How do I get to church with a 2 year old?


#1

My son will be 2 this summer. Everytime we go to church he cries and screams and he wants to just run around. Mass is currently being held in our school gym and he would be so happy to climb the bleechers the entire time. Also, there is no cry room but there is a hall, but then I cannot hear mass. Another problem is I cannot take communion because I have missed Sunday mass, so I cannot hear anything and I cannot partake in the Lord. My husband doesn’t attend Mass with me. I have thought of leaving my son home with him, but then I feel he will never learn how to behave. On the otherhand, I am missing most of mass when I take him. Do I leave him behind or try to take and teach him?


#2

[quote="ellj, post:1, topic:195651"]
My son will be 2 this summer. Everytime we go to church he cries and screams and he wants to just run around. Mass is currently being held in our school gym and he would be so happy to climb the bleechers the entire time. Also, there is no cry room but there is a hall, but then I cannot hear mass. Another problem is I cannot take communion because I have missed Sunday mass, so I cannot hear anything and I cannot partake in the Lord. My husband doesn't attend Mass with me. I have thought of leaving my son home with him, but then I feel he will never learn how to behave. On the otherhand, I am missing most of mass when I take him. Do I leave him behind or try to take and teach him?

[/quote]

You should talk with your priest regarding missing Mass and whether your reasons consitute grave matter or not. For example, if you missed because you were caring for your 2 year old when he was sick or had to take him out because of behavior, you did not commit a sin.

Regarding your son's behavior, he is not even quite 2 yet. Children this young do not have any obligation to attend Mass and some children do not have the disposition to sit quietly while others do.

At that age, it might be better to have your husband watch him while you go to Mass. There is plenty of time to teach your child about Mass and sitting quietly. This young, I doubt you'd be able to 'teach' him much anyway.


#3

As has been mentioned, and as you apparently know, your (almost) two year old son is young enough that he does not HAVE to attend Mass.

My personal suggestion would be to alternate weeks. Go with your son some weeks and leave him with your husband on others. (If you could convince your husband to come with you on occasion, even better still.) But since you don't now have someone to help you at Mass this gives you a chance to be attentive to what is happening at least every other week. On the weeks you do take your son with you, you can try and show him how to behave. If you are lucky, a family with grown children or older children may "adopt" you to help you with your son.

The thing that you have to remember is that you also need to practice sitting still when you are at home. Try and pick and hour each day for "quiet time". This is not nap time. It's time to quietly read books (perhaps the same stories about the Mass and saints that he can read during Mass) or listen to soft music. If your son is never expected to be quiet and still at home then it is not very reasonable to expect that kind of behavior at Mass.


#4

Thank you for your suggestions! They are very helpful!


#5

My advice would be to continue attending mass with your 2 year old. Our Lord knows full well how trying it can be to pay attention during mass and how stressful it can be when you have a small child to attend to, but what the Lord asks of us isn’t perfect attention, it’s effort. I have two children. My youngest daughter is 3 and it’s always difficult for me to pay attention during mass, but I also know that the Lord knows exactly how children are and that he will make up for whatever it is I lack because I have made the effort to attend with my child. It is the same when I am sitting near small children who are a distraction to me. God knows I’m distracted, but He also knows I’m doing my best. The Lord loves trust. Don’t worry about any sideways glances you may get from your fellow parishoners about your child. The Lord Himself said “suffer the little children to come to me”. By bringing your child to mass you please the Lord, so don’t worry about what you’re missing. God will take care of that for you.

Cheers!


#6

My son did not attend mass until he was two and a half, because that’s when I returned to the Church. His dad is still out of the Church. He rarely attended Sunday mass until he was five and a half and started kindergarten.

What helped me was getting him to daily mass. It was shorter, the chapel in which it was held was smaller, and it was just a good time of day for him. He gradually learned how to behave and how to say the prayers at mass.

