After this post, I had a friend ask me if I could compile all the links to articles I’ve written about bringing young children to Mass. She knows someone who is struggling with bringing her toddler to church and wanted to offer some encouragement, so I’ve included a list of articles related to this subject below.
Although I strongly believe we should welcome children to worship with us and that even the smallest ones receive graces by going to church, I understand a parent’s need to pray in peace without kid-induced distractions. In fact, I attended Mass sans kids last weekend, and I admit it was very nice to be able to focus on the liturgy without having to nurse a toddler or manage an antsy preschooler (especially given my recent yearning for more silence and alone time). So if you’re feeling burned out, by all means, go to church alone or spend some time in prayer by yourself. Tank up on Christ so that you have more to give to your family and to others.
My big concern, however, is not allowing solitary and/or adult-only worship to become a habit or the norm. My children need to be exposed to the liturgy at an early age, and frankly, I need the opportunity to grow in virtue by taking my kids to church and being forced to practice patience and kindness. Sunday is also a family day, so we choose to celebrate as a family. I would miss this ritual of dressing up and celebrating together if I always went to Mass separated from my little ones. (I share a whole bunch of other reasons about why I believe young children belong at Mass in the first article listed below. The article could be used to make a case for bringing children to worship in other faith traditions, not just the Catholic Mass.)
No matter what religion you are, I encourage you to not always segregate children or to leave them behind when you go to worship. We must tend to our children’s spiritual selves. We must show them that church and a life of faith is for them, too. Kids hate to feel left out, so let’s welcome them.
Seen and Not Heard in Church (I’m quoted in this Wall Street Journal article about whether or not children should be in church)
If anyone has any tips, words of encouragement, and/or links to other articles/posts to lift up parents of young children who want to bring to church, please do share.
UPDATE: I just thought of two other links I should have included.
First, Melanie B. has an excellent post that’s chock full of ideas on how to get your toddlers to behave in Mass. I included a link to it with the Sunday Morning Scramble article, but for quick reference click here.
Also, I neglected to include a link to the article I wrote about how I came to the prayerful decision to discreetly nurse at Mass (especially since I was comfortable nursing in other public places). Maman A Droit’s comment reminded me how we need to be supportive of nursing mothers and their children. I love my new parish. Everyone is incredibly welcoming to my children and I don’t feel uncomfortable at all nursing my 17 month old. I nursed her at Mass this morning, in fact, and I even received a kind compliment from the older gentleman sitting behind us about our family. Being able to nurse my child without being judged makes Mass a more peaceful celebration for my little one, for me, and for everyone around us.