QUAERITUR: Usher dressing down mothers over children with TOYS, God forbid, during LATIN MASS!

From a reader:

Today at Mass, it would seem my very active 3 year old was being a
little too loud with one of his small toy cars (he wasn’t all that
interested in coloring one of his three catholic coloring books or his
illustrated bible or his “Story of Easter” book). An usher approached
me while I am trying to get my son to be quiet and says, “There are no
toys allowed in the Latin Mass.” Then he repeated it again in my ear.
“There are no TOYS allowed in the LATIN MASS.” I put the the toys away
and predictably my toddler started to cry. We had to leave church (and
stand out in the cold) until he settled down. I have to admit this
really upset me. I don’t know if this is a common church policy but I
must admit it seemed pretty off putting. In 3 years of attending Mass
with my child I have never once been scolded for being too loud or for
bringing “toys”. I was wondering if you had an opinion or any advice.

Well! And here we go, leaping toward the third rail.

I think I would have been tempted to respond, “And what part of LATIN MASS gives you permission to walk around church, ignoring the sacred action and reprimanding mothers?”

Ushers.

Without having been there, it is hard to know what to say. But it strikes me that the usher was on pretty shaky ground. Sure, all children at LATIN MASS should look just like the sweet little darlings in the pastel artwork depicting young ones praying head-bowed, pink hands together at their bedsides as a guardian angel hovers over them. That’s what all children at LATIN MASS should be like.

In the meantime, on my planet when little Stupor Mundi is making too much noise, and how much is too much and I am not at all sure, then attentive parents – used to their prodigy’s din at home – takes the diminutive treasure out.

That isn’t always possible and children can be obstreperous. Even at the LATIN MASS! Do be sensitive to noise levels. You might be used to the noise your child makes. Others are not.

Catholic Moms and Dads can jump in here. From time to time we have practical advice on this very topic. Since I firmly believe in the wisdom of the adage repetita iuvant, we can dig into it again.

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156 Responses to QUAERITUR: Usher dressing down mothers over children with TOYS, God forbid, during LATIN MASS!

  1. As the father of three, the youngest (14 months) being very fond of the sound of his own voice during mass, I try to be attentive to the annoyance we can create for others around us and usher the tike out when he gets too boisterous. He has, on one occasion, cracked up the celebrant creating a minor stir as Father had to regain his composure. But, having said that, I firmly believe children belong in mass. Taking children to the nursery during mass only builds in them the expectation that a trip to the church is playtime. Sometimes a bit of distraction is needed–a toy, or raisins, or a bottle–but they belong with the community. They grow in that community and need to take their cues from the community, first and foremost their parents and older siblings. I do not see why the E.F. is any different, except that there is more sacred silence, as opposed to the ordinary form, where someone from the music department is always trying to “create a mood.” Too often well-intentioned folks who volunteer for usher, lector, extraordinary minister, etc., take their personal views on matters as having some weight because of their station. God bless the reader for taking his or her child to mass, and what a blessing it is that child can experience the Extraordinary Form, even at such a young age. I am continually amazed at what my children appreciate from mass. As for the usher, thank him for his advice, laugh it off afterwards, and keep brining up your children in the beauty of the Catholic faith.

    Mr. Jody Lamar Thomas-Mary Finklea, O.P.

  2. Lucas says:

    My father, 79 years young, told me a story of when he took his son(not me) to Mass and he was being fussy. At the end, he profusely apologized to the priest. The priest responded that he understood kids make noise and it wasn’t a problem. In fact, the priest loved to hear the sound of children, and it was better for the kids than to be left at home.

    I’ll admit, I’ve had this problem at EF masses where I am not a regular. I’ve been scolded/reprimanded for my children having toys or books that are not Catholic or if they made a little to much noise. I was shocked when a usher told me that my son shouldn’t be playing with his figures because they were not Catholic and they were creating a poor enviroment for him.

    Luckily the people at our regular EF(and NO) are both very nice and understanding.

  3. AnnAsher says:

    We ended up two rows in front of an elderly couple whom I usually make sure to sit well behind. They are newer to our TLM and not of the friendly variety I’m used to there. My boys – 4 and 6, 6 year old has autism- wiggle. Not noisy usually – but wiggle. Lie down, sit up, feet in the air, lie under the pew. When the elderly couple of far enough away I dont have to deal with his facial expressions. My sons have made great progress- I can actually attend all of Mass now – well usually. Today, I could simply feel the heat from behind me. So I feel the writers pain. I suppose my advice is to try to find a safe spot to hide out with your little one and his car! We’ve had various items I’ve tried – none of them work for long. Today, when we left I told the 4 year old that Mass is important and that we must not wiggle there, or in restaurants and movie theaters. Mass is important, I said, because we come to say thank you to Jesus for opening Heaven for us. We come to say Thankyou to God for making us, because He loves us so much, He made us. So I say thank you God for making — and I named him and his sibs. He said to me ” I like church now. I love you Mom and I’m glad God made you. I love heaven too – Mary is there”.
    So take heart- they get It eventually!

  4. AnnAsher says:

    I should have made it clear that I’ve had that conversation with all 3 of my youngest many times – today it clicked for little Kolbe.

  5. nichols.a.t says:

    Your experience is disappointing, especially since you clearly recognize that it is challenging to keep a child occupied during Mass (hence the toys). We usually bring something for our 3-year-old (and try to make it a book; toys are too easy to get “too noisy” with, and try to make it only one item…otherwise we’ll inevitably forget it). I am somewhat maniacal about noise myself, precisely because I dread my reaction when a well-meaning person admonishes me for having normal kids. I would smile, tell the man “Thank you” and say a prayer for him, if you can.

  6. pfreddys says:

    make sure you have the kiddies WELL FED right before Mass. We did and never had a problem!

  7. Interesting that the usher was the one trying to impose holy silence. In my parish, the ushers are the biggest noisemakers and distractors of all. On the other hand, why would parents let their children bring noisy toys to Mass?

    This is a frustrating issue, especially for those of us — like me — who are childless, and have been informed, in lofty tones, that our opinions on this matter don’t count because we (allegedly) don’t know what it’s like to try to keep children in line. It is true: sometimes kids act up, and that’s how it is. It’s true that some kids have special problems. It is also true that, for people like me who have trouble concentrating as it is, every noisy kid at Mass is another log on the bonfire of exasperation, and we are apt to overreact without taking individual circumstances into account.

    But: can anybody seriously deny that for quite a few years now, children have been allowed to run wild in church? When I was a kid, we would get into trouble for whispering to our neighbor in the pew. Nowadays, kids run in church, kick the back of the pew in front of them repeatedly, play with noisy toys, leave Cheerios all over the place, carry on loud conversations, tear pages out of the missalettes, roughhouse in front of the tabernacle — and not a word from their parents. I once walked into Eucharistic adoration, only to find the floor of the chapel strewn with toys and crayons and rambunctious kids. When others complain, they are accused of being uncharitable. But where is the duty of charity to people who are trying to pray at a time and in a place specially set aside for prayer?

    On the other hand, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see kids acting up in church when the grown-ups themselves set such a bad example. There are plenty of adults laughing and yakking and otherwise misbehaving in church, even during Mass. Irreverence is endemic in our society, and it’s being passed on to the kids.

  8. MissOH says:

    I agree it is very important to bring children to mass from the beginning if at all possible. Since my guess is most of us who attend the EF do not have the luxury of attending a parish with multiple EF mass times children will be there. I know of a family where the father was of a mind that children did not belong at mass until they were about age 6 and starting the beginning preparations for First Holy Communion. When they started bringing their son he did not know how to act, was easily board etc. I try to sit so our daughter can see the priest and I talk to her often about why we go to mass and the importance of being obedient and quiet. I also try not to sit too close to families with children we know simply because when you are 4, it can be really hard sometimes to remember not to talk to your friend sitting in front of/right behind you at mass.

    I have been blessed that my children were wigglers more than cryers and, in general, I think my children’s wiggling has been more of an influence on me than those around me or so the charitable people around me have said. My general rule is no toys so I did not bring little cars or figurines when my son was little, but books were ok and I had a number of Catholic board books. I do let my daughter bring a baby doll and she likes to color so I bring a Catholic coloring book or a blank notebook. I have found crayons can be really loud in the churches with pews but the church where were usually attend the EF has the cushioned kneeler chairs.

  9. thefeds says:

    I must admit that I would scope out the other parents at the Mass that my wife and I usually attended with our four sons. I’d figure out which family was louder than mine (most, usually, since I was the dad running outside with them) and we’d sit on the opposite side and a little bit in front of them. That way, I figured that most people’s attention would be focused on them instead of us. Worked pretty well. Did the same thing in restaurants, as well.

  10. JenB says:

    I usually have a plastic rosary, a scapular, and various prayer cards hiding in my purse for those times when other measures have failed. At 5 and 6, my boys are getting to the age where other than the occasional squiggle or comment, we can usually attend Mass without worrying about whether or not we are distracting to the others around us. But, we have had plenty of times where this was not the case. The most mortifying time was when the lady sitting in front of us turned around and offered my son a banana (we don’t do food in church). I politely declined, at which point she told me that the parish had a cry room in the back for young children. The worst part of the situation was that my child was not actually being noisy at that time. I retreated to the cry room where I tried to explain to my children that although everybody else was playing and jumping and screaming, we were being quiet and praying. And then, I found a new parish that was a little more open to children.

    As far as advice goes… the one that has helped us the most, is the one that sounds the most counter-intuitive. We always sit in the first pew, or as close to front and center as possible. It makes a tactful retreat harder, but it is much easier to keep little ones’ attention when they can see what is happening. And, as they grow, I can quietly explain different parts of the Mass to them. Also, they cannot see other children playing or misbehaving, their entire focus is on the Mass, and their own private world.

  11. flyfree432 says:

    I would hope that decorum is the same at EF and OF liturgies, however we know in practice that is not followed equally and most of those attending EF liturgies are typically particularly devoted to the spiritual life. We love the EF form and try to go on a regular basis, however we have stopped usually going with our children because of how off putting and rude people become for some reason if our children make any noise….at all. Whatsoever. We give our kids Wee Believers nuns, dolls, and Mass kits when they are very young to hold and play with in Mass, wherever we are, but as people from the planet earth no, kids make noise. They learn with time, but they are still kids.

  12. As the father of a very active 1 year old who ALWAYS attends mass with us, I have several rules I try to live by:

    1. Try to limit “toys” to church items – a children’s rosary, a few Catholic board books, a children’s bible, etc.
    2. No food. It is too messy and difficult to clean up. It also sends the wrong message to a child. Plus, it is too easy to forget what you are doing and eat some of the food and ruin your fast.
    3. When attending mass at a parish not your own, always sit as far in the back as possible, so you are as little of a distraction as possible, and can easily get out to the nave if necessary.
    4. Keep your friends close. At our parish, we’ve discovered which parishioners are more friendly towards our little bundle of joy than others. Generally, it is other parents of young children (although, as mentioned above, that can be an added cause of excitement for some children) and especially younger grandparents (generally because the child reminds them of their own young grandkids). If you can’t sit in the back pew or two, try to sit near these people who we know don’t mind a little noise/activity from our child.
    5. No cry room. Our parish doesn’t have one, and when we are visiting other places, we try to avoid taking our child there. As someone stated above, it sets a bad precedent for the child.
    6. Most importantly, you have to remember it is your child and your responsibility to ensure his or her acceptable behavior. Sure it is nice when others are tolerant of your child’s misbehavior, which of course is going to occur on a semi-regular basis, but it is your job to settle the child down and help others not be too distracted. Think of it like going to a movie – if your child started acting up or was otherwise making too much noise, you’d be out of the theater in a hurry.

    Honestly, I don’t know the exact situation of the question writer of this post. However, I think both the questioner and the usher may have been out of line. The usher should have simply said that the toy was rather loud and disturbing other parishioners rather than state toys themselves were not allowed; and the questioner probably should have been more aware of how loud her child was and potentially taken him out of church. It is easy to forget how loud a child you spend the majority of your time with can be to the public who do not see him very often.

    Great comments from the posters above, and I agree with much they have to say. Special props to Ann Asher for also having a little Kolbe at home.

  13. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I think the usher may have been a bit out of line. The variety of Catholic-oriented distractions this inquirer mentioned gives the clear impression that she has the correct intention. My wife and I similarly bring plastic rosaries, holy cards, etc. etc., but sometimes I have to resort to a treasured small finger puppet (it’s a frog, not the Curé d’Ars) to garner the attention of my 16month old before he rips one of the red booklet EF missals to shreds. Sometimes I just have to leave with him and stand in the vestibule with the other haggard parents of toddlers. C’est la vie. “Suffer the little children…” and all that…sometimes we have to suffer their noises and toys a little as well. It is a package deal. Perhaps this parent could ask the priest what the parish’s policy is and if it appears the usher is being a bit over-zealous, perhaps the priest could have a word with him.

  14. bookworm says:

    “I know of a family where the father was of a mind that children did not belong at mass until they were about age 6 and starting the beginning preparations for First Holy Communion. ”
    Well, that’s what my parents did with me, more or less — the first time they took me to Mass was at my brother’s First Communion when I was about 5 years old. Didn’t seem to have done me any harm as I behaved very well and in fact made my own First Communion less than 2 years later. They didn’t try to take either one of us when we were babies or toddlers, and both of us (my brother and I) are absolutely faithful practicing Catholics to this day.
    As I’ve explained before, my daughter, now nearly 16, is autistic and we had some issues with her restlessness at Mass when she was young, but that has greatly improved — though she still sometimes has a tendency to talk or mutter to herself at Mass and I have to correct her. I never used the “cry room” at any time.
    Personally I believe there is a happy medium between not bringing your kids to Mass at all until they are old enough to sit still, and insisting that they MUST attend every single week from birth no matter how cranky or distracting they are.

