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Bringing the kids to church: Suffer the little children, or not?

Bringing the kids to church: Suffer the little children, or not?

Nicole Steele Wooldridge is a Seattle churchgoer and mom who ponders whether it’s worth the effort required to take her small children to church. Responding to a friend’s Facebook rant about families who arrive late and leave services early each Sunday, she writes:

The fact is, children at Mass are distracting – to those around them and, most especially, to their parents. Prayerful reverence is not easily practiced with a fussy baby in your lap and a squirmy preschooler at your side. There have been multiple occasions in which, nerves frayed and feeling far less peaceful than I did before the start of Mass, I wonder if it was even worth it to attend.

Yet something inside me always answers “Yes!” I believe there is value in attending Mass with kids… Even when it means enduring the walk of shame up to the only open pew (at the very front of the church, naturally) during the Gospel Alleluia, or spending the entire hour shushing and chasing my two-year-old, or willing myself not to engage in a glaring war with a man who disapproves of nursing in church.

Read her full post at messyjesusbusiness.com. During services at our church, some families choose not to leave their small children, however noisy, in the nursery. What is the best way to respond to the noise and hubbub that ensues?

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Robert Martin

I want to thank the Rev. Ann for that little gem. I'm going to mention it next time there is an issue. "The children are noisy because that is how God prefers it. It's in the Bible, look it up."

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Ann Fontaine

The Bible overwhelmingly prefers noise in worship. Silence is associated with sneakiness and hiding something. Very few passages commend silence.

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Adam Wood

If you do not bring children into Church with you, when exactly do you expect them to learn about Church?

Liturgy is a language; you can't wait and bring them in once they are old enough to understand.

People who are bothered by the presence of children need to realize that worship is not about them, it is about God. And people who think that God prefers quiet reverence and propriety are a big part of the Episcopal church's problem.

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Beverly Van Horne

Always, always want the little ones in church. One time some distraught members of the congregation I was subbing at came to ask me if they should tell the parent about the "crying room." The parent was well aware of the room, and I gently suggested that if they were to have that kind of a conversation the parent and his darling 3 children might not be back. On my way home it occurred to me that perhaps those who find the noise and confusion disturbing should themselves go to the crying room--we could name the room the quiet room!

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Beverly Van Horne

Always, always want the little ones in church. One time some distraught members of the congregation I was subbing at came to ask me if they should tell the parent about the "crying room." The parent was well aware of the room, and I gently suggested that if they were to have that kind of a conversation the parent and his darling 3 children might not be back. On my way home it occurred to me that perhaps those who find the noise and confusion disturbing should themselves go to the crying room--we could name the room the quiet room!

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