Have you ever received a look from someone at Mass? As a parent, you probably know what look I am talking about!
It is the look that says many things all at once. Your child is making noise! This is Mass! Be quiet! Take that kid out of here! Why did you bring your kids to Mass?
There is another look we as parents often get at times like these. It is a look that says: I remember the days when my kids were that little! I am so sorry you are frustrated with your child making noise during Mass. I would love to take that baby from you if I thought you would let me! These days won’t last forever.
In this post, I will share some tips about taking kids to Mass and share some funny stories as well. You are not alone raising kids in our faith. We are working every day to do that, too. We’re together in this.
Sometimes, it’s not your child.
I want to mention this since sometimes it does happen. Our child is behaving perfectly well during Mass and someone else starts playing with him–making faces or talking to him during Mass. This can be frustrating since we are working to teach our children how to behave during Mass, and then an adult or another child gives them an entirely different message!
When our oldest son was about one year old my husband was holding him during Mass. Our son could see over his shoulder behind us. He started fidgeting and making faces. After telling him a few times to stop it, my husband turned him around so he was facing towards the altar.
Later, one of the ushers came up to us and asked us not to be mad at our son. He had been playing peek-a-boo with him during Mass. He apologized. We were surprised, but glad he told us. Now we knew what had been going on. Since this usher now knew we did not want our son to play around during Mass, he never did that again.
At times, it might be necessary to tell an adult or older child not to try to play with your child during Mass. It may be helpful to change where you sit in church to avoid certain people if you see this might become an issue.
Tips for going to Mass with young children.
Attend a kid-friendly parish or Mass.
When we moved into a new area, our children were 2 1/2-years-old, 1-year-old, and due in six months. We wanted to find a parish that was family friendly! We prayed about which parish in our area we should belong to and settled on one.
Our church does not have a cry room. Our founding pastor wanted to have children in the congregation during Mass, not put in a cry room. Over the years, some of our priests have repeatedly told everyone that kids are welcome and that the noises children make do not bother them.
As parents, when we attend a child-friendly parish or Mass we can breathe a sigh of relief instead of holding our breath all during Mass, hoping our children behave. Instead of hovering over our kids the entire Mass, ready to react to the slightest noise or disturbance, we can actually focus more on Mass.
Get to know the priests.
When we have taken the time to know our priests better, they get to know what kind of people we are, too. They see that our intention is to raise our children in the faith and not let them run wild during Mass.
So, the one time our third son (who was about two years old) got out of our pew during Communion and ran through the church to my husband when my husband was serving as a Eucharistic Minister, I was less mortified than I would have been. (I was still mortified, but not as much as I would have been if our priest and fellow parishioners were not so welcoming to children.)
When our children know our parish priests, they are encouraged to behave better during Mass. They realize that the priest can see them from the altar and notice how they are behaving.
They also focus more on Mass. When they notice, “Oh, that is Fr. Celestine up there!” their attention is drawn to the altar to see what he is doing.
Introducing yourself and your children to the priest is a good start. Saying hello the priest after each Mass is helpful, too. This helps our children get to know them and feel more a part of the parish as well.
Sit in the front row.
Yes, you did read that correctly! Sit in the front row. When children can see what is going on during Mass, they are less distracted. Our youngest child likes to sit close to the altar. Our older kids don’t, but our youngest is the one who needs help focusing more on the Mass. It is easier to direct his attention forward when he can see what is going on rather than seeing the backs of rows and rows of people who block his view of the altar.
The first time we sat in the front row (well, it was actually the second pew, but since no one sat in the first pew, it was the front row), our friends commented to each other: “They are very brave. They are sitting in the front pew with four kids!!” I must say, it turned out better than we expected.
Take a deep breath.
With God’s help, you will get through Mass with your children. One Mass at a time they will learn more about the Mass and what it means. They will learn how to behave better. After all, how will they learn to behave during Mass if you don’t take them to Mass?
More to come!
Next week I will share more ideas, so stay tuned!
What are your favorite tips for helping your children behave during Mass? Please share them in the comments below and help other families. You might have just the idea that they are looking for.