Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Okay, this will probably irk someone

I frequently read blog posts where parents complain that they aren't "welcomed" in church because someone frowned at them when their kids acted up or becasue Fr. asked their kids to stop running, eating or playing in church. It will probably make some people mad and I'm sorry about that--but I'm really irritated by parents like this .

Folks, your child is your responsibility. This is your precious bane and no-one elses. If he becomes a misery to all the other people trying to pray then you need to do something.

Don't tell me to offer it up. YOU offer it up and take Jr. outside. I'm not talking about babies. Babies are exempt. A parish without babies is a dead parish. I'm talking about normal ten year olds who can't get through Mass without playing video games. I'm talking about teenagers who joke and giggle all through Mass. I'm talking about seven year olds who are allowed to throw tantrums while their parents shamefacedly pretend not to notice. I'm talking about not so little children who can't make it through Mass without snacks. I don't like sitting in gum that was left in the pew, nor do I like slipping in formula that was poured on the floor and those crushed Goldfish crackers? Not charming at all. Somebody has to clean that mess up.

On behalf of that grumpy old man who probably raised several children himself, worked tirelessly for the parish and donates to the school fund every year and now would like to actually hear what Fr. is saying, on behalf of that grouchy woman who didn't think it was funny when your kid threw the gummy worms, on behalf of the widow who was just trying to pray for her dead husband when your kid ran by screaming I'd like to say: think about the rest of people in church. It's not that they're all meanies or anti-child or bad Catholics. Be kind.

18 comments:

Bailey Walker said...

"From your mouth to God's ears!"

Thank you for speaking the truth in charity. I honestly don't understand why parents are so permissive about this. When I was a child I KNEW how to behave and what the consequences of misbehavior were.

Sigh,

"The 62 year old bald guy trying to say his Rosary before Mass"

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Speak, speak, very true. I had to give a verbal chastizing to the teens the week before after Mass...it starts with the parents teaching them how to act.

Charlotte said...

I have a 16 month old child and I AGREE WITH YOU!!!! In fact, *I* can't stand my own kid at church - ha ha! My husband says I'm too worried about what everybody else thinks when my kids acts up, but I disagree, since I, myself, am feeling massively distracted by my child. I wish that more of these parishes that are spending millions to build their new super-buildings would consider the blessing a real cry-room could be.

Kit said...

You are absoultely right on, D. I was very lucky with my girls, and the little man (almost 18 mos) has only had a few cranky episodes...so far. But I've also seen the video games, the gum chewing, the skanky clothing on the girls...oh, my.

I am constantly amazed at what goes on around me and how utterly unaware so many parents seem to be of how badly their little darlings are behaving, how it appears to and effects others around them. If they can't teach their children to behave for one hour a week at Mass, imagine how these kids act at school, at the mall, at sports games...ugh.

Saint in the Making said...

I agree with the sentiments, but I have to say one thing. There actually are people who give parents the "stink eye" if a child makes a single peep.

In my case, I have a son with autism. Kids with autism do what's called "stimming." Stimming can manifest in a number of ways (e.g., hand flapping, so-called nervous tics, etc.). For my son, it's verbal. He likes to chatter about whatever is consuming his imagination, usually a book he read.

We do our best to teach him that Mass is a time for quiet and reverence. He actually likes Mass, or at least tolerates it! He prays (usually loudly) at the appropriate times and is in general well-behaved. Still, he has his moments. He doesn't throw tantrums, cry, eat, or throw things, but he will try to talk to my husband or point out something he notices. On rare occasions he has squealed. We deal with it as we should. This is autism and we can only do so much about it. Still, we get looks. I imagine it's because he older (6 and a half), is big for his age, and to the casual observer is "normal."

I have to admit I really resent those looks. He is not truly disruptive compared to the "Goldfish gang." My son is a child of God. God blessed us with him to teach us service, sacrifice, humility, and how to unconditionally love. I don't like being made to feel ashamed because my son isn't perfect or even "normal."

Anyway, rant over. I do wholeheartedly agree that only babies should be eating (drinking, that is!) in the sanctuary. I sat down to pray the rosary while the kids were in CCD the other day and almost sat on crackers. Yuck.

Robert said...

I'm not sure if our parish is out of the ordinary....or maybe it's just the folks who attend the 11:00 o'clock Mass, but we don't have much of a problem with rowdy children.
There's the occasional screaming baby, but as you say, that's to be expected.
Our 3 year old does get fidgety. If he gets too unruly he's off to the nursery.
I do have to defend the "Goldfish gang". We'll clean up whatever mess our son makes.(besides, church mice need something to eat).

the Mom said...

