St. Andrew's Blog

You Were Once A Kid: Supporting Families with young children during Mass Series Series 4/5: Responsibility Of The Parents On How To Handle Kiddos Who Are Crying During Mass

05-21-2023Weekly LetterStephanie Maselko Merheb

My almost 5-year-old son can make it through Sunday Mass with a “quiet voice and calm body”, as I repeat with him when we walk in. My 3-year-old spends his time observing the people around us from the comfort of my arms. They’re not perfectly peaceful, but pretty good for little children at Mass!

Oh, did I mention I also have a 12-month-old who will delightedly raise her voice at every little joy? She’s been known to angrily wail when restricted to the pew for too long. On a good day, she can make it to the homily before she loudly melts down, longing to explore freely. Sometimes the 3-year-old finds a reason to scream too!

  • Is my family welcome at Mass despite all this? YES!
  • Is it still my job to maintain prayerful silence in the sanctuary? YES!

Wiggly kids and periodic joyful noises are part of the package at a Catholic Mass. Screaming? Not so much. As we hope others bend to make space for the busyness of our littles, parents are called to accommodate those who came to hear the reflections from the priest and encounter God in prayer.

  • When my 3-year-old is screaming, I hustle him out of the sanctuary to care for any bumps or bruises. We return when he is calm again.
  • When my 12-month-old is fighting for freedom with all the sound she can muster, my husband exits the pew to let her practice walking in the back of the church or in the cry room. He returns to the pew after she’s tired herself.

I’ve come to Mass with a kid already crying and made the prudent decision to sit in the cry room right away, comforting my little one. On those days, I trust that my physical presence at Mass is enough for God.

I know that my place in life right now as the mother of little kids means that I may not always hear the priest’s words. My family should never give that burden to others. That would be injustice; that would be wildly inconsiderate of me. The virtue of charity calls me to speed-walk my screaming kid – or kids! - to the narthex as quickly as possible so others can fully participate in Mass.

  • Will I feel like a failure as a parent? Will I feel shame that I can’t manage my kids? Will I miss communion? Maybe. But walking outside with my noisy child is not shameful: it shows wonderful parenting.

We teach children that there is a time and place for noise; we teach them to respect the church. We can show other parishioners that we respect them. I know God has blessed me with this mission as a parent and He will provide what I need, even when I miss communion because of wild children.

Parents, we need the prayers of this faith community to be good mothers and fathers –so we need to let this faith community pray in peace.