    If I remember correctly, children are not obligated to attend Mass under pain of mortal sin until they reach the age of reason. I think it is good to bring your children to Mass right from the start — I did so with my own daughter — but for infants and toddlers that are particularly fussy or difficult, you should not feel guilty about leaving them at home once in a while (either with a grandparent or family member, or with you and your spouse attending different Masses) for the sake of your own and other’s sanity and ability to pray without distraction. I also agree with the suggestion of sitting as close to the front as possible to keep the little one’s attention.

  15. Melody says:

    Children need to be taken to mass when young to make it a part of them. Plus, it will be of some benefit for children to hear the Latin while they are still learning to speak.

    So I approve of the parent bringing toys for her son.

    However I’m not sure a toy car is a good choice as it will be banged and rattled against the pews. I would pick a soft plush toy or a picture book.

  16. APX says:

    As a person who has to regularly confess to uncharitable and even worse thoughts towards misbehaving kids, I beg parents not to sit up at the front!! Father tells me to sit up front so I can’t see them and the sound is behind me. Doesn’t work because the first five rows are full of huge families with all their little kids making noise, sometimes screaming bloody murder. It takes every ounce of willpower I have to silently “tolerate it”.

  17. anilwang says:

    As a child we didn’t have any toys…the silence of the mass made it clear that were weren’t supposed to be loud, even if we wanted to whisper something to our parents.

    My little one is 2 and a quarter years old. Usually he’s energetic but he can sit for an hour without making noise, but there’s a catch, he has to sit on my lap and I have to lift him when I stand…kneeling is a bit tricky and not always possible (at least for long periods). It can be tiring (he’s as large and heavy as a 4 year old), but it mostly works (although there are a few times when he wants to play the mouse and try to scurry under the pews).

    Of course, different things work for different people, but I personally would frown on toys, other than perhaps the ones mentioned by youngcatholicstl. If you go to a church in a traditional building there are plenty of things to distract a child. I remember as a child, I didn’t really pay much attention to the mass, but I did know every single stained glass window and statue in the Church, as well as every decorated archway, and would often ask what each one meant (in a whisper).

  18. Panterina says:

    As a father of a 3 year old, I sympathize.

    I know should be more charitable, but if I were the reader, I would have not taken my crying child out. Then, if the usher approached with with a “crying children are not allowed at Latin Mass”, I would have whispered in reply “I’m sorry, but Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:14 apply to both you and me.”

  19. APX says:

    Panterina,

    There is an online sermon by Fr. Ripperger, FSSP on modesty with regards to loud and misbehaving children during Mass. He makes it clear that it is a sin against modesty for a parent not to take their child out of the main area the moment it’s apparent the child is not going to quiet down.

  20. Dorcas says:

    I don’t get it. Parents are so darn tolerant these days. Kids just run the roost. When I was little, even very little, I was required to do as I was told, and if I was told to sit quietly, that’s what I did. If I disobeyed…well, heaven help me. I would have got a severe and immediate slap-down, fully approved of by any other adult witness in the vicinity. The very idea of indulging a kid with food or toys, or even books would have been off the map. Trust me, if properly trained and handled, even the youngest and most disruptive kid can sit quietly for an hour, if only the parent is serious about making them. My experience is that parents are pretty blase about letting their kids be disruptive in public, and will let the kid squirm and fuss about without doing much about it. Parents, train your kids, that is your role as a parent!

  21. mdinan says:

    Well, I find ushers to be well intentioned, generally pleasant, but rather pointless. I especially dislike the go to communion usher Who points when the pew in front of you has finished getting in line so you can follow them to communion. Irksome. Of course, I disagree with bringing toys and snacks to Mass. My parents did it for me, and I wish they hadn’t. I did not learn to respect the liturgy for years afterwards. I don’t mind kids being kids, but there are some parents who let them go too far. My advice to parents: keep them reasonable, and talk to them often about WHY they need to be paying attention quietly. Kids are not stupid, but they are ignorant of these things until properly taught. Challenge them, teach them, guide them, but do not do so harshly. I find most of the good Catholic parents who love the liturgy raise kids who know how to behave at Mass, and who love going Mass…eventually. The way to encourage that is not, however, through time occupiers or leaving the kids home.

  22. Creary says:

    The usher is right. Toys don’t belong in LATIN MASS, nor in any CATHOLIC MASS. Toys are a distractions, so is food, and non-Mass related books. Father is also right, “all children at [Mass] should look just like the sweet little darlings in the pastel artwork depicting young ones praying head-bowed, pink hands together at their bedsides as a guardian angel hovers over them. That’s what all children at [Mass] should be like.”

    All it takes is good training. I’ve several children. The youngest is a boy, 22 months old. He is silent during the whole Mass (usually a Low Mass, lasting 50-70 minutes, but has also has been to a ~115 minute High Mass). He stands when we stand, stands when we kneel (he’s not tall enough to see over the pew when he kneels), sits when we sit. He often (more and more frequently too) will place his hands in a prayer position, make the sign of the cross when we do, and beat his chest when we do (e.g. during the Confiteor, Agnus Dei, etc. ).

    He’s been like this since he was 16 months old.

    Before that his mother or I had to take him out of Mass every time he made a sound. We used the time as an opportunity to teach an invaluable, and infallible lesson — outside the church there is discomfort, pain, damnation, and Hell — ONLY INSIDE the Church is there peace and the opportunity for salvation. It hurt him when we had to take him outside. Thus in only 16 months, he learned to not make a peep at Mass. No toys, books, or food were involved.

    My next oldest (also a boy) is four. He is also silent in Mass the entire time and prays the Rosary before Mass, holds his hands in a prayer posture the entire time, is tall enough to kneel when we kneel, stand when we stand, and sit when we sit.

    My next oldest (a girl) is six. She is also silent in Mass the entire time and prays the Rosary before Mass, holds her hand in a prayer posture most of Mass. She is old enough to read the Missal and has earned that book as her ONLY book allowed at Mass. She also is tall enough to kneel when we kneel, etc.

    The training for all my children was the same, and has had the same results.

    Yes, this comment post will sound like a “holier than thou” post by all those who haven’t been training your children correctly. It will only sound that way because your conscience is telling you what I am telling you. That is, that you are failing your children. Get over it, and start following the example of those parents who are getting the right results. We are all doing the same things.

    I often get complements from people … “your children are so well behaved”, “it’s such a blessing to see your children in Mass”. But, these only come from parishes where there are a lot of parents like the one Father responds to above. In parishes where parents actually know what they’re doing, know what their vocation is all about, i.e. to “bring [their children] up in the discipline and correction of the Lord”, I don’t get those complements. That’s because my children are not extraordinary in those parishes. They are just a few of many (i.e. about 50 children under 10 in a Church that holds ~350).

    Yes, children need to be exposed to the Mass at the youngest of ages, but yes, they should be trained, and NO this does not involve toys, food, or books.

    Bottom Line: The Usher was right … but he’s right not ONLY for the LATIN MASS but at ANY MASS, and he was probably COMPELLED to either 1) Instruct the ignorant, and/or 2) admonish sinners, by his understanding of the Catholic Spiritual Works of Mercy, and therefore was RIGHT to “walk around church, [out of respect for] the sacred action [to instruct ignorant] mothers [, and reprimand misbehaving children]“.

  23. I have to admit I’m surprised at a couple of the replies here…

    I’m a 20 year old male student, and I’ve started regularly attending the traditional Mass just starting last year, so I’ve had a lot of experience on ‘both sides’. For me personally, up to a reasonable point, I say the more children the merrier. My traditional Mass is blessed with what I’d estimate to be about a dozen young families, maybe even more, with kids anywhere from newborn to any age, so there are lots of restless babies and fussy toddlers and what have you.
    The only times I find myself getting a bit annoyed are those times when there’s a child screaming at the top of his or her lungs, and it keeps going and going and going… you know the ones I mean. The parents are usually embarrassed enough at that point that they’ve moved to the back of the church quickly enough, so it’s usually not an issue.
    Besides that though, I like seeing the young families and the energetic kids. It’s a sign of life in the Church. I like seeing the new parents taking turns calming the babies down, and I like seeing how all the youngest age groups look at the Mass. I think it’s amazing how they seem to know instinctively that something important is happening in front of them. I don’t mind if the three year old in front of my is a bit squirmy, or likes standing up and looking at all the people behind her. In fact I think it’s pretty cute, and I smile at her if she looks at me.
    I think it’s really great to have in my field of vision a handful of kids of all ages, because I can see the littlest ones still small enough to be held by their parents the whole time, and then the ones just big enough to walk, all dressed up in a tiny little vest and tie, who sees his older brother praying and paying attention so he tries to imitate him even though he doesn’t know why, and then the ones old enough to follow a little bit in a picture book of the Mass parts, and the ones with simple explanations under the pictures, and the ones old enough to start helping their younger siblings pay attention.
    I love all of it. It gives me hope for the future of our Mass, and every time it reminds me of the vitality of our faith.

    I think my favourite little kid in the last month or so was the one that I saw while I was going towards the Communion rail; he was fast asleep laying half on the kneeler and half off, wedged up against the front pew. Couldn’t have been any older than 2 years.

  24. Speculae says:

    There is nothing more infuriating than the screams and clatter of children running around during Holy Mass. Why do parents think it’s acceptable to let their little tykes dominate the liturgy. Last Sunday in our abbey church, the monastic schola (of which I am a member), having spent ages preparing, then had to spend Mass competing with the screams and footsteps of a single child. The parents watched on in doughy eyed delight as their little one ran amok, oblivious the obvious irritation of everyone else. The little darling has even made his way onto the sanctuary an occasion – to the parents clear delight – and everyone else’s muted displeasure.
    If you don’t instil a sense of discipline in a child when they are invited into a community activity (worship) that demands it, what makes you think he or she will grow up to respect that community event in later life?
    P.s. Venting accomplished…inner peace restored!!!

  25. Creary kind of freaks me out, and I don’t think he goes to my parish… O_o

  26. Shoshana says:

    I grew up before Vatican II. Children were quiet at Mass. As a preschooler I sat silently next to my father, held his hand, and looked at the stained glass windows. No toys, children’s books, or heaven forbid, food at Mass. Even today, small children can be taught to sit still and be quiet. There is ample evidence of that in my current parish.

    We were taught not to turn around and look at those behind us because it distracts others from prayer. I make a point not to engage with children who turn around, because I would be reinforcing rude behavior (and get distracted myself, which is rude to God). I’m at Mass to worship the Lord, not to play with children. There’s plenty of time for that after Mass. Socializing is what coffee hour is for.

  27. Banjo pickin girl says:

    How many of these perfectly behaved (read: bullied by parents) cherubs will reject the Church when they reach their 20′s and 30′s, associating it with obsessive compulsive abusive behavior? Is this not a large part of the breakdown that happened in the ’60′s in our society?

    The parents who look on at how wonderful it is when their little one shreds the missalette are members of what a friend of mine calls “the Cult of the Child.” Anyone who is distracted by the little cherubs is accused of being “anti-life.”

    Makes me wanna be a Methodist again. At least they have a sense of decorum and appropriateness.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    I have very strong feelings and opinions on this subject. I grew up fasting from Midnight and we did not eat Cheerios from plastic bags in Church. We did not have water bottles. When I raised my son, he fasted the same as I did, one hour before Mass for the NO and three for the EF. Unless there is a medical problem, food does not have to be an issue. Get up earlier, if the children need to
    eat, parents. My mother had a houseful of children and we ate after Mass on Sunday, not before, and if we were really hungry, she got up very early and gave us a small snack over three hours before Mass started. This was not the norm, however.
    As for toys, I am livid about trucks, hand-held games, and even, get this, knapsacks for kids full of stuff. Children’s missals and little “Know the Mass” books, saints’ lives, etc. are readily available. We had the complete Arch set of Old and New Testament stories. It is the lack of discipline of the parents which causes these abuses. Children can be disciplined to sit still and listen. Those who do not believe this can visit a quiet, traditional Montessori school, (not a wild day-care) where directors and children whisper and never run around. Most parents have low expectations.

    Cheerios supports PP, by the way.

  29. Marie Teresa says:

    It never occurred to me to allow my children to take toys to Mass, or snacks for that matter. For the years when I had a babe-in-arms, we were fortunate to make it through Communion. The cry-room was wild, so we never used it. Once after having to leave with a fussy baby and two toddlers 20 minutes into Mass for the umpteenth Sunday in a row, I cried. But it got better, and when they had mastered sitting quietly, we started sitting close to the front, so they could be drawn in to the Mass.
    …mom of three adults

  30. Phil_NL says:

    Ushers delendam esse.

    Any parent with just a ounce of the societal graces (and those are the only ones for which admonishment will have any possible positive effect at all) will know when his or her kid is being too noisy for the occasion. The usher is simply giving redundant information, just as his ‘position’ is redundant. So all it does is making an already akward situation worse.

    Of course, if the parent is one of those who cannot stand even the hint of reproach directed to their stupor mundi (probably named Atilla) chances are the poor usher gets a close encounter of the kinetic kind with a fist. Which is also not particularly well received in a church.

    Ushers delendam esse. (with apolgies for the poor grammar, it has been long enough to know I need a plural of some sort, but too long to remember what the right plural form was…)

    Now if there has evolved some kind of habit where kids are eating, drinking and being loud during Mass, I’m all for instruction regarding this topic. From the pulpit.

  31. DB1995 says:

    I’ve got 5 under 7 so I am especially sympathetic to this situation. We don’t bring toys or food, and I admit that it is especially frustrating when others do–not because I am distracted (I am usually fine to block it out and focus) but–because my kids get distracted and behave much worse when their peers are playing with cars or eating. Then, I do get distracted having to refocus or manage my kids.

    That said, I think it’s a two way street. Parents of young’ns should try to be cognizant of others at mass, but perhaps even more important, others of mass should be more sympathetic to parents. Our faith rightly affirms, in the midst of a culture that sees children as a nuisance and economic hinderance, that children are very good–so withhold from giving parents the discouraging “evil eye.” instead, can we offer up our distration? Would that not be pleasing to our Lord, who told us not to prevent the little ones from coming to Him?

