The Third Rail of the Catholic Blogosphere, Part II: Crying Kids at Mass

A couple of years ago I tackled a topic (modesty in dress for women) that had become a “third rail” of the Catholic blogosphere — a topic that had a tendency to burn any St. Blogger who touched it due to the intensity of the resultant combox war.
Recently it seems an even more highly charged topic has come up at several blogs: whether or not infants and toddlers belong at Sunday Mass, given their propensity to squirm, bounce, giggle, cry, scream and otherwise do things adults find distracting.
In general, commenters on this issue fall into two camps: the “Bring The Kids” camp who believe children of all ages should attend Mass regularly from birth if possible, and the “Leave Them Home” camp who prefer that parents not  bring children to Mass regularly until they are old enough to sit still, pay attention and maintain appropriate behavior for a reasonable length of time.
As with most combox wars, each side seems to believe the worst of the other. The Bring The Kids faction accuses the Leave Them Home crowd of buying into the secular anti-life mentality that treats children as spoilers of adult peace and contentment. Meanwhile, the Leave Them Home camp accuses the Bring The Kids camp of placing unreasonable expectations upon their children and others, and selfishly interfering with the ability of other parishioners to worship in peace.

Which side is right? Actually, I think they both can be, depending on the situation. Children below the age of reason (traditionally, about 7 years old) are not obligated to attend Sunday Mass, so parents can choose to bring them or not,  provided they do not neglect their own Mass obligation (or that of older children) in the process. Attending Mass as a family, with all children present regardless of age, is praiseworthy and to be encouraged. But there is no Church law that requires all members of a family to attend the same Mass at all times. As long as the parents and older children fulfill their Mass obligations and instruct their younger children in the faith, how they do so is up to them.

Some other points I would like to emphasize are:

What worked for you, your parents, or your kids does not necessarily work for everyone. This is probably the biggest reason the debate has become so heated — those who embrace one approach or the other insist that everyone else should do the same. If the “Leave Them Home” DRE who commented at The Deacon’s Bench blog  had simply said “This is what worked for my family,” or “Here’s a suggestion I think might be helpful,” far fewer readers would have been shocked or taken offense.  What really sparked the combox firestorm, apparently, was her disparaging comments regarding those who Bring The Kids:

Yes, parents have a duty to raise up their children in the faith.  But, before they (children) have the ability to participate in the Mass & have a basic understanding of what the Mass is about, they belong at home.  It isn’t fair to expect them to behave beyond their age level…. after sacrificing for so many years, I feel like I’ve paid my dues & am entitled to be at Mass without being forced to leave or not come because of the crying & screaming.

Some Bring The Kids proponents, meanwhile, also take a “my way or the highway” approach:

While I respect the intention behind it, a parent who leaves a child at home “until they are old enough” is being unjust regarding the child’s religious education….  Robbing a child of that early sensual experience of God and His Church is a very serious impediment to future catechesis and spiritual development.

I beg to differ, for reasons that are explained below.

A decision to follow one approach or the other is not irrevocable. Two-parent families are free to decide — on a week-by-week basis if necessary — whether to bring the little ones along (one-parent families, however, generally have no choice but to Bring The Kids). If they or the child has hit a particularly rough patch and one or both parents really needs a break from spending the entire Mass on high alert for misbehavior, they should not feel guilty if they leave the child at home for a week (or two, or more) until they are ready to bring him or her back. (This may be an issue for children on the autism spectrum, whose condition tends to manifest itself around age 18-24 months and causes them to become extremely sensitive to sounds, visuals, and other stimuli “normal” children and adults can overlook.) Likewise, parents who opt to leave young children at home until a certain age can “experiment” with bringing them to a Sunday or even a weekday Mass at an earlier age. Parents can also adopt different approaches for different children based on their temperament and abilities.

Infants and toddlers do “get something” out of being present at Mass. They get the chance to be in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and they get a chance to immerse themselves in Catholic piety and culture so that it becomes second nature to them when they are older. If they are baptized, they have a “right” to be present, even if they are not yet receiving the Eucharist or capable of fully understanding what it means. (The same applies to older children or adults who are mentally handicapped or experiencing dementia.) I brought my own daughter (now 17) to Mass from birth and have never regretted doing so. That said…

Waiting until the child is older doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will “never learn” how to behave in church. My own parents waited until my older brother and I were each about 5 years old to take us to Mass (they went separately in the meantime). Both of us had no trouble at all learning how to conduct ourselves in church, and both of us have faithfully attended Mass ever since. So it did not, as far as I can tell, impede our catechesis or spiritual development in any way.

Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux and sainthood candidates themselves, didn’t bring Therese to Mass for the first time until she was 4. You may know of other Catholic families who took the Leave Them Home approach (which apparently was more common prior to Vatican II) and their kids turned out just fine. Again, it depends on the child, the parents, and their temperament, and on how the parents prepare their child for attending Mass — if they present it as a “big boy/girl” privilege and something to be excited about, the child will probably approach it with a good attitude and have little trouble adjusting.

It is not always possible to predict when sporadic cries, yells, giggles, etc. will deterioriate into a full-blown meltdown or tantrum. Sometimes the disturbance passes quickly or can be resolved with just a brief word or gesture. Other times, nothing the parent does seems to help and their only recourse is to head for the vestibule or cry room, or even the parking lot. Some parents will wait longer to take action than others, because they do not want the child to develop the habit of wheedling his or her way out of church by misbehaving. Or a parent attending alone with several children may not want to disturb other children who are behaving appropriately until he or she absolutely has to. Bystanders may wrongly interpret this as the parent “ignoring” the child’s disruption.

The size, layout and acoustics of the church may mitigate or aggravate the annoyance level caused by baby/child noise. If several crying babies or fussy toddlers are spread out in a huge cathedral with 800 to 1,000 seats, a high vaulted ceiling and an excellent sound system, chances are they will be less disruptive than if they were crammed in a tiny country church with only 150-200 seats and no cry room, or in a 1970s-style “church in the round” with low ceilings and a poor sound system.

– Cry rooms are optional, not mandatory. The mere presence of a cry room does not require every parent present to use it. Some find that the noise and chaos level in the cry room is worse than it is outside; others see it as an “easy out” for parents who don’t want to make the effort to teach children how to behave in church. Still others, however, regard cry rooms as lifesavers and if they were not available might be tempted not to bother attending Mass at all.

Crying/screaming babies are more of a collective problem than an individual one. Some Bring the Kids proponents wonder where all the complaints about constantly screaming babies “ruining” Mass are coming from, since neither they nor any other parent they know allows their children to make noise for more than 30 seconds, or a minute tops, before taking them out. It may be that the problem rarely comes from one or two babies; it comes from multiple babies who cry at different times throughout the Mass. Even if each individual parent acts promptly to quell their child’s noise, repeated interruptions may still occur. If this happens, a non-parent whose noise tolerance level reaches its limit may decide to vent their frustration, in the form of a dirty look or disparaging remark, on the family of the baby or toddler who happens to be closest to them at that moment. The results, needless to say, are never good, and with that in mind….

If the kids making noise at Mass aren’t yours, and you can’t say something nice about them, it’s best to say nothing at all. I don’t care how tempted you are to scowl at that couple in front of you with the shrieking baby, or to give a piece of your mind to the woman who is letting her 2-year-old bang his toy against the pew, don’t do it!  It is much more likely to do harm than good.

Let’s suppose, for a moment, that the parent(s) in question really are as stupid, oblivious or inconsiderate as you think they are, and deserve to be corrected. If that’s the case, how likely is it that they will contritely listen to you and promise to do better in the future? Nope, they will probably just go away thinking you are a mean, judgmental old biddy and tune out whatever advice you offer. However, if they are generally good and conscientious parents who are having a bad day, or whose response to an incipient meltdown, crying jag, etc. is slower than you would prefer, all you will accomplish is to make them feel embarrassed and unwelcome. At worst, you may end up being the “last straw” that persuades them to leave your parish, stop attending Mass altogether, or join a Protestant church that is “more welcoming” toward their children. The risks far outweigh any potential benefits, in my opinion.

On the other hand, if you see a parent struggling with a crying baby or restless toddler and think “Yes, I’ve been there,” by all means, give her a smile or kind word at the Sign of Peace, or after Mass if you bump into her. If you have something nice to say about the child, say it — it will make Mom or Dad’s day, or week, or year.

