What Teens will do in Church!


OK, this is my personal RANT, although I have to get it out!

Midnight Mass Christmas Eve, we went to Mass about an hour prior due to the Chior performing during that time. A couple with their two teenage sons sit in the pew next to me. As they sit down I glance over and the teen boy next to me has his CD player and an ACDC cd!!! I am shocked to say the least. Well about 30 seconds later, he puts the CD in and puts his headphones on. His parents just act like nothing is wrong!! The other teenager begins playing with some handheld game, I think on his cell phone, I couldn’t really tell. They also just smile at him and let him be!!!
Now to their credit, they did turn everything off when Mass started.
Although, I do know we have had problems in our parish with some teenagers playing their video games during Mass!!
I just don’t get it, how can these parents sit there and do NOTHING!! I guess in one sense I am happy they were able to get their teenage sons to Mass, but then I personally wanted to knock some sense into all 4 of them!!!
Do these parents not realize that they can TAKE these things away from their kids. I personally think that if my teenager walked into church with a video game or cd player, he would find me pulling him out by his ear and smashing the thing on the church steps, in front of God and everyone!!!
Thank you for letting me RANT!!!:smiley:


Hmmmmmmm:hmmm: Catholic really does mean universal. We had the same thing going on behind us at Christmas Mass. Poker playing on the phone, constant rude comments about the music, how “boring” everything is…
Not sure why people bother going to church once a year. All I can pray for is God is planting seeds.


I assure you I am NOT a teen, but I do try to minister to them through our high school youth group. Maybe that’s why I want to defend them when I can.

That said, I too would be upset by the actions of these kids, but I have seen adults display equally disrespectful behavior…which is really what you observed in the parents of these teens. Maybe a better title would be “What some PEOPLE will do in Church!!”

A couple of years ago, I accompanied 16 of our high school students to a youth conference in our diocese. There was a huge Mass at an area church. We happened to sit right next to two girls and two boys who TALKED all the way through Mass. When they weren’t talking they were writing notes to each other and laughing. When we got back to the car, I was ready to launch into a rant…but the girls in my car all beat me to it! They were shocked and dismayed that anyone would behave in such a manner and were embarrassed that we were sitting so close lest someone think those kids were part of our group. Soooo…many teens DO know how to act. We don’t want to lump the “good” in with the “bad”.

As a side note, a new family has started coming to our church. They appear to be very traditionalist. A boy in my Confirmation class asked what was up with that…“They don’t even participate in the Mass…all they do is stare at their prayer books!” Imagine that…praying!!! LOL This boy would never bring a CD player to Mass, but I found it funny that HE was so distracted by something “different” that he couldn’t even recall the homily. And he was participating??

Teens…ya gotta love 'em!


Thanks for this post… things like this really make me appreciate my kids even when they do the whole touch each other thing before mass…


Surely, though, you would not do such a thing - publicly destroy a child’s possession - unless you had previously made it very, very clear to the child why such behaviour would be very, very wrong and what the consequences would be?

I don’t have children but holy cow I can see why many of them behave the way they do when I look at their parents - much as I don’t like their behaviour I’m hard pressed to hold some of them completely responsible for it. I’m with KathyA - substitute “people” for “teens”. :frowning:

It’s not an issue at all on my home turf but I travel round a lot as “freelance” musician and I see horrors like one 2nd Rite of Reconciliation for parents at a primary school where it took the principal a good 2 minutes of shouting into a PA to get the group to SHUT UP during individual confessions - once the bishop was no longer talking directly to them, they all thought it was yak time. He then had to keep reading from the Lectionary over the PA the whole time because - even after having been yelled at - the minute the quiet music started again, off they went once more. Brilliant example to set for the kiddiewinkies. :eek:


To the OP, I would never have let my kids bring anything other than themselves and a prayerbook to church. Unfortunately, it isn’t always limited to teens, as another poster pointed out. To me, church is a place to pray or sit quietly until Mass starts. You can socialize after Mass. And enough with the “Lighthouse” necks. Does it really matter who is coming in after you? And will you die if you don’t have your cell phone?? At Mass Christmas Eve, someone received AND answered a call. And NO it wasn’t important: "I told you I would stop and get bread"
As far as the teens you saw, I’d have said something to the parents…right there. I already have.