My son is now six and a half and is generally well-behaved at mass. So do your best, don’t stress about your decisions, and know that your son will learn the faith as he grows. Just keep meeting him where he’s at, and gradually stretch him to the next level :smiley:

Gertie


#7

Ellj, I feel for you momma! There will be posters who will believe it is possible and desirable to "teach" a two and a half year old to behave at Mass. I have three children and all of them are extroverts. At the age of two and three and even older they were the squirmiest most distracted children ever. I spent YEARS pacing the narthax with a toddler and trying to get something out of Mass.

We rarely expect five year olds to sit still and focus in Kindergarten for longer than 30 minutes. I believe developmentally it is very challenging for a two year to sit very quietly for an hour or longer. Some families have done it, but I find there to be no correlation between a quiet toddler and the love and holiness present in the family. I know many, many beautiful Catholic moms who have spent their Sunday Mass keeping their toddler from disturbing the congregation.

I have my husband at Mass with me so I can give him "toddler duty" at times. In your case you are excused taking your son to mass at all until he is older. Our very Orthodox priest here in Germany told us to not bring our three year old son (who is a year older than yours) if it meant we as parents missed most of Mass. Right now we take turns taking our two girls on a Sunday while the other goes to Mass on Saturday night. The exception is the monthly Sunday Mass which is centered on children and families.

Some families will be horrified at our solution, but it is only temporary. My two squirmy little girls are now aged 6 and 9 and perfectly behaved in Mass. It helps when they are old enough to really understand the significance of everything that is happening. You are not a failure as a mom if your son doesn't sit still until he is five or older. It's normal. I think it is very, very important that you are fed and really are able to participate at Sunday Mass.

Just my :twocents:


#8

ellj, you are not alone! I really want to bring my 3-year-old son to Mass with me, but he's stopped going regularly since just before he turned two. He does not sit still and likes to scream to hear his voice echo in the church. Dad is out of the Church now, so he just babysits our son while I go to Mass alone. We all go on Christmas and Easter, though, but my poor DH usually ends up not being able to hear Mass. We don't do our cry room, because it's more like playtime for the other families in there. I've also tried daily Mass, but we were asked to leave once by a poor older lady who said she couldn't hear. Honestly, my son really wasn't that loud that day; he was just being 3. I cried the way home out of frustration that day!

The good news is, I'm starting small and trying not to rush it. My son is remarkably well-behaved when I take him to the empty church for short periods: kneeling before the tabernacle or the statues to say a few prayers for people. I call it practice using his "church voice" (which is a whisper).

So my advice is to just do what you can, while you can. If that means leaving your daughter at home for now, that's okay. Yes, there are families with young kids who can sit still the entire Mass. I've just resigned myself to know that my son isn't one of those kids. He will be able to sit through Mass one day, just not now.


#9
  1. Choose the best Mass time for your child. Ideally, this will be a time where he is not hungry and not terribly sleepy. It should also be a time when he was quiet every day of the week, because you can’t expect him to suddenly change just because it’s Sunday. If you only have one Mass option, then set up every day of the week for that time to be quiet. In other words, if it’s 10 a.m. Mass, then every day at 10 a.m., have books and whatever quiet toys work for him.

  2. Make sure he is well-fed and has a clean diaper before you go to Mass, even if that means getting to church 15 minutes early and feeding him just before you go in.

  3. Teach him some of the songs/hymns/anthems/responses so that he can participate. My youngest was singing the Great Amen and saying “Lord, hear our prayer” when she was 2.

  4. Read the readings before you go (you can look them up on line). Then while the readings are being read at Mass, you can hold him on your lap and whisper the stories in kid-sized terms into his ear without disturbing anybody.

  5. During the homily, hand him QUIET toys and soft books (not board books!) that you keep in a special bag only for Mass. It’s nice if you keep it to religious items, such as a soft-sculpture manger scene or a felt Mass kit or Bible story books.

  6. If you have to take him out of Mass, you can still receive Communion. I checked with my priest about that and I live in one of the most conservative Dioceses in the US. The priest explained that since my vocation is being a mother, and my child is acting up during Mass, it’s appropriate for me to take him out temporarily, and that does NOT disqualify me from receiving the Eucharist.

