Don't Know What to Do; Advice?


My 11 year old son is shy, especially around adults. We go to a big parish with a large attendance at the Sunday Mass we go to.

There was an announcement in last week’s church bulletin that there would be altar server training this Saturday. I asked him several times if he wanted to do it ,and he said ‘yes’ all times. I told him that if he didn’t think he would like it he didn’t have to do it.

The reason? My son is also very sensitive.

Now, out of the blue, came the announcement that BOTH of our priests are leaving in 3 weeks. I have only lived in this city, in this diocese, for 3 years and I do not know any of the other priests. It took me a while to completely trust these priests, with all of the scandal the past few years, but also some priests are just grumpy and I’m afraid my son will take this to heart and get very upset.

I am very upset at the timing of all of this, that I don’t even feel like praying. It’s like having what you think is a divine inspiration only to be shot down.

I am thinking of pulling him out until I get to know the new pastor well enough.

Am I doing the right thing? This is something he can take up next year if he so desires.


I don’t think it’s wise to yank him from the training. If he is shy and actually wants to serve at the altar, pulling him may send a message you don’t think he can do it… and he might never try again.

If you tell him it’s because of fear of the priest-- well, that’s another scar on the kid! I mean, you have absolutely no foundation for this fear-- no accusations or behavior upon which you are basing it.

Personally, I’d just go with my kid to the training and sit in the church (or wherever they are having it) and watch the whole time.


Why project your fears to your son? Your son might just love the new priest. I know a priest who many adults don’t like but the kids think he is the greatest. Give whoever it is a chance and let your son make the decision to become a server or not.


Would you be able to be with him throughout the training?

I think it’s normal for a parent to be concerned about leaving her child with another adult, priest or not.

Check out the way things are done, and if any time is spent in some isolated room without supervision.

Back when I was in college I did some volunteer work with young children. There were pretty strict rules about how you were supposed to behave, for example we were never allowed to be alone in a room with the door closed with a child.

If you have genuine safety concerns you don’t have to let your son go, I don’t think he will be scarred if you let him know you have safety concerns. It’s pretty normal for parents to watch out for the safety of their children.


“Am I doing the right thing?”

I don’t think so given the circumstances you describe. Two of my sons are altar servers. The training was held in church, and anyone who wanted to sit in church and watch was welcome to do so. In fact, much of the training was done by the more senior altar servers.
The older of my two sons has been serving for 3 years, on nearly a weekly basis. He has served for different priests and two bishops, and has never had a bad experience with any of them.

Having said that, if a priest or anyone for that matter attempts to separate/isolate you from your son, in altar serving training, take your son and leave.

‘This is something he can take up next year if he so desires.”

You are correct. However, in my limited experience, if he is interested now and you do not follow up on it now, something else will come up and he may never do so.


You said you asked your son several times if he wants to do it, and you told him he didn’t have to do it if he didn’t want to.

I think you need to ease off and stop bugging him and stop trying to “protect” him. He’s picking up “scared to death” vibes from YOU. Don’t do this to him!

Why did you ask an eleven-year-old boy several times? Just ask him something once, and that’s it. Accept his answer and don’t keep worrying at a subject. He’ll pick up on your apprehension, and he’ll wonder if maybe there IS something to be scared of.

As long as you have informed him about “perverts” and he knows basic safety rules, don’t be so over-protective. Just let him go, OK? He’s eleven. He can watch out for himself. (Just make SURE he knows all the facts and knows what to do and what not to do.)

Surely the other parents would be gossiping if the priests were “icky” or if there was something weird about the training sessions. Listen to the other parents, watch them, and do what they do. If their boys (and girls?) are happily going to server training, then let your kid to be like them and do the same.

One more thing. Stop thinking of him as “shy” and “sensitive.” Don’t ever use these labels again and expunge them out of your mind. He’s fulfilling your “prophecy.” He’s becoming what you are making him into. If he doesn’t want to do something or talk to someone or go to an activity, don’t say that it’s because he’s “shy” or “sensitive.” Just say, “He doesn’t want to do this at this time” and leave it at that. (I am assuming “optional” activities, BTW. Of course he has to go to school or homeschool, go to Mass, answer the phone if you’re in the shower, say “good morning” to other family members, be polite around other relatives, answer the doctor’s questions at his annual physical, etc.)


This is a time to learn that our Church is not a “cult of personality” like many non-Catholic congregations. A Priest is a Priest - they all serve in the place of Christ.


The idea that a priest would be alone with the servers is is not true. Because of the rules of the Diocese, a priest must have other adults around, always.


