I dread going to Mass because of my kids


#21

We have been in this situation for about 5 weeks - even with a Crying Room.

Our soon to be 2 year old has been easy to contain until about the last 5 weeks. At this point it's about 10 - 15 minutes in the pew and then my wife or myself taking her out for walks, etc.... We take turns each week..

It's to the point where we get nothing from the Mass at all. We walk to communion and then walk back out.

We've done the food and books thing - but no longer will we. We've always pointed out the entire mass the priest and emphasized the singing - but no longer will we.

Our solution (at least for now) is taking turns going & date night as already suggested.

When she's a little older we plan on bringing her back in during a week night when nothing else is going on and sitting with her quietly and showing her around the Church.

I so totally "get it" where you are at.


#22

Working with the two older children has been something that has been "in the works" for a while. We've spent, and will spend a lot of time on stressing the importance of participation in the mass.

We do have several mass times, however it will be a little of a stress working it out with my husband. But like I said, I will need to sit and talk with him about this. As of today, he is officially the "owner" (in transition) of his own restaurant. So, Sat evening mass is out because I would be totally by myself. Um, yeah, not going to happen! There is 8 am and 11 am mass on Sun morning, with CCD at 9:30 during the school year. The way I see it, I could take the oldest two with one baby during the 8 am mass (no way hubby would be able to wake up early enough after working all day on Sat) and then he could take the other baby at the 11 am mass. Hmm, there is one more option. In a town about 40 min from here is a parish that has mass on Sun evening. As much as I don't like going there because it takes up so much time of our day, and it just doesn't feel like "home" to me, it may be our best option for going as a family.

I don't like the idea of just not going. For the past three weeks I have not been to confession and for the past two I have not received communion. Shoot, last Sunday I was at my wits end and after the homily and packed up the girls and put them in the van because I knew I could strap them in and that is where they would stay. So I waited for hubby and kids to get out.

I struggle so much with patience at home with the kids, that when Sunday comes around, and I'm taking the babies out by myself it feels like the straw that breaks the camels back. I've been asking Mother Mary for much help in this area.

Thank you again for all your suggestions.


#23

My 2 1/2 year old will not sit still at Mass. He picks up every missal and drop them on the floor. He wants to run. He wants to play around the baptismal font. He wants to crawl under the pews. He wants to play with the kneeler.

I would pull my hair out if I didn't shave my head. My wife does not have a driver's license - she has had her permit for two years. Once she gets her license, we are leaving him home for a while. I get nothing from Sunday Mass due to his behavior.


#24

My son was sitting quietly in the pews at two and a half years of age. It only took two or three good spankings before he realized that the Mass wasn't a playground. He is five now and fully participates during the mass. The older ladies love him. :D
We never brought toys to play with or food to eat during Mass. That is a big no no.


#25

I remember those days.

I suggest not being so hard on yourself and get creative...split up going to Mass once in a while...1 kid each, etc. Due to the circumstances, you may even need to miss Mass once in a while.

Also, talk to your Pastor about the situation. Our Church offers care during mass for parents. While the kids are real young, a responsible adult(s) watch the kids while you enjoy Mass, your spouse, and get a chance to decompress.

Good luck.


#26

[quote="JW10631, post:23, topic:204428"]
My 2 1/2 year old will not sit still at Mass. He picks up every missal and drop them on the floor. He wants to run. He wants to play around the baptismal font. He wants to crawl under the pews. He wants to play with the kneeler.

I would pull my hair out if I didn't shave my head. My wife does not have a driver's license - she has had her permit for two years. Once she gets her license, we are leaving him home for a while. I get nothing from Sunday Mass due to his behavior.

[/quote]

"He wants" and "he knows he'll get to if he just runs fast enough" or "he thinks he ought to be allowed to either do what he wants or else scream" are not the same thing. Having said that, it is better to teach a child that he doesn't get to do everything he wants in situations like your private home or even in a store, and then introduce him back to church. If you make church the only place where he has to control himself, that won't work. He won't learn self-control when asked to have it only under such isolated circumstances. He'll just learn to hate those circumstances.

There are two-year-olds who can't manage the self-control needed at Mass, even with great incentives. Whether they could have been different is a moot point. You start with where you are, who you have, and look at where you're going together. I think you're right to work on his self-control issues outside of Mass and leave him at home from church until those are addressed.

Bring him to Mass later in life, when his chances of success have improved because you have taught him self-control, and when he has forgotten he's ever gotten away with inappropriate behavior in church in his life. Everyone will be happier.