I have a teenage boy–and there are no ipods, or gadgets or games…coming into mass. Perhaps the teens you speak of, don’t attend mass much, and they just didn’t see anything wrong with it. My kids were not used to mass either several years ago, and it takes practice and persistence to set the example. But, my son used to put his head in his hand, and stare at his shoes…looking bored beyond belief. But, now, that he is a wee bit older (15):smiley: he seems to listen to the homily more…and his head is no longer facing down. He really enjoyed the teen mass, and although we won’t attend that mass always, I think we will go to that at least once per month, because it was healthy for him to see other teens around him, that he could relate to.

Plus–I stare at my kids a lot in mass in the past when they weren’t listening or appearing bored, so they would rather just behave than deal with my stare. But, what is nice to see is that they both have come to know and love the Lord–but that takes persistence. If a parent(s) brings his/her children to mass once in a blue moon, they won’t understand the magnitude of why they’re there to begin with. :o I actually don’t blame the teens…kids will do whatever, if they are not told it’s wrong.


I am a teen (now in college) and I would say that the behavior you saw should be blamed just as much on the parents as the teens. In my case, I was raised to attend mass every weekend, to be respectful, to participate in the mass, ect.

Now as a college student I continue to follow this (with or without my parents next to me). I even have become more involved in my parish and campus youth group since coming to college. If the parents had raised their children to be more attentive, prayerful, respectful at mass, then they wouldn’t be acting this way as teens.

It seems to me that when teens act in a disruptive and disrespectuful manner in church, it is because they are not accustomed to coming to church and/or that their parents have not raised them with a good Catholic upbringing.

Although by the time a person is in their teenage years they should be better behaved than this, it still is the responsibility of the parent to raise the child to behave.


Okay- our kids are still little - my first thought was “Oh no, I thought I was almost DONE bringing toys to Mass!” It would have been awfully funny for a family with little ones turn around and offer crayons and a coloring book!


I once looked over at mine and they were sitting quietly spelling out words with sign language with their fingers during the sermon. Having a whole conversation! Kind of hard to take fingers away…

I remember being less than perfectly attentive as a teen. There were certain siblings I couldn’t sit next to or they would spark me to fits of silent giggles with my face buried behind my hand. Everyone thought I was praying. Except my mother who glared at me.

I grew out of it. Now I glare at my children. Ahh, the circle of life…


some of the shenanigans teens in our parish are up to this Christmas season:
peer ministry leadership retreat for Disciples in Mission, now they are buggin’ me to let them lead retreats and join the parish evangelization team. teens evangelizing, what next?

8 teens presented Advent retreats, including supervising all prayers, readings, meditations, activities, plus snack and clean-up for 3 CCD sessions with the younger children

competition between Jr Hi and Sr. High for food collection yielded over 200 frozen turkeys and chickens and two trailer-loads of canned food, equal to the amount collected by the rest of the parish

serving and cleaning up after Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for the needy.

assisting with the giving tree collection (again the teens collected as many gifts as the rest of the parish) and with distribution, including at the dinners, and in the colonias.

serving at Christmas eve Masses as Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds etc, in the choir, as ushers and greeters, altar servers, in candlelight procession, as readers and I don’t know what all (and in many cases being the ones to set the example to visitors about genuflecting, reverence, participation etc.).

Putting on Posadas for the parish.

conducting an Advent penance service, leading rosaries, and presenting reflections for mini-retreats for the rest of the parish.

On their own initiative, starting and carrying out 40 days for life activities, and establishing what has become a permanent pro-life committee for the parish.

leading posadas in the neighborhoods

this is in addition to “community service” projects done through their schools and clubs.

what’s the matter with kids today?


I didn’t go to midnight mass and after I saw the floor on Christmas day I will be honest I am glad I was there. The floor was littered with fruit loops and little kiddie snacks. I remember having to keep the boys occupied, quiet or fed during mass. My parents taught me to leave a place better than you found it. So if there was a mess made then it was going to clean it up. Lack of responsibility that drives me crazy and I have been guilty of it too. I currently have a tween who will be a teenager in least that a month and I work with teens. I have more of a issue with parents than I do with teens. My husband and I were at a Communion “practice”. The candidates were in one section and the parents were sitting behind them. The adults were the Chatty Pattys :mad: we were sitting behind a couple who were directly behind some young children and the conversation was getting a little heated and foul language was beginning and my husband tapped the man on the shoulder and just reminded him where we were. We were actually in church, no mass, but still… Back to my teens that I work with they are the best and they are really quiet at mass but probably cause I have them sit in the very front near the altar. If they were sitting in the back like some folks well… they might be chatting. Thanks for posting… and thanks for letting me rant too :slight_smile: :thumbsup:


I notice mine behave better when I sit near the front.


puzzleannie - I agree with you, there are many GOOD things that teens do in and outside of Church. I live in a community with a STRONG Catholic school system and I do see many of the GREAT things these kids do not only for our faith community but for our whole community. Although, I am not positive, I would take a guess that these two boys are students at our Catholic High School. By my observations of their behavior during Mass (compaired to before Mass), they are not dragged to Mass once or twice a year, they fully showed they know the Mass and how to participate. One of my favorite Masses to attend is the middle school’s morning Mass. It is amazing how well these children not only behave, but participate in Mass!

