Sunday, June 3, 2007

What do you do?

It's Sunday and while I was at Mass this morning I could hear the sounds of children banging their toy trucks on the wooden pews and a couple of crying babies in the background while Fr.Tom gave his homily. The familiar site of a parent whisking their child to the back of the Church to comfort him or her or quiet them down is very typical.

Recently when I was giving a talk to a group of Moms, one of them shared her woes about bringing her children to Church. She told me that her children acted up at Church frequently and that she was embarrassed by their occasional outbursts and sometimes uncontrollable behavior. To make matters worse, the Dad stays home because he doesn't care to attend Church and the Mom is left to fend for herself with the behaviors at Mass while her children beg to stay home with Dad, because after all, "He gets to stay home" they quip.

I encouraged this Mom to bring her children to Mass and to trust that she and her children will receive lots of graces at Mass. Jesus has said, "Let the children come to me." The Mom's and children's example may bring Dad around some day. Additionally, I'd like to encourage Moms who are struggling with overly active children at Mass who may be receiving a stare from someone not particulary appreciating the ruccus, to not shrink down in embarrasment, but to muster up a smile in return for the glare and know in her heart that she is doing her best to bring her children to Jesus.

What do you do? Do you have tips for keeping your children behaving better at Church? Do you sit up front so they can see what's going on, hoping to keep their interest or do you instead fearfully sit in the back? What about the Dads who don't support the idea of Mass? Give me the scoop.


Karen Edmisten said...

We do sit up close, and talk about what's happening at Mass. We also wean them from all the distractions of food, drink, etc. when they are about three years old. Ramona is four, and now takes only church-related books to Mass, no other toys. This helps us tremendously. (I do allow bending of that rule for something like the Vigil, which is so long and involves a lot of time waiting in the pew before Mass even begins....)

On another note, I just tagged you for a meme, Donna!

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Thank you, Karen for the great feedback. I also like your suggestion (on another post) for using this subject for the radio show with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection."

Meme? What meme???

christine M said...

When our children we smaller we used to make sure we sat in the same spot every week. Two reasons: 1) if someone didn't want to be around small children, we weren't ambushing their quiet spot. 2) we became friends with the people around us, which helped keep the children entertained and relatively quiet (we always sat in front of a family with 2 girls that were about 8-10 years older than ours. THey'd smile and wave to our kids and everyone was happy)

Don't get me wrong, we did do our best to keep the kids quiet - but that just doesn't always work!

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

My husband has graciously done 15+ years of "solo parent in the pew duty" so that I can participate in the choir. Today we had to attend a different Mass since he had to leave on a business trip, so it was a rare occasion for me to sit with my family. (This happens 5 or 6 times a year, max!!!) Our youngest is 5, and I saw today that he has learned to say most of the responses for Mass. He sings along to the hymns and acclamations, and on occasion moves his hands to imitate Father. Why does he do this? Because he has been coming to church every Sunday since he was born. His first couple of years were torturous ones for my husband but we see the improvement now. He's not always quiet and he can get pretty wiggly. But he is learning, and the only way that happens is if he comes to church. And right now, he insists on wearing a TIE to church every week. I'll be enjoying that as long as it lasts!
It goes a long way when your priest is publicly supportive of children attending Mass. A supportive priest generally inspires the rest of the assembly to encourage parents to bring their little ones to Church to meet Jesus there.

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...


I love your suggestions! Very ingenious of you and your husband to choose the same seats for the reasons you stated.

Thanks so much for your input!

God bless,

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Hi Barb,

Thanks so much for "stopping by" to let us in on your pew tactics! I wholeheartedly agree that the consistency of bringing your children to Mass every Sunday will really pay off as your children learn that Mass is an important part of life.

I love that your little one wants to wear a tie to handsome!

I also love your point that it is very helpful if our priests would publicly support children attending Mass. This is so true. Perhaps we can ask our priests to speak up about it and get the point across so that timid parents will come to Mass more often and grumpy people will lighten up on their judgemental attitude towards struggling parents.

Thanks again!

God bless,