Children at church

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Children at church

    I was curious to hear from those of you who attend church services regularly with your LOs. My whole family has moved to a new area of the country where it's become clear that DH, the boys and I need to start attending church more regularly. (It's definitely part of the social scene here and I am now working at a religiously-affiliated school.) DH and I attended mass together pretty regularly before kids, but we haven't attended as a whole family since having kids. Our LOs are almost 4 and almost 2. How do we start? Any tips or strategies? There is no childcare available during mass, so the boys would be with us the whole time. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from luvRIboy. Show luvRIboy's posts

    Re: Children at church

    We attend mass just about every week with our kids (10 mos and 2.5 yrs).  While there is a children's liturgy at our church (which is shortened, different translations, kid-geared homily), we go to the regular mass.  Generally DD is pretty good until the eucharistic prayer...songs, readings are interesting and she LOVES giving the envelope at offertory.  We bring books, drinks and snacks, which also help, and the deal is that if she stays in the pew until the 2nd bell rings, she can go for a walk after that (in catholic Mass, basically from the Our Father through communion, and then we try to be at the end of the communion line)  It's chaos, and usually at least once a service she bolts, but our church is very welcoming to families.  I can definitely tell when we haven't been in a while, because she's not used to the routine...summer has been tough b/c of travel, so we've only been averaging once a month...but when we're consistent about it, her behavior is better. 

    Good luck.  And congrats on the move!

  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from WandGMom. Show WandGMom's posts

    Re: Children at church

    Kiwigirl - I second Luv.  We try to go 1-3x a month and our church is very welcoming but has no "crying room"  We bring snacks, drinks, coloring books and quiet toys and try to sit near the people we are most comfortable being around if we are distracting.  We just talk to our 3 year old about church voice and practice at home.  We try to include him where possible and like Luv - we do go for walks.  It is impossible to keep our 13month old quiet but most people enjoy that age so they dont mind a little baby chatter.

  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: Children at church

    There are a lot of kids' Bibles and religious books out there, for keeping somewhat older toddlers/preschoolers busy but on topic, if you will.  There is even a series sort of like Where's Waldo, with Can You Find Jesus, Can You Find the Saints.  Each picture you have to look for the five loaves, two fish, and ten coins, etc.

    As for the snacks...if that's what it takes, but not ideal.  And if you do, please be neat.  I am a parent, and I understand, but as a parishioner I do not want to be kneeling on Cheerios or sitting in dripped juice.  And feeding a kid to get them to sit still through something they don't understand is not something to make a habit of anyhow.

    And don't feel guilty about occasionally splitting up, going to different Masses and letting the kids stay home with the other parent if it's one of those days when you know they're going to go off the rails.  Or try one of you taking one kid, the other taking the other kid--it may be easier to get one kid used to it at a time without the distraction of a sibling.

  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from Winter2011Bride. Show Winter2011Bride's posts

    Re: Children at church

    I agree with purple on the no snacks in church. My DS started Catholic School in pre-k (4 years old). It was required that all students go to a weekly mass on Thursdays. Children were taught to look at children's bibles with brightly colored pictures to keep them selves settled. The school choir also sings during this mass, so the younger students can look at the older students (5-8 grade). The 4 year olds were not given snacks or drinks. Memos were actually sent home stating that if you attended Sunday services at said church that they prefer no snacks/drinks in the church. However, no one expected the little ones to sit there quietly like little angels. However, I will say that by first grade those kids were better then many adults in church. See if the Church has a children's mass, that might work better for your family.

    I find your lack of faith disturbing
     - Darth Vadar
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: Children at church

    I just have to say, by the way...why on earth did we put men on the moon a good thirty years before we realized it was a good idea to put BATHROOMS in churches?

