How to politely ask people to stop being disruptive in Mass

Part of the problem is that we live in a culturally diverse society and we don’t have a standard of behavior that we all agree on. That is pretty evident from this thread. Acceptable standards of child behavior vary dramatically from culture to culture. We happen to have many subcultures together, often at odds with each other.

It isn’t only that children are not disciplined or that parents are clueless, it is that parents do not see the value in imposing various standards. When I was a child, it was pretty common for a parent to say, “Finish everything on your plate.” These days, many parents encourage a child to only eat until they are full.

These different standards also make parenting a more challenging job for all parents because their parenting is constantly being undermined by parents who have different standards. Take the ever popular cry room, for example. I avoided them like the plague when I had little ones. How do you explain to a 2-year-old that he needs to sit quietly on your lap when all the other kids are zooming cars around the floor? If everybody agreed that there should be no zooming cars in church, even in the cry room, then it would be a lot easier to teach my 2-year-old not to play in Mass.

In China, the standard for high academic achievement is pretty universal and the method for achieving it tends to be the same. My cousin works at an American boarding school in Malaysia that is full of Chinese students whose parents are desperate for a different way for their children who don’t fit the mold. There they find the freedom and room to grow in their own way that was not available to them at home.

One last thought on American parenting in general. We’re exhausted. Parents are expected to parent far more intensely than in the past. It is socially unacceptable to give our kids the freedoms and responsibilities that many of us enjoyed as children, and in some cases can get you in legal trouble. Our children are supposed to be constantly supervised and in organized activities. Our kids are being expected to spend longer hours in school and achieve developmentally inappropriate standards. We have to regulate their media intake, supervise insane amounts of homework (statistically more than in the past, on average), drive them to school (somebody might call CPS if you let them walk) and pick them up. If you step out of the rat race and don’t do sports or other organized activities, your kids have no playmates because everyone else is unavailable. Parents know that their children are over-scheduled, over-tested and overwhelmed. Some are trying to compensate, others are just tired.


Perhaps the parents could, hmmm, let me see. From my own observation, children who misbehave while out are the same who misbehave at home. Instruct their children on behavior in the home, and get them used to the idea. Mass is not the time to train your children to behave, while imposing the problem on everyone present. It is the parent whom is solely responsible for the actions of their children. No one should be obligated to “offer it up” as they endure.
Dominus vobiscum


Partially yes. But also none of those half dozen children were even remotely aware of just why they were there. Once the fighting began, I just had to leave.

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No, they came in and had sat down and appeared to be fine. But then about 20 seconds into the silence the fighting started, and it was LOUD. I had to nope out of there. But after being at Adoration for 90 minutes myself, I luckily had my fill of the Lord’s grace.

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I remember my Mom and Dad just had to give me “that look” and that was all it took. My wife and I learned to do the same with our children, and never a word needed to be said to the kids (after they understood what the look meant).

I also remember my Mom used to smack my hand with a wooden spoon. She only had to do it a couple of times. All she needed to do then was take out the spoon, place it on the counter and then give me “the look” and I self corrected immediately.

I remember many many years ago when our first child was born we spoke about discipline with the pediatrician. His answer was actually very shocking. He said the problem is that a few parents cross the line of disciple and step into abuse, and that has so many people scared to do anything as they are worried someone will call the authorities on them for doing discipline. I think that also goes for many of us in society as well.

I also recall a number of years ago when my wife and I were engaged, seeing a young boy (3 - 4 maybe) carrying on and on in the grocery store line. This little old man just went up to the boy and mom and looked at the little boy and told him that it was “not the way he should be acting and he should RESPECT and LOVE his mother.” I remember the young mom thanking the older gentleman and the little boy just stopping what he was doing. I’m sure part of that was the boy was embarrassed, but I bet another part of it was the boy never had been told “NO” before.


Maybe there is something really serious going on in this woman’s life and she had no choice but to bring all six kids with her. Maybe she spoke to them in the car and reminded them to be quiet, but as is known with kids, that can go right out the window - especially with so many young children. Maybe on that day she was in as much need of God’s grace as you.


Why can’t the church just treat the time before mass like good Friday evening where everyone walks out in silence at the end of mass? Before I became catholic I attended a good Friday service where it was printed in the bulletin that it is requested that everyone there walk out in silence and it worked. Why can’t the church do something like this? It makes sense to me anyway .

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If the children wish to avoid receiving “the look”, perhaps if they behaved themselves, they wouldn’t receive “the look”. And it’s actually the parents who deserve our disapproval, because if they taught their kids proper Mass decorum, and along with that, taught obedience, nobody would have to give “the look” to anyone. Ultimately, as I’ve stated above, it’s lack of consideration and respect for others that causes this problem to begin with.


We have ushers who are basket guys. We do not have bouncers, though I have seen a few Church’s that make we question if they might double as bouncers.

Oh, and for the topic, there is no polite way for most people to ask others to behave differently. Say something, or don’t, but understand your action is what it is.


That is too somber for many. Remember, the Mass is a celebration.

I realize kids can get disruptive at times but that goes way beyond what is acceptable. I understand some cherioes or something like that for the real little ones, but that is just crazy.

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The problem is the only time they’re given any “look” at all is when it is the look what they are getting is one that some of them are going to interpret as intense dislike of them as persons. Oh, yeah, Mom, this is the House of Mercy Itself. I totally believe that!! How could I doubt it?

And no, “the days when children were taught obedience” weren’t the days when all the children were magically perfect in their ability to satisfy all the neighbors in church that the children were angels rather than little human beings. Those were also the days when you actually knew everybody in church, too. They didn’t have to give you “the look” because they knew you and could call you out about it later.

(When people knew their neighbors in church and knew they were going to be neighbors until they were all buried, they did pick their battles, too.)

That is not child failure. That is adult failure. If your child really needs all that for whatever reason it could possibly be, they’d rightly be excused from being at Mass at all.

And I have a son with Autism. There are things that can keep them calm for an hour or so of Mass besides electronics.

Righteous anger! In the presence of evil one should be irritated and moved to act.

I understand the reticence to correct others’ children in their presence. Suggest you consider printing out these lines from our “Examination of Conscience” and hand the slip to the parents.

Were you willfully distracted while assisting at Mass or any other pious Catholic service? Did you engage in unnecessary conversation while in church?

Oh I’m not arguing that, I agree with you. Just never heard of anything that extreme, lol.

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I wouldn’t say anything I’d just move.

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This thread kind of reminds me of a commercial a friend and I saw about how to control misbehaving kids. It was like a self help pack and the announcer said “inside this package you’ll find everything you need to help turn your kids into well behaved kids.” My friend laughed and said “wouldn’t it be funny if inside it was just a belt?”

I’m NOT advocating that. I just was reminded of it.

Well I think the belt is the reason many (most?) kids were well-behaved in the past.
How else (besides discipline through fear) would parents keep many children quiet through Mass, etc? (I’m talking about the days when people routinely had 6,8 more kids).

I come from a big family and my parents never used physical violence on us. We were all well behaved. They took us out often…we went to museums, restaurants, theaters, and yes, church (every Sunday, at least). My parents used empathy and taught us it was important to be respectful of others.

Lets not promote the idea that physical violence makes sense in raising kids. It doesn’t, and it isn’t necessary.


Some parents may have used physical discipline, but just as many would use other methods. For instance my mother would tell me that if I didn’t behave this week, I wouldn’t be able to go next week, knowing that as the baby of the family I would hate to be left out of ANYTHING. I’m confident that a lot of other parents didn’t resort to physical discipline to evoke proper behavior in public.

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