Young Toddlers and Church(9 Posts)
I was baptized and raised RC, right down to 12 years of Catholic school. I have gone through highs and lows in regards to my faith and have found that the times I have been most comfortable with my faith are when I can question (ask questions, have open dialogue, etc) with peers in my faith. I am not from the UK and while I've lived here for a few years I haven't settled into a church here and miss the "family" of the church (and having people I can talk to in a religious/questioning way).
I now have one child (ToddlerScout, aka as TS) who will be two at the end of this month. We have had him baptized RC (MrScout is CofE but not religious) and had it done at the church I grew up attending (where my parents still attend). It was lovely and felt very right right to me. The church I could attend here (the one that's not stupidly far away) only has one Mass a weekend and it is, unfortunately, not a very convenient time in regards to TS's "routine," etc but I have found even when I took him when he was a handheld I was distracted (and therefore didn't feel "good" going). I know I should go without TS but that doesn't feel right, either, as I want to share the joy/calmness/peace I get by going to Mass (both during and after).
My SiL & her family, who is SOOOOO much more devote than I (to the point where it's the only thing they can than think/talk about it) has a handful of children and they're at church several times a week. Those kids don't dare move in church (even the baby, who's just a few months older than TS), only have freinds from their church, lecture adults in how they should behave, etc. I look at her and feel inadequate in my taking-TS-to-Mass skills (as in, I don't have any because I know that TS wouldn't sit for an hour and the church here doesn't have facilities for crying babies/active young tots).
So one of my questions is at what point do I try to take TS to chuch with me again? Is it worth continuing to take him even if I find him distracting/don't think we would get anything out of it for a bit?
I have a lot of questions as I'm trying to regain my faith-footing again (it's not gone but it's not as strong as it has been in the past nor as strong as I'd like it to be) but fear if I kept going I'd fill the page with incomprehesable babble....
Thank you for reading this far.
I would take your toddler as soon as possible. Don't be afraid to take a book or quiet toy to entertain TS. It's easier in a church with pews (instead of chairs) because you can box toddlers in and they have some space to move. Smile at all the old ladies and let them get to know TS - they'll be more tolerant of babble if they fell they know him. Remember he makes less noise than you think he does (you'll realise this when he's grown up and you find out how quiet other peoples toddlers really are). It will be distracting for a while, but having a small child is a great way to make conversation with other church members and a great way to get into the church family. You will be known as TS's Mum for ages before anyone figures out what your name is. It won't be long before he is ready for his first communion (honest) and you can start concentrating again
Just take your toddler.
Make a bag of toys up and even small, non messy snacks, such as raisins, to keep him occupied. Also take a small drink. By the time he's about three he'll have learnt to keep himself occupied. There's always sunday school once they get to school age too.
I also go to RC church and the place is full of toddlers/babies making noise and doing stuff and nobody minds at all. It's perfectly natural to have children in church. Please don't feel inadequate in any way. It's normal for toddlers to fuss and move around
I'd much rather have babies/toddlers making noise than the atmosphere at my old CofE church were I was glared at and asked to leave by the
nasty old people senior citizens because my ds1 was making a bit of noise
take toys but make sure they are not noisy ones like soft toys with squeaks, I take it your church does not have creche, I would take him, old ladies love kids that smile even if noisy let him stand on pew for singing etc,
I would encourage sitting quietly with books his own toddler board bible my DD is 22 months so roughly same age she goes to church every week... not sure she is in to God but she is mostly definitely into seeing her fan club and singing, she is outgoing and spends most of time on other peoples laps not mine! she has a special bag for church, personally i do not let her eat in church but that's me i would not mind if your DS did
encourage him to mix with senoir citizens he'll have them wrapped round his little finger before long but warning they will give him sweets for being good just before his sunday dinner
You might find, as you have considered, that you might not get 100% out of a service until your little one is older, but that is okay - which of us does get 100% ? Just take your toddler along as others have suggested and it will be his introduction into church life as well as a gradual re-introduction for yourself. It isn't long before you have a chance to focus on the bits which you find particularly helpful for you during the service, and your son will learn from you and from those around you, the many lovely things that can be gained simply by being in church. Don't worry too much about noise, but prepare for quiet activities and for as much of the service as you feel you can attend to. Tons of people in church have had children and know what it's like to manage with small ones so most people will be sympathetic and will be chuffed to see you.
Thanks everyone! I always have a nappy bag full of books and quiet toys, as well as drink & snack.
The church I attend here is really like an old village hall type building, so drafty, noisy (wooden floors), rickety pews & chairs, etc, and definitely not big so had been worried about TS. He's a typical toddler in a lot of ways but he's very big for his age and out-and-about in town I do get a lot of looks for his behavior (I know he's not even two but most people assume he's older). They had complaints at my church at home (long before TS) which is why they converted the "choir loft" (really, it was just two steps up from the main floor) into the family room -- sound proofed, enclosed space with pews that families could still hear/see/participate but the screaming babies/toddlers weren't disrupting others.
The parish has recently raised the funds for a new, purpose-built church (yay for them!) which I think will have more space for the Children's Sunday School classes, tots to go, etc., so that will be nice.
I don't feel that babies or toddlers do disturb the services. I get cross with people who complain about them. Attending a service isn't like going to the theatre to watch a production, which must be how some people regard it judging by their reactions to a bit of noise. Both my dcs are older now, but the noise doesn't bother me. You just sit closer to the front if you have trouble hearing things. Children are just as entitled to be in church as anybody else imo. I think it's a terrible shame when young parents are put off taking their dcs.
I've taken my DSs to church since they were quite small. They are both quite active and can be quite loud! My top tip is don't take toy fire engines, police cars etc even if they don't make a noise. My DSs would just make a pretend "nee naw" sound anyway. I also used to take lots of food. Things like little boxes of raisins are good because they don't rustle. In our church we always have a prayer after the first hymn. My kids would kick off at that point so I started making sure I had boxes of raisins to hand to them just as the first hymn ended. I'd know it was a long prayer if they got through two boxes of raisins each! I'd put other food / sweets etc in plastic boxes to prevent noise. The magic sketch pads, or whatever they are called, are also really good - those grey pads that come with a stylus where you can lift off or wipe the picture clean so they can start again. I just found that meant they could do drawing without making a mess with lots of crayons which they'd just end up dropping on the floor (the stylus is usually attached to the pad). Books are good, but my kids just wanted me to read them to them, which meant I couldn't listen to the service. Oh and watch out for the pews. DS2's favourite trick used to be to climb under the pew when I wasn't looking and emerge on the pew behind me. It wouldn't have been too bad but I have short arms and couldn't reach over to grab him, so he would stand and dance or laugh at me until I could get to him!
All of the above! Go worship with them ASAP! For you, find some me time at church on an evening service maybe or a lunch time service if you work??)
Also messy church - great way to get a child friendly fix.
Also, I find myself continually thinking - that children are the way they are the world over and jesus suffered them so the local congregation can jolly well do so too!.(I am blessed with a hugely forgiving congregation and a former primary school teacher vicar who wholly understands the deal).
It would be a very damaged 2 year old who sits quietly through a traditional service...
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