- Keeper of the Hearth
- Feasts of Jesus
- Feasts of Mary
- Midnight Feast
- 12 Days of Christmas
- Stir Up Sunday
- Madi Gras
- Shrove Tuesday
- Ash Wednesday
- Palm Sunday
- Holy Week
- Good Friday
- Ascension Day
- All Saints/All Souls
- Christ the King
- Stations of the Cross
- Liturgical Year
- Feminine Arts
Friday, May 18, 2012
Children at church....
As this line of thinking is abhorrent me I felt I needed to respond to it.
Below is what I wrote with some more additions as I have had more time to think about this issue.
As a mother of 12 children from young adult to under 1 I find the whole debate about children at Mass irritating.
Children belong with parents and parents belong at Mass together, not separately but as a family. I have on only a handful of occasions taken one of our children out during Mass.
I refuse to take them out if our babies babble, or chat or smile at the granny behind us.
If the baby starts to cry I will breast feed that baby for comfort.
If the baby still won't settle I pass the child to my husband or to an older sibling. If the baby still does not settle I will walk to the side of the church, this is usually enough of a distraction and then I go back to our pew.
I rarely go outside and we have never attended a Church that had a cry room. If we had I would be a contentious objector ,because I believe we are at Mass, all of us together.
Just for your information I also object to children's liturgy as well for the same reason.
The family attends Mass together. It is important and as such receives due reverence.
We have always attended Mass in our Church clothes too. These are special and dressy and once again shows this is not an everyday event, this is special . We always sit in the front pew (or two) so the children can see what is happening. I believe this gives them a focus.
As for the controversial view of taking snacks and drinks,we never take food or drink as it is a distraction to everyone, children and parents alike. I also maintain that Mass is only 1 hour long, I don't think little ones will starve during this time, so it is purely a distraction tactic which I don't think is a long term good idea.
Having said that we do allow a special teddy if the child is attached or a small hand held 'friend' or a car for our boys. Sometimes we have allowed the little St Joseph books, but only one as this can lead to simply flicking from one book to another and thus can lead to unwanted 'wiggling'
Our middle boys are altar boys and we have had many comments on how their reverence helps the person concerned stay focused.
You may wonder where did this come from- them understanding that Mass is special, was it from being inside the church at Mass or from being able to go outside (or cry room) as soon as they made a noise. Children are very smart they will work that out pretty soon that if they make a noise and noise is not appreciated that you get to leave and go somewhere more fun.
Our children are I think pretty good at church, our younger ones are mostly too, and yes we have a few 'special needs' children, which makes it a challenge.
What is our protocol for dealing with ' the wiggles?' Our focus has been to cuddle and separate any child or children who need a little extra care during Mass. Or I might point out what the priest is doing or point to the statues or Mary and Jesus, something to bring their little minds back to the reason we are here.
Finally, I believe because we had decided that we would have our children with us during church that we refused to let any of those stares or comments stop us from keeping our children with us during this most important time.
Of course our children have learnt appropriate behaviour as they went along. We get frequent comments on our children's behaviour BUT that has taken work and has not been achieved over night.
In fact I am sure our younger ones emulate the older children's behaviour, who were the ones we actually had to train. This does not mean they are ALWAYS perfect. They do have off days as do we and so then we just go back to the basics that we have held on to all these years.
One thing we have never done is to let the children run around the church. They stay within the pew.
I remember a few parishes where we were given advice as younger parents about 'letting our children run around the church so they feel comfortable here'.
For us it never seemed the right choice, we are not at at playground, we are not at a social event this is church and it requires a different set of rules and standards.
Higher standards than we would for everyday events for this is not an everyday event ( well it can be but you know what I mean) it is special and we are honoured to be able to participate and should be thankful for the opportunity and act appropriately.
So apart from the special cuddle toy we don't allow them play things, colouring books etc, either - this is not entertainment this is Mass. Of course we have had slightly older children get to the stage that says 'this is boring' and we tell them 'this is special and you are not here to be entertained.'
Do they get it? Well I think so, they certainly 'get' the fact that this is our standard and we are not negotiating.
I once knew a family that allowed their daughter to take her knitting to church because she was bored!
What does this tell the child? That it isn't important and you can just be here without 'being here at all.'
Not really what I think attending mass is all about.
For heavens sake it is such a small amount of time really.
Do remember though that little children don't always have a clear idea of time and so can't work out how much longer mass will take, our 6 year old still asks how many more songs before we finish. This gives him a focus and something to work too, but he knows the routine and respects it too.
I also compare this time and the expectations to what you would expect your child to do at school. Would you allow your child to run around and eat and drink while a teacher was trying to teach them?
No you would expect them to pay attention for that amount of time!
'So why not expect the same amount of attention for the most important part of our child's education - their faith.
So I would just say to any new parents DO NOT be intimidated by those who would ask you to leave. Stand up for you and your child's rights. Attend as a FAMILY. None of this going to separate Mass' to keep the little ones under control, so others don't get distracted.
Be gentle but firm in your response to children and babies behaviour but remember they are children and not perfect, oops neither are we.
However, give your children the gift of Mass as a special event in their lives that we attend as a family because God gave us families to learn and grow in and that is our responsibility as Godly parents.
As an aside- from personal experience I would like to say that I am more distracted by those teens and adults (who actually come) who are dressed immodestly and those who show little respect in the way they take Communion.
Not to mention all the people who chat before and after mass.
We have also been very distracted after confession as we are praying, that people show so little respect for those preparing for Mass and chat so liberally and loudly.
Should not this be a bigger distraction than children who are still learning the importance and specialness of attending Mass, with their parents as guides and role models.
Patience, humbleness and gentleness is what is needed for our children as they come to know and love the beauty of this Sacrament.
And for all those who pass judgement on families with young children at Mass I would like to ask them 'where are their own children and grandchildren?'
Because they are not at Mass either. Perhaps they thought they would be better off not coming because they never understood the significance of Mass and felt as if they were a burden or not worthy of teaching the significance of proper behaviour and so just shunted off to the cry-room or outside where they would not bother those more holy then they.
Please welcome the little children as Jesus would. Help them and train them with love, respect, patience and gentleness so they too can know the wonder of Holy Mass.
Blessings to you and your homes,