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Children too noisy in church

(64 Posts)
SPSGirl Sun 10-Mar-13 22:42:49

I am looking for advice. It has recently become clear that my church are becoming intolerant of the noise made by my two kids 4 and 2. One person had e grace to discuss is with me but others have obviously been discussing this without me. I now hear that they are talking about removing the children's area in the hope that the kids will be quieter. I do my best to keep the noise to a minimum but as I go to church and DH doesn't it is really hard. I have been going to the church for 10 years but don't know what to do. I am starting not to want to go any more. What do I do?

MaryBS Mon 11-Mar-13 09:52:37

I was acting as acolyte once (as for that week we had no servers), when we had a runaway toddler, who was a bit too close to the freestanding altar candles that stand in front of the nave altar. The mother wasn't a regular, and was reluctant to retrieve in such a public way. I just scooped him up and handed him back, whispered "don't worry" and we carried on.

Totally agree with reallytired about bringing them every week. I can't see how it can be seen as a treat to bring them once a month, what is more likely to happen is that they "kick off" about going that once a month "why do we have to go, we don't normally". Whereas if its part of normal family life, they fit in more easily.

thewhistler Mon 11-Mar-13 10:27:08

Ds once screamed all the way to the altar all through a choir singing beautifully.

We have always had old people tut tutting and even mums of beautifully behaved dds. But the various hierarchy are v clear that the children are of the congregation now, not just of the future.

See if the 4 year old can be given tiny tasks, like helping to take round a collection.

Start a Sunday school, we call it junior church, and combine with creche. Get a retired person or two to help run it, on a rota. You'll soon turn them round and they will be proud of it. If you advertise it, you'll get more. Parents important to be there while children are little.

I've always admired the catholic church for its child tolerant services, a direct effect of the teaching on contraception, I think. If you assume that every family ought to have 8 children minimum then you have to accept them!

Kaekae Mon 11-Mar-13 10:39:03

I think it is time to find another church. I used to go to a church which had a later family service and it was fantastic. Very noisy and full of buzz. My son loved it, the children had a big involvement in the service. We then moved but our local church do not hold a family service and do not like children making noise so we no longer go to church. Trying to find a weekly family service is difficult.

marjproops Mon 11-Mar-13 10:42:49

Have you thought about starting a sunday school yourself? or ask the vicar to suggest it to the congregation maybe do a rota for childcaring (need to be CRB checked).

it IS difficult as when i was a child we were expected to be silent during church and we were kids so were wriggly and bored. we didnt have any sort of sunday school.

On the other hand, thankfully DC likes church and on another view, i think its a bit disrespectful of parents to let their kids run around the church(during the WHOLE service) and talk and shout when the preacher at the front has worked hard to provide the service, and is trying to talk above them,the musicians have practised and the stewards etc and people want to come and hear the preacher, not kids messing about. its disrespectful to the elders. there is usually a 'young peoples' 5 minute during the service where they get them involved and then in my church theres sunday school and creche.

I know its difficult with wriggly kids andf they should feel wanted and welcome, but if theyre playing up they should be taken out for a bit for a runaround or something, as a parent you're not able to concentrate anyway on the service if you're watching the kids, (and btw some people without offspring cant always make other services)

only other suggestion if its the terrible twos is leave 2 year old with your husband for now and maybe try again when older?

swings and roundabouts, I know.

marjproops Mon 11-Mar-13 10:49:18

BTW just looking through these posts, PLEASE do not start a Catholic/Protestant war here, Ive been to BOTH types and BOTH have good and not so good services/congregations/sunday schools/creches/priests and vicars., etc.

Dont , please with the 'were better than you. THAT is not Christian at all, we're all one body, one God.