#27

I'm probably going to get a little heat by saying this, but as someone who grew up in the 90's with parents who are considered more "old school"-- I daresay that a swat on the behind for your older ones should help them understand how to behave! No offense, but when I was growing up, and when my husband was growing up that kind of behavior was not tolerated when we were at church or any other function. Not at all, and we both had siblings. We were all expected to be on our best behavior, even if we weren't really listening or paying attention. Remaining seated, quiet, and listening to our parents was pretty much all we had for choices. If we didn't do that, we got spanked in front of everyone, which to be honest was a rather embarrassing consequence that served as a great deterrent. In no way am I advocating that you should beat your children, but I don't see anything wrong with a little swat and hey I bet a lot of the older folks at church would even commend you!

At my church children don't behave like this at all, because the parents don't allow it. I've only seen once where a child threw a major tantrum and started screaming bloody murder, but other than that children of all ages are well-behaved. I've seen parents spank (very rare though) and discipline verbally right in front of everyone and it's worked.


#28

This just doesn’t work with a child at age 1 to 2. They don’t have that much foresight, or self-control.


#29

[quote="Bluegoat, post:28, topic:204428"]
This just doesn't work with a child at age 1 to 2. They don't have that much foresight, or self-control.

[/quote]

It can work if a parent uses a very firm tone of voice and follows through with their "no's." That means restraining a child physically if need be. I've seen parents with wriggly children and the parent would hold the child in place the entire time. Even crawling 7-9 month olds will understand the tone behind the word "no" if you are firm and consistent enough.


#30

We've all been there...people for the most part are understanding and if they aren't, who cares. The important thing is that you're trying.

Our oldest, now 8, was a angel at Mass from day one, the youngest, now 4, holy terror. We often joked that she would spontaneously combust one day at Mass. Our Msgr. got a kick out of her actually.

We always sat up front and dealt with any stares or snubbed noses in the air. They seems to pay more attention if we are up front and there are usually less kids to egg them on.

We provided a small snack or something to color on up till age 3 and then it was no more snacks. Lollipops work wonders b/c they take a while and keeps them quiet. Our 4 year old has come a long way. Potty training was the biggest struggle and there were many masses that we were going back and forth four times during mass.

Remember, this too shall pass, and it will. Soon enough you'll be sitting at Mass again with teenagers or no kids b/c they are off at college so try to find a bright spot in it, however small it is. Just the other day our 4 year old at breakfast held up her juice and said, "this is what Father does with his drink!" ha ha. So she is paying attention.

We also let her wear whatever she picks out, weather it matches or not, as long as she's dressed and she's happy going out the door and ready to show off her "creation". We also from time to time promise a lunch out at McDonald's if their behavior is really good.

We still split up masses from time to time and at least twice a month we get to go alone to Mass to really have an hour to sit and listen and pray ALONE - that does wonders for all the times when you can't do that. We do the date mass too.. anytime we go out - which isn't often, but we usually try to start the night off with Mass and we sometimes are tapping each other or wiggling and it just makes us laugh b/c we don't know what to do with ourselves when we are there alone together.

Good luck and God bless!


#31

Learn to master "the look". The one that tells them "You may walk with a limp the rest of your life". It gets easier each day til you see someone elese going through the same thing and you think, not too long ago, that was me. Yes, now you could swear the evil one is trying to destroy you through your kids, but be assured, it happens to use all. Exp. once one of my youngest dropped a kneeler on some lady's foot while a fly kept buzzing my head and a bead of sweat dripped from my brow as I thought, "yep, it's the evil one messing with me, no doubt, there is no escape, even in church, Lord, why now?". Curbs the pride and all.


#32

So much good advice! You must find consolation in how much compassion and empathy is out there for your situation.

It would be great if there would ever come a time when we are not distracted at Mass, but I know I almost always leave the church with the sense that I wasn't entirely there. My appreciation or attention has no affect upon the awesome reality of the Mass. When I am distracted I try to think about this:

The Mass is the representation of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross...Eternity is breaking into time and we are literally AT THE CROSS. When I imagine myself at the cross I think about all the chaotic, ugly shouting and horrific sorrow that attended that event...It was not likely a quiet place of meditation for the people who were there. Thinking of this reality helps me to sideline the distractions that are ever vying for my attention at Mass.

Mary was a quiet presence at the cross...Ask her to be beside you and to pray for your family.