KathyA - Yes you are VERY right, I should have titled it “What PEOPLE will do in Church!!!”

To be honest, my biggest complaint is not that they did this before mass, or even that their parents did nothing to prevent it, it was the music that the teen sitting next to me decided was appropriate to listen to in a Church. ACDC should NEVER be allowed to be listened to in any Church!!! If he would have pulled out some Christian Rock group CD, I don’t think it would have bothered me as much!

Guitar - I have a 20 yo son that is 6’2", 240lbs. (all muscle). He is helping my father on the family farm 3 states away, therefore he was not at Mass with me. When I talked to him the following morning, he was the one that reminded me that, even though I am half his size, if he would have done that I would have pulled him out of Church by his ear and smashed the CD player on the front steps and make him clean up every little piece. And I know he knows I would have done this if I would have given him a warning or not!! I think he learned that when he was in 3rd grade and he was sent home with a note telling me he was talking too much during class. When I took off a day of work the following week and sat behind him at school the whole day, and then made him work 8.5 hours for me to make up for the time I missed at work, he knew!

Katie1723 - Ohhh, I wanted to, and believe me if I would have heard a ounce of the music through his headphones, I would have! My husband was ushering, he said he would have kindly taken them out and asked them to stop it. I did pray for them alot, so I felt I did what I could.

We always attend the EARLY Mass on Sundays and sit near the front, so typically I don’t get to see teens at Mass. My husband ushers and ushers at later services have had to escort some people out and ask them to refrain from their game playing, talking, etc. We also have some cops that attend our Parish and I have heard of a few times they have changed seats in the middle of Mass just to sit behind those causing a disturbance. I remember seeing one (in uniform and all) do this one time, so the teens decided they would leave in the middle of Mass and he kindly put his hands on their shoulders and assisted them in sitting back down!

I do in ways also blame the parents. I observe at work pretty much everyday how parents either refuse or ignore their childs behavior, and many times even the parents displaying rude behavior with no respect for others. I have a BIL that has 4 teenagers and I am sure when I recounted this behavior at Christmas dinner he was probably aware I could be talking about his children (should he have taken them to Church).


They’ve been derilict in the parental duties for years. Do you think that this Mass behavior just popped up Monday night? It started when they were babies, and has progressed all these years. First it was toys and Cheerios and now it’s cell phones and iPods.


Now I was one of those parents with the bottle of juice and the bag of cheerios (which I dispensed one by one into a baby mouth. The bag was not sprinkled about like confetti.) And a little purse full of small fuzzy quiet toys and books on the saints.

Having spent most of my parental life going to church alone with three small children, I had to do SOMETHING to keep them quiet. But as soon as they were old enough to sit there and pay attention, the toys were taken away. I couldn’t take one child out, or we all had to leave. (Don’t say cry room… the women in there were talking through the Consecration about pediatricians and immunizations and formulas. Glares and pleading looks were met with complete obtuse continuation of the chatter.)

That makes me twice as angry at parents who let their kids be loud and disruptive. Sometimes I felt I barely got anything out of Mass because I spent the whole time managing the children’s behavior. I didn’t allow my children to be disruptive. I really resent it when other parents don’t even try to rein in their little darlings.


I wonder if the parents would have allowed this in any other setting. Its just plain rude to be attending a concert or a lecture etc and to plug in to something else. But our society has become all about “self” and not about others (self-denial). I mean, honestly, they can’t go without for 1 or 2 hours?

It would have bothered me regardless of what they were listening to. Pray for them and their parents if you can’t bring yourself to say something to them.


I highly doubt that parents would pay money to take their kids to a concert or lecture that the kids had no interest in. Kids at concerts probably would not be listening to their ipods, since they would not be at the concert if they didn’t like the music that the performers were playing.

As for the kid that the OP noticed on Christmas Eve in church, I would ask if the OP ever sees that kid in church at any other time besides Easter. My guess is that this family does not attend Mass regularly. I would say that not even going to Mass is more problematic than his behaviour at Mass when he is there.



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