There are no denominations in Heaven. Thank you. Bless you ALL.

niminypiminy Mon 11-Mar-13 11:16:40

I wonder if talking to the Vicar about it might not be the very thing she or he has been praying for. Maybe she or he would like to attract more families with children to come to church, and would actually like to find ways to make your church family friendly? This could be the moment when you could do something which would change the way your church is and make it more welcoming. (Also, you don't say whether you live in a town or a village, OP, but if you are in a rural community it is sometimes not so easy to find a new church! But it would be better to change the church you are in rather than to change churches.

marissab Mon 11-Mar-13 13:03:40

It's certainly not just CofE. We have a fantastically tolerant CofE church that is very accepting. And my friend was asked to leave the methodist church we have both attended since childhood because her children were noisy. Good and bad everywhere.

hiddenhome Mon 11-Mar-13 13:12:17

Don't want to start a war sad I was just comparing the two churches because there was such a difference. I'm sure most CofE Churches are fine, it's just this one that has a high proportion of intolerant, middle class pensioners.

Theas18 Mon 11-Mar-13 13:30:13

Yup talk to the vicar and see what the response is. a church that can't see that, regardless of the biblical references to children which are manifold and pretty much universally welcoming, a church without children is a dying church.

Your church should be like coming home. Yes it's special but in away that makes you relax and feel supported and uplifted, not stressed and anxious.

If they can't make it work for you and feel you need to bend to their ways " because it's always been like that" find a happier community.

Nothing made me feel happier on sunday that a baby hiccuping and a toddler brumming cars on the pew!

BOF Mon 11-Mar-13 13:51:12

It's like cafes and restaurants though, isn't it? "Management welcomes well-behaved children". If you are audibly reading to them during the service, you can't be getting much out of it either, surely? I would leave them at home with their father until they are older and can concentrate more.

mungotracy Mon 11-Mar-13 13:53:32

Stop taking your children until they can sit through a service and understand and listen?

mungotracy Mon 11-Mar-13 13:54:48

"There are no denominations in Heaven" Thats because the winning religious ticket was 'the mormons' Southpark said so.

niminypiminy Mon 11-Mar-13 14:00:14

Church can be a great place for children. It's not just about sitting still and listening. Here's a list of some of the things that children can get out of being at church:

They can be part of a loving community
They can take part in worship
They can pray
They can learn about the Christian tradition
They can eat after-service biscuits

None of those need be accomplished by sitting still and listening!

Abra1d Mon 11-Mar-13 14:02:51

I've always admired the catholic church for its child tolerant services, a direct effect of the teaching on contraception, I think. If you assume that every family ought to have 8 children minimum then you have to accept them!'

Keeping the children in the church throughout is the problem. You are giving them mixed messages: here are some play things but at the same time I can't really play the way I would normally because I have to be quiet.

children are handled quite ruthlessly in a way in many Catholic churches. They go into children's liturgy for at least half the service, out of the main church. There are often sound-proof side chapels and porches you are expected to retreat to if your children are noisy. Some children do find the sitting quietly and still much harder than others. My daughter fidgets and drops things. I have found that most people are sympathetic if they can see you are really trying your best. On occasions I have just taken a child out for ten minutes to give everyone a break from the noise we are making.

mungotracy Mon 11-Mar-13 14:20:54

/insert tounge in cheek

Here's a list of some of the things that children can get out of being at church:

They can be part of a cult and indoctrinated to be intolerant of every other religion at an early age
They can take part in worship of a graven idol of a man being tortured slowly to death.
They can pray and learn that any good they do is by gods grace but that any wrong is their fault
They can learn about the Christian tradition that people are tortured to death because you sinned.
They can eat after-service biscuits and the catholics sometiimes have wine.

/remove tounge

MadHairDay Mon 11-Mar-13 14:50:45

No need for that on this thread really, mungo, tongue inserted or not.

OP, I tend to agree with niminy. You could turn this into a positive, possibly, by it being the catalyst for a shift in thinking by the church and maybe the start of something that might attract families.

It makes me sad when I hear of your experience and hidden's. No wonder some churches are dying on their feet with such attitude. They say they want their church to keep going yet make no effort to welcome the people who will make that happen.

I love a church full of noisy children. This is the way it should be. If your vicar or church is not willing to change OP it may be worth searching for somewhere who will welcome you. There are plenty of vibrant churches with lots of families out there (inc plenty of CofE)

Abra1d Mon 11-Mar-13 15:21:36

Yup. No children probably means the church will be a carpark or converted into flats within twenty years.

