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Or is the vicar? Noisy DCs in church

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drspouse Sun 14-Feb-16 13:32:32

Background so as not to drip feed, bear with me as this is horrendously long: we go to a fairly naice church in a large historic building, locally there is a sought after church secondary school but none of the church primary schools are over subscribed. We've been going to this church for 12 years and we have two DC, aged 4 and 1. The 4yo is being investigated for mild SN and has always, always been very "lively". DC2 is walking.

The church knows us. Current vicar has been there about as long as our DC1 and baptised both of them. Church has a side chapel which is open to the rest of the pews where there are baby/toddler toys, a mat to play on. One other family (who are new to the country and have a 10 month old) use this baby play area every week.

The 4yo goes to Sunday School in term time, one of us goes with him, as we take it in turns and it doesn't last the whole service, both of us get some time during the service actually in the church. He's just starting to be able to stay in for 10 minutes on his own. DC2 is still lively and, yes, noisy in the side chapel. The other regular family's baby isn't walking yet. When smaller, both he and our DC2 could be quietened by feeding or carrying around.

Because of the pressure for secondary admission, most of the families that come have primary aged children. I can think of a couple of other families who are regulars with young DCs e.g. one Sunday School teacher has an 18 month old but I think she is restrained sat with them on non-Sunday School weeks not in the side chapel.

Today was the first weekend of half term, no Sunday school, there were 2 other children at church apart from our "baby chapel" group, maybe 6 and 8, who were using a construction toy in the side chapel for part of the time. Our DC1 was running around, fairly quietly, but was also throwing a small, soft, non-dangerous teddy up and down and catching it or running to get it. Frankly the only way to stop this would have been to physically restrain DC1 leading to shouting, screaming and kicking. This could be seen from the main church. DC2 was very excited by this and was squeaking, and also as a new walker fell over 2 or 3 times and cried, and was cuddled, and then was quiet.

Half way through someone came in and said "did we know the other room was open, we could go there if we wished". We declined and said no, we wouldn't, because where would be the point in being at church if we were not in the church? we might as well stay home. This is the first time in four years anyone has said anything, and I was massively surprised. It's definitely not the first time we were noisy!

The vicar stopped me on the way out and repeated that something had to be done, that it was distracting, people had complained, and that it was "exciting the other children" (the ones quietly using a construction toy? or the 10 month old who was quiet?) I said that the answer was not for us to go out because there was no point in us going to church if we couldn't be IN church. He repeated that "something must be done".

How does your church run this? Can you give us any ideas for suggestions? We want to bring this up and make some constructive suggestions (though frankly if the church can't put up with noise, it can't put up with children, and it will be left with definitely nobody under 5 and probably nobody under 50).

The historic fabric means a glassed off area is not possible (and I'd feel massively excluded in an aquarium every week!). There's only one area out of the church where smaller children could play (so they couldn't run a creche at the same time as Sunday School). We'd also feel pretty excluded if we couldn't go on non-Sunday School weeks (which is probably 15-20 weeks of the year), and I wouldn't bother if we had to be in an area with "piped church", also. It's not a "praise band" church where listening through an audio or video link gets you the flavour of church, it's a trad but (we thought) friendly church with old fashioned liturgy.

coffeeisnectar Sun 14-Feb-16 13:39:45

Yabu. Churches, as a rule, understand that babies cry, toddlers talk and there may be the odd child who is bored and vocally announces it.

What they don't want is a child running up and down, throwing toys and another child running, falling over and crying constantly.

People go to church to pray, reflect, to seek solace during difficult times. You need to control your children. Or don't go.

I think the vicar has had enough seeing you sitting doing nothing while your kids run riot during a church service.

PastaLaFeasta Sun 14-Feb-16 13:42:04

Our church have created a later service where children are expected to behave like children. They have a table set up for colouring and activities related to the service. The church management are supportive of parents remaining in the service within reason - there are areas for parents to go if it gets too much e.g. a screaming baby who won't be calmed. The people who complain about kids are not supported by the church management but the second service is a compromise.

You will be told you are U by some and others will think you just aren't parenting well enough and children should be quiet and still. Some kids happy to sit quietly but my eldest (5) is also suspected of have SEN type issues (ADHD) so she is not going to sit quietly no matter what i do.

lifeisasongworthsinging Sun 14-Feb-16 13:43:10

Well if "something must be done" he should have told you what, shouldn't he? Unfortunately tho, noisy DCs get on a lot of people's nerves. Even if not noisy, but by virtue of doing something active (eg playing with a soft toy) that type of person will focus on this as being wrong. Im probably biased as childrens' noise really doesn't bother me I screen it and don't have a rigid expectation that every child is to sit quietly and besides, other noise bothers me far more (normally made by adults!). Are other children in the church quiet and sitting perfectly still? If so Im surprised by that.