  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Children at church

    DH and I don't attend services, but I grew up in a family that went to mass EVERY Sunday.  My parents still go.  I am the oldest of 4 kids, and I don't remember my parents doing anything other than EXPECTING us to behave.  I know there were NO snacks.  My Dad always made pancakes on Sunday mornings, which was pretty good incentive to get up, even when we were teenagers.  Consequently, we arrived at mass completely stuffed full and not needing any food.  The kids didn't have toys either.  My Mum would let the baby play with her ring and perhaps we'd be allowed to flip through the missal, but we were pretty much expected to sit still.  When we were older, the tacit agreement was that we could space out as long as we appeared attentive and stood/sat/knelt with the crowd.  I think my church had a children's mass but we never went downstairs for the children's service.  I know we usually went to the mass with the full choir and more music, mostly because my Dad enjoys singing very loudly. 

    I think with a 4 year old, you should be able to expect him to behave, especially if this is a new thing you guys are doing in a new place.  It should be easy to establish expectations, as long as you are consistent.  You can prepare him ahead of time by letting him know he needs to sit still but he's allowed to look around, etc.   Remember to praise success.  With the 2 year old, you'll want to sit in the back and take him out if he gets rowdy.  But if he's just standing on the seat, looking behind him being cute, I wouldn't try to punish him necessarily.  Only if he gets loud.  Also, sit so you and DH are sandwiched in between the LOs so they can't instigate each other. 

    You could also try to establish an easily achieved tradition of sorts for after services, something you'd be able to do every week.  We used to go to our Gramma's house and she'd feed us tons of food.  But you could do something like go out to lunch or go on some sort of outing the boys would enjoy.  It could be different every week, just consistently have something.  That way if something goes wrong you can threaten skipping the fun event.

    Good luck! 

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from luvRIboy. Show luvRIboy's posts

    Re: Children at church

    I understand people's thoughts on snacks...I think it depends on the ages.  With little ones who are grazers (aka my DD), I always have some sort of snack with me, in case she wasn't feeling like breakfast, or whatever.  We tend to bring apple sauce pouches and wheat thins with us at all times!  If she's hungry, that's when she tends to get rowdy or misbehave, so I come prepared. 

    I think keeping them involved in the service is also key.  We stand together, kneel together, etc, and as I said, putting the envelope in the offertory basket is a highlight.  We talk about going to church to say our prayers, and not talking during the service, and she's pretty good.  But she is 2.5, so it's not perfect, by any means. 

    We also sit in the same spot every week, toward the back, with easy access to the back.  I notice most of the younger families are in the back half of the church, and most of the older folks gravitate toward the front.  That's also why we don't go to the 4PM Saturday or 7AM Sunday services, as there are fewer younger families there that we can blend in with! 

    Church is like going to have to go to get the kids used to going so they'll understand what behavior is expected of them.  Sometimes it goes well, and other times, not so well, but if you don't expose them to it, you can't measure progress! 

  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Children at church

    We only go occasionally, and to different churches, so I can say that different places definitely have different community cultures about kids' behavior, too, just like at some churches people still dress up and at others you see folks in jeans and flip flops.

    We let DD stand up, using the pew seat like a table, so she can flip through the program, write with pencils, et cetera.  But I agree with the suggestion that once old enough, you have them join you in going through the motions of sitting, standing, singing.

    The only other thing to remember is that most likely any disturbance from the kids is felt most strongly by you!  Similar to when you're in a restaurant, if your baby makes a squawk or your 3 year old accidentally says something in an audible voice (and you're not causing a continual disturbance), most people will either not notice or will smile indulgently. :)

  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Children at church

    The only thing that should be consumed at church is the Eucharist.  Leave the cheerios at home please.  Service or mass is about an hour. There is no need for snacks. Eat before or after.  If a child cannot go w/o eating for that period of time, they are eating for a reason other than hunger.  I suspect they are able to go to preschool, play or the park for that period of time w/o snacking.   

    It is also a royal pain for people to clean up the cheerios and crumbs, and sticky juice etc.  If you have more than 1 child, and only one is old enough to understand what is going on and sit relatively still, there is no reason why you and your spouse can't go to different services or masses until child #2 is old enough to get it.  I think it is wonderful that people are bringing their children to church and teaching them about God, but if the child is too young to understand what is going on and wants to burn of natural engergy by squirming or bouncing around, church may not be an appropriate location yet. 

