How to Guarantee Well-Behaved Children at Mass
One of the more daunting tasks for a parent of young children is bringing them to Mass. It’s a long time for a baby or a toddler or even a young child to sit still and focus. However, by following the four simple steps below I can assure you that you too can have your little ones grow in piety and holiness from an early age.
1. Prepare your children for Mass. Get up early, and as you and your children get ready for the day sing hymns together. Sit down before breakfast and have a few minutes of vocal prayer. This will ensure a calm attitude of anticipation for your children and yourself before leaving. Don’t sleep in or leave things to the last minute. Definitely don’t run around stuffing a diaper bag with all those last minute things while simultaneously trying to shove food into your baby’s mouth and carrying your toddler under your arm half dressed 15 minutes before Mass starts.
2. Don’t let your children have anything to entertain themselves. This includes books, soft toys, or even your own purse and keys. Ensure that they stay sitting or in your arms at all times, no matter how much they might struggle. At no point in time is it acceptable to allow them to crawl on the floor, or on the pew or to take your keys and pretend its a screwdriver and “unscrew” all the screws on the kneeler. It doesn’t matter that they’re doing it quietly.
3. Leave as soon as they are noisy. At the slightest bit of noise your child makes remove them immediately to the crying room or the back of the church. This includes cooing, babbling, and definitely at the slightest sign of whining. You shouldn’t even be in the pew by the time your child escalates to full on crying. A toddler yelling out “suppertime” as the Altar is being prepared and causing the priest to smirk is beyond acceptable. Mass is a solemn time of prayer and a noisy toddler or baby has no place in the church.
4. Do not let them be a distraction to others. Do not allow your children to interact with other people in the pew behind you, in front of you, or beside you. Mass is not a time for socialization and permitting any kind of interaction with others in your faith “community” is a lack of charity and is distracting the other people from what they should be focusing on. Wrestle your child away from any kind of interaction, especially throwing objects into other pews for others to pick up. Under no circumstances should the people behind you feel the need to watch out for the safety of your child as he/she wanders around on the pew or wrestles with their siblings. The focus and attention of other parishioners is your responsibility, and if your child is seriously cute you need to be especially attentive. Ugly them up a bit before Mass if possible.
If you manage to be successful in any of these things, please let me know. I’m still busy trying to figure out how to put the kneeler back together.
**Update: It has come to my attention that some readers are taking this post seriously. I thought it was obvious, but apparently my sarcasm doesn’t translate well into writing. Please read this as satire.