I guess what the priest means is either sit in other room, or don't bring your youngest to church. If you want to continue going you will have to choose between the 2 as this is a battle you can't win.

Sirzy Sun 14-Feb-16 13:44:40

Our church makes it clear it's a family service, they have a box of toys at the back for children to sit and play with if needed. Parents are told not to worry if children are being noisy.

Ds when he was little would often toddle and sit with the vicar as he did thr sermon!

MrsBobDylan Sun 14-Feb-16 13:45:03

Really sorry you've had this experience. Yanbu to think you, your kids and some reasonable noise should be welcome in church.

I have had this problem for a few years now and am very close to giving up regular church attendance altogether because I am so very sick of the sanctimonious minority who should spend more time thinking godly thoughts and less about how they feel about children making the odd noise in church.

Can you move church? I think your Vicar has been very uncharitable.

PastaLaFeasta Sun 14-Feb-16 13:45:26

People have weird ideas of what Sunday church services should be like. There are other times for people who want quiet and child free times to pray and most Sundays there is a large part of the service where the children are taken out. Children should be welcomed and enjoyed for who they are within the church community, otherwise there will be no community in a few generations.

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Sun 14-Feb-16 13:45:41

There is a difference between small children being children, and thus being welcomed into a church during a religious service, and using the place as a playgroup and making enough racket that people complained to the priest. I'd be mortified and apologetic and make other arrangements if my children couldn't be there without causing a problem for the other church goers.

Not the foggiest what the fact that some other people are "new to the country" or the blather about school admissions has to do with the price of fish though...

DaemonPantalaemon Sun 14-Feb-16 13:46:03

DC1 was running around, fairly quietly, but was also throwing a small, soft, non-dangerous teddy up and down and catching it or running to get it. Frankly the only way to stop this would have been to physically restrain DC1 leading to shouting, screaming and kicking. This could be seen from the main church

You are being disrespectful to the other worshippers by not controlling your children. Most churches I imagine do not have this problem because other people are considerate enough not to treat church like a soft play centre, and not to allow their children to run unrestrained and throw toys. The vicar may well have thought that the most appropriate place for that sort of behaviour is a playground, not a church.

Witchend Sun 14-Feb-16 13:46:44

Thing is you might see children sitting there nicely and happily. You didn't see the stressed mum hissing att her child to stay there and the discussion s home about why they can't run around which they also prefer to do.

I have been that stressed mum and reached the conclusion that t was better all round not to go as I got nothing out of it as I was too busy concentrating on stopping the dc running round.

I've also been the stressed mum with the run around and the best method I found was to keep him quiet was long as possible, then scoop him up and exit quickly.

teeththief Sun 14-Feb-16 13:46:59

Sorry but I think YABU letting your DC run around during a service. As the PP said, people go to church to seek solace and a child running around can be really irritating.

Can't you something from home to occupy your DC? Colouring books, pens, paper etc

Alfieisnoisy Sun 14-Feb-16 13:47:25

Nice coffee, you gleaned that the OP was "doing nothing" from her post. How perceptive you must be.

Personally I think the vicar is unreasonable here....I cannot imagine Jesus hoofing a child out because SEN makes them noisier than children without those issues. Inclusion involves churches most churches have many services beyond a Sunday morning.

OP if I was you I'd be out of there and finding a church which DID welcome children.

PaulAnkaTheDog Sun 14-Feb-16 13:49:44

Allowing a four year old to run about, throwing toys is unreasonable and disrespectful. My church does a family service, that doesn't mean we let children run about and do as they wish.

honkinghaddock Sun 14-Feb-16 13:49:45

We haven't been to a church service since ds was little ( has severe sn) because we know he wouldn't be welcome.

Kummerspeck Sun 14-Feb-16 13:49:53

I think this is a tough one because, when your children are young, you will be able to tune a lot as you are used to a certain level of activity and noise; other people may not be able to do that. Our church has a large church hall, manned by a volunteer (usually a parent) each week, to allow those children who are too young for or cannot manage Sunday School for whatever reason.

The fact that the vicar has had a word with you implies, to me, that the level of annoyance may be more than you have realised as most churches make an effort to accommodate young families. Saying your child is "lively" does not mean that everybody else should have their Sunday Service disrupted and it is not acceptable, in my view, for a child to be running around and throwing a toy. Does your child understand that church is somewhere that people go to be quiet? Have you encouraged them to to to be "good" with some kind of reward system? Do they like any quieter activities (like colouring or non-messy craft) that you could take with you that might occupy them?