  32. tperegrinus says:

    I am a father of two children, both under two. Our TLM parish, naturally, has quite a few little ones, and most people (bar a few older single people) never turn around and do the “stare” if our children make a bit of noise. Of course, if there is repeated noise or all out crying, the children are taken out. Most “stare-ers” appear to be unmarried middle aged men of the slightly twitchy variety. There is little understanding from such people that it often takes some time to organise oneself to take the child out of the church, that the parents have often not slept much or at all the night before etc. Soft toys or religious books can assist…sometimes. Sometimes, though, kids are just hungry or thirsty, and feeding them is not “indulging” them, as some would say.

    I would say that the majority of people, at least in our community, realise that it takes time and effort to “church” children, and that at age 19 months or so, they simply do not know the difference (yet) between making noise in church, or making noise in a supermarket, any more than they know to take themselves to the toilet when nature calls. Stories about how good so-and-so’s kids are etc. (or in Creary’s case, how good his kids are) fail to recognise the basic fact that all people are born with different temperements which require different degrees of effort, time and experimentation to put on the right path.

    Rather than simply beating “discipline” into the kids (and potentially planting the seeds for them to become unmarried, twitchy, middle aged men), I see the physical (it’s like a workout every Sunday) and psychological battle to train my children slowly as part of the penance of the married state. Stare-ers and shooshers add to that penance, ad majorem Dei gloriam. The TLM is not a country club, and children are not robots.

  33. JonPatrick says:

    My sentiments are similar to Iraneus’ above. I find that in the EF we usually attend there are lots of large families with kids of all ages which adds a vitality missing in the OF where there is generally a sea of gray heads. Except for the rare piercing jet-engine scream, generally the sounds of babies and toddlers does not bother me.

  34. jbosco88 says:

    Even now, at 23 years old, one of my strongest and most humbling memories is from when I was four years old, when my brother and I behaved so badly in Church that my Mother was reduced to tears – we left in the middle of the service. I felt awful for years, even at such a young age.

    We had cardboard books about bible stories and small colouring books with religious pictures, which we soon lost interest in, but I remained a very inquisitive child. We did, however, know when to be silent for the eucharistic prayer. Later attending a very liberal parish, we both quickly lost interest in the service and got bored quickly.

    Now attending a traditional Catholic Church (which isn’t even a parish!), the sound of children and babies crying or saying “WHY?” to their young parents very loudly brings me joy, and usually makes Father giggle during his homily – it is assuring that the Mass is truly alive and that the Faith is handed on.

    This is now where the recovery of proper Catholic education must step in, and discipline with prayer at home as a family could help young children realise that prayer time is not play time. It shouldn’t take the first occasion of seeing a parent reduced to tears to promote good behaviour.

    Always, please, remember to smile if a child catches your eye at Mass, it helps them remember that the Church is a loving place, full of wonderful kind people, no matter how awful the “real” world outside may be. For those of you with hang-ups about the occasions where children decide to be children (especially if they are asking questions about Mass)… Offer it up!!

    Intolerance is a sin.

  35. Mariana says:

    Pull your Beretta and say “there are no USHERS allowed in the Latin Mass!”

  36. Paul says:

    Me: Childless man with the patience of a rattlesnake.

    I would rather hear a church full of children wailing than one silent for lack of anyone under 70. I suppose if more parents aborted, it would be a quieter world.

  37. Supertradmum says:

    We have to admit that parents have lower expectations for their children’s behaviors than in the past. Why this is so, I am not sure, as most children are very capable of adapting to new and interesting situations and imitating adults. I do not find child behavior “bad”, but adult behavior lax. If an adult is focused and has brought the religious material for the child, as many have mentioned, child rosaries, books, etc., then the training is happening. Part of the huge problem is that parents do not bring their children to daily Mass. I think that children who go to daily Mass, as we did and as I did with mine, learn more quickly to act in a certain way. Of course, crying babies are never a problem, as that is just what babies do for at least three reasons and some unmentionables here. To me, we have a generation of parents who do not discipline at home and do not bring their children to Mass except once a week. In addition, children should be taken to concerts, plays, and other places where a certain modicum of behavior is expected instead of just the playground or sports variety of behavior. My parents took us to art galleries and museums, even when my brother was in a stroller! We learned to whisper and thought it was very cool.

    We went to funerals, weddings, and the above, learning different ways of acting in various surroundings. This is possible. Ironically, I have found the home schooling families the best behaved on the whole, because the children are used to being disciplined by the parents.

  38. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Father’s analysis is right on target, I think. I’d add that in some traditional Mass locations, the users can be more distracting than occasionally errant children…a friend I once took to a “Latin Mass” (sic) described the ushers as a “paramilitary force” whose principal mission seemed to be to get people to slide down in the pews to make room for new people, and to march around with large ribbons (in the liturgical color!) that said USHER.

  39. Gail F says:

    Creary wrote: “Before that his mother or I had to take him out of Mass every time he made a sound. We used the time as an opportunity to teach an invaluable, and infallible lesson — outside the church there is discomfort, pain, damnation, and Hell — ONLY INSIDE the Church is there peace and the opportunity for salvation. It hurt him when we had to take him outside. Thus in only 16 months, he learned to not make a peep at Mass. No toys, books, or food were involved.”

    Every parent has his or her own way of doing things. Your way is not the only way and, frankly, gives me the creeps. However, I assure you that most ways of actually attempting to teach a child to behave — versus letting a child run wild — would work in “only 16 months”!

  40. Christine says:

    Parents of young children have a hard time in the Church. The Church calls us all to be open to life, yet because we have all these children and sometimes they can be noisy many people at Mass would much rather we not be there. How’s that for irony? It’s very easy to feel disenfranchised when you have little ones. To the people who commented that they get frustrated by little ones acting up I have a question for you. Has it ever occurred to you to maybe help out with those little ones? Did it ever occur to you that maybe that Mom and Dad have not been able to sit through an entire Mass in years? Rather than sitting there getting irritated because “your Mass experience” is getting inturrupted, perhaps that is Jesus calling you to reach out and help the Mom and Dad who are struggling. Believe me, it may seem like parents don’t care that their kids are acting up (and I’m sure there are some), but I would never assume that. Most parents are trying to teach their kids to behave in Mass, but let me ask you this, if parents don’t take their kids to Mass how will they learn how to behave at Mass?

  41. New Sister says:

    If I may be permitted to comment, being only a spiritual mother…

    The usher shouldn’t distinguish “Latin” Mass from any other Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and should not have said anything to this mother, as though he were some kind of “official.” (and I have heard ushers so refer to themselves, after I had asked THEM to observe holy silence!) I find that terrible!

    I extend my gratitude and support to Catholic mothers and fathers. I am grateful for them and their children being present at Holy Mass. In the case of this mother who wrote to you, she should not permit her boy to bring toys to holy Mass — and certainly not a car, which mandates making noise when one plays with it. I think soft ragged bunnies or bears that children hold to keep calm are fine, but nothing that is actually played with at Mass. Snacks in any form should never enter a church.

    I have noticed a stark difference between the behavior of children in Europe and the USA — and I do mean stark. After spending 11 years overseas and observing families at holy Mass in many parts of the world (France, Eastern Europe, Asia), I am shocked by the amount of fidgeting and noise emitted by American children compared to European or Asian. Looking across a full N.O. parish in the US, it can appear as a sea of spasmodic motion and noise to the point one can scarcely hear or focus. This needs to be checked, but not, I think, in the manner of this usher! I think a start could be an explicit request in the bulletin that no snacks or drink be brought into the church.

  42. Peter G says:

    Like others,I cannot understand the need for ushers.
    It is time to cast them into the darkness where there is weeping and grinding of teeth.

  43. Bev says:

    I am glad the usher approached this person. It is extremely distracting (more distracting than a crying baby) when parents allow their children to play during Mass. Distracting for me, but more so, distracting for my children.

    I have five children. The oldest is seven. My wife is in the choir. If one of my children misbehaves I beat them. They learn real quick that they need to sit and be quiet. If parents pray the Rosary as a family and discipline children during Rosary, expecting them to be at best behavior, this doesn’t become a problem at Mass.

    Having to give your children toys is a sign that you either don’t pray the Rosary as a family together or that you allow your children to screw around during Rosary. We are blessed with examples of children as young as 4 of 5 choosing martyrdom. These were not children who screwed around during Mass or Rosary.

  44. Philangelus says:

    There’s a huge difference between a child rolling a Matchbox car around the pew and a child running around the church or screaming. If the usher is unable to tell the difference, perhaps he would be better suited for a different ministry.

    Alternatively, since the usher was so concerned about quiet and decorum, perhaps the usher should have gone outside the church with the mother and child after the child started screaming because the usher made him put away his toys.

    I’m curious, though: if the mom had turned to the usher and quietly said, “I refuse. You may go now,” what would the usher have done? Because at that point, the usher has the choice of allowing a small child to roll a small car, which probably wasn’t bothering anyone except the usher, or standing there and creating a disturbance. Frankly, I’d recommend this mom stand her ground. The usher has no ecclesiastical authority.

  45. Chuck says:

    Before I was blessed with my own little wiggle worm I would find myself aggravated less by the children but by parents who did nothing to try and control their child. Now that I have my own three year old daughter I am even more aggravated by those parents who do nothing to control their child. I have nothing but praise and prayers for those parents who do try to deal with the squirmy, noisy child. Those parents who do nothing to control their child are doing their children a disservice.

    For what it’s worth my wife and I did not go to the same mass for quite some time until we were ready to brave bringing our daughter to mass. While I am not able to participate in mass as much as I’d like to, she requires less and less guidance each mass.

  46. Jack007 says:

    Creary creeps you out?
    Obviously said in jest; unless your daddy was Dr. Spock.

    Pure and simple. People who are weak have always had trouble disciplining their children. In older days, these bratty kids grew up and entered the Justice system, or Society stepped in…like the Army, and they grew up in a hurry. Today…you fill in the blank.

    The idea that you should appease ill mannered children in church with talk, toys and food, is not just stupid, its EVIL. Quit kidding yourselves. You are in denial. You are NOT being good parents. You are doing your children, and society, a grave disservice. I am certain that many of you are well intentioned and think you are doing the right thing. God bless you, but you’re not.

    Contrary to the New Age sycophants here, applying some firm discipline with the back of the hand, or as they grow older, a good leather belt, will not warp your little terrorist into hating Mass or leaving the Church. Quite the opposite, it will instill the necessary FEAR in the developing child. Properly administered, this will lead into RESPECT! A child is less capable of understanding right from wrong than a Labrador. Only as they begin to achieve the age of REASON, can they be REASONED with. If you cave in to them they may never respect you. For those who disagree and say that say their kids “turned out okay”, consider yourselves LUCKY. It surely wasn’t because of anything YOU did. Please, don’t mentor other parents with your errors. Its a bad gamble that we will all have to pay for eventually.
    As an aside, after a certain age, usually early teens, the effectiveness of corporal punishment drops off to zero. It then begins to have a negative impact. These are the poster children the Left uses to “prove” that disciplining a child is “harmful”.

    As far as the usher in question, he was absolutely right…in what he SAID. He had ZERO business saying it. Obviously the priest is not doing his job, and is most probably weak himself. This weakness parlays into ushers who wield enough power to meddle with the faithful. Excepting special occasions, like weddings and funerals, ushers are NOT NEEDED! In my own parish we have zero ushers and zero problems like the letter writer described. A few trusted men to take up the Sunday collection and you’re done.

    Jack in KC ( a child of the 60′s and 70′s who, Deo gratias, was taught BETTER)

  47. Kent says:

    As a father of four grown children, we never let our children take anything to Mass with them; no food, no toys. We felt it was good discipline for the kids to understand that they were expected to be quiet and still for one hour during Mass. They were far from quiet and still most of the time but eventually came to understand what was expected during Mass.

  48. momoften says:

    I have been through 13 babies, toddlers, etc…in church. We took them every week. We never had a cry room. I NEVER brought toys (except a small teething ring perhaps that couldn’t make noise.) NO Food, unless an infant bottle was not allowed. They went to the bathroom before Mass, and NOT during, and they usually sat on someone’s lap until they were old enough to behave. We would also have definite children sitting in a certain order (as some were more inclined to socialize during Mass together) The Usher, out of line. The Mother, out of line. As a parent, it was often we would go in the back of the church with a restless/noisy baby or toddler…especially if we knew they couldn’t handle quiet during the homily or the consecration. (I think it is a great courtesy to others) If it seemed I wasn’t getting much out of Mass, I offered it up or went to Mass again by myself. It is extremely important to take the little ones as you really do train them better. We also sat in the front rows…they can see better, therefore act better. I have seen too many children in church with electronic games, food, books, or other distractions, or even running the length of the pew….that IS NOT the way to teach them that church is a reverent place- and it takes them longer to learn to behave (if they ever do) They grow up so fast, treasure them, teach them, and enjoy them as a gift of God.

  49. wmeyer says:

    Children will do as they will, until they are old enough to begin to appreciate what church is, and what the Mass is. Most parents do a good job of reining them in, and escorting them out, when all else fails. Would that in my parish, the choir were as quiet before Mass as the kids are expected to be, but the choir is usually the source of the most noise.

  50. Phil_NL says:

    If the usher is unable to tell the difference, perhaps he would be better suited for a different ministry.

    One involving a vow of perpetual silence?