Finally, whatever approach you choose, refrain from passing judgment on those who choose differently. If you are a firm believer in Bringing The Kids, great — but don’t assume that anyone who doesn’t bring their babies or toddlers every week is a covert child-hater,  not “really pro-life,” or remiss in their duty to teach the faith to their children. They may simply be trying to be considerate of others. Likewise, if you take the Leave Them Home approach, don’t assume that those who do bring their babies and toddlers are being inconsiderate or selfish. As explained above, if there is more than one small child present at Mass, noise is likely to occur throughout the Mass no matter how well parents attempt to keep their own children under control. The only way to completely prevent disturbances would be to ban small children completely, and that is not an option!

This is where we should all listen to the advice St. Paul gave in Romans 14 regarding another contentious issue that allowed for different approaches:

 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat (or the presence/non-presence of children at Mass), you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating (or noise tolerance level)  destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (or of personal comfort level), but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food (or of convienience). 


 

26 Responses to The Third Rail of the Catholic Blogosphere, Part II: Crying Kids at Mass

  • Jonathan says:

    Very very well said. In my experience, my annoyance rarely comes from the kids who cry or fuss – it’s the parents who choose to ignore their children (or are unaware) who are kicking the pews hard enough to make them vibrate, engaging in shove matches with their siblings, or bring children to Mass who are hacking hard enough to sound like they should be in the hospital, never mind the Church. Crying – eh, it happens, and when it gets bad enough with my own 5-month old (for instance), I take her for a walk around the narthex, where I meet with other sympathetic parents. However, at least the walk calms and I am doing something for the other congregants.

  • anzlyne says:

    the discussion here seems to be “problem” oriented- no notes in any of these paragraphs of earnest youngsters watching and following the movements of the mass. ..looking into mom’s or dad’s prayer book with them, or turning to see the organ and the choir when the music soars. I good humor and a positive attitude covers a multitude of sins!
    There are plenty of children who come to mass with their parents and the experience is good for all parties. Sometimes I have seen a “holy” look on a child’s face when Father does something unusual or wonderful like the Holy Water before Mass, or the incensing of the altar.
    It also seems to me that children are little mirrors. I’ve been recently to one of those churches “in the round” where everything was beige and not a statue to be seen… of course the children acted and looked bored– so did the parents! When everybody gets dressed up in “Sunday ” clothes and goes to Mass, even the youngest child can recognize that this is different than a Saturday morning outing.
    We are all to be like little children aren’t we, as regards our receptiveness to God and all he offers us.
    I think going to Mass begins at home. Children who are not actively taught or related to in a positive way – sort of home schooled in the faith are going to have a harder time settling down.
    I want to tell you about a wonderful family who had an active son who would sometimes go down into the nether world of the kneelers and be very difficult to retrieve. He was a curious young man…I would say right at the age of reason. One Sunday morning he had apparently thought ahead about his church experience. He brought a screw driver and dismantled that kneeler. What a joy for all of us near him in church that morning!

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Thanks Elaine. I saw this round of discussions the other day and had to shake my head. This: ” What worked for you, your parents, or your kids does not necessarily work for everyone” is so true. Whenever a parenting topic comes up it seems we see warring factions develop, each side thinking that what they did is the only proper way to raise a child. What – you don’t breastfeed? Your child is clearly unloved. What, you breastfeed? What a waste of time. Etc.

    I had to laugh at the suggestion that those who bring their children to Mass are being selfish. In a sense it was selfishness that made us stop taking our kids. Our daughter is, shall we say very active, and so it was a struggle bringing her to Mass. Finally, at about age two we finally relented and brought her to the babysitting that our Parish provides courtesy of the mothers of the parish. When our second daughter was of age, we started taking her as well, thus we got to attend Mass without worrying about the kids. This has always nagged me a bit, and over the past couple of weeks we’ve started going with both of them, who are 4 and almost 2 respectively. They still don’t sit very still, but they generally stay in the pew and don’t cause too much of a ruckus. Luckily we attend a parish where we don’t really have to worry about that. They say that at St. Bernadette’s the B stands for baby, and indeed there are LOTS of kids. So no dirty looks for us.

    I think it’s a bridge too far to say that you HAVE to bring kids younger than 4 or 5 to Mass. But I’m genuinely surprised at the hostility of some who think they should be all but banished.

  • kyle kanos says:

    People who are annoyed by kids in Church need to get over it.

    What is actually annoying is when non-parents are in the crying room. The crying room is supposed to be for a child who is actually crying, not non-parented parishoners!

  • Dennis D says:

    I don’t have children and twenty years ago–I’m now 64–I didn’t want to hear kids crying at Mass. All that changed as I experienced further conversion in the Faith.