  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: Children at church

    Or you could be like my in-laws. They live in an area where many go to church. But they've decided they aren't interested in the services. So they've starting showing up for the coffee and donuts afterwards. I had to bit my tongue really, really hard to keep from telling them how rude I thought that was. :)

    Churches should be welcoming to families with children of all ages. As others have said, sit in the back - take some crayons or something and just do your best. Maybe offer up a reward for good behavior to get the ball rolling.

  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Children at church

    Your in-laws go to just the coffee hour?!

    Discretion is the better part of valor.
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from KMMZ1012. Show KMMZ1012's posts

    Re: Children at church

    We take DS to Mass @ my in law's church once a month or so (we need to get better about going to our own at least twice a month). He's been good about church from the first (we started taking him when he was still an infant). We've never brought snacks, but I remember my mom doing that for me. I hated going to church when I was growing up, so I'm trying really hard not to push my own stuff about religion at DS. He asks a lot of questions during Mass, but we sit in the back, remind him of his indoor voice, and try to answer them in an age appropriate way.

    We do let him bring a toy - a matchbox car or his beloved stuffed animal - nothing too noisy, just in case he gets restless. The Mass my in laws attend is mostly elderly parishoners and they don't mind him asking questions; some of them even think it's cute. Our own church recently cut services from five a weekend to three and it was already ridiculously crowded to start with. The Mass we go to is a huge mix of families, older couples, and adults with their grown children, so there's always a sort of ambient noise - people shifting around, kids whispering, etc. Maybe we've been lucky with the two churches we attend, but usually there's other kids there doing the same things as DS.

    He loves the music at church, but both churches have the choir/organist on the upper level of the church so our only challenge is keeping him from dashing to the stairs so he can go see the music (as he puts it). We always try and sit towards the back in case we have to make a quick exit.

  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Children at church

    I think the analogies to going to a restaurant are very accurate.  Some kids are better than others at it, some times are more appropriate than others, your behavior/training/parenting make a difference, and you notice your kids more than anyone else does. Hasty exit is sometimes necessary, but usually things go off without a hitch.

  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Children at church

    My son has been attending Mass all of his life..from the time he was a baby even up to now.( at 27). When he was in the 2-4 range, we used to bring books and a couple of small toys. We also used to sit towards the back of the Church so that if he was getting restless we could stretch our legs a bit at the back of the Church without disturbing the service.

    I have to say I don't think I've even seen anyone with small children bring snacks for them to eat during service. I think that is just so disrespectful. It's not a movie theater. If your LO has not had a proper breakfast, etc. and gets hungry then it is time to go...or at least bring them into the parish hall to have their snack..not in the church during service.

    If my son got disruptive then either his father or I would take him out of the Church and up to the parish hall. Thankfully that didn't happen too often.

    " Above the heroine in your life..not the victim" Nora Ephron

  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from Stro39. Show Stro39's posts

    Re: Children at church

    I brought my son as an infant/toddler to Mass every week.  Most often we would stick to the Sunday morning service directed to families, just as there is nearly zero expectation that it isn't going to involve some noise or the occasional child running down the aisle.  Even when we would go the other services, I never experienced an environment of anyone feeling it was innapropriate for a child to cry or talk loudly- they are children, it's what they do.  I brought a small amount of snacks as an "in case" item, usually Cherrios or Cheez-its.  Now, as someone involved on the maintenance team at my parish, I will say that we are understanding that these snacks will get dropped, just don't act as though you are outdoors and that whatever falls can just stay there, just put forth a good effort to police the area you are sitting in before you leave to try and pick up stray pieces :)  And I would agree with others in some respects on one point- that once the child has made their First Holy Communion, snacking during Mass is not appropriate-it's part of the deal of receiving the Eucharist.

    Church is about family, so no one should make you feel you are not welcome.   

  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Re: Children at church

    Thanks for all your suggestions. It sounds like we just need to take the plunge and start going. I guess I'll just need to pray extra hard that it all works out ok! :)