  51. Supertradmum says:

    Hebrews 12:9-11 is the key here. Many fathers of the generation after my dad refused to discipline because they wanted to be friends with their children. The entire idea of parenting was repulsive to them and they refused to discipline and hence, we have one or two generations of undisciplined people. I saw the change when teaching college. How many students just couldn’t stay in a lecture hall for one hour, or 45 minutes because no one had ever expected them to sit and listen. Maria Montessori discovered by observation that peaceful three year olds have a natural attention span of 45 minutes. I saw this happening daily in the environment. It is the crazy lived of adults, who feel that they have to be everywhere and do everything, without quiet or discipline themselves, that created what we have now-the age of inattention. The only thing which quiets kids now is the tv or computer, which is beyond dangerous. For those with low expectations, I suggest reading Montessori and others like her who knew of what the normalized child was capable. Here is the list:There are four characteristics that are a signal that the process of normalization is happening:

    (1) Love of work

    (2) Concentration

    (3) Self-discipline

    (4) Sociability.

    All of these things are fully capable for a four year old and even some three year olds. But, how far we have come from both common sense and God-given abilities which parents used to foster and no longer even see as valuable.

  52. APX says:

    @Jack

    Be advised that corporal punishment used against children, especially using leather straps/belts is becoming highly controversial in the eyes if the laws and courts, especially in Canada. It might not warp your child, but it can land you a criminal record and losing your children if you end up using more force than the courts deem reasonable ( and they’re not as lenient as they used to be).

  53. Allan S. says:

    Third rail is right! As a Catholic father there was a thread here a while back about my son being shhhhd before an EF Mass. The sad fact is that these Masses often attract a minority of rude people who regard these Masses as some kind of closed “members only” function, and they engage in behaviors that make it very clear to Johnny-come-latelys that there are not welcome at their “Latin Mass”. In speaking to the FSSP Priest a few days later about my own incident, i could see the smoke coming out of his ears. Priests hate it when the laity appoint themselves as church police and go around admonishing people, ESPECIALLY new comers.

    Traditional EF communities need to honestly discuss this and discuss how they will make EF Masses welcoming experiences for families and new comers.

  54. MikeS says:

    We have 3 children under age 4 (though the 2 month old still sleeps through mass). It’s important for us to be together at Mass as a family, and of course there are benefits to the kids to just being there. Some have asked that kids sit near the back; however, it’s harder to get them to pay attention when they can’t see. You can see over my 3 year old. She can’t see over you. That said, there’s obviously a balance that is specific to each kid. When we’re up front, it’s a longer distance to the exit if they misbehave. Admittedly, with getting our little family out the door, we don’t usually get to Mass early enough for sitting up front to be an option.

    They are mostly pretty well behaved and I think it’s important for them that they don’t see us talking in church before or after mass. I find it pretty irritating when people complement us on their behavior while we’re still in the pew. I want to tell them that saying it then is unhelpful.

    We do our best to remove them when they are loud. If we somehow find ourselves not sitting on the end of a pew, it is sometimes less clear whether climbing over people to get out is less disruptive than the noise itself. I’ve also been told I shouldn’t have removed the 2 year old, but as her father, I knew she was about 10 seconds from starting a very loud fight with her older sister.

    We have a collection of paperback books on the mass and the saints that we pull out as necessary. We don’t do board books because they make a lot of noise when banged on the pew. The noise when it (repeatedly) hits the pew is a consideration for any toy that might be brought to mass.

  55. Shadow says:

    @Dorcas & Shoshana: Amen to that!

  56. Rich says:

    My wife and I are usually sensitive to the amount of noise our three-year-old and one-year-old boy make during Mass, and usually end up sitting on these little benches in the foyer of the little chapel where the EF Mass is said. Usually the church is packed a little after Mass starts, and people open the doors between the nave and the foyer so people can stand in the foyer and still be able to see and hear Mass. At that point we usually end up stepping outside when the noise level from our boys gets too high. We went to a different, OF church yesterday when I told my wife there was a good chance we would be standing outside in the very cold weather we’re having or having a hard time keeping the boys inside in case they make noise during Mass. And the boys behaved fine at the OF Mass. Go figure.

  57. Beau says:

    As the father of six (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 18), I know how hard it is to keep children quiet/still during Mass. My youngest 4 are still challenging during Mass, and I leave exhausted every Sunday from holding on to the two youngest. They are allowed to look at books we bring for them, and color – sometimes on the offering envelopes :). They are *not* allowed to get away with noise or wiggling. When they do get noisy, we take them out and make them sit still until they aren’t noisy any more.

    All that being said, I think I still would have had a very direct conversation with the usher after Mass. I’ve seen multiple responses above that refer to parents needing to train their kids better, etc., and I agree, but the usher in this case needed to be the grown up and show a little tact.

  58. Man oh Manischewitz! So many opinions, so little sense.

    Why is it that so many people have so little judgement. All children are not the same – within families even. I’m am happy for those whose children are angelic – as mine are at times. I feel for those whose children are hard to control – as mine are at times. But the key to knowing the difference is GOOD JUDGEMENT. In our pre-child life, my wife and I would occasionally blow out of mass simply because of the distraction caused by kids whose parents let them run about in the pews or in church – - while they prayed piously, ignoring the whole maelstrom. I remember distinctly one mother making a long and ostentatious genuflection before receiving communion while her 2 year old went past the priest and ran around the altar – an action of which she appeared to be totally ignorant.

    Children sometimes make noise – period. Sometimes they squirm, too. That’s life, that’s beautiful, that’s the way God made it. The important thing is to try to keep them quiet – and take them out if need be. A small quiet toy – like my daughters 4″ tall yellow bunny – can be a help at times. That’s reasonable. Noisy, hard toys are probably not. And food is right out!

    Our youngest daughter has some days where she is difficult to control to say the least – we call it “Beavis mode”. On those days, we do mass in shifts. It’s all just GOOD JUDGEMENT!

  59. PeonyMoss says:

    Stories about how good so-and-so’s kids are etc. (or in Creary’s case, how good his kids are) fail to recognise the basic fact that all people are born with different temperements which require different degrees of effort, time and experimentation to put on the right path….

    The TLM is not a country club, and children are not robots.

    THANK YOU.

  60. jenne says:

    I don’t usually comment but love to be educated here – my 2

    Allan S. says “Traditional EF communities need to honestly discuss this and discuss how they will make EF Masses welcoming experiences for families and new comers.” YEP

    And saying homeschooled families are the best behaved at Mass doesn’t equal a great outcome later. No one knows the work of the Lord. I met a lady many years ago that resents completely her upbringing in the Catholic homeschooled home. No easy answer. But for sure we can all recognize that in our very midst we need to pay close attention to what the Lord wills for us and who he places before us. Not just what we think ought to be.

    In what I would recommend, nothing new that hasn’t been said. I think this particular mom can agree that a car is noisy. Soft toys only if you have to. We couldn’t bring books because our kids (4) wanted to be read to and constantly would ask me to tell them the story (in whisper but they couldn’t help talking.)
    I think that although Creary sounds harsh in the way he explained his method but it is one that clearly works. Get them to get what is expected when they are small. They can understand. But do it in a way that shows love for the Mass. Don’t let yourself be rattled. If you are rattled then figure out what you are over expecting of yourself that God isn’t. Maybe you do need to go to Mass separately!
    Once I had to go the extreme and take my kids out of Mass and leave altogether because they refused to calm down. I was without my husband for a year and this was during that time. I took them to the nearest Mass to start over, we couldn’t get a seat at all or even stand in the sanctuary so we went back to our parish and waited for the next mass to start and they got the picture.
    Mass was very important that we will not miss it for misbehavior. Even if goaded by the adults behind us in the pew. Yep that WAS our parish, the adults played more than the kids.
    Now we are in small parish in a big city. The adults are well behaved :) I attend the NO form but would prefer NO in chant with lots of incense and silence with a sung Liturgy of the Mass. EF in Latin for me would break my family. I would go by myself but I haven’t figured out where yet. I would not take my kids until they are older. Like Confirmation age! Simply for the fact of how I was brought up and my husband too. The kids reflect that. But Brick by Brick, in the home as well as in the Liturgy.

  61. contrarian says:

    Thanks emeyer for the sane response. I gotta say, I’m a bit amazed by some of the responses here.

    It’s not a contest, people. I’m sure everyone here is a great parent.

    My oldest kid is two. He acts like a two year old. He reads his Seseme Street books and pages through the hymnal and colors and talks and scurries around in the pew. You know…like a two year old. Like most every other parent in the world, we take him out if/when he gets at all disruptive. Which is not very often. But it is sometimes. You know, two and all.

    Yes, there exists the rare parent who has a weird scale regarding what is considered disruptive. But I’m quite positive it is not the writer of this tale.

    We don’t have toys, though if they aren’t loud, who cares if you do. Hoo boy, would I love to have this usher come over and say something to me. I would *love* that.
    Of course, I’m six foot five. Somehow I don’t think he would come over, given my size and gender. And somehow I think that this is a relevant part of this tale. Little coward usher yelling at a poor mother struggling with a child *during* the Mass. What a psycho. Social skills, much?

    I promise not to generalize. I’m going to assume that most Latin Mass goers are better socially adjusted than this.

  62. jmvm says:

    I know that this strategy will not work with everyone, but this is what my wife and I choose to do. We have a four year old, a three year old, and a two year old. The fourth is due at the beginning of December. We do not bring toys or books and are very clear with the expectation that there is no tolerance for misbehavior or noise during Holy Mass. I am concerned that toys or books leads to the sense that Holy Mass is play time, and hence, a greater likelihood for acting as if it is play time. We sit in the front row so that the kids can see what is happening and so that no one in front is present to tempt them to become noisy (seeing other kids eating or playing.) Also, we try to sit at the edge of the pews, so that I can make a rapid retreat outside with a misbehaving child. We avoid the cry room since I think it leads to the thought that Holy Mass is play time. Not to pat myself on the back too much, but I think (perhaps like most parents) that our kids behave fairly well. I have to take them outside about one in ten masses ), but that is tolerable, all things considering.

  63. Supertradmum says:

    As to the above comment about children in Europe, there is a difference, but depending on which country. One of the understandings in some countries is that the children sit up front so they can see what is going on at Mass and take more of an interest. In a parish in England, this works well, as the children of many ages can feel more engaged. Unless a mom is nursing, which I did, or unless a child has to be taken to the back, sitting where they can see is a good thing.

    I do not believe in crying rooms, as the children never learn to act like the adult. There seems to be a misunderstanding that children need to act differently, instead of imitating the behavior which they see others doing. That is part of learning. The child is in the process of becoming an adult, slowly but surely. As to not taking children to the TLM, remember that was the only Mass for centuries and children managed to behave and learn to follow the Mass just fine. There is not an evolutionary difference in children who went regularly to the TLM and children today, only discipline issues or lower expectations. Again, our family always sat in the third row on the left and many families of eight or nine children attended the TLM in the 1950s, with no running around, or talking above a whisper. I think the lack of the sacred led to this breakdown, as well as lower expectations. The same may be said for children in department stores. I actually will not go shopping at Christmas in stores anymore because of rude and undisciplined children. The problem is not just Mass, but a larger breakdown in society of rudeness and bad behavior in the name of “freedom” or “childhood”. It is not a problem of children, but a problem of parenting.

  64. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    @Creary
    ” It will only sound that way because your conscience is telling you what I am telling you. That is, that you are failing your children.”

    Ah, but what happens to the mother with 6 children under 8, as happened more than once at my church?
    Of course, you are the parent and have aboslute say over everything your children do. In fact, I am very happy to hear how well behaved they are! That is great! But my family allowed us to have toys and eat food until we were about two, and we have turned out all right, so far.
    Some friends asked a great priest about separating for Mass one time, with the parents each going to different Masses and the other staying home with the kids. He told them that the children NEED to go to Mass.
    At my church, the average family has six children (recently up from five). It is impossible for both parents to be everywhere at once! Training should begin early, but it should at least be reasonable.
    IMHO, the parents should control their kids- NOT the ushers. If the kids- under three or four- are quiet with toys, then I don’t see danger of apostasy in the future. Once they hit five and they still play with toys, well…give them a children’s missal.

  65. Supertradmum says:

    bookworm,

    Just a reminder that babies in the Byzantine Rite receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion and Confirmation with Baptism and all the babies receive. I do not understand, even in the Latin Rite, waiting until a child gets older. We went to funerals when very young, including my sister’s, who died when I was seven and my only brother at that time was six. We understood what was going on. But, understanding is not really necessary, as you know. Just experiencing the Mass is a great joy, even for a child. I think that many vocations come out of families where the children were taken to Mass every Sunday and during the week as well.

  66. TMKent says:

    The responces here are so extreme and they remind me of two incidents with our sons:

    When are son’s were under ten but very used to attending mass we visited a church in a older community while on vacation. We came early to mass and walked in with out well-dressed well-churched sons, heading up the main isle toward the front of the church. Our youngest was about 4 at the time and the usher ran us down to tell us we MUST sit in the cry room with ANY young child. The cry room took up a huge portion of the pews that had been glassed in – it was a Zoo! To this day i wish I had had the courage to tell him “NO’ and stand my ground! Our son’s – now 23 and 19 still remember It was my cedision to determine if my child was capable of attending in the sanctuary!

    The other incident was when our youngest was still a babe in arms. We were attending my parents church – a beautiful huge gothic structure in rural PA with 1/3 of the pews filled and few members under 50. About the time of the homily it became obvious that our son had soiled his diaper. As I got up to make a descrete exit to out van in the parkiung lot (no bathrooms in this church – as children we had to hold it till we got home) our son began to cry. The priest stopped his homily and demanded that I stay and let him cry as he loved hearing a child’s voice in the church. I could no onger make a quiet exit as he insisted I ended up having to shout at him across the cavernous church that I had to change my son’s diaper.

    Its always best to leave the decision to the parent – the outsiders rarely have a clue of what the actual circumstances are.

  67. JohnB says:

    I think there are several issues here. One I don’t know if I’ve seen at all in the thread has to do with the Golden Rule: disorderly children do in fact disturb those who are in church for prayer and reflection. Perhaps those parents who for whatever reason feel everyone else should tolerate the disruption should reconsider how they’re keeping their kids in line and try something different. I think this also goes to the idea, common at airports and other public spaces, that every public space is actually a nursery. There used to be an idea called decorum, and I think that’s related to the Golden Rule as well.