Relax, why would he ever want to stand up and express his own personality if “mommy” will always be there to protect him. Are you going to be the type of mother that tells off the girls that break his heart too. Are you going to ask women out on dates for him? Are you going to propose marriage for him, pick his spouse, have his kids? He’s eleven a little protection is necessary - there are many kids younger than him altar serving in large parishes. Cut the umbilical cord and let go a lttle. Otherwise you will end up strangling off any individuality he has.


Doani, I agree with 1ke, that’s great advise! Go with your child do not leave him unattended and always remember to talk to him about you know, if someone makes him feel uncomfortable for the second you turn away or need to use the restoom and you are not around! Always keep those conversations open with your child not just about the priest but anyone around as well! My son whom is 9 is very shy too, extremely…Extremely shy…and my son is difficult at trying new things and to do new things…It took forever to get him involved in Taekwondo and he loved it! Now he wants to be in a singing talent show, I was like YAY!! THANK GOD! He’s coming out of his shell slowly but he is! And without any proper voice training, not trying to brag or anything, but seriously, my kid has a great voice! I was surprised when I heard him the first time! I love it!!!

He actually began singing before he began walking and TALKING!! LOL It’s hilarious because he wouldn’t speak but he would always sing his heart out!! LOL But he wouldn’t let us catch him…He was 1.5 years old when I finally caught him singing Linkin Park’s Crawling…lol…It was the most amazing moment of our lives! TO see my tiny tot that didn’t even talk singing out loud with passion and so much feeling into the song…Ever since then I made sure I have kept him singing to express himself… Of course, he was diagnosed with ADD and all it’s been kind of difficult but we’re making it…And he’s trying! And now he wants to be in the talent show so that’s a big step for him!! :smiley:

Again, as long as you are there with him there shouldn’t be any problems at all…God bless!


Okay, I hear you guys loud and clear. Some of you have even managed to hurt my feelings.

I no longer have my mother here to give me advice so this is why I started this thread.

Thanks very much, and y’all thank God that I at least care about my child unlike too many parents these days.


Amazing how the internet brings out what my elders used to call the “ugly” in people.

Some of you should learn some tact and how to be charitable and merciful. No wonder so many people lurk instead of speaking out on here. Remember you reflect the Church in your actions, not just yourself.

Just saying…


Hon don’t get offended, many might be a little harsh but most did offer great advise…I myself thought it was normal reaction of yours, I too am like that, and I try not to leave the kids alone for too much but I keep the conversations open with them about things that don’t make them feel comfortable…Whatever you choose it’s your choice to do the right thing whatever makes you feel better about taking care of your child!

Keep praying hon and GOD bless…Don’t lose hope and remember that no matter what you choose it will be the right choice for your son’s safety!


I think you’ve been given some heartfelt advice from members here. Now you can decide what to follow and what not to follow. In reading the above posts, I didn’t see anything that should hurt your feelings. People have different ways of expressing themselves and some are more blunt than others. It doesn’t mean they’re being uncharitable.
I grew up in the Midwest and now live in the South and have noticed that while people here are very friendly, they tend to get offended over things that I would never think twice about. On another thread, a young man from the NorthEast got offended by an Oklahoma man because he addressed him as “son”. The NE guy thought that was a way of talking down to him. But after living here, I could see that the OK man was just speaking in a way that was natural to him. I hope this helps and isn’t too confusing.:slight_smile:


I stand by what I said. But I will continue commenting, but mostly lurking.

Once again, thank you for your advice.


Well. I can tell you that I was FORCED to be an alter server at the age of 9 and 10. And I absolutely hated it. Every week I would cry and beg my father not to make me do it, but he never listened. It was something I always dreaded. There was nothing more humiliating than all those people seeing me…and half the time I couldn’t do it right…I needed glasses…I could never remember when to ring the bell…it was…awful. And I think it had a serious effect on my personality…which has not worn off…I’m getting sad even remembering this…but anyway, the point is…clearly in your case you are not forcing him. If it’s something he WANTS to do, then why not, it will maybe do him good…but please…never…ever…force him. I know you’re not anyway, but that’s the best advice I can give you. If you think it’s better to wait a while, or if you think it has the potential to hurt him…well you should tell him that probably, but maybe as long as he WANTS to do this, it will be a thing that he can enjoy…just remember not to force him…ever…maybe discuss your reservations with him & see how he feels.


Thank you, Zemmy.

I simply want to create happy memories for him that he will associate with the Church, not what you had to go through. My parents forced me into things honestly thinking that would cure my shyness. I was awkward, it was embarrassing, and it made me only more introverted. I only “force” him to go to Church, CCD class, and his Easter Duty (at least once a year Confession).

But they did the best they knew how to do , absolutely no bad feelings, and I learned from it to not to repeat the mistake when I too have a shy child.


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