Our five are usually pretty good in Mass. At this point, all the parents of the monsters have started sitting by us because they "hope it will rub off" on their little darling. So now their monsters are distracting my children. It's hard for a 7 year old to pray when the kid in the pew in front of us is throwing Cheetos at him and my 4 year old can't be still when the girl behind us is pulling on her hair.

For the love of Pete, if your child can't behave and you won't control him/her can you please go to the cry room? That's what it's there for. My children are trying to be good and yours aren't helping!

Thanks, Dymphna, I needed to get that off my chest.

Anita Moore said...

A-men. I have been informed that, because I have no children, my opinions on this subject don't count. I'm glad to see parents who agree with me.

Would you mind coming and addressing my parish about it? :)

Lynne said...

Maybe some kids are noisy during Mass (I don't experience that too often) but I consistently hear loud baby-boomers before and after Mass, I mean obnoxiously loud. I frequently attend Mass at different churches and the problem is the same everywhere.

How rude!

Jackie Parkes said...

I agree with you!

Smiley said...

When i was a kid, we were not allowed to take toys to church. We followed all the actions of our parents and we dman well did not talk or eat during mass. Why do you allow such behaviour from your kids do they not undersatnd that this is God's house and as such you need to respect the owner of the house. Do your kids behave like this in your firends house. What exactly does it say about the way you bring up your kids. What about respect for others who are praying?

Smiley said...

oh an as an aside. I went to a church that has a TLM mass. you would not beilve it, there were kids but they were dressed well. the follwoed the actions of their parents. they did not cry, eat play video games etc etc. It was very ncie to see such respectful and courteous young children. Oh and in case you think im a fogey i am not im just 30

Smiley said...

To Saint in the Making

This is something i dont get, we call ourselves Catholic but we will be strict with teh worng people and not chastise those who should be chastised. I am sorry that you have had people look at you wrongly for the actions of your son. I think i am going to call them intolerant idiots. I remeber once someone told my dad that s/he did not like babies crying in church and it distracted them.
Dad told the person in a kind way that babies dont talk so the way they talk to God is the only way they know how and that is by crying.

Smiley said...

Lynne

Oh yes the talkative old ladies. This annoys me a lot. we have these old people who think that church is the palce to talk about all the news of the nieghborhood. We have this huge lobby outside please talk out there, there are benches so that OUTSTANDING CATHOLICS can sit out there sicne they dont want to come in, why cant these chatterboxes talk outside get it out of ther system and then come in and talk to God silently

Lola said...

Amen D!

I was approached by a couple older ladies and couples after mass and unsolicited they told me that my tot wasn't bad at all and to not worry. (I would leave mass at nearly the first fuss or peep! My being a high-strung mama was too obvious.)

But, about them goldfish: I was cleaning the church on Wed. mornings with the Alter Guild. The biggest messers: used kleenex, candy and gum wrappers, water bottles and more used kleenex. Nasty! Not so much kid crud as adult crud.

The Digital Hairshirt said...

Dymphna:

Amen! I never allowed my kids to disturb the sanctity of the Mass and I am amazed by those who do. Even a crying baby should be taken outside "for a little air," but 'round 'bout the "age of reason" - 7 years old - there is no excuse as to why you cannot teach your child that they CAN sit still for this period of time AND BEHAVE.

We recently put in new carpeting in our church. Fr. J. is a tad fanatical about keeping it clean and has issued warnings - NO FOOD, NO DRINK in the church. And with good reason - I am sorry, but your child can go without food for about an hour. And if you really need to pacify little Octavius with some Goldfish, there is a lovely patio area OUTSIDE to feed him.

Last month we had a "clean-up" day at the church, and our school principal and pastor must have scrapped up several pounds of DRIED CHEWING GUM from the floors of the pews - what is up with THAT?!

Simplex Vir said...

Dymphna,

I completely concur. Since Mass takes so little time and sacrifice is the whole point of the Mass my children have understood from the beginning that when they step into Church all nonsense stops. No Food, No Drink, No getting up and down to go to the bathroom. You do that before and after Mass.

To give your child toys, food, drink, and other distractions is telling them you don't believe they have to ability to behave. So naturally they will meet the expectation you have set. Children are like that.

To those parents with special situations such as child with autism, of course that is different. However with the way most children behave today it is hard for a person to know the difference. So informing people who may misunderstand in a charitable way is a good idea.

a thorn in the pew said...

The worst at the Masses I attend are the older people. They talk, say howdy do and giggle as if they are in a high school theater class. Yeah of have seen the stinker kid but not recently. It may have to do with the EF Masses we attend. Adults set the standard and the Catholic schools should be teaching behavior at Mass(as well as parents).