#33

[quote="spunjalebi, post:27, topic:204428"]
I'm probably going to get a little heat by saying this, but as someone who grew up in the 90's with parents who are considered more "old school"-- I daresay that a swat on the behind for your older ones should help them understand how to behave! No offense, but when I was growing up, and when my husband was growing up that kind of behavior was not tolerated when we were at church or any other function. Not at all, and we both had siblings. We were all expected to be on our best behavior, even if we weren't really listening or paying attention. Remaining seated, quiet, and listening to our parents was pretty much all we had for choices. If we didn't do that, we got spanked in front of everyone, which to be honest was a rather embarrassing consequence that served as a great deterrent. In no way am I advocating that you should beat your children, but I don't see anything wrong with a little swat and hey I bet a lot of the older folks at church would even commend you!

At my church children don't behave like this at all, because the parents don't allow it. I've only seen once where a child threw a major tantrum and started screaming bloody murder, but other than that children of all ages are well-behaved. I've seen parents spank (very rare though) and discipline verbally right in front of everyone and it's worked.

[/quote]

A lot of older people might have commended me, but my pastor wouldn't....and we don't have children running all over the church, either.

If you have to swat a child to teach him to stay put, then do that. Just don't let the first time you do it be at Mass. The child needs to be able to behave without any penalties at Mass that are more severe than are the normal lot of his daily life.

I also think shame and public humiliation are unnecessary, and contrary to many things vital to our faith, such as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is not enough to train a child to sit still and be quiet. You want them to be disciples, to behave well at Mass out of a desire to please and to join with everyone else's reverence, rather than out of fear, and to be willing to accept apologies and forgive those who sincerely repent and are willing to make amends. They don't give these things unless they get them.

My kids got lots of compliments on their behavior in Mass, and lots of corrections from me during Mass, but the corrections were as discrete as I could make them. They are eleven, and have freely chosen to attend two Masses in one day on more than one occasion: for instance, because one was the first Mass of a new priest dear to them and the other was their scheduled day to serve and they didn't want to miss by finding an alternate to take their places.

It is worth the effort to make the experience of going to Mass a sweet one, and to give a child an upbringing full of forgiveness and mercy as well as piety. According to our pastor, that is how you get not just Catholics, but priests.


#34

You are not alone!

My youngest (age 2 1/2) has no church manners whatsoever. My older 3 kids were manageable with "firm looks" and "clear expectations" etc, but not this one. He loves the captive audience at Mass, and uses it to do the naughtiest things his sweet little mind can conceive of. He intentionally mimics what the priest says, he'll start calling out the new words he's learned through potty-training (because it gets him attention from the other parishioners), he screams that he wants "one of those cookies" during Consecration :blush:, anything I whisper to him he will repeat at an extremely loud decibel level "Noooooo, I don't see Jesus. Jesus isn't heeeerrrrre. I don't want to praaaaaaayyyy", he'll try to pull the hair of the person sitting in front of us, tear pages in the hymnal, unzip my purse and shake the contents out all over the floor, he'll start taking off his pants and diaper (he has rather crude humor for a toddler), and that's just for starters.

He's quite bright and knows that his discipline at home (distraction, time-outs and sometimes swats on the tush) aren't going to cut it at church. I swear that little guy realizes Mommy's hands are somewhat tied sitting there in close quarters with several hundred quiet people. He is a complete terror at Mass, so I always have to leave him with a sitter (I'm a single mom). And I don't feel the least bit guilty about it!

We do, however, make a weekly trip to the Adoration Chapel. We stay for just a couple of minutes, but he seems to do well there for some reason.

I feel for you, good luck, and this stage will pass.

God bless.


#35

[quote="SarahR, post:34, topic:204428"]
You are not alone!

My youngest (age 2 1/2) has no church manners whatsoever. My older 3 kids were manageable with "firm looks" and "clear expectations" etc, but not this one. He loves the captive audience at Mass, and uses it to do the naughtiest things his sweet little mind can conceive of. He intentionally mimics what the priest says, he'll start calling out the new words he's learned through potty-training (because it gets him attention from the other parishioners), he screams that he wants "one of those cookies" during Consecration :blush:, anything I whisper to him he will repeat at an extremely loud decibel level "Noooooo, I don't see Jesus. Jesus isn't heeeerrrrre. I don't want to praaaaaaayyyy", he'll try to pull the hair of the person sitting in front of us, tear pages in the hymnal, unzip my purse and shake the contents out all over the floor, he'll start taking off his pants and diaper (he has rather crude humor for a toddler), and that's just for starters.