    About three years ago a young family with five kids–all under seven–sat in front of me in church. I loved watching the kids and most of them were very well behaved. But there was one little girl who was willful and headstrong. I would think to myself “heaven help the man who marries her.”

    One Sunday we were all kneeling at the consecration of the Precious Blood when I felt a tiny hand grab my shoulder and a tiny foot step on the back of my calf. I opened my eyes and stuck out my arm to stop this little girl from proceeding to climb my legs behind me to the other side of the pew. Her little hand tightened on my shoulder because she was determined to continue. Fortunately, her mother looked around at that moment. Completely mortified and apologetic she leaned over and picked up her daughter. I thought the whole incident had been hilarious.

    When I hear infants crying I think it it must be music to God’s ears because it surely is to mine. OTOH, if a child is screaming then take her back to the vestibule. We have a number of home schoolers with large families in our parish and I notice that as the children hit 4-5 years old they accompany their parents to the front while they receive communion. Their faces are usually glowing when they come back and you know they’re going to be anxious to receive the Eucharist when they hit 7 years old. It’s great training.

  • deltaflute says:

    First love the post. Its a private decision that only the family should be making.

    Kyle some people sit in the cry room sans children for medical reasons. My mother’s migraines are triggered by perfume. Just like the sounds accumulate so do the smells for her. She sits in the cryroom usually during an early mass were there are fewer children because usually its not so bad for her.

    As Catholics we should not be so quick to judge others choices without knowing the whole story.

  • Darwin says:

    The “your negative comments to the parents will not make things better” advice is particularly key.

    Sure, there may be the occasional oblivious parent who just ignores tons of screaming, but generally a parent dealing with a loud kid is already mortified. I remember when visiting another parish, a time when a priest stopped suddenly in the middle of a sermon and demanded, “Will you please take that child out?” I saw the mother stumbling towards the cry room with her other kids in tow and thought, “If she doesn’t leave this parish, that’s an act of grace right there.”

    Even less public attempts to put parents on notice can be really aggravating. There was one week I was heading out with a baby under each arm and an elderly lady usher came up to me and said, “Maybe if you didn’t look so mad all the time they wouldn’t want to cry!” Needless to say, my first reaction was to look a lot madder!

  • “There was one week I was heading out with a baby under each arm and an elderly lady usher came up to me and said, “Maybe if you didn’t look so mad all the time they wouldn’t want to cry!” Needless to say, my first reaction was to look a lot madder!”

    Everyone is an expert when they don’t have to deal with the child!

  • Ted Seeber says:

    The key in all of this (and I admit I’m on the “Bring the kids side” otherwise my special needs Christopher would know almost nothing of the faith) is don’t block others from Christ. Concentrate on yourself and your family’s needs.

  • Pinky says:

    We have an odd situation at my parish. There’s someone who can’t handle screaming children – the assistant pastor. Fussing, he can handle, but when a child gets loud he glares, and sometimes even stops speaking. Now, the icing on the cake is that he’s an overly-dramatic speaker. He inflects (shouts) during the homily. That, of course, frightens the kids, and starts them bawling, which then upsets him.

    By the way, he’s from a large family, but the youngest. He never learned the basics.

  • St Donatus says:

    I was six or seven years old when I saw my last Latin mass (until recently). Now forty five years later I went to my first Latin mass since then. It was amazing. I felt that same feeling I had then of being in the presence of God, where heaven meets the earth. If those younger then seven years old don’t get anything out of the mass, why do I remember these experiences so well and the spiritual benefits I received. Children should all be at mass whenever possible. I remember being threatened with not being able to come one week because I was acting up (I would have been about four at the time), it really tore me up. I behaved well always after that.

  • Jay says:

    About a year ago I read a pretty smart blog by a priest about kids at Mass, the title of the post was “Crying children call to mind the mystery of the Mass” and if you google it it’s the first hit.

  • Art Deco says:

    Sadly, it is less of a problem now than was the case in parishes I was attending 15 years ago because there are fewer children (and fewer people of any description) where I have been lately. The last time I can recall a situation disagreeable enough to remember was a tow-headed four year old permitted to run his mouth for about 20 minutes. I was farther away from him than just about anyone not in the sanctuary and I could hear every word. You need working ushers – which that parish lacked – to address that situation. Working ushers are elderly but ambulatory men in dark suits and ties, blessed with self-confidence, and able to both smile and scowl.

