Welcome back to Beyond the Pew! I hope that your New Year’s is going well and to continue the theme of praying with your family, I’m going to be talking about getting your kids to mass. And I’m actually sitting here in the pew that my family and I sit in when we come to mass. As I talked to my wife about what I should say, she said, “Tell them not to do what we do.” It was a joke, but sometimes it’s messy when you bring your kids to mass. It’s harder than usual, they make too much noise, and sometimes we as parents get very self conscious about how loud they are being.
When I was preparing for this video, I came across this website. They said not to be too concerned about the noise that your kids make because a little bit of noise here and there, everybody pretty much expects it and those that are two or three pews away can’t actually hear it. We hear it loud and clear because we are tuned into every little noise that they make, but typically in the church people can’t hear the noises that your kids make. So with the noise that we make at mass, I want to set the young parents at ease.
Don’t be too concerned about every little noise your kids make during mass.
This video may be geared toward parents with younger kids, let’s say ten and under. And we will dive into how to engage your adolescent children in a later video.
When you are thinking about what you are going to bring with you to mass, I would set your kids up for success. Don’t bring in food. Feed them before you come. If you are going to bring in something to entertain them, make it something special that only comes out on Sunday morning that they can look forward to. Make it something that’s quiet, so not a hard toy or a hard book. Something that so when it is dropped (because it will be dropped) it won’t make a really loud noise.
Other than that, sit up front. Like I said, I am in the pew that my family and I sit in regularly and we are in the very front. This is so that our kids can stay engaged with what is going on. And if you have older kids that are altar serving as well, you want to make sure that they aren’t making faces at one another. But have your older kids altar serve! Because your younger kids will look up there and see them taking it more seriously and they tend to pay attention when that happens.
Set your kids up for success when they come to mass with you!
Prepare your kids before you leave for mass. Something I mentioned earlier was to set your kids up for success. When they get here, make sure they have the tools and are equipped to behave well at mass. Give your kids a mission. Make sure they know what their role is in the mass, because everyone has a role to play at mass. For younger kids, it is not to distract the others around them. It is to help others to pray, so their job is to be still and quiet, to share their beautiful voices when it is time to participate in the prayers or to sing.
So give them a mission before they come, feed them before they come, and maybe dive into the Scripture before you come. If you have a little bit older kids, have them read the Scripture in the car on the way to mass so that then even if you have to take your kids out during mass, everyone has heard the readings. Sometimes our kids do get a little bit loud. If it’s a little peep or rustling here and there, people expect that. But if it gets louder and more consistent and you can tell it’s going to be a louder cry, take them outside but come right back in. The thing about taking them outside if you need to, is don’t let them associate that time with “Hey, I get out of mass!” If they have calmed down, bring them back to the pew. I guarantee it’s less disruptive to take them out a couple of times, back and forth, for the people around you than them staying and making too much noise.
If it seems painful or messy, I promise you that it’s absolutely worth it!
I would recommend not using the cry room. I tend to relax and let my kids get away with more in the cry room. That’s not good for them moving forward in learning how to behave at mass. Other parents in the cry room do that same thing, and it becomes a big distraction for everybody.
If you’ve made a resolution to go to mass more often as a family, I want to encourage you in that. If it seems painful or messy at times, I promise you that it’s absolutely worth it. Get your kids to mass, get them used to the mass, and I guarantee it will pay off in the long run.
And until next time, we at Beyond the Pew will be praying for you!