Children in church(22 Posts)
Basically, our church seems to like the 'idea'of having children in church but then moans endlessly about the reality (talking in the prayers, banging objects causing noise etc). No Sunday school. As the mother of a noisy and very mobile 1 year old, whose only ambition during the service is to escape out the door, I'm feeling fed up. It is such hard work for me to get DD to service in first place, and then supervise her during the service (missing out on hymns, and on listening to readings and sermon myself), Tbh it would just be so much easier not to bring her....
Well, our local Catholic church are pretty good.
They have a Sunday school during the 9am service for years R-2, but are very tolerant of babies, bouncy 8 year olds etc.
The priest just carries on regardless, and gets a bit louder if needed.
What form does the moaning take? Do they issue newsletter hints, or halt the service, or give you death stares?
OP have you ever suggested a Sunday school- and offered to do a turn in the rota? Most churches I've been in have an area at the back with some toys etc that kids can go to. Parents take it in turns to "watch" the kids whilst the others worship. Could this work?
In my experience, rightly or wrongly, those first few years of young children are a time in your life where it is hard to absorb much from church other than a feeling you are being part of Gods family and showing your kids,however young they are that this is an important part of their weekly routine. I had 3 pre-schoolers for a year and we managed to get them all to church for a 9.30 service weekly. When they were very disruptive one of us would take them into the hall for a few minutes until they settled. They do eventually learn to sit quietly and I personally think that in this age of everyone rushing around and not concentrating for more than a few minutes on anything, that church is a great training ground for kids in so many ways. Learning to be still and meditate is a wonderful thing (whatever you believe) and starting young is good.
I would second the idea of setting up a rota with other parents too. Our church now has a creche and childrens church which came too late for me but my husband and I are on the rota.
There will always be some who disapprove of kids disrupting church but in fairness,if you are hearing impaired and there is alot of background noise,it would be hard to follow what was going on. There has to be a balance struck between kids being welcome but adults being able to concentrate on the service.
Would your vicar/leader consider a family service once a month which is less formal?
At my church we have a creche round the font for anything from newborns to around 5 or 6. Over the years the person who runs it has collected some wonderful church-themed toys (she has collections for all the church seasons as well). There are mats put down and parents and children are welcome to sit and play with the toys/join in with the service as they please. And in fact the children make less noise because they're absorbed in exploring the different things there are to play with. The person who runs it also plays with the children so that parents can listen to the sermon/join in with prayers if they like.
This is such a good idea -- it works better than any other church I've been to for really small children. There are lots of resources for this approach ('liturgical play/godly play') here.
There are lots of good thoughts here, thanks all.
At the risk of sounding negative...
We have one person who does all the children's work. I wouldn't mind setting up a rota but I'm not very experienced at children's work and would need someone to do it with me really...and all the other parents are busy with choir etc. There aren't an awful lot of parents anyway as it's a small church.
There is an area at the back of the church where DD can play...she's not really interested in the toys on offer though, as they have been specifically chosen to be 'quiet'! Also, the other kids wind her up!
We've tried child friendly services, which I think are a great idea, but typically
...no children turned up on the days these happened, so they've now stopped (mine wasn't born then!).
The children's worker used to take them out to the hall for Sunday school but that's also stopped in favour of 'including the children as part of the church family'. The older ones have craft activities (with a vaguely Christian theme) but they only keep them occupied for twenty minutes or so.
I get that the children are noisy and annoying to people who just want a peaceful service, but if the church is so desperate for the children to share the space, it can't have it both ways. There have been PCC based moans and one family has left recently in favour of a church with a creche.
I think vdbfamily is right and that I'm probably not going to get much from church at the moment. I will try to grin and bear it!
We have a crèche at the back with a huge chest full of toys, v few noisy ones, but so many that all the infants adore just getting them out. It is the perfect dumping point for everyone's old plastic. It's magic. And they take the cars etc and make vroom vroom noises but it's fine.
Then we have fabric busy bags, so when you choose your busy bag you never quite know what's going to be in it. Each one has a colouring book, pad, pencils, toys, something like a shoe lace with cotton reels or one if those shoe lace sewing cards iyswim and a little book , some times with a biblical theme. And you can sit on the pew with mummy and go through them. Again, not new, but dumped, sorted, recycled.
I'm afraid unless you have a group of parents prepared to share, you are in for a few years of adult frustration.
And yes, I find RC churches are generally far more tolerant. IMV, that comes from a ban on contraception in most cases and a demand you attend church each week. So babies and their noises are the inevitable consequence.
In our church there are a few tut-tutters. But the clergy are clear that the early morning service is calm and peaceful, and the children are as much the present congregation as the elderlies. It can get a bit tense sometimes as there are some SEN people who can be noisy, but the congregation has learned to cope.
I'd talk to your clergy.
Depends what church you're at. We picked one based on what kids work there was and how many kids. Unfortunately that means we're at a louder modern church, and I miss aspects of an Anglican church. You just have to hunt around I think. If you're in a large town.or city there's bound to be ones with more on. Check websites first. Happy hunting!
I'd like to add that I take a turn with the tinies at my church, even though my DSs are aged 23 to 17. In other words, you might find that it's not only the Mums of your youngest attendees who would be willing to take a turn at running a creche. Obviously anyone doing so needs a DBS check. If it was 1 & 2 year olds, you wouldn't need to offer formal instruction. I like the idea of niminy's churches' collection of Bible-themed toys. We're quite fortunate in that our church building has a room behind the altar where the crêche takes place on Sunday mornings.