  7. When you take him out, make sure “out” is more boring than “in.” I used to make my kids stand quietly against a wall, with me standing right in front of them so they could see nothing. This was so boring, they were very quickly ready to go back into Mass and very soon learned to behave in Mass so they didn’t have to be taken out.

  8. Be patient. There are no quick fixes – it can take months and months for a child this age to get the hang of being quiet in Mass. Just keep praying and grin & bear it.


#10

As a parent of twins who are 2 1/2 years old, here is my advice:

Do not expect your two year old to stop acting like a two year old just because you're at Mass. It's simply NOT going to happen. So, first, give yourself a break, at least in your head - the kid's two, the kid's gonna ACT like a two year old, and that means crying and screaming and whatnot. Don't beat yourself up over it.
I've heard crazy stories about two year olds who sit still for periods of time, but those go in the same bag for me as stories about seeing the Loch Ness monster - I simply can't believe it to be true! And it certainly isn't how MY kids are!

So, I would say, bringing special toys JUST for Mass would be really nice, and at my parish, they actually let me leave some stuff in the cry room (I know you don't have one, but maybe just a box off to the side) and that keeps them busy for a little while and that way they ONLY get to see it on Sundays, so it's like it's new every time.
We used to bribe them with cheez-its, but that was an epic fail. Also, they like to walk around the church at the end and I 'introduce' them to the holy family and the saints in the stained glass. They really like that. They like to bless themselves and light a candle so those are all 'treats' they get if they're good.
And that's a mighty big IF.

Oh yeah, and some prayers to Mary wouldn't hurt. She gets you. :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="Sparki777, post:9, topic:195651"]
1. Choose the best Mass time for your child. Ideally, this will be a time where he is not hungry and not terribly sleepy. It should also be a time when he was quiet every day of the week, because you can't expect him to suddenly change just because it's Sunday. If you only have one Mass option, then set up every day of the week for that time to be quiet. In other words, if it's 10 a.m. Mass, then every day at 10 a.m., have books and whatever quiet toys work for him.

  1. Make sure he is well-fed and has a clean diaper before you go to Mass, even if that means getting to church 15 minutes early and feeding him just before you go in.

  2. Teach him some of the songs/hymns/anthems/responses so that he can participate. My youngest was singing the Great Amen and saying "Lord, hear our prayer" when she was 2.

  3. Read the readings before you go (you can look them up on line). Then while the readings are being read at Mass, you can hold him on your lap and whisper the stories in kid-sized terms into his ear without disturbing anybody.

  4. During the homily, hand him QUIET toys and soft books (not board books!) that you keep in a special bag only for Mass. It's nice if you keep it to religious items, such as a soft-sculpture manger scene or a felt Mass kit or Bible story books.

  5. If you have to take him out of Mass, you can still receive Communion. I checked with my priest about that and I live in one of the most conservative Dioceses in the US. The priest explained that since my vocation is being a mother, and my child is acting up during Mass, it's appropriate for me to take him out temporarily, and that does NOT disqualify me from receiving the Eucharist.

  6. When you take him out, make sure "out" is more boring than "in." I used to make my kids stand quietly against a wall, with me standing right in front of them so they could see nothing. This was so boring, they were very quickly ready to go back into Mass and very soon learned to behave in Mass so they didn't have to be taken out.

  7. Be patient. There are no quick fixes -- it can take months and months for a child this age to get the hang of being quiet in Mass. Just keep praying and grin & bear it.

[/quote]

Wow, there's some great advice here! I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old and have been taking them both to mass since they were infants. My 3 year old was reasonably well behaved her whole life for mass, but my 1 year old son has given us a rough time the past few weeks. I want to raise them in the Church so it's important to me that the Mass is a part of their life even if they don't understand what's going on. I just do my best to describe what's happeneing during the mass and point out all the religious images in the church. We bring one quiet toy for each kid and while some people are against this, we do bring snacks or a lollypop to keep them quiet. When they become disruptive, we take them out of the santuary. Also, I don't attempt to take them to mass alone. My husband works every other weekend so he's not able to come to mass every week with me. On the weekends that he works, I make sure my parents are planning to be with mass to help. Ellj, do you have any friends or family you could attend mass with?