  • My parish has a number of families with lots of kids, and the young ones are normally brought to Mass. If they fuss, they are taken to the back. My four year old loves going to Mass and hates to be left at home. Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t spend a lot of time in the vestibule to get there.

    I think the benefits outweigh the costs. Every child is different, but sometimes you need to present going to Mass as a reward. If they make noise, they can’t go. Telling a kid they “can’t” is often a great motivator! We also make sure that there is a reward for good behavior. A parent should set expectations and follow through with appropriate rewards and punishments.

    We once went to Mass at a different parish in another nearby state for a couple of Sundays, as my wife was a friend’s sponsor for RCIA. We had a baby at the time. The usher insisted that we leave the church building, not even staying in the vestibule, if the baby made any peep. We noticed that there were no other children to speak of in that parish. We went to various Mass times and only saw one other child. It was sad and depressing. I couldn’t imagine a parish without children. It just didn’t seem “Catholic”. It seemed like we were in some other denomination. Or perhaps in some dystopic novel like “Children of Men” or “A Brave New World.”

    We love seeing cute babies and toddlers at Mass. My four year old always points them out for us. Now that we are beginning to send the oldest of our eight into the world, I’m a bit saddened to face the prospect of eventually going to Mass without children.

  • Mrs. Zummo says:

    I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but in the DC area where we live we have no shortage of parishes. Many of the downtown parishes are filled with mostly single apartment dwellers and tourists. If you want a quiet mass, there are lots of chruches with fewer families. Also I’ve noticed that the vigil mass and early morning masses (before 8am) have fewer kids. Most colleges and universities also have masses without many kids. So I feel that if you really want a quiet prayerful mass you can find it.

  • Erin Manning says:

    First of all, thanks for the link! :) I wrote a more recent post addressing parents of young children directly, and I think (I hope!) that one clarifies where I’m coming from.

    Second, I don’t have any problems with people deciding to do split-shifts etc. if they can and if this is what works best for their families. The problem I have comes in when people assume, first, that everyone CAN do this and that everyone therefore should. In the comments under the various posts about this there are people who point out that they have one Sunday Mass in their rural area, or that their husbands are deployed, or even in some sad cases that they are widowed or separated or divorced raising young children whom they still must bring up in the faith. It simply doesn’t help the situation when there’s a default presumption that small children don’t belong at Mass at all until the age of five or six.

    Third, and this is where I admit that this gets tricky, I think that the “don’t bring the kids” crowd is presently the more vocal of the two groups (at least on the Internet). Over the years I’ve been told a number of times by people a good 20 to 30 years older than I am (I’m 44) that when they were little, by golly, people understood that the Mass was holy and that you didn’t bring babies to Holy Mass and turn it into Romper Room ™. Since I wasn’t alive back then I can’t say whether that was true everywhere or just in some places, but it does seem kind of strange to me. Then again, in the 1917 Code of Canon Law the canon saying that men and women were to sit on separate sides of the church was still in force, so perhaps there never really was a perception that it was a good idea for families to pray at Mass together before the modern era. Whatever the case, I think given the attacks on families at the present time and the need to see husbands and wives as truly living an important vocation (not just being the poor slobs who couldn’t make it into the priesthood or religious life), we need to see families all present together to worship God in the principle liturgy of the Church whenever possible. No, that doesn’t mean Mom isn’t excused if the teething toddler is screaming in pain, and no, that doesn’t mean families can’t decide to do split-shifts when necessary, but I do think that setting out an ideal that all families will leave everyone under age five at home no matter what that takes is placing the most serious burden on those families who are the most open to life, and who may not be able to attend Mass together for a couple of decades if they’re doing split shifts until the very youngest is 5.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    The infant learned very quickly that fussing would bring going home. The Children are very adept at abstract thought, I believe learned from the metaphysical nature of the Liturgy, and they are darling. If there is not someone willing to help with your child at Mass, there is something missing.

  • David Spaulding says:

    We’ve taken our kids to Mass since they were infants without problems but your point is well made: the parents are in the best place to judge so the rest of us should stay out of it… To a point.

    I don’t mind small children fussing in Mass. Jesus clearly didn’t mind them fussing during his sermons either. I find older kids misbehaving to be far more distracting.

    The boys in tank tops, underpants hanging out of their shorts. The kids’ phones goingoff, the occasional text, the disrespect shown to their parents when asked to behave, these things annoy the daylights out of me.