I know this is hard for you but I think you will have to be the ones to find a way to make this work

ilovesooty Sun 14-Feb-16 13:50:02

I presume you want to continue to attend this church as you know it and it might be necessary for secondary school admission.

It doesn't sound suitable for your children at least at the moment if their behaviour is annoying others. I think you might have to share the shift with your husband in the other room if you want to carry on going.

drspouse Sun 14-Feb-16 13:50:23

I am somewhat considering moving church. DH is on the PCC, he used to volunteer with one of the weekday events, I run the Guides (I'd still do that though as we only rent from the church, we aren't a church unit) and as I say we've been going there for 12 years. There isn't much else like this locally (probably why all the potential secondary school families go here).

DC2 was most definitely not crying constantly and when younger if feeding didn't sort it for either of them, we took them out straight away. The crying was immediately after falling over and stopped more or less instantly with a cuddle.

I got the impression it wasn't just the younger one, but frankly why would we go to church in order to sit in another room and not participate?

Our church makes it clear it's a family service, they have a box of toys at the back for children to sit and play with if needed. Parents are told not to worry if children are being noisy.

That is what I thought our church was like. Same setup and we have on at least two or three occasions had positive comments ("oh I remember what it was like, you're doing a good job" "oh it's nice to hear children in church" etc.)

GabiSolis Sun 14-Feb-16 13:51:16

I think you have a couple of choices here. The first would be to take it in turns with your DH to stay in the other room with your DCs, perhaps rotate it weekly. Another option would be to not have the DCs attend church with you, at least not all the time. Third would be to do a combo of both until you are fairly confident the DCs will be calmer in church (but be prepared to take them out if necessary).

Personally I would probably go for the option of not taking the DCs if you have someone who can care for them? I say this without judgement or wanting to incite a debate, but it's your religion rather than theirs so if it's important to you to go, this might be an option you want to consider.

Alfieisnoisy Sun 14-Feb-16 13:51:22

FWIW OP I was in your position a few years ago and used to walk DS around the church and take him out if he got noisy. He was ALWAYS welcome in the church and the priests went out of their way to involve him and used to chat to him at the end of each service.

Children will be children and tbh I struggle to know what else you could have done ...and would be interested to know what the PERFECT PARENTS berating you on this thread would have done.

Marniasmum Sun 14-Feb-16 13:51:45

* Churches, as a rule, understand that babies cry, toddlers talk and there may be the odd child who is bored and vocally announces it.

What they don't want is a child running up and down, throwing toys and another child running, falling over and crying constantly.*


Kummerspeck Sun 14-Feb-16 13:52:40

Sorry meant you can tune out a lot when you are used to small children

museumum Sun 14-Feb-16 13:52:54

Churches I've been in have kids areas at the back which is a lot less distracting for others than at the side as you're not in anyone's eye line and also the sound shouldn't compete with the priest (assuming he's micd and the speakers are at the front).
Having said that, church activities for kids are books, colouring, jigsaws, craft or construction. Not throwing and catching!
Is there really only Sunday school about 1/3 of Sundays? Do they need more volunteers? Or I wonder if you need some kind of kids club on other Sundays.

SavoyCabbage Sun 14-Feb-16 13:52:58

I think you should still go and still take them but try to corral them a bit more. So yes, play and make a bit of noise. But no running around throwing things.

LarrytheCucumber Sun 14-Feb-16 13:53:47

I think I would probably look for a more child friendly church.
There always has to be a balance between accepting children and meeting the needs of the rest of the congregation, who have gone to worship and to pray.
We have a carpet at the front of the Church, where small children can play and be children, but after half an hour or so the children all go out, under 3s to a creche staffed by members of the congregation and over 3s to Sunday School. The provision of a staffed creche means that parents can stay in for the rest of the service. The creche hepers tend to be grandparent age and are on a rota so they don't miss out on services.

drspouse Sun 14-Feb-16 13:54:23

ilovesooty We have absolutely no interest in attending this church to get our children into secondary school. We came to it because we liked it years before DCs and we thought it was still welcoming to small DCs. Apparently it only likes school age DCs who don't come on non-Sunday School weeks, and who bring one reluctant parent to ferry them to Sunday School.

If we want to send our children to this particular secondary school (by no means a given, it doesn't seem like it would suit them as they are now, very well) we could find another church. Maybe not that easily, but we could find one. Or, if we just wanted to go to church to get them into secondary school, we could come back when DC1 is about 7.

We come to church because WE want to worship, and because we want to introduce our DCs to the Christian life.

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