It does get better. I have three DCs and have been through that stage with each of them. Does something to eat help? I used to take tupperware tubs full of breadsticks, raisins etc and something to drink too. Tupperware tubs were good because they didn't rustle.
It's a nightmare & I hate taking DS to church. Our church has a room labelled "children's crying room" which becomes a play room & a Sunday school for children in YR upwards. I have offered to set up a crèche but have been told it's not necessary
I think all age family services can be tricky. I used to sometimes avoid them as I just found it too stressful trying to manage all three DCs for an hour without a creche or Sunday School.
We have problems too. My DDS are fairly quiet but some people stillfrown at them. And in one churches went to recently someone left on our arrival - which was a lovely welcome!
The alternative at our church is for a parent to go out into a back room but it is wholly depressing - 3 years and counting. Dh is often committed with stweardig, playing piano etc.
We are actively looking for somewhere more uplifting and enjoyable at least for the next few years.
Children should be accepted in church, how else can they expect to maintain a congregation without them?
I'm not particularly fond of children's liturgy groups where they are packed off into another room because I think they need to get used to a normal service, however this requires great tolerance from fellow parishioners and the priest because inevitably there will be some noise from babies and toddlers. My boys are now aged 4 and 7 and we attend weekly so by now they know what is expected of them and I don't bring anything to 'occupy' them. Been there and learned from that! When they were much younger I did bring plain biscuits in a non rustling bag but it created arguments between them. I also tried bringing colouring books/pens but this would create more scratching noise and squabbling. As older boy has recently done his first communion he takes more interest and participates in the Mass, four year old knows he is expected to behave.
However eight month old baby is starting to babble and fidget but unless she starts howling I will not be fleeing to the 'cry chapel' despite the fact that our priest has become ridiculously irritable and scowls/rolls his eyes whenever a child makes a noise. There was a note in our newsletter advising parents to use the cry chapel if their child becomes distressed or distracted. Some parents go straight to the cry chapel and stay there for the whole Mass which is not what it was intended for, however with the intolerable attitude you can understand why. Our priest doesn't integrate with the children at the family Mass. The children's liturgy group join the Mass at offertory time, however because our priest is currently skipping parts of the Mass and rushes through they almost miss it sometimes!
I went to a different parish a few weeks ago, the priest didn't bat an eyelid at the noisy children. However, although this was a family service it was to another extreme; noisy plastic toys were forever being banged against the pews and both children and parents chatting loudly throughout the service. This is wrong in my opinion. At yet another parish the children gather around the altar at the Gospel reading and then the priest done a short homily explaining the reading to the children in simple terms that they can relate to and he really seemed to capture their attention, it was lovely.
It really depends on what your parish is like. I think its all about give and take. Don't bring noisy toys or unnecessary snacks to Mass that are likely to cause more disruption. They won't starve for half an hour/45 minutes. Explain to children what is expected of them and don't let tutting miserable old biddies that have forgotten what its like to have children (or have never had them) make you feel bad. The way I see it is that the church belongs to all.
I remember sticker books being useful when DSs were younger - quieter than the scratchy noises Shuvsi mentions.
We only go to the monthly family service with DD. They do have creche and children's groups every week but I want Church to be a family occasion for us. Sometimes it is still a bit of a nightmare but I think it's important so sticking with it.
take it in turns to go to church and keep your child at home.
My local church has a messy church service where another service is held for parents/carers after the main Sunday service. I would assume that The sermon is a bit more child friendly and that noise is welcome. This is a good idea as the children are potential worshippers of tomorrow. If faith organizations do not accommodate and welcome children then they shouldn't be surprised about dropping numbers.
I am not a Christian but my local mosque has a creche and actively welcomes children over 7 into the main services.
I gave up. At the morning 'family' service mine were the only children and I had disapproving comments from some in the congregation. I actually have no idea why. They also had a service specifically for children which we went to more. The lady who ran it is lovely and welcoming, invited lots of interaction and noise from the children. Unfortunately she had a team of helpers who would roll their eyes and purse their lips when the children did this. As the congregation normally consisted of babes in arms, a couple of quiet 10 year olds, a four year old who didn't want to join in and my two preschoolers. It just ended up with the eye rolling being specifically directed at my children. Just can't see how it's worth it with small children, which makes me sad.
OP - it's really difficult. I've attended lots of churches over the years where children's noise is tutted over. The tutters are usually the same people who say they don't understand why families/ younger people don't come to church...
I've tried most things - going to a church which had a lot of children (I just couldn't get on with their theology/opposition to homosexuality and didn't want those beliefs being taught to my child), not bothering at all and going to an evening service instead, etc. eventually finding a church that doesn't mind children's noise- but it took a few years.
My dc is 18m, I found that people were turning to look at us and that made me feel very unwelcome. I told my dh I didn't want to go to Mass as regularly, and that it was really putting me off. I apologised to our priest as we were leaving and he said the Holy Spirit overcomes children and they get excitable: the people looking at us heard this and said they love seeing us and watching children be children.
I do stick it out, but lately I've been bringing a pram in with me, and a nice small Apple to eat quietly sat down and that gives me a chance to listen and take part.
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