  68. dominic1955 says:

    I understand that all kids are different, etc. I just remember when I was little there were absolutely no toys or food in church and if you were going to start acting crazy, you’d get a whooping for it. We all sat quitely in church because that was what we were expected to do. There were just certain places the folks expected us to behave especially well at and they raised us to do that. Sometimes it seems that other people just don’t do this anymore. While I certainly have no problem with kids at Mass and think they should be there, I admittedly expect quite a bit more out of my fellow TLM parishoners and get pretty disappointed when do the same things one commonly sees with the average Mass goer.

    That said, its not even the kids that really bother me because they are kids. What really gets to me is when even the folks don’t know simple things like which is the right knee to genuflect on or that the vestibule is not a “gathering space” to chat in. Oh well, its a chance to grow in patience.

  69. Mary Jane says:

    I think Fr. Z got it right with just this one word of his: “Ushers.”

  70. Eric says:

    Corporal punishment always worked well for my family.

    Of course father nipped that in the bud. He pulled me over after mass one Sunday and told me to stop spanking the ushers.

  71. irishgirl says:

    I’ve never been married, so no kids, but….what Dorcas and Shoshana said!
    In the TLM chapel I go to, when the little kids [who sit in the back pew] act up, either the father or the mother takes them out in the vestibule and will give them a few whacks on the behind. But they do it in the tiny vestibule, behind the inside doors. Nowadays the kids are behaving better while at Mass; it’s when they go outside that they run around and climb up and down the stairs! There’s another child on the way in this particular family, so we’ll see what happens when this one comes!
    I always sit in the front pew, and I never turn around at all…when I hear the little ones ‘acting up’, I try to block it out and concentrate on what’s going on at Mass. Luckily the parents have the common sense and courtesy to sit in the back and take the kids out when they get noisy.

  72. Elizabeth D says:

    It bothers me if parents are not making appropriate efforts to have their kids behave, and it does bother me when the kids are being given food (one Asian mom scooped rice from a container onto the pew for her child, then when the child was misbehaving and she decided to leave she swept the rice from the pew onto the floor with her hand) and I think most toys are a poor idea, it’s great when the kids are learning to pay attention in the way that they’re able, to the Mass. But it doesn’t irritate me when kids are just being kids even when they’re active or make some noise. There are times to take the child to the back or outside. Mostly I’m glad to see the kids.

  73. Banjo pickin girl says:

    So glad that jack thinks I am a new ager. Great namecalling, Jack.

    We all know people who have responded very negatively to excessive corporal punishment when young. Hence the change in the way the law regards it. It has nothing to do with loose morals or anything else, but a recognition that children are NOT robots and respond differently.

    I know dozens of ex-Catholics who left the Church because of the rigidity of the cultural conditioning carried out with the back of the hand or a razor strop.

    In many ways we have progressed positively.

  74. Supertradmum says:

    As a teacher and as a mom, I am not against corporal punishment. I am convinced the corner chair, or time out bench has ruined at least one generation, if not two, of children who have no barriers, boundaries, or sense of discipline. A parent is limited in resources to correct and change. If people have been abused, that is one question, but a certain, limited and just response which is physical does much less harm that no “consequences” whatever. As to having “progressed positively”, I see the opposite and such discussions prove the point that more discipline of some sort is needed.

  75. Hidden One says:

    If I or anyone very close to me is ever reprimanded at a Mass in the Extraordinary Form or a Latin Novus Ordo by a layperson for something for which the offender ought not be reprimanded, there’s a pretty good chance that I shall reply curtly in ecclesiastical Latin.

    Tace et abi!

  76. Patti Day says:

    OK Father Z, you knew what you were getting into. I stopped reading after about 4 of 70 responses. Who cares what my opinion is, but I’m giving it anyway. No one will read it way down here:

    Parents, Jesus loves the little children. If your child is visibly affecting other worshipers around you, be considerate. If necessary, take your child out for a few minutes until they have quieted down.

    Those without children, Jesus loves the little children. Close your eyes and offer it up.

  77. Bob says:

    First of all; Ushers! We have collection takers and bulletin hander-outers but I’ve not seen anyone actually usher at our EF parish, at the OF parish they are pests quite often.

    I sometimes get annoyed by noisy kids during Mass; there is an expected amount of noise from kinds and then there is the shrill, see if we can get the paint to blister noise. The latter is especially annoying because my hearing aids really love that frequency and it’s often accompanied by the rattle of keys and other devices given as toys, nothing like the sound of a key ring on an Oak pew.

    Most parents are courteous and take the real unruly kids out but there is a difference in what noise level is tolerable to parents versus those not used to kids so they may not leave as soon as some of us would like. I’d still rather have them there than at home with a sitter, although a nursery/play room at the church might be a worthwhile compromise.

  78. sirlouis says:

    My wife and I are ushers about once a month in our relatively small parish. Our idea of our work is that we are there to aid the priest (make sure the oblations and the collection get up to the sanctuary in time) and the people (making sure they get a bulletin when they enter, as it contains the responsorial chant and the hymn list; helping the newly pregnant mother who suddenly feels faint; putting folding chairs in the side aisles when there is a real crush at Mass; inter alia). And one of the ways of helping people is to help them with the kids. It would have been much better, and more effective, if the usher had volunteered to take the child in hand. That’s helping; reading the riot act over a toy is not.

  79. Supertradmum says:

    Banjo pickin girl,

    There is a false dichotomy in your argument. Love and discipline go together. If a parent does not love a child, that parent will not discipline the child at all, or, will abuse the child. However, a certain amount of strictness has been proven, even by modern “psychologists” to do less harm than a completely liberal, hands off approach to child rearing. People rarely leave the Church because of traditional modes of punishment. More likely, these people have other issues of morality or doctrine and use the childhood experience as an excuse. The problems we see are the result of too liberal child raising, like the parents who merely “talk” to the child about a problem, which is so lame and rarely works. To be a parent means accepting that one is responsible for a soul going to heaven and for a rightly formed conscience. Corporal punishment is not always wrong per se. I think that is one of the main differences in child behavior now and in the not so distance past, as these discussions show. And, how do we learn to fear God in a healthy way, to fear the loss of His Love forever, at least when immature, without a certain amount of fear of punishment, until Love takes over? Hell is a scary thing, and so is Purgatory. It does not hurt a child to grow up with a certain amount of “fear” of being caught in sin or direct consequence of an action. Mere disapproval from the parent only touches the hearts of the most meek and mild child, not necessarily the rebellious or stubborn one.

  80. Christine says:

    Dominic1955–Why the distinction between TLM parishoners and those from other parishes?

  81. apagano says:

    How many of these kids that just “can’t” sit still/be quiet for Mass, go into TV comas for hours???

  82. lucy says:

    There’s really no one pat answer here. We have five children, now ages 6, 8, 10, 12, 14. When they were smaller, we often let them stay with grandma a couple times a month because we weren’t able to pay attention and folks’ glances were burning into my head. We each have to figure out what works best for each child. For my now six year old son, he’s allowed to bring small toys to play with until Mass starts. Once that bell rings, it all goes into my purse and he’s all attention. This took a lot of time to get to this point. He used to play with quiet toys during Mass. Now I expect more. His two brothers, 8 and 10, are already on the altar serving, so he enjoys watching them as well. Over the years, we’ve mostly had great comments about our children, but I always feel like the least peep is turning heads, even if it’s not. My own standard is higher than most. It just takes time to teach them. Most folks at our EF Mass love to see children at Mass, but they do expect the parent to be on top of things and if the child gets too loud, to please take them out. No matter where you attend Mass, there will always be someone who cannot tolerate children and there will always be that one parent who doesn’t react to their child’s noise. It’s just a part of life. I think we should all strive to be charitable and pray the Mass and try not to look at others at all.

    The upside is that the traditional Mass teaches them to sit still for a longer time at any occasion where it’s required. I took my three boys, 6, 8, 10 to their dr appt this summer. There was another mother with 3 older children across from me. My boys sat quietly looking at books while hers were obnoxious with each other and mom sat there on her iPhone. I was proud of my boys in that moment. I’ve taught them that there are times we must observe proper decorum. It gets easier with age and constant teaching.

  83. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    @apagano,
    I woudn’t say Mass is “fun” for a two year old, while TV is geared to keep the attention of small children non-stop. “Suffer the little children to come unto Me”. It seems He wants them their no matter what, even if we have to suffer for it- isn’t that what He said?
    @lucy,
    That is probably the best summary so far- there is always that one parent that the usher uses to get back at all of them.

  84. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    Whoops, “there”, not “their”.

  85. Jenny says:

    I’m a little late to the party here. I have three children–6, nearly 4, and 16m. Our practice is no toys and no food. They cause more trouble than they prevent. We have a Mass book. We do not do bathroom breaks unless there is a danger of an accident. If we do have to use the restroom during Mass, the offending child is forced to use the bathroom directly prior to Mass for the next several weeks which is not popular but eliminates the thought the child might have of getting a brief Mass vacation. We try to sit close to the front so the children can see what is going on. It is amazing the difference that having sanctus bells does for drawing a child’s attention.

    We do not do the cry room if at all possible. It is a zoo. We do not like sitting in the back because it is also a zoo. The families in the back with the cheerios and the toys and the crayons and the books and the multiple trips to the potty are one giant distraction for me and my children. Honestly one of our biggest problems with behavior is the adults who want to entertain our children. The surrounding adults talk to them and play games with them. My children are generally quiet and generally still during Mass but not perfectly so.

    The roughest age for us so far is between 1 and 2 which we are experiencing yet again. My son likes to say very loudly and happily “MAMA” every time he looks at me. He also likes to sing along”BABA BABA BABA” with the music but doesn’t necessarily stop when the music does. When it becomes clear that he is going to be chatty, one of us takes him to the back or to the narthex. I suppose we could beat it out of him, but that seems pointless since he doesn’t understand contextual behavior anyway. We will continue to remove him when he does not settle down and magically at about age 2, I expect that he will begin to behave appropriately and have discipline enforced. Funny thing that child development.

  86. Supertradmum says:

    Jenny,

    Great entry and God bless you and your efforts.

  87. MarylandBill says:

    Just a few thoughts as I ponder some of the… remarkable responses Father Z’s post has generated. First of all Kudo’s to Father Z. While, I am not as down on ushers as some here (having spent 20 years as one before I had a child), I do recognize that some ushers overstep their jobs.

    Now as to some of the responses. I wonder how many people’s memory of mass in the Pre-Vatican II days is edited by their own wishful thinking. Not saying it is deliberate, but we all do it. I never remember being bad in church when I was a kid, but I seriously doubt that I was never bad. I also know that discipline may take time to work. My younger brother got punished after mass every time he was bad in church; he got punished a lot by the time he was 6 :).

    I have a two year old and a two week old. No experience yet on the two week old in Church, but here is what I can tell you is absolutely true about the two year old. Parts of the mass can hold his attention, but most masses, he is going to want to start wandering. We discipline him at home and most public places, but I seriously doubt that my fellow parishioners would appreciate his extended, and very loud tantrums if I tried to discipline him in church. Therefore, my wife and I do our best to try to keep him herded to the back of the church when he wants to wander. We have tried taking him outside; but then he wants to stay outside and play and gets upset when we bring him back into church.

    As for the people who suggest I hit or beat my child to discipline him — I will as soon as you let me hit you first. Time outs, and other forms of discipline can work just as well (maybe even better), as long as they are applied consistently. I want my children to respect my authority, not fear me.

  88. It sounds like making soft fabric “books” or foam Rosary strings for kids would be a good craft for parish guilds, or for younger kid crafts.

    Of course, once your kids know how to read, they can follow along in the Magnifikids or Missalette, which helps a lot. (Admittedly, I spent a lot of time learning the saint calendar during homilies as a kid.)

  89. fxkelli says:

    As an aside, I’m very impressed with father Z’s willingness to tread where angels fear. I don’t know where the lines should be drawn, but some people have pretty strong opinions (read: go off like a low yield nuclear weapons). This topic causes more animosity than the worst liturgical controversy.

    It’s a tough call in some cases. Then again, most congregations seem to figure it out (minus the few occasional outliers who were either raised by sadistic drill sergeants or are raising their children on a egalitarian commune).

  90. marytoo says:

    Lucy’s reply makes good sense.

    Our EF Mass is loaded with children and most parents are very considerate. I will be deep in prayer and then suddenly realize there is this sweet din of baby sounds all around the church that I hadn’t noticed, and then I smile to myself because it’s so sweet. But in our parish noisy babies also get taken out promptly, and that makes me smile, too.

    There is a balance that can be struck – every little coo shouldn’t be met with glares, but neither should parents insist on trying on-the-spot-training on children who can’t handle Mass yet, to the detriment of others. It’s not an age thing with kids, it’s a readiness thing. Hard as it is, parents have to make sacrifices in these situations just like they would anywhere else, i.e. leaving Mass with the child, or going separately etc. It’s a time in life that won’t last forever, although it may seem that way.

    We should all go easy on the elderly, who seem to be most often accused of being judgemental in these situations. Keep in mind that having young children is a very sweet time of life, with lots of little hugs and kisses and consolations. Old age is often a time of loneliness and fear and aches and pains. Mass is a haven for these folks, who treasure their time at Mass in ways that we with children still at home cannot imagine, and whose patience has worn thin. Many of them go home to empty houses.

    We have to keep our priests in mind, too. The only priests that have been mentioned are the ones who love noisy babies, but many do not, especially during sermons.

  91. Peggy R says:

    Our (adopted) children have neurological and emotional damage from what happened to them in infancy. We’re finally to the younger one approaching his first communion year. Before kids, I was this very “together person,” devout worshipper at mass. Then I became a wreck with noisy fidgety toddlers. We did split up going to masses, leaving the younger one at home in particular. We used a parent babysitting group at our old parish after the younger one outgrew sleeping during mass. I generally agree that the cry room only encourages play, but it allowed me to remain in mass with our more difficult younger one many a time. And I could show the little one what was going on w/o disturbing others. If we walked outside, he’d want to stay outside. I confess we used to do lots of things disapproved of here. I don’t endorse them. Cars are a very bad idea. They make noise when run across a pew.

