Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jibber Jabber at Mass

This morning on Facebook, I posted a little note re: moms bringing little ones to Mass and the usual 'Jibber Jabber' that goes with it.

The on-going conversation thread afterwards was interesting, especially from the moms who struggle to bring little ones to Mass as they feel it is distracting, and they sometimes get stares from others who are in attendance.

I think there are a few things happening here:

1) Especially in bigger Churches, voices echo like crazy.  Part of a toddler's growth and development (DISCLAIMER: NOT A CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST!!!!!) is learning to interact with their environment.  When they hear that echo, they can't help but make some noise.  For me, this is not interruptive.  I can usually speak louder than a toddler and still get my point across.  Also, it is important to have little ones in the presence of Our Lord, as I quipped: they speak directly to Him!  So, to the rest of us: Suffer the little children!

2) To those who grumble, DEAL WITH IT!  You were likely there once and shouldn't we rejoice, as a Pro-Life People, at the gift of life and little lives, especially?

3) Now, a screaming, wailing child is an entirely different matter.  These children I can't yell over, cause it just encourages them to get louder.  Feel free to take them out back to calm them down, deal with whatever made them so angry and come back in when you can.  Anyone who has been around children should understand.  THEY ARE NOT ROBOTS!  They're not even dogs who are trainable.  We all understand and no, you are not a bad parent because your child screamed out bloody murder at Mass.  It is their way of getting attention, give it to them.

4) Some of the most humerous things I remember about my family involve my nieces and nephews (soon to be 18) doing goofy stuff, even at Mass.  A few weeks ago, two nieces (cousins, not sisters) were sitting on the floor across the main aisle making faces at each other during the recessional at the end of Mass.  I just stopped and looked down at both of them and laughed and then kept on going.

4.b) My oldest sister has a brother-in-law who was ordained to the priesthood when I was in high school (serving his Mass of Thanksgiving might have had something to do with my own vocation, don't ya think?)  During that Mass, my nephew (and Godson) started screaming bloody murder.  So, up he goes into mom's arms and starts to be carried out the back.  Well inarticulate screams turned into very distinct yells: "DON'T SPANK MY BUTT, MOMMY!!!!" repeated down the side aisle (which was now roughly FIVE MILES long for my sister.  I think I heard her mumble, even from up on the Altar: "Well, I wasn't going to, but now....."

Morale of the Story: Life Happens.  With kids, life often takes unexpected turns.  Enjoy the ride; and bring your children to Mass.


Anonymous said...

Nice column. Mass seems endless for kids. A great solution to help them through this is to actually go to Mass MORE. Yep, attending daily Mass is the answer. Kids learn to handle the 30 minutes quite nicely. When Sunday arrives it is not the battle of endurance for kids on the "frequent flyer" program that it is for the kids who attend less often.

Your "deal with it" comment is fairly insensative. Many of us develop hearing loss as we age. If the child is disruptive it is just common courtesy to take the child to a quieter location. (no one would sit in a restaurant with a screaming child and expect that other patrons should just deal with it) Sitting in a specific area for families is another way of limiting the commotion and respecting other worshipers.

All are welcome and all can be respectful of the stages of life we find ourselves and others in.

Father Schnippel said...


read down further. Deal with the little jibber jabber.

If you have to move b/c of hearing, please indicate it to the parents b/c your moving can come across to them as being 2nd class parents for not controling their children.

if the kid is screaming, yes, take the child out.

Anonymous said...

OK, fine---we will take all 7 (yes, that includes our 1 and 3 year old (don't forget Erin)) this next Sunday to Holy Angels--maybe I should prepare both Fr Dan's that we're coming! ;)

Anon--PLEASE let the parent know why you're moving seats! We are already very sensitive to the jibber jabber situation.

Gail F said...

Another thing to remember is that while some parents are clueless and/or rude, you never know what others are dealing with. Getting our daughter to be quiet was fairly easy; getting her younger brother to be quiet was a constant and frustrating challenge. Not only would he talk or kick his feet or whatever; he also would move around, lie down on the pew, sit on the floor, etc., numerous times every hour no matter what we did. He also would frequently have temper tantrums at home before church, refusing to go. He was not disruptive enough to take out of church, he was just disruptive enough to annoy (we assumed) everyone around us. For years. He would lie down on the pew and inch his way down it, for instance, a year or two after other kids his age had stopped doing it. We assumed that it was our fault as parents and I'm sure many other people did too.

In fourth grade he was diagnosed with ADHD. Medication and therapy made a huge difference in his behavior, his focus, and his patience for things. ADHD is not a made-up disorder, it is very real and affects a person's entire life. Just try living with someone who has it.

My point is that everyone should teach their children to behave at mass -- but remember to be charitable. You don't always know what other people are dealing with, and sometimes they don't even know what they're dealing with.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that I did take our entire family to mass yesterday at HA and everything went very well. Kurt and I discovered that it has been since Michael's baptism (18months) since we've been together as a family at mass--sad isn't it!! Both Kurt and I enjoyed being together again and know that we will continue going as a family more often. Thanks for the inspirational FB post!!! BTW--I had to throw an email out to your sister--Tania an Aaron do like each other!! ;) YAY, Homan's!

Lady.Rosary said...

It's quite inevitable to hear a child make sounds in the Church. It's part of their learning to stay quiet if needed. We'll just have to drown out the noise because we need to bring more children to Church.

LargeBill said...

The hearing issue really varies depending on the church and the acoustics. I love kids and will admit (okay confess) to getting distracted in Mass by making faces to get babies to smile. However, my hearing isn't what it once was and I've learned in our parish where to sit to best hear the readings and homily. Some older churches it isn't as easy to hear in. Since Amy brought up Holy Angels, I was married there and get up there for Mass from time to time since my Mother-in-Law still lives in Sidney. It is an older church, but hearing is never a problem there.

Bottom line, bring the kids to Mass. If they scream during a reading, well I should have read it during the week. If they interrupt the homily, well most priests are pretty darn good at repeating themselves to get their point across.