He's quite bright and knows that his discipline at home (distraction, time-outs and sometimes swats on the tush) aren't going to cut it at church. I swear that little guy realizes Mommy's hands are somewhat tied sitting there in close quarters with several hundred quiet people. He is a complete terror at Mass, so I always have to leave him with a sitter (I'm a single mom). And I don't feel the least bit guilty about it!

We do, however, make a weekly trip to the Adoration Chapel. We stay for just a couple of minutes, but he seems to do well there for some reason.

I feel for you, good luck, and this stage will pass.

God bless.

[/quote]

Your hands may not be so tied. If he's old enough to be potty-trained, he's old enough to look down the road just a little while.

You might try what I try when my kids are not so great in the store. I say, "Oh, you know, you aren't doing very well at behaving in the grocery store. I think you need more practice!" Just because I don't want a misbehaving kid in the store with me doesn't mean that he doesn't want to be there even more. Ah yes...mothers always put their kids needs above their own. Aren't they lucky when we make the sacrifice when they need to be miserable far more than we need to be happy?! :rolleyes:

At our house, good behavior gets you choices. Not-so-good behavior gets the opposite of whatever it is that you want. In my case, if there is someone to watch them while I go to store, they only get to stay home if they've behaved themselves there recently. Otherwise, it is off to the store for more behaving-in-the-store practice.

In your case, you have the added advantage of siblings to reward while he goes without. I think maybe his well-behaved brothers and sisters get to go over to the parish center for doughnuts after Mass, and you and he get to stay over at the church and practice until the family comes back to get you. (It doesn't have to be doughnuts. Just make sure the treat is a place he likes to go or do.)

I would give a heads up in advance, to let him know the rules have changed: "This week, the kids who are very good at Mass get a very-good-at-Mass treat. The kids who aren't good get to stay at church and practice being good until the others get back from their treat. The kids who are only a little good can practice being better next week, but they don't get a treat until they do a really good job."

He's bright, so he may catch on that his number is up just from hearing the theory, but he's only two and a half, so he may not get it right away. He may need a little, "Oh, no, I'm sorry. Doughnuts are only for the kids who were good at Mass. Don't worry, you'll do better next week. I know you will." Be relentlessly positive about his prospects of giving in and how happy he'll be about it. This gives him no battle of wills to push against when you are so stubbornly on his side. (It drives them nuts.)

The sliding scale of rewards also gives him a reason to straighten up when he's already lost the gold prize. This follows my rule of penalties for kids: Make sure penalties aren't so bad that further bad behavior can't make things worse, if there will be any time to make more choices between the offense and the penalty. Otherwise, they'll figure out that they may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.

You can let the older kids encourage him--c'mon, Jack, be good, because we want you to have doughnuts with us--but no gloating over their superior performance is allowed. Nothing good will come of that. And no chiming in or piling on in agreement while Mom is parenting. One set of parents is enough for anybody.


#36

[quote="dontknow, post:21, topic:204428"]
We have been in this situation for about 5 weeks - even with a Crying Room.

Our soon to be 2 year old has been easy to contain until about the last 5 weeks. At this point it's about 10 - 15 minutes in the pew and then my wife or myself taking her out for walks, etc.... We take turns each week..

[/quote]

If I may suggest...it's possible that your child has learned that the best way to make Mass pleasant is to act up and then she'll get to walk around outside with Mommy or Daddy. I would suggest that any time you bring her out, don't take walks with her, or entertain her in any way. Rather, the time in the back needs to be significantly less pleasant than sitting nicely in the pew would be. It should feel like a punishment. By removing her, but making it fun, you reinforce the behavior that got her removed. OTOH, by taking her out, holding her in a "death grip" and sternly whispering "you didn't obey Mommy, now you can't get down," you are teaching her that bad behavior doesn't work out so well. By saying "when you're ready to be quiet, we can go back in and you can sit by yourself in the pew" you're showing her that "quiet" and "in" is preferable. And then it's just a matter of lather rinse repeat for her to actually learn to follow the expectations.

Also, like others have said, make the older children the priority. If it is impossible to properly train them while the little ones are there, then split Mass as much as you can and bring the trainable ones with you so you can really focus on teaching them how to behave. Once they're getting it, start sending them with Dad, and start bringing the next youngest one alone (who might be 3 by then?) with you. And yes, definitely try to get to Mass by yourself now and then, or with dh. You do need to be refreshed, and you should be able to worship fully.