    We bring only books for following the mass and about saints, etc. The Fr. Lovasik paperbacks are great. A couple gave them to us at the children’s baptism. The images are very traditional, too. I’ve bought more since. I often take the kids to HDO masses with the parish school children. The kids don’t behave perfectly yet at mass, but they’re a lot better, and we do have a (too?) patient parish in a growing small town, with lots of young families. And yet, when we’re at a Cardinal game with our local little league, ours were the only kids their age not standing in the stairs, swinging from the rail in the nosebleed section. And they are perfect gentlemen at a nice restaurant with their grandparents. Set the right standard, and they’ll meet it. But not all children all the time. Perhaps the many very easily distracted and chatty adults at mass don’t help.

  92. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Bring the kids at all ages, from conception forward.

    Bring non-bangy things.

    Don’t bring food. You’ll clean it up? Sorry I don’t believe you. OK, I believe you, but I also believe in the cheerio fairies who get to your cheerios, you dutifully picked up, and throw them on the pew after you leave. Amazing but true.

    It’s up to parents to decide when to take the kids out, I don’t envy that decision.

    Sitting up front seems to work for a lot of families as the kids can see. But if you have no good escape, that’s tricky.

    I don’t have a cry room. Well, I actually do–two of them, they are called confessionals. I’ve suggested to parents they could always duck in there. They can sit, out of sight, warm, and if the walls are carpeted, which I bet the kids would find fascinating. I don’t know if anyone has tried it.

  93. A.Wayne says:

    I have nieces and nephews who have stoped attending mass with their spouces and children because the have felt that their young children were not welcomed thanks to sneers from their fellow parishners and over zealous ushers. I have no children of my own, but I have 13 siblings 67 nieces and nephews and 43 great nieces and nephews. Many of them have gotten out of the habit of attending Mass on Sunday (or have even attended more “family friendly” evangelical churches)as they failed to go when their children were babies and toddlers.
    Now I might be foolish but when my church prepares babies and their families for baptism they are held up on the alter and introduced to the congregation a week or two prior to their baptism. I thought we welcomed them into our community. I think of them as ‘my/our” children in Christ. I enjoy seeing them in the pews with their families on Sunday. I enjoy watching them grow week by week, month by month, year by year. Sure they can be disruptive at times (What family member isn’t? Families are like that.), but nothing on earth brings me closer in heart to Jesus Christ than having the eyes of a small baby on his/her mother’s shoulder in the pew in front of me locking those eyes on me and then smiling…it is like Christ Himself has acknowledged my presents before Him. Whithout these children the Catholic Church has no future. I think ushers should default to Jesus Christ on this issue…It is His church afterall. We are no more welcomed and no more invited than the small children. I think He may even favor them.

  94. Whew! It feels so good when the screeching kid is taken out. I attend the EF in our parish, and observe at least five multiple-child families trying to do what they think is the right thing. I think “bookworm ” above has the best solution. Don’t bring ‘em until they’re older. Bearing in mind that an EF Mass can take two to three hours, we are not talking about the same time span as an OF. The EF is a marathon. To get through a marathon, you have to pace yourself. You have to pace your kids. Many parents of little ones, regardless of the parents’ ages, are afflicted with the modern disease of TV-itis. That is, wherever they go, they think they are in their own living room in front of the TV. “No one sees us.” The Mass is just another show. It must be seen, watched. At home, there’s free movement, chatter, food, toys. All the stuff that makes TV fun. But really, these parents have to understand THEMSELVES that the Holy Mass is not an entertainment. If you missed something, you just can’t replay it on your DVR. Can parishes help here by mic-ing the homily to another space if there is no budget for a cry room? A little advice from a childless single person of a ‘certain age’: Break it up into do-able pieces. Keep the all the kids in the pew during the introductory rites and Scripture reading. Parent A takes the kids out during the homily. Make sure they get some exercise and work off the fidgets. The other parent can listen attentively to the homily and report back to the other parent later. (Remember, this too shall pass. And one day you’ll be parishioners ‘of a certain age’–if you’re lucky. Statistically, it is also very likely that you’ll be single. Get over it.) Bring the kids back for the Sanctus and communion. Parent B takes them outside again for the concluding rites. If they are ‘mezmerized’ (let’s hope), they all can stay for the concluding rites. Slowly, as their tolerance for the EF builds, the kids may be able to get through the whole thing. But you’ve got to tell them the truth. This is a big deal. It’s hard. And, (common sense rules) “if you do a good job, there’ll be ice cream afterward”. More unsolicited advice from the unqualified: Only soft toys. Nothing that rattles or dings. Don’t let your kids use the pew as a jungle gym. Church is just not their playground. Just recently I used “the stare” on the parents of a half-Racoon child who was rattling a toy over and under several pews during the EF Mass for the Dead. Our choir sings a knock-out Dies Irae, and it is came with a percussion part. The parents never batted an eyelash. Now, some final unwanted words: All of these noisy-kid-rearing parents are suffering from a problem unique to our time which the rest of us (vile, single, old and staring as we are) can help them with. There are fewer extended families upon which couples can depend for help. Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, who could take the kids on a Sunday, are fewer in number for most families. The support network does not exist. Would it be too unreasonable to suggest another un-ministerial position, like usher, such as Kid Assistant? Cannot parishes vet a team of people who can watch, entertain, distract, and otherwise remove the teeming millions? We could let them wear a big ribbon. Just an idea.

  95. antmcos says:

    I’ve only read about half the comments, but cannot stomach anymore. I have 3 children, who all look physically normal, however, all have sensory processing disorder, and one has been formally diagnosed as ADHD. The other 2 are not old enough to be diagnosed yet, but they have all of the same behavioral features as their oldest sibling. Before I had children, I thought I would have such well behaved kids, as I am a no nonsense strict diciplinarian. It will be as I say, or else! Well, how’s this for a stike against my pride? No amount of consistent around the clock dicipline, punishment of various types, rewards, etc, consistency, etc, would get my kids to sit still in Mass or elsewhere, or for the little ones to be quiet. The only time they sit still and are quiet is when they have a fever. They can generally sit, but squirm in Mass without making noise, after the age of about 5. The older one still suffers from distraction. I have to redirect her attention, constantly, and she is devout.
    I get dirty looks fron a lot of people out there who think their outward manifestions of behavior are because of me. I wish they were, because I would give anything to change it, and if it were because of me I could do something about it. I can’t though, because this is who they are and how God made them. So they get various treatments and I do the best for them I can, and I dicipline constantly, except I’m never going to get the picture perfect kids Father described above, unless I medicate them into zombies. I am thankful for the confession roon with the glass window because at least I can contain the 2 yo when I need to bring him to Mass, and so I can go to Daily Mass when I can get there. And my priests are wonderful! And when he’s disruptive, we go outside.

    As for those parents whose kids behave so well, I applaud your dicipline efforts, but it has more to do with the neurological makeup of your child than you. And maybe, when you see our less than perfectly behaved children, maybe, you might pause to think, there’s more than meets the eye and that we’re doing all we can.

  96. antmcos says:

    I just want to add, I am very conscious of the noise my kids may make and i do all I can to mininimize it, including splitting Mass times with my husband, use of the confession/cry room/ and taking them outside. However, if it’s just the older two, with ants in their pants, we sit in a pew, upfront, with less distractions.

  97. Supertradmum says:

    antmcos,
    We have TLM friends with four adopted children with severe neurological problems, as they came from a horrible institution in Eastern Europe. No one judges either the parents or the children for unusual or specific behavior. The same is true for an autistic child who comes to Mass and cries out-loud at various times. No one minds. I do not think that your case is what is under discussion. In most parishes, we are familiar with the various physical and other difficulties in families. I think the discussion was on normal behavioral patterns and what should or should not be expected. Be rest assured that no one should judge any child’s particular behavior, and that those parents who can train their children to act a certain way in Mass, should. Obviously, your situation is different.

  98. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    Supertradmum,
    I do want to point out that many children would be diagnosed with ADD and ADHD…only they have never been tested for it. I know a lady who was recently diagnosed with ADD… but even the doctor was surprised to see that!

  99. robtbrown says:

    Although I think kids should behave, 4 years old seems bit early to start preparing a kid for the Marine Corps. There have been times I’ve been kneeling and playing cars with the kid in the pew in front.

    My attitude towards kids in Church is that as long as they’re not screaming, it’s OK with me

  100. The Egyptian says:

    Of course father nipped that in the bud. He pulled me over after mass one Sunday and told me to stop spanking the ushers.

    Love it, he’d gotten a talking to about custody of the eyes from me

    read this in a post elsewhere , Mom walking out with disruptive boy who loudly cried out “please Mommy don’t spank my butt”, Mom was heard muttering ” I wasn’t, till now”

  101. robtbrown says:

    Fortiter Pugnem says:

    Supertradmum,
    I do want to point out that many children would be diagnosed with ADD and ADHD…only they have never been tested for it. I know a lady who was recently diagnosed with ADD… but even the doctor was surprised to see that!

    IMHO, both ADD and ADHD are overdiagnosed.

  102. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    Robtbrown,
    My point exactly! But then, there are some adults that have it…bad. I am not speaking about antmcos either; each case is different. Still…

  103. dominic1955 says:

    Christine,

    Simply because it would be a very rare situation in which someone just rolls into the TLM parish because it is the closest. Most read their way in or find it in some other way that takes a bit more effort. Thus, I expect more from them. That has proven, admittedly, frustrating at times. That is not to say that NO folks all just do things out of habit etc., but its more the “norm” and thus I expect to see more of the regular minimally churched masses that wouldn’t know how to genuflect or make the sign of the cross properly etc.

  104. Peggy R says:

    Supertradmum,

    Our children are also Eastern European adoptees. What those children suffer is great. I have made it my life’s work to understand them and meet their needs and help them progress in life. It is a challenge. There is getting to be a good body of literature out there to help parents, professionals and teachers understand some of what these kids have been through. God bless your friend.

    I generally am not an ADD advocate. I’ve had to drill to the school that these kids are neurologically and emotionally damaged, by FAS, starvation, lack of stimulation. We’ve made much progress. These EE kids often get pegged as ADD when so much more is going on.

  105. MominTexas says:

    /hugs

    I have two kids, polar opposites- one has always been able to sit through mass, the other can’t sit for more than 5min, much less keep quiet. She’s a VERY BUSY child, and she’ll eventually grow out of it, but I have not been able to attend the whole mass for 2 years now.

    What helps for us is to have “mass only” toys (the kids ONLY get them at mass). For us, an aquadoodle does the trick. I’m not a fan of bringing lots of things- a coloring book and a snack, for example, instead of 3-7 different things.

    Sometimes they just don’t cooperate. Shrug it off!

  106. Supertradmum says:

    Peggy R,

    If you want to send me your e-mail, I have a friend who is an expert in this area. Up to you, but I understand the difficulties. polycarp6@gmail.com

    robtbrown,

    As a teacher, I had seen ADD and AHD way over-diagnosed, as a default for other problems, and sometimes not physical at all. Too many kids on drugs for no or the wrong reasons….

  107. Just to stir the pot here…

    It’s worthy of note that even on a worse than average day, my three children are quieter than a significant portion of the septuagenarians who constitute a large proportion of the congregation. And I can excuse a three year old’s question to his/her parent much easier than a 70-year old’s bellowed inquiry across the church as to whether her friend is “going to Betty’s for coffee later”….

  108. Shoshana says:

    About selective memories of pre-Vatican II childhood Mass behavior: I distinctly remember misbehaving during Mass. But it was never on Sunday when my father was there. It was during daily Mass before school, when the first grade sat in the back and the eighth graders in front. I used to laugh and talk with my friend Betsy. I loved singing the English hymns, but couldn’t yet read the English translation of the rest of the Mass to keep me focussed, and couldn’t see anything going on at the altar. One day Sister told us that if she caught us talking during Mass once more, we’d have to stand in the aisle during Mass. That cured us pronto.

    Marytoo–great post!

  109. Nathan says:

    I’m intrigued by differentiation between expectations for young children in the EF (pardon, LATIN MASS!!!!) and the OF. I’ve been to a number of both forms over the years, many of them with young children. The only actual toy prohibition unique to the TLM is, as far as I know, aginst the young ones playing with giant puppets.

    In Christ,

  110. Supertradmum says:

    Oh my goodness, yes to carolinapublican, and how can I tell men and women my parents’ ages to “be quiet”? It is a huge problem in England and in the Midwest, where the culture of the NO has created this “gathering space” mentality into the Church proper. Thankfully, in Walsingham this past summer, all three priests who are Marists started mentioning this to the old pilgrims-people in their seventies and eighties. What was rather Monty Pythonesque were old dears talking so loud and asking, “What is Father saying?”

  111. Christine says:

    dominic1955–Thanks for the clarification. I understand where you’re coming from now.

  112. SonofMonica says:

    I find a bit of humorous irony in this story. It is the LATIN MASS which has been accused of being so void of active participation that in, days of yore, the adult faithful were forced to resort to distractions and toys during Mass to keep themselves occupied.

  113. Ana says:

    There has to be a middle line somewhere. Kids are going to be kids and be a little squirmy from time to time, ask questions sometimes, and even cry. We have to let them be kids to an extent, but all too often kids are allowed to scream bloody murder without being removed from Church and sometimes the parent even pacing inside with the child while it is screaming, toys that make noise such as a toy truck on a solid wood pew that carries through a Cathedral style Church, or parents/grandparents encourage disruptive behavior and talking (not about Mass, but general talking) during Mass. These situation are inappropriate and disrupt Mass for everyone which isn’t appropriate. Parishioners need to be accepting and accommodating of children, but parents must have appropriate control of their children so that others can prayerful participate in Mass. Sometimes, it seems parents are not aware of exactly how loud their children can be as they are with them more often.

