When does a child "deserve" a seat at Mass

I’ve run into the notion that children under a certain age–around 3–should be “lap children” if a Mass is crowded.

My opinion is that once a child can sit and wants to sit by themselves most of the time they should be able to have a seat or if there are pews enough space that they are comfortable.

However, among the older people, my view seems not to be appreciated. Many moons ago at a crowded Mass, someone suggested that my niece (then 7 and not a small girl) sit on my lap the entire time!!! We had arrived early. Someone who arrived after Mass began wanted her seat.

I’m no parent, but it is my personal opinion that a child who can sit long enough without trying to get up and move around should be allowed his or her own seat. But, if the Mass is crowded, it is polite to have your child sit on your lap (so long as they’re young enough to do so; I don’t know if seven is young enough or not). Much better than someone else having to sit on your lap. :slight_smile: (Last bit’s supposed to be humorous!)

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The average 7yo girl is about 22KG or 50lbs. Not really something that most women of average size (about 130lbs or 58kg) can do comfortably…plus by 7 they should be participating…kneeling…etc.

My kids were not “lap children” after 1 or so. I’m a bit smaller than the average woman and my husband is smaller than the average man. It’s not comfortable and when it’s hot it’s really impossible.


Seven is way too old to be sitting on a lap for Mass. That image is almost funny.

Otherwise, it depends on the size and temperament of the kid, and the ability of the parent.


I agree seven is too old. By that age they should be getting ready to make their first confessions and receive communion for the first time. They should be actively participating in the Mass.


If your building has a seating capacity set by the fire Marshall, infants would be part of that occupancy count. No two-fers. Each person has their own seat regardless of age.


I think it is ridiculous for a mom to be expected to hold a small child or even a baby on her lap the whole hour. Surely the baby, if in a carrier, could be placed on the pew, and a child who is able to sit reliably by him or herself can have a child-size portion of the pew to sit on.

Also, if you arrived at Mass early and took seats, then whoever arrived late can stand in the back. Simple as that. I’ve stood through my share of Masses. If it’s some elderly or disabled person who needs to sit down, then I presume an usher can either get the person a chair, seat them in the section usually reserved for disabled people, or dislodge some able-bodied young man from his seat to let Grandma have it.


Yep, I agree. People who come late can’t expect to steal seats from the ones who got there on time. And each child, even a baby in a carrier, deserves a seat. Ridiculous expecting a 7 year old to sit in Mom’s lap! :joy: I would hazard a guess that the person requesting such a thing doesn’t have kids.

ETA: My daughter was 5 when I began attending Mass, and she would kneel and participate in everything. Same with all the other little kids I see at Mass. They’re adorable. They need a place to worship God as much as everyone else.


Or sit on their auntie. The lady was older–well above middle age but not elderly. Could be she never had any kids

Thanks. I’m sick of getting death stares because my preschool/toddler age children sit on their own.


How awful! Parishioners should be glad to see young children at church! Even if they cry a little, it reminds us that we really are a family, young and old all together. I would completely ignore the people giving you looks…they are really out of line and should in no way be judging you. It’s hard enough to corral the kids at Mass without people sitting in judgement on you. Just do your best and keep letting the kids have a seat. At least you’re bringing them to Mass, and that’s more than some do. :+1:


Even though I was tiny until I reached my 40s there is no way I would have sat in one of my parents’ lap when I was 7. That would have been humiliating. I was going to Mass on my own at that age,


I believe a child deserves a seat as soon as they are born… a baby/car seat or sitting on a parents lap is fine. The idea that one has to keep a child llon their lap is absurd.

The more appropriate option would be for a gentlemen to offer his seat to make room for the child


I wish I lived some place where this was an issue. Be thankful your mass is full.


You mean this is a regular occurrence? Does your church fill up so completely that there are no seats left?

I think a child should have his/her own seat. However, if the church is crowded and it’s practical for the child to sit on an adults lap, I think that would be courteous and neighborly. But 7 is too old for it.


My squirmy 7-year-old wants to sit on my lap and I’m constantly reminding him that he needs to sit on his own. It is very uncomfortable to have him sit on me. My three-year-old also has her own seat.

Mostly just the holidays. Other weeks the church isn’t crowded but fairly full. But almost everyone is ancient. The church is on the smaller side and it’s for a few towns. It’s not super tiny but by no means a big church. Probably somewhere just south of medium.

10 years from now it won’t be because all the old biddies will be dead anyway. It’s just a matter of time.

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You gotta keep the faith. If we give up, trying to bring people home, it will become a self fulfilling prophecy.

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