JandT Mon 11-Mar-13 15:24:21

SPSGirl - I'm really sorry you had this experience, we had something similar so I thought I'd share.

My (very traditional/catholic CofE) church is welcoming of children however, there are the 'few' who don't like the noise etc. DS2 (aged 18 months) decided to do a runner to the front of church, DH stupidly trusted that DS2 would stop hmm. Before that, he'd been good at walking around at the back of church but, I know my parents would have told me if they could hear him. Anyhow, churchwarden told me after that people were finding him distracting and he was making too much noise. I replied that I was glad we went to such a child friendly church and then cried all the way home when no-one from church could see.

DH emailed both churchwardens and PCC chair (no Vicar at that point) asking that we did something for small children. Nice churchwarden and PCC chair both replied saying they were open to ideas/improvements and that they were upset that I'd been upset (we knew the nasty churchwarden wouldn't have mentioned it to them). From then on, small children were welcome to go to Sunday School and run around/make noise. We also have a crèche which a year later (mainly due to new Vicar, his wife and I having a 'moment') has been updated for the first time in 40 years. The crèche thing caused conversation in PCC with someone arguing what would we do if it brought lots of noisy children into church-Vicar replied that he'd still say Mass, just a bit louder grin. Still only two people that I know of who find it a problem and a lot of other (less grumbly hence quieter) people who love my crazy child and remind me how much he takes after me (apparently I was known as Little Miss Wrigglebottom for a while...).

Please don't give up for the sake of a few grumbly people who need to be shaken up and made to question/remember why they go to church. I know it makes you feel paranoid of every cough/giggle they make but that feeling goes. Speak to your Vicar, speak to the churchwardens, explain you want to keep coming but it is difficult if you know 'other people' find them distracting. Ask for their advice and prayer. It could be there is someone sitting quietly who has been waiting for the opportunity to do something for your children.

(As an aside I should probably say that DH is going to train to be a priest soon so does a little preaching at our church. Preached on the importance of children in church just after the incident. Also, as 'Vicar's Wife' I am going to make sure my children are the noisiest so that no-one else feels bad. grin

MadHairDay Mon 11-Mar-13 15:37:42

Too right, JandT, us Vicars Spouse types have to keep up the tradition of the Vicars kids being the worst behaved grin (I don't seem to have a problem with helping that happen with mine)

thewhistler Mon 11-Mar-13 17:46:45

In one CofE church we went to, the vicar's son's red ball ended up in the chancel. The vicar, no mean footballer, shunted it softly back while continuing. I remember that with affection.

Yes, I agree that things can feel ruthless, but I think it is great to be part of that community early. It is different from school and friends and gives you a different perspective.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 11-Mar-13 19:32:55

"high proportion of intolerant, middle class pensioners."

I'm not a Christian but I've been to a fair few services for various reasons. I must say, I'm yet to attend a church where the vast majority were not in the category stated above. But that does fit in with the average demographic of Christians in this country today, so I guess it's no surprise.

SPSGirl Mon 11-Mar-13 20:35:21

Thanks everyone for your advice and support. I will speak to he vicar. Sadly In a small country congregation of 30 I don't think views will change much.

BOF Mon 11-Mar-13 20:45:03

Are you not able to consider leaving the children at home with their father? Or at least the younger one?

Jaynebxl Mon 11-Mar-13 21:30:56

I would agree with Kaekae and look for another church. It sounds like this one just isn't suitable for you at this stage in life. It would be good to look for something where you AND your children are welcome and where the children won't be seen as a burden. So many churches around have great sunday schools and the kids would get so much more out of it, leaving you to get more out of it all.

cloutiedumpling Mon 11-Mar-13 21:43:11

It is shit when people are so uppity about small kids. I've had folk tutting at me about my DCs before too and it is upsetting. I think some congregations just get so unused to having small kids that it comes as a shock to them to realise that they make noise. Hopefully the vicar will have a word with the people involved and they'll see sense.

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