    Having said this, it does seem like more and more children are permitted a level of misbehavior that would not have been acceptable in the past — this can be seen at Church, in school, and in other public environment — and as Catholics desiring to set a good example of being in the world, but not of the world this should be an area where we want to be different and have higher standards.

  114. robtbrown says:

    Jack007 says,
    Contrary to the New Age sycophants here, applying some firm discipline with the back of the hand, or as they grow older, a good leather belt, will not warp your little terrorist into hating Mass or leaving the Church. Quite the opposite, it will instill the necessary FEAR in the developing child. Properly administered, this will lead into RESPECT! A child is less capable of understanding right from wrong than a Labrador. Only as they begin to achieve the age of REASON, can they be REASONED with. If you cave in to them they may never respect you. For those who disagree and say that say their kids “turned out okay”, consider yourselves LUCKY. It surely wasn’t because of anything YOU did.

    I understand that the consequence of VERY STRICT discipline is often an uncontrollable URGE to use CAPITAL LETTERS.

  115. Genevieve says:

    I have one eleven month old so I’m hardly a vet. We keep her quiet by nursing her, yes, right there in the pew, when she gets grumpy. It’s true, I’m blessed with an happy angel, but she only ever acts up when she’s tired or hungry. Nursing solves both of those. Since much of the discussion has centered on “under-twos,” I’m honestly shocked that in all these comments, no one has yet mentioned nursing as a tactic.

    Let me get on my rant box for a sec., because I would expect that *e*v*e*r*y* Catholic parent has taken the NFP couses – the were required for my husband and I, or my priest would not consent to our marriage. I understand that the CCL has changed the course a little bit and the books no longer include the largish chapter about the importance of breastfeeding and the role ecological breastfeeding plays in child-spacing, but we were only married six years ago and our book raises the question of whether or not breastfeeding is a *moral imperative.* Further, many organizations recommend extending breastfeeding until at least two years of age.

    What to do with a squirmy and loud three, four, or five year old? I can’t answer that yet. But what to do with an under two who has outgrown sleeping through Mass? Nurse!

    My parish is old and beautiful and has a very traditional parochial vicar, but the majority of the congregation is at best lax. I know I’m just preaching to the choir here, but no matter your excitement in seeing little ones at church, do not ever interupt the prayers of the mother and/or father to exclaim over baby. The narthex is much more appropriate.

  116. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    “Experientia est magistra rerum” Experience is the best teacher, especially as regards discipline. When the child, being confronted with the belt, and then spanked, looks you in the eye and says in a taunting voice “That didn’t hurt!”, tell me about discipline! And no, I don’t think “beating your child into submission” is a good route, but I have also seen that the wildest children are those who have never been spanked. There has to be a balance!

  117. Jenny says:

    Oh Genevieve the reason you have not heard nursing mentioned as a solution is because there is a largish group of folks here who get the vapors if you nurse during Mass. Fr has an old post about it in the archives if you want to look it up. :) It makes for amusing if not infuriating reading. I nurse also and you are right, it does work.

  118. Fortiter Pugnem says: @apagano, I woudn’t say Mass is “fun” for a two year old, while TV is geared to keep the attention of small children non-stop. “Suffer the little children to come unto Me”. It seems He wants them their no matter what, even if we have to suffer for it- isn’t that what He said?

    “Suffer” in this context just means “permit.”

  119. Wow! A slow day? Just mention something, anything, about children at Mass, and it’s a hundred quick comments. Works every time. Perhaps the more interesting question is not about the little darlings, or what to do or not do about them, but why the obsessive-compulsive reactions to any mention of them.

  120. Alice says:

    Despite having read every blog post ever written on making my child behave perfectly during Mass, I was blessed with a 3 year old who is simply a handful. Sometimes he’s happy to play quietly in the pew or let one of us hold him, but some weeks he just wants to leave the pew or talk loudly and so his father or I have to take him out.

    Genevieve,
    Shh, your second might be listening. ;) My 25 lb 10 month old believes that nursing is a distraction from his real calling, people watching, so he’s very efficient and only nurses if he’s not distracted. If he’s so hungry that nothing distracts him, we go to the confessional and nurse for about 2 minutes, after which the edge is taken off his hunger and he gets distracted by whatever distracts a 10 month old in a dimly lit confessional. The 3 year old would happily nurse discretely until he was at least 1. Every child is different.

  121. Mariana says:

    Peggy R,
    “Our children are also Eastern European adoptees”

    Same here. All of the above advice (over 111 comments as I write) is no help in our case!

  122. Simon_GNR says:

    I’ve never encountered ushers at Mass: are they an American phenomenon? We have greeters at Sunday Masses who hand out the Mass and Hymn books and welcome worshippers, but once the Mass starts they have no further part to play.

    On a few occasions I’ve been annoyed at OF Masses by fidgety or noisy children, and especially by those being allowed to wonder hither and thither all around the church, even during the canon of the Mass, but my annoyance is with the parents/grandparents, not with the little toddlers themselves of course. I’ve managed to avoid expressing my irritation verbally, though by my facial expression I must have shown my feelings sometimes. I try to take my lead from the priest, who never seems to get in the least bit bothered by anything the little tykes do: I try to tell myself, “Well, if Fr. Bill’s all right with it, then I ought to be all right with it”. And I remind myself of Christ’s own words: “Suffer the little children to come unto me…”. But sometimes I want to hiss: “Kindly keep your children under control – this a church not a playground!”, but I’ve always so far managed to avoid doing so. It’d also make things a bit awkward when we get to the Peace!

    I do remember my brothers and me being kept under pretty strict control in church (Anglican) by my mother when we were small, though, and I wish more parents these days would be as considerate towards the other people in church around them as my mother was. People have come to worship and pray, not to watch or listen to other people’s unruly children.

  123. Lepidus says:

    I’ve always thought that if I were a priest, I would apply the normal standard of politeness to myself. That is, “don’t talk while others are talking”. Therefore, when the noise starts, I would like to see the priest just stop and wait for it to quiet down. No obnoxious comments, no nothing, just polite waiting for his turn to begin speaking again….

  124. MarylandBill says:

    Just a point on the breast feeding issue. Not every one can nurse. Certainly any of us men who have brought our children to church without our wives cannot even consider resorting to that :). In addition, for some women nursing just doesn’t work. I am not talking about women who try it once and give up but women who have spent time, money, effort and tears to make nursing work and it still doesn’t work.

    Ultimately I don’t think there is one solution. Every child and every parent is different. To expect a one size fits all solution to the issue raised here is, I think, naive.

    I would also wonder if Jesus is that concerned over whether little children are quiet in Church? Yes, it might make it harder for us to pray, but then so do other things we have no control over. Perhaps our obstacles to prayer, whether pain, mental distraction or the noises of children are there to help us learn to pray better?

  125. Banjo pickin girl says:

    super, I wasn’t presenting an “argument.” I was merely presenting two sides of a coin. They are not intended to go together as a “dichotomy.”

  126. Cristero says:

    My 18 year old just asked what an usher is! How wonderful it is to go to either the Ruthenian Rite or to the EF of theRoman Rite.

    Seriously though, I have never heard of ushers at a TLM, the EF. I thought that was a invention for the OF to give José Six Packs like me a ministry to do so that I would not be left out as a Layman.

  127. moon1234 says:

    Depending on their age it is pretty simple:
    1-3 years old: You simply remove them when they become too loud or squirly. They just don’t get it yet. The three year old MAY get a spanking if they were being particularily.

    4-7 year olds you bribe. They get a treat when they get to the car IF they behave. It is a bummer when your the only one not getting a treat. Spankings ensue if this is not successful.

    8-11 year olds. They know what is expected and will get “IT” if they do not behave.

    12-18 This is more interesting. The will starts to get exerted. I usually make them go to Church AGAIN if they did not behave the first time around. This almost ALWAYS works. Hopefully by this age this is no longer necessary.

    Kids KNOW when they are mis-behaving. I will NEVER forget the little boy in the back pew that could not stay in the pew. He was from a family of 10 kids at the time. Dad got up, genuflected, took the child by the hand and proceeded to leave Church. Father was giving the homily at the time. Everyone heard “No Dad, PLEASE. Don’t take me out I will be good. I PROMISE.” We ALL knew what was going to happen.

    Father paused a second, as this father is around 6’3″ tall and VERY large man. Needless to say when “Dad” returned with the little guy he sat still for most of the rest of Mass. Firm swift correction does wonders. Children always test the fence, just like cattle. If one breaks the fence, they ALL seem to run through the opening.

  128. polycarped says:

    My advice, from experience, to parents stressed about young children and attention at Mass? Bring them to Mass as soon as they are born and, when they get a little older be sure to sit as far to the front as possible so the child(ren) can see and hear what is going on. So many children are unhappy or distracted because they are totally dis-engaged with what is happening (because they can’t see or hear). Combine this with appropriate low-noise distractions (such as appropriate books) and very quiet whispering into the child’s ear (that can only be heard between the two of you) when needed (to explain what is happening) and I think this can work very well. One of the great problems we have in the UK (in my view) is that parishes now have different types of Masses (including ‘family Mass’) which means some Masses are overly-raucous and others have no children at them at all. Both are completely unnatural!

  129. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    So far, the following can be gleaned from the comments:
    A. Nobody thinks that children should be allowed to run and scream and behave the way my priest would call “a Chinese fire drill”.
    B. The majority of childless commentors believe in “off-switches” for children.
    C. The minority of childless commentors (including myself) believe that children’s voices are sounds of hope for the fast-approaching demographic winter.
    D. Many parents have high standards for their children.
    i. Some parents believe these standards are engraved in stone for all.
    ii. Some parents believe in these standards for themselves, but understand those who are not as able as they.
    E. Some parents are very forgiving and understand what it is to have 5 or 6 or 7 or 8, or in my parents’ case 11 children. These resort to food for the first three years in some cases. They also believe that the child with the toy is better than the child not present at The Sacrifice.

    Fr. Martin von Cochem wrote a great book entitled “The Incredible Catholic Mass”, and after reading 100 pages I am convinced that God will forgive some slight noises from the least of His children rather than have them miss the constant extension of His Incarnation, Nativity, and Passion. He has a list of 77 graces received from Mass that I would never dare to deny to even inattentive and distracting children.
    If my summary is in any unfair or unbiased, take a shot!

  130. Peggy R says:

    Mariana,

    I understand completely. The usual methods of control or discipline do NOT work with these children. They sometimes just don’t comprehend or process instruction, no matter how many times. And sometimes the miracle happens. I’ve had to explain it to the school. (We receive services). I think they are finally understanding after 4 years now. You are welcome to contact me if you need some one who understands: plr0617@gmail.com. (0=zero). I ended up talking to our pastor and DRE in advance of enrolling the kids in PSR (aka CCD). That helps that they know and understand.

    Supertradmum,

    Thanks. I’ll be in touch. I’ve read and learned much and we have worked with many experienced professionals over the years. Cheers.

  131. On the one hand, I don’t think a TLM would seem right now without bunches of young children, sometimes making noise that surely is music to God’s ears.

    On the other, with my own children now in their 40′s and 50′s, I recall a decade or so when my wife and I had to go to Mass separately, and looked forward to all our children reaching school age, so we could share Mass attendance together. (Back then, young children were not taken to restaurants either, so it had nothing to do with Latin.)

  132. Mary Jane says:

    When we’re at Mass we should obviously be focusing on the Mass, not on what people around us are doing, or not doing. It is our duty to help those around us to not be distracted as well – we can fulfill this duty by dressing modestly, not coming in late, and by not being a distraction ourselves (as best we can). I think it’s really quite simple:

    Parents, do what you can (your best) to keep your children behaved at Mass; if they’re not behaving, take them out so they don’t disrupt people around them (or the priest).

    Those without children: be charitable and realize that children do not come with remote control buttons (stop, pause, mute, etc). Their attention spans are not like that of adults. By a certain age they should be able to sit quietly in a pew and read or color a saint coloring book (my parents did that for my siblings when they were little) but still, they’re just children.

    Sometimes adults create more of a scene than many youngsters I’ve seen. There is one adult in particular I know of at my parish who has a habit of talking – quite loudly – to those around her during Mass. It drives me crazy. Especially since she’s old enough to know better (she’s in her 60s).

  133. theophilus says:

    As someone wise once said. If you hear children making noise or crying at mass… it just means your Church has a future.

  134. I had a beloved Monsignor for a pastor as a child. An Irish priest who served as a missionary to the U.S. He also had served as a Latin translator for Vatican Council II and was a faithful and good priest for more than 50 years. He urged parents to use firmness for the truly misbehaving children, but often said to worried parents, “That’s okay, little [Johnny/Sally] is praising God; just a little louder than the rest of us.” The message has always stuck with me.

    Mr. Jody Lamar Thomas-Mary Finklea, O.P.

  135. Dies Irae says:

    I think some people go from two extremes. Let the child roam free or “beat them into submission”. There must be a balance.

    But, speaking of children being distractions and annoyances, I remember reading a passage in St. Therese “A Story of a Soul”. She spoke of a certain sister who annoyed her every night during the rosary by rattling the her rosary all around. St. Therese explains that she would offer this annoyance up to God as if it were beautiful music.

    And @Jack007, and any others who agreed with him,
    due to the Law of Syllogism in Geometry, using your words, I could make a statement like this:

    Giving toys, books, and food to children in church is evil.
    Sue gives her child, Bobby, toys, books, and food in church
    Therefore, Bobby is evil.

    Okay, not exactly, but you can see my point. Just, the next time you get annoyed in your by a little kid, and wish that your Mass time could be like that of nun or monk in a cloister, remember that that child has an innocent soul. He does not have guilt. Another thing to remember is that tis child could be the plumber who fixes your pipes in twenty years when you are to old and feeble to do it yourself. He could be the grocery store manager who helps you when you need help in the store. He could be the doctor who takes care of you when you are sick. He could be the priest who gives you Last Rites.