    Give me an unhappy innocent any day rather than a disgruntled teen.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    “I’ve been told a number of times by people a good 20 to 30 years older than I am (I’m 44) that when they were little, by golly, people understood that the Mass was holy and that you didn’t bring babies to Holy Mass and turn it into Romper Room ™.”

    I suspect you are right, Erin; as noted above my own parents took the Leave Them Home approach (my brother and I were born in the early 60s). There are several reasons why that approach MAY have been more prevalent in the pre-Vatican II era:

    1. Back when most moms stayed home with and were solely responsible for supervising babies and toddlers ALL day, EVERY day, and most kids didn’t leave home during the day until kindergarten or 1st grade, Sunday Mass might have been the only break some moms got during the week. Also, husbands and wives tended to move in different social circles so attending Mass separately was not seen as odd or abnormal.

    2. The child-rearing “experts” of the early to mid-20th century seriously underestimated the learning abilities of infants and toddlers. I think the prevailing “wisdom” up to, say, about 1960 was that kids weren’t really capable of learning anything important until at least age 3 or 4. There certainly was not the emphasis on early learning that we have today, as evidenced by the fact (noted above) that most kids didn’t set foot in anything resembling a classroom until age 5 or 6.

    3. The Mass was in Latin, and if you assumed (based on #2) that little kids weren’t ready to learn Latin you probably assumed they weren’t ready to attend Mass either.

    It also should go without saying — but I’ll say it anyway — that “leave them home” doesn’t mean “leave them home every Sunday for the first 5 years of their lives, then start bringing them to Mass with no advance preparation.” If you simply leave them at home and do nothing else, then yes, chances are they will have trouble adjusting when they do begin attending Mass. However, there are ways to prepare children for Mass attendance even when they are not yet going every week — for example, by bringing them to less crowded and shorter weekday Masses or on brief church/adoration chapel visits.

  • Micha Elyi says:

    In general, commenters on this issue fall into two camps: the “Bring The Kids” camp… and the “Leave Them Home” camp…
    –Elaine Krewer

    I disagree. I strongly disagree. Commenters fall into three camps, (1) Bring ‘Em And Keep ‘Em At Mass No Matter What, (2) Leave Them Home No Matter What, and (3) Love Thy Neighbor (a.k.a. Let’s All Behave Reasonably And Be Reasonably Accommodating Of Others).

    In my experience camps 1 and 2 are unreasonably touchy and try to dominate the comboxes any time the subject comes up. But they’re not most people even if sometimes they leave the most comments. 80% or more are in the third camp but one wouldn’t know it to hear just one parent in the first camp talk. And most of the folks in the second camp were driven there by parents of the Bring ‘Em and Keep ‘Em At Mass No Matter What camp

  • Micha Elyi says:

    - The size, layout and acoustics of the church may mitigate or aggravate the annoyance level caused by baby/child noise. If several crying babies or fussy toddlers are spread out in a huge cathedral with 800 to 1,000 seats, a high vaulted ceiling and an excellent sound system, chances are they will be less disruptive than if they were crammed in a tiny country church with only 150-200 seats and no cry room, or in a 1970s-style “church in the round” with low ceilings and a poor sound system.
    –Elaine Krewer

    Well said. And thanks for pointing out one of the horrors of those theatre-in-the-round things. Their interior cross sections are elliptical. This allows sound from the back of the space to propagate very well, sabotaging the efforts of the parent who reasonably supposes that taking the non-stop crying child to the back will reduce the amount of disturbance the child is making. My parish has one of those buildings (built in the 1980s) and everyone can hear any conversation in the vestibule, the doors open and close for every late arrival, and every child crying or being hushed. Some of us joke about moving the musicians and choir back there to take advantage of the acoustics. (And a few of us are serious.)

    Alas, the diocese where I reside is still building those horrors. (Seems to me a 2000-year old Church would know how to build a proper worship building by now. And how not to. Sigh.)

  • Micha Elyi says:

    My wife and I brought our kids to mass from birth. That is why God created cry rooms!.
    Donald R. McClarey

    God did not create cry rooms. They may even be an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

    I started in the “Cry rooms, what a good idea!” camp and have moved over the years toward the opposite view. I’ve too often seen them lead parents and children into tempation to make play rooms and snack rooms out of them. You know what the Lord has warned about those who cause others to fall. And how the Lord treated those who abused His Father’s house. No whips and millstones for me, thank you very much.

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