Going to Mass with young children sometimes seems like a mission impossible. How can we expect them to be calm and silent for an hour or longer? Should parents take turns going to Mass separately? Will other believers at Mass be bothered if my child makes too much noise? Find out the answers to these questions.
Let’s forget all those questions for a moment and look at the facts. Children are a wonderful blessing to their parents, but they are also a blessing to the Church. If there is no life in the Church, she dies. There are those who believe that children, or babies, have nothing to do at Mass because it is a time of concentration before God only for adults. But this is a completely wrong approach.
If there is no life in the Church, she dies
The Bishop of Phoenix addressed the parents and said that it is they who have the gift of God and parental responsibility in serving their children. He continues in an equally beautiful and strong tone: “Your home Church is strongly shaping children by following you as you grow. This process begins when a family introduces their young children to Jesus in the Eucharist. I especially want to encourage you to bring small children to Mass. Your presence is desired and needed in our church community. While children’s cuddling or crying may seem strenuous, they don’t really bother others to receive God’s grace. If there is no life in the Church, she dies. If children attend Mass from an early age, they develop a relationship with God and His Church. ”
10 strategies for going to Mass with children
So we know what the point is and we know that children need to be at Mass. But how can we succeed in that? We bring you a list of the most successful approaches from various sources. We pray that they will be useful to you as well.
1. Feed the children before departure
Young children do not have to fast before the Eucharist. Therefore, it is best to feed them just before coming to Mass. Let their bellies be full so that they last to the very end. Mothers who are uncomfortable breastfeeding in a bench under a headscarf can take advantage of empty confessionals that are not used during the liturgy.
2. Special clothing and equipment for Mass only
Kids love consistency and scheduling. Also, children have certain objects that they associate with certain events and actions. One idea is for children to wear special clothing that is only for the church. It should be a little more formal attire than the one they wear everyday, but let them still feel comfortable in it.
It’s also good to have a special bag to carry only to church. You can put a small toy or book in it that will only be for Sunday Mass. Make sure they are made of soft, noise-free material. Opinions are divided among parents on whether to wear snacks to Mass or not. If you do decide on food, bring snacks that do not crumble (for example, pieces of fruit) and which the parent will carefully share.
3. Carry out all your needs at home
If children wear diapers, change them just before departure or as soon as you arrive at church. If children use the toilet, they should defecate before leaving or try to go to the toilet before Mass, as soon as you arrive at church.
4. Share your expectations with the children
Remind the children that they are preparing to go to Mass and that it is important to be calm and quiet. It’s your expectation that probably won’t be met every time. Regardless, be patient and persistent in your approach.
Expectations should be simple. For example, for children to stay seated in a bench, to whisper while talking and not to bang. Remind them of that the day before, the night before, on Sunday morning, in the car and while sitting on the bench.
The rule to stay in the bench means they can stand, sit on their knees or on the bench if they are up to a year old. Until the second year, they are allowed to whisper if they want to ask a question. After the second year, the goal is for them not to speak at all during Mass. It is not allowed to knock on the knee, bench or books.
5. Be an example to them
Going to Mass is not just an activity or a party. The child should know that it is a different situation just by how you behave and act. You determine the approach. If you are calm and focused despite the children’s madness, chances are higher that the children will understand the message.
6. Sit in the front rows
You may think there is no theoretical chance that you will sit forward with a one-year-old child. I understand you. It seems to contradict everything you feel, but most experienced parents suggest you sit in the front rows. Kids can see what’s going on and they’ll probably be preoccupied with it. You can even quietly explain to their ears what happens during Mass.
7. Take turns
If your spouse or older child can help you, then take advantage of it. Take turns holding the baby. As you hold the baby you have better control over him and his attention. You can point out some things to him or distract him if necessary. If you need to, you can play a game of searching and pointing – on a cross, a candle or an altar. Going to Mass with young children is not easy. It is hard work, but it is a Catholic upbringing.
8. You can tolerate a little noise, constant noise is wrong
If your child responds louder here and there, you don’t have to worry too much. Don’t think everyone is looking at you. Everything will be fine, the gathered believers will not resent you. If they resent you, that’s their problem.
However, if your child is constantly making noise, you will need to warn him. You can go to the exit of the church or even get out if the child does not want to calm down. Still, try to get back to church as soon as possible.
If you walk out of the church space, don’t let your child start the game because he will learn that he can do it every time. The fact that you will go out and come back a few times is less of a distraction to others than a crying child that you can’t silence. Don’t think you’re interfering. Children should be at Mass.
9. Answer the questions related to the Mass
You are the first catechist to your child. You are their best chance to accept and learn the most important things about faith. It is not a one-way process but an interaction. The more your child knows about the Mass, the more they will want to participate and understand it.
Allow young children to ask you in a low voice what interests them (even if they are not very quiet). If it happens to be a show and you have to silence them, then tell them, “Now we pray, you will ask me when the Mass is over.”
Remember to talk about Mass readings later in the day and sometimes during the week. As you drive in the car, remember what happened at Mass. Make children aware of the fact that Mass is the most important event of the week. Also, don’t forget to praise the children for good behavior after Mass.
10. Be patient and persevere
These tips are here to help you and I hope they will. Even if they fail right away, remember you need to be patient. Behavior is formed over time and needs to be determined and practiced, both by you and them. Don’t lose hope.
God wants your children to attend Mass. After all, we must remember that God loves your children infinitely more than you love yourself. He loves you more than you know. Therefore, He wants you to succeed. Pray and persevere. Patience and perseverance are the key to success.
Will Wright – Catholic Link
Translated by: LR
Finally find out about benefits going to Mass for children that will surprise you either listen to the podcast on this topic.