  136. bookworm says:

    Just to clarify, I am NOT saying “don’t bring your children to Mass at all until they are at the age of reason.”

    I am simply saying “don’t feel OBLIGATED to bring chronically disruptive infants or toddlers every single week.” If you have a 2 or 3 year old who’s going through a particularly difficult phase you might want to give them (and yourself) a break and bring them back when they are more ready to handle it. The terrible twos don’t last forever! Perhaps some children might behave better at Mass if going every week is presented to them as something to strive for that “big kids” do (like no longer having to wear diapers).

  137. APX says:

    Whatever happened to “Children’s Liturgy” where all the little ones are taken out during what I recall growing up, “the long boring parts” ? I used to teach that when I was 11-12ish and needed a service project for confirmation. Kids were free to learn about the readings and gospel in their own loud kid ways in the basement, and the parents got a break upstairs to listen to the readings, etc.

  138. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    @APX
    Please, please, please, please do not go that way! If even people in mortal sin are given unspeakable graces at Mass, then how much more can reluctant children get? There has not been a saint yet who would trade Mass for anything, no matter how good it be.
    Even the Protestants have acknowledged that the reason so many fall away from their churches is because of the breakup of the family during services. Catholics are no different.
    Of course, this would be a great idea for after Mass! It would help foster a greater love of the Mass.

  139. Dies Irae says:

    @APX
    Yes, there still probably is a “Children’s Liturgy” where all the kids are supposed to go, at least during N.O.Masses. I remember going downstairs a couple times for special “readings”. (But I’m not sure since I have been going to TLM for almost nine years.) But families should not be split up during Mass. Have you ever heard the phrase, “The family who prays together, stays together”? Somebody told me recently that somebody did a study on Protestant mega churches, and the results showed that the families who split up, ie. the little ones go to the nursery, the parents go to the service and the teenagers go bowling in the bowling alley, are more likely to live as family than those who attended a traditional service where they all stayed in the same pew and actually looked like a family. (Sorry, no sources.) But I still believe it. Families have a bigger impact than what you think. “The kids are so beautiful!” I’ve heard so many people say with tears in their eyes. And “Children’s Liturgy’s” destroys the unity of the family, because they should all be coming to Mass together, not off doing their own thing. It’s kind of sad that this is just how its done nowadays. Parents upstairs, kids downstair. Families, none together.

  140. Alice says:

    APX,
    The Children’s Liturgy went the way of the felt banner, thank goodness. I remember going a few times when I was a kid and it wasn’t exactly the most edifying experience. (It was more fun than Mass, though.)

    I wish someone would come up with a religious education program for small children through adults based on the Sunday reading cycle and have CCD/PSR/Sunday School/whatever outside of Mass time on Sunday so that children and adults would be encouraged to attend Mass and learn about their faith outside of Mass.

  141. Nicole says:

    My best friend’s elder brother has thirteen special needs children of various ages (from infancy to mid-teens) he and his wife adopted (ranging from fetal alcohol syndrome to cystic fibrosis to emotional issues due to sexual abuse)…plus his own two biological children…let me tell you, they filled a pew…haha! AND at Mass they were quiet and still the whole time.

  142. Joan A. says:

    Why breast-feed? I can understand how some people, particularly men, might find that more distracting that a squirming child. If breast-feeding works, a warm bottle should work equally well.

    Also, it seems no one has mentioned palliative remedies. I can see people freaking out about “Drugging kids into a submissive stupor.” No, a mild does of a homeopathic relaxant, or even a prescription drug such as Ativan, approved by the pediatrician of course, is not going to hurt the child once per week. They cannot get addicted once per week. As an adult we take aspirin or xanax or whatever, in urgent situations. In fact, by giving something very gentle, just to calm them, not sedate them, you are actually conditioning them to calm down at that time, and can taper off as they learn THEMSELVES that they can control themselves.

  143. chonak says:

    OK, how about a distinction?

    We all have to attend Sunday Mass, and it would be a hardship for parents to leave the kids under age 6 at home 52 Sundays a year.

    But babies don’t have to come to weddings and other optional services.

  144. missy says:

    I think the usher was completely out of line. One of the things I love about Mass is its inclusiveness. Recently someone I’d never seen before attended Mass at our church who had a very strong odor that radiated quite a distance. After a few moments of distress, I thought: there is probably some quality in me that offends others far more than this odor offends me, and this man is welcomed, no, deeply desired by God to be at this Mass. It would be one thing if the child’s noise was drowning out the words of the Mass. But apart from that, I think we need to accept each other, young and old, as we are, as Jesus did.

    That being said, I think Father makes a good point that we become used to our children’s noise or activity and others may not be. A man at our parish often comes with his young son who rolls toy cars across the backs of pews right behind people, and I have thought: maybe this is quiet compared to the noise level at home and the child is occupied so he thinks all is well. After my son was born (years ago), I would come to Mass armed with all sorts of toys which I laid out in array on the floor in the back of the church where I sat. They weren’t noisy, but other children were completely distracted by this, and sometimes wandered away from their own parents to join the quiet “fun”. In my naivete at the time, I actually thought I was helping out those Moms by providing their kids with something to play with, when in fact I was completely sabotaging their efforts to train their children to be still during Mass!

    I think we need to accept each other and be aware that while someone might have a noisy child, we have traits ourselves that we may be entirely blind to which also annoy others. Think of St. Therese’s inner struggle when a fellow nun’s rattling rosary distracted her during prayer; she offered it to God as beautiful music. At the same time, we need to be aware that what might be a normal noise level to us might be excessive to someone else. Moms and Dads should do what they can to minimize it, such as bringing quieter toys, but without leaving the little ones out of Mass.

  145. Nona-Oma says:

    I haven’t read all the reply’s so if this is a re-post forgive me -

    Didn’t St. Theresa of Lisieux talk about being distracted at Mass by rosary beads clacking and bumping near by? And didn’t she tell us she (eventually) used that annoyance to focus more fully on the Mass – as in if she noticed the noise she wasn’t concentrating enough. Ever since I read that I grin when there are distractions at Mass and think – uh oh, I’m not paying enough attention…..

    AnnAsher, I love what you told your child about Mass: “Mass is important, I said, because we come to say thank you to Jesus for opening Heaven for us. We come to say Thankyou to God for making us, because He loves us so much, He made us. So I say thank you God for making — and I named him and his sibs.”

    My story: One Sunday, we got to sit behind a a Lady wearing a fur coat. My brothers both immediately reached out to pet it, were disciplined by Mom AND Dad with an in-tandem hissed, “QUIT IT!” So they blew on the fur instead- all the way up to Communion – she didn’t come back after Communion……..

  146. LaudemGloriae says:

    There are many paradoxes. I’ll mention a few …

    Young children should be taken to Mass from their earliest years, but young children aren’t developmentally capable of sitting still for an hour or longer until much later.

    The cry room or nursery sets a bad precedent for the child, but your should definitely not have a noisy child in the sanctuary.

    Noisy children benefit from sitting up front in the sanctuary where they can see what is going on, but noisy children should sit in the back of the sanctuary so they can make a hasty retreat.

    I could go on. Mothering is full of crucifixtions and there will always be someone to criticize your choices. Pray and do the best you can.

  147. Jack007 says:

    “I understand that the consequence of VERY STRICT discipline is often an uncontrollable URGE to use CAPITAL LETTERS.”

    Uh, no, not really. Its just more of a traditional method of showing EMPHASIS. This as opposed to geeks, who have uncontrollable urges to SHOW OFF how much smarter they are than the rest of us by using archaic, HTML bold tags. LOL

    Huzzah!

    Jack in KC

  148. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    @Jackoo7,
    Hey Jack,
    I think the point people are trying to make is not to be so picky. The “leather-belt” comment was especially out of place, with the “To Train Up A Child” author under fire. However, I believe that method can be very effective, but it should not be displayed and touted around in this culture for fear of SRS.
    Also, I really hope you do or have had kids before. You seem like the type of person who sits in the front pew and jerks around every time you hear a noise (jk):)
    This is a good discussion. I think it’s good to know what other Catholics think.
    God Bless!

  149. Jack Quirk says:

    My personal favorites are when you (and other parents) sit at the back out of courtesy, then someone walks in fifteen minutes late, finds a place in the back (sometimes the seat you and the child you took to the bathroom just vacated), then acts annoyed at the disturbance your children are creating.

  150. robtbrown says:

    Jack007 says
    Uh, no, not really. Its just more of a traditional method of showing EMPHASIS. This as opposed to geeks, who have uncontrollable urges to SHOW OFF how much smarter they are than the rest of us by using archaic, HTML bold tags. LOL

    Jack in KC

    Huh?

    If you think using HTML tags is a way of showing off, try reading a hexadecimal dump, especially in a system using 6 bit bytes.

  151. Dies Irae says:

    @Whoever mentioned old people who were talking in church, (sorry, don’t think I could find you in this sea of comments)
    I completely agree! I love kids (I live with 6 of them) and if they are loud in church, I am much more forgiving than when I sit in front of two old men who are talking about the college football game the night before and clipping their fingernails. The kids aren’t guilty; they are!
    And yes, the kids are the future of the Church. I go to a TLM church where the average family has 5 or 6 or 7 kids, and, yes, Mass can be loud at times, but at least there are kids!!!!!! Most of the parents keep them in line, there are a few here a there who let them roam free.
    And as for the toys, books, and food, once a lady pushed a little kiddie shopping cart full of the loudest toys in the world and a Bumbo for her little boy to play with during Mass and also his breakfast. That is unacceptable! But I think that parents shouldn’t be yelled at because they brought a few Cheerios and a little ring for their high-spirited child. Some people want it both ways. They want the kids to be quiet, and they don’t believe in any diversions for them.
    You have to face up to the fact that we have Original Sin, and the children are not Michelangelo’s charming cherubs who can comprehend what is going on at Mass. All kids are different! I know a six year old who couldn’t sit still for 10 seconds if you paid him to, while his twin sister is a perfect child who follows along with the Mass perfectly. Gosh, I know some 40, 50, 60, 70 year olds who can’t sit still in Mass! And this six year old boy doesn’t respond to any punishments or ways to keep him occupied. So to all of you who were perfect children and have/had perfect children, God blessed you with having children who behave perfectly. To others he didn’t give the grace of perfect children. We don’t need to ram down the throats of those parents the ways we raised our children and how they are the ONLY ways to raise children. Maybe they have tried to raise their children that way and it was not effective. If the boy’s mother took him out to spank him for every little misdeed, she would be out the whole Mass! There has to be a level of tolerance on our part!

  152. robtbrown says:

    I have friends–there were 4 children in their family, 3 girls and a boy. When they were young, their mother encouraged them to draw and write on the walls to encourage creativity.

    Not exactly Two Years Before the Mast style discipline.

  153. Jack007 says:

    That’s IT Rob!
    Now they’re reading hex dumps!

    I just KNEW we’d find common ground!

    :-)

    Jack in KC

  154. celpar says:

    ‘No toys in the Latin Mass’?. But noisy kids are OK in the vernacular?

    I don’t expect a 3-year-old to be perfectly quiet and still for more than a few minutes. I do, however, expect their parents not to allow noisy toys in church- whatever the little prince or princess concerned feels.

    The problem is that no-one reacts enough: priests (here in England, certainly) are frightened of losing parishioners and laity tend to feel that if Father won’t say anything they should also refrain. Not so! A few months ago a man turned up to Mass with a six-year-old boy and a rucksack which turned out to contain about 20 toy metal cars, which were then noisily raced up and down the seat for the duration of Mass- within full view of the priest who did nothing. Once Mass was over I had a polite word with the father, explaining that the child wasn’t a problem, but the cars definitely were. Next week only 2 cars were produced and I commented on how good the child had been. The following week-and ever since- they have only brought books to church.

    I have also lost all embarrassment about telling senior citizens (frequently a lot noisier than any toddler) to BE QUIET. It works.

  155. biberin says:

    Joan, the fastest way to provoke a breastfed baby into yells of protest is to offer him or her a bottle in church. (Plus the cues/cries make mom let down, and since no baby is there to catch it, she gets big embarrassing wet spots on her nice dress. . .) I’ve seen it happen to many young moms in my parish and it ain’t pretty. A baby who is nursed knows it’s supposed to come in a soft, cuddly package involving a lap and rocking. A baby can also regulate the flow while nursing, and may need to nurse but not be hungry, because it isn’t just about the food. I had a period of exile when my son was 5-15 months old because he was very distractable and incapable of nursing discreetly, and we were limited in where we could go and for how long, but otherwise I freely nursed all my kids in the front pew and nobody knew any better.

  156. Centristian says:

    I can’t stand it when small children are noisy during Mass…but I understand it, of course, and bear it patiently.

    I also cannot stand it when ushers are noisy (or nosey) during Mass…and I don’t understand that, at all, I’m afraid. As with loud children, I bear their misbehavior patiently, nevertheless.

    It seems to me that if people would just learn to mind their own business, scenarios like this and similar ones would not obtain. Parish busybodies are a blight on any worshipping community. They can make life unbearable for some and can even cause one to switch parishes. I know of instances wherein such people have even caused other parishioners to switch to another form of Mass.

    How many times reading this blog have we heard of worshippers scolded by other worshippers for just about anything, especially clothing. One woman scolds another for not wearing a mantilla, another woman scoffs at a worshipper who does wear a mantilla. Your skirt is too short; your scarf looks Islamic; jeans are Novus Ordo; black is for mourning, blah, blah, blah.

    Now we hear of an usher who legislates on the spot of his own august authority that children may not have toys at a “Latin Mass.” I wonder, at a hybrid English-Latin Mass, would this usher deem it acceptable for a child to have a toy during the Liturgy of the Word, so long as he loses it before the Preface?

    “Mind your own business.” There should be a sign that says that on the back of every pew.