Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dear Parents of Young Kids In Church

Dear Parents of Young Kids in Church,

Your children probably aren't as disruptive as you think they are.   

Today is the feast of the Holy Family (liturgically the day we got huh? Have you seen my 7 Ways to Happily Ever After?)

The Mass we usually attend has one of those children's liturgy things where the kids go out and have their own separate teaching during the readings/homily, etc (P.S. I'm personally not a fan of those and my kids always stay in the pew...but that is a post for another time).   Today they didn't have it, so all the kids were at Mass the whole time.   And, I will confess that while I tried to focus solely on Mass, my attention did wander and I ended up observing a few of the familes in the pews.  No, this doesn't mean their kids were particularly fact they weren't. I was also observing the row of college students sitting together and the women with the hair bonnet (pray for her, I suspect she may be a cancer patient) and the single lady across the way.  Yep, being distracted during Mass is something I majorly struggle with. 

One thing I LOVE aboug being Catholic is how welcome children are during Mass.  Some churches offer nursery or a "children's liturgy during a part of the Mass" but most of them (in my experience) don't.  Which is great....there is no pressure to leave crying babies in a nursery with people they don't know.   I've heard too many Protestant friends worry about leaving their children in the nursery and how their children just cry the whole time and aren't welcome in the main service. 

Yet, all this attending Mass with children can be stressful.  I've so been there.  My 15-month old, Elsa, alternates between being a total angel (because she is napping in my arms) and wanting nothing more than to run around and escape the pew.  I can totally understand that stressed out, worried look and I saw it on way too many parents today.

And to those parents...I just want to say, that's hard.  I get it.   But, also, relax.  Your kids probably aren't being as disruptive as you think they are.  Yes, you need to teach them how to sit quitely and listen..but you want to hear a little secret.  It's TIME and AGE and PRACTICE that teaches kids to sit quietly and listen during Mass.   They grow up, they get older, their attentions span lengthens and that whole sitting still thing gets loads easier.  Keep taking them.  Keep taking them out if they start screaming.  Keep gently correcting them, don't STRESS over it, or worry if your three year wants to turn around and look at the people behind her, or your five year old is making faces (that was MY five year, by the way and yes I did stress over it, until my wonderful husband reminded me that he is only five and sitting still in church is hard).  Don't worry if your 1-year old wants to stand on the pew or your 2 year wants to stand on the kneeler.  They'll grow older, they'll learn and it will all come together.  One day you'll just realize that you don't even worry about their Mass behavior anymore. Oh what a happy day that will be!

And, since it's Sunday, I'm linking up with Fine Linen and Purple so you can all see what I wore today.  And you can also see our super sad, very tiny, Charlie Brown Christmas tree that is way overloaded with ornaments and (falling) tinsel and lights.  So whatever your Chrismas tree looks assured it HAS to look better than this one.  

Sweater: ThredUp (the most awesome online thrift store ever...and if you buy through my link we BOTH get ten dollars credit!)
Shirt: believe it or not, I think this shirt is from the 70's!  Seriously, I think I got it from clothes my aunt left at my grandmother's house.
Skirt: I think it's also super, super old.   Not totally sure where I got it.
Boots: Wal-Mart
Glasses: Zenni

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  1. I really love that we don't have a children's liturgy or cry room or even a vestibule, so unless the baby is really wailing everyone just stays put. And no one seems to mind.

  2. I like having babies and small children at Mass, too. I usually don't even notice them. The ones I do notice are the ones I don't see very often, i.e. the ones that get less Mass behavior practice. It also reminds me that children are part of worship, too, and that my days without them are hopefully numbered!

  3. Two months ago, my toddler was a terror in Mass. Then one Sunday, he flipped an internal switch, and now he's content to sit and flip through the missal. You are totally right--only time and practice make kids better a being in Mass (or doing anything, anytime, anywhere). It takes work, and it's worth it. Thanks for your post!

  4. Love this so much. We do allow the older two to go to the children's liturgy, but I attended the first few with them to make sure everything was kosher. I was actually really impressed with the reverence and the quality of instruction.

    I recently saw that a parish put a note to parents in their pews encouraging them. I wish I could post a photo here of the card, but it basically said everything you did! :) Now, to get more parishes on board.

  5. Thanks for the ThredUp credit! I just bought two maternity shirts for the cost of shipping ($3.98)!
    Theresa B

  6. This is excellent Amelia, as well as your marriage post. Very insightful and straightforward. Need to bookmark both of these and remind myself of good things.


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