It IS really difficult, and generally feels unfulfilling, to spend your Mass disciplining and training. But if the child is going to be with you, you have to think of the long term gains, or rather the long term difficulties you'll face if you do end up giving in. I've heard the term "Mother's Prayer" used to describe that distracted state that we're often in when we're so busy dealing with our children that we miss most of Mass. There are days when I cling to that term, with the knowledge that Jesus wants the children to come to him, and with the knowledge that this is the only way to train up my children.


#37

Exactly. Never wage a battle you aren’t certain to win.
The fewer battles, the better;
the more positive and connected you can stay with your child while the chosen battles are waged, the better;
and the more the battles of parenthood are waged well off of parish grounds, the better.

For instance, if you’re going to try the method of “oh, sorry, no doughnuts for you” that I outlined above, you absolutely have to have a Plan B in place of what you’re going to do if the child decides on a long-term nuclear campaign. You cannot retreat or surrender, so you always must have a plan for how to change the battle field to more advantageous ground. For instance, you might decide that if the child is better left at home, then you still have to make sure that not being at Mass is clearly less to his advantage than going. There is going to be a day when he has to come back, after all. The idea is for him to come around to the idea that he looks forward to it as much as you do. You might let him know what a wonderful meal you had after Mass, and how much you’re looking forward to the day when he can come back to Mass with you and join you at the restaurant afterwards, and won’t he be a big boy then? If the carrot is prized enough, that only has to be maybe one Mass in four.

There are books out there about strong-willed children that have some good ideas about how to think about these problems. Mostly, you have to look down the tracks a little farther than the child at all times, with a goal of giving them an outlook where they will personally choose what you’re trying to teach them to want well before they are too big for you to force them to do it any more. The less force used, then, the better.


#38

I've got really little ones as well, all three of mine are a new 5 and under. It isn't reasonable to expect 3 and under to "behave" at Mass. They lack impulse control and the ability to sit still for that long. I do not feel at all bad for leaving them at home when I can and just taking my oldest. I think around age 3 is when they can really start going and attempting to make it through without huge meltdowns or distractions. Like so many others said, I would go to alternating Masses with your husband and leave your really young ones at home. This isn't a matter of teaching them the proper way to be in Mass - they are just too little at this point to do it.

I have to add that there have been times when I've had to take all three alone and it is very discouraging when we are seated before Mass and people sit down near us, then look over and promptly get up and move away. I assure you we didn't plot to ruin your Mass by sitting the pews. A little empathy and maybe even a bit of assistance instead of running for the hills would be very appreciated by all the parents who have very young children and are trying to get them through Mass with as little trouble as possible! :thumbsup:


#39

[quote="EasterJoy, post:37, topic:204428"]
Exactly. Never wage a battle you aren't certain to win.
The fewer battles, the better;
the more positive and connected you can stay with your child while the chosen battles are waged, the better;
and the more the battles of parenthood are waged well off of parish grounds, the better.

For instance, if you're going to try the method of "oh, sorry, no doughnuts for you" that I outlined above, you absolutely have to have a Plan B in place of what you're going to do if the child decides on a long-term nuclear campaign. You cannot retreat or surrender, so you always must have a plan for how to change the battle field to more advantageous ground. For instance, you might decide that if the child is better left at home, then you still have to make sure that not being at Mass is clearly less to his advantage than going. There is going to be a day when he has to come back, after all. The idea is for him to come around to the idea that he looks forward to it as much as you do. You might let him know what a wonderful meal you had after Mass, and how much you're looking forward to the day when he can come back to Mass with you and join you at the restaurant afterwards, and won't he be a big boy then? If the carrot is prized enough, that only has to be maybe one Mass in four.

There are books out there about strong-willed children that have some good ideas about how to think about these problems. Mostly, you have to look down the tracks a little farther than the child at all times, with a goal of giving them an outlook where they will personally choose what you're trying to teach them to want well before they are too big for you to force them to do it any more. The less force used, then, the better.

[/quote]

Agreed.

Any of the prior posts about spanking, etc... will be completely and entirely ignored by us since that's not our style. Gentle Discipline is not the same thing as being a Doormat.

This was the first week we left her with her Uncle while we went to Mass. Picked her up right after. She's also very well behaved with any of her sitters.

Ironically enough, several people at Church told us over and over to be sure to bring her. In fact, one lady who we did not see in Church, even phoned a relative of ours to ensure everything was OK.

Apparently we (more like our daughter) were missed.

Go figure....


#40

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