#12

I leave my 22 month old home with DH. It’s not ideal but it is what works for us. I have taken him a handful of times this year and I just leave feeling angry and impatient when he’s just being an active little boy. I will try again when he is a bit older.


#13

my son is only a month old, but what me and my wife does is i go to anticipated mass on Saturday and she goes Sunday morning where she's part of the choir. so someone's always at home with our baby

it would be great to start training little kids to attending mass. but sometimes you have to figure out if maybe its not the right time for them yet. as mentioned earlier, you son is not required to go to Sunday Mass yet, so maybe have a similar arrangement like mine so that he doesn't become a distraction


#14

I feel the need to caution people against the idea that a 2 year old isn’t ready for Mass or can’t learn how to participate in Mass.

Mass is for EVERYbody, not just for people who are “of age.” And the sooner a parent starts bringing the child to Mass, the sooner the child will learn to participate and will grow to understand that Mass is for him, too. Keeping kids out of Mass doesn’t do a thing to prepare them to participate in Mass. The only way to teach a child to be part of Mass (or even just to behave quietly during Mass) is to take that child to Mass.

Rather than NOT taking your child until he or she is thought to be “old enough,” it would be better to take your child to Mass every day.

I understand the need to be able to focus on worship and how frustrating it is to try to do that with a toddler (my youngest 2 are only 18 months apart, so I had that constantly for a good 4 years). There is nothing wrong with parents going solo every other week or once a month, but if that happens, the child should go to Mass with the other parent. For example, in a month, a family might try this schedule: Week 1, go as a family; Week 2, Mom goes to vigil Mass solo, Dad takes toddler to Sunday a.m. Mass; Week 3, go as a family; Week 4, Dad goes to vigil Mass solo and Mom takes toddler to Sunday a.m. Mass. In the case of a single mother, I think leaving the child with a relative or sitter to go to Mass one Sunday morning is fine, but I’d still think it would be wise for her to take the child to another Mass that weekend.


#15

My son’s godparents have been taking their child to mass every Sunday and most weekdays since he was born, and he has always done fine. My son only started going to Sunday mass regularly last summer at the age of five – and he’s doing fine. But my son also knew his basic prayers, prayed often, and talked with me about the faith often.

I was surprised to discover, upon re-reading the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, that her family did not allow her to attend Sunday mass when they thought she was too young to sit through the whole thing (longer and in Latin in those days). Each family has its unique needs. You know your child. Keep helping your child to grow in his love of God and trust in Him. You can do this through daily prayers and your own daily life as a child of God.

Our vocation as mothers is one of hyperactive contemplation – while chasing your little one around, keep praying and praying and praying :smiley:

Gertie


#16

First you CAN take communion. It is NOT a moral sin to miss mass if you need to care for infants or elderly or sick. And yes, this means that a mother who didn't want to bring her children to Mass coul licitly miss communion for years. As long as you are not deliberalty tuning Mass out it's not your sin. God gave you the child to care for FIRST, even before going to Mass. He delights in your young one and doesn't expect you to have the ability to focus completly on Him, He expects you to be caring for your child even if you miss some of Mass

Remember all 2yo's aren't the same. Some are active and some can be baught. Some are naturally good little creatures.

1) remove TV and computer from his life. I've seem DRAMATIC improvements with this.

2) "practice" being quiet for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20

3) take breaks from mass if need be. If he is really active and having a hard time physically sitting still slip out after the gospel, let him stretch and then re-enter. Eventually you can phaze this out.

I've delt with children who are perfect angles to children with autism. Often children are not as loud as you think they are. But just remember that every child is different and it may be prudent to keep your son at home for the time being if you're miserable and he's miserable.


#17

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