Controlling Your Children in Church
By Bob Branco
Recently, my girl friend and I attended the Ash Wednesday service at a local Catholic Church. We looked forward to it, and were very proud to fulfill our obligation.
I can’t speak for everybody. However I will assume that when most of us attend Church services, we want to pay close attention to the message being given by the priest, minister or any other religious leader who presides. During the Mass that we attended, this was not the case. For the entire time that we were there, several children, probably between the ages of four and seven, were talking loud, running around and causing other disturbances. One of the children even cried out, “I want to go home! I want to go home!” It was very hard for us to concentrate under these circumstances. At one point my girl friend saw one or two of the parents take several of the children outside. Needless to say, that prevented the parents from hearing the message as well.
While these children were disturbing the Church service, I thought about the parental responsibility in all this. I have been attending Church services since 1965, and I have never been to one with this kind of a ruckus. Are parents simply taking their kids to Church because they don’t know what else to do with them? Do parents exercise as much control over kids as they once did? I don’t know, but I do know this. If I pulled this stunt as a child while in Church, my backside would likely be decorated when I got home.
In my opinion, there are two sides to this issue. On one hand, children should be