but the means to the end we strive toward is thwarted by the infiltration of the culture of death into the pews next to the new mom on Sunday morning, or any other day of the week. I have friends who regularly attend daily Mass with their usually exceptionally well behaved children who have been verbally accosted by disgruntled attendees because of kids stirring it up a bit during Mass Well, here is THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JO FLEMINGS: if you are in the generation that allowed or continues to allow Roe V. Wade to persist, then you owe the Lord the penance of offering up the inconvenience you might experience when little ones are present at the Mass in reparation. June 30 at 10:13pm ·
Isn’t that a little harsh for those of us who pre-date Roe v. Wade? “Sucks to be you” is hardly a reasoned response to legitimate concerns about the *minority* (yes, they’re a minority) of badly behaved parents.
Seems to me it is your lot in life, frankly. So offer it up. And badly behaved parents, seriously? How dare you, is all I have to say to that . How many kids do you have? Ever had a husband with PTSD? out of work? addicted to pornography or alcohol or meth? and yet you can judge the actions of others rashly in the moment- well, well, mercy, patience, love.. these things they have their LIMITS right? and those limits they extend right up until ‘you’ (mother failure in the moment) offend ‘me’ (sanctimonious success at parenting by my own standards) by crossing one too many lines in my particular version of sand for what I am entitled to in my own personal Mass experience. If I sound harsh, I am sorry but I am SO SICK of this attitude, even when I have to confront it in myself. This is a different era and it is damn hard to be open to one life, let alone two four or six or as many as GOD HIMSELF might choose to give- so don’t you dare correct me on this point until you walk a mile in my shoes- and the shoes of every other hurting mother of small children mortified by the challenge of living up to so many merciless and unrealistic expectations in the moment. You happen to have caught me on a very bad day on this point.
And if it is a minority why emphasize it? Did you really even read what I wrote? if you are in the generation that allowed or continues to allow Roe v. Wade to stand then freaking ‘woman up’ and carry the cross allotted to you. When it gets easier for all the younger women I regularly read about who are suffering at every Sunday Mass because of the nasty looks, sneers and pervasive secular anti-other-than-ideal -child at Mass attitudes I will then completely back down and eat my fair share of humble pie- God, heaven, and all my parish family know from their own lot of suffering at my own hand that I am a total washout as a mother in this area- But I will not give ground on this on behalf of those women who are my superiors in every way yet who continue to suffer because of what is clearly a wrong attitude running amok in the Church. If the problem bunch is a minority NO NEED TO COMMENT. But what is not a minority is the countless number of WOMEN, mothers themselves, on some kind of high horse of judgement about those who just can’t make the same grade- or who have so conveniently forgotten how HARD this job is- and therefore checked mercy compassion and regard for weakness at the door of the sanctuary in favor of their need for silence and uninterrupted prayer.
I’m touched by your thoughtful, reasoned answer to the ridiculously outré question, “Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?”
Harsh, uncouth, and a host of other undignified and disorderly impassioned adjectives, I am sure. But I hope by so many words, however poorly reflecting upon my Catholic formation they may be, my point is clear. But I hear your Christian correction and I appreciate it- at the same time, this meanness is something of an ‘injured badger’ response- and, while the mode of delivery is greatly flawed, I think the exhortation stands on its own merit.
Coming rather late to the discussion, but I would highly recommend any parents taking your children to a Traditional Latin Mass. Most families there have lots of children and they are mostly well-behaved (good examples). Almost everyone there will sympathize with you if your child is having a bad day. There is often some kind of socializing event afterwards (If you don’t settle down, we won’t be going to the party!). The general reverence and quiet actually calms the children.
My children (9, 5.5, 2.5, 0.25) are generally well-behaved at any Mass (which is accomplished by taking the 2.5 out for a walk during the homily), but they are even better at the TLM and love being around all the other children.
Hubby and I long ago moved to the TLM, for many reasons, not least the beauty and reverence of it. BUT the TLM isn’t for everyone. The large families in our parish are models of how to include your kids in the Mass without forgetting that your “right” to have them there doesn’t trump your responsibility to not make Mass a trial for those around you. Our parish (we are stationed in Europe) was built in the 1600s, has cold stone floors, no central heat/air, seats about 75 people on uncomfortable wicker-chair kneelers, has high and echoing ceilings, and has no vestibule, crying room, etc. Even the bathroom is a half-block walk away to the rectory. This is *not* for everyone, especially those parents (bless their hearts) who have become a bit tone-deaf to their little ones’ noises.
Another alternative is the zero-dark-thirty Masses in many large parishes. They are decidedly adult-friendly, with older worshippers who don’t engage in pre-Mass chatter but seriously try to recollect themselves before the service. Masses with the “please seat youngsters in the front rows” fliers are well and good for some, and for others might be a hindrance to prayer.
I find it just as disturbing to my meditations and prayers when some of the older members of our parish talk out loud before Mass begins. Children bother me less because they are still learning and I see the parents trying to keep them quiet. I find it harder to find excuses for some of the more experienced parishioners. I can only imagine they are hard of hearing, but I think their social conversations can wait.
Yes, I have been more disturbed by the elderly folks who talk outright throughout the Mass than any child. I mean, loud talking. Over the priest during his homily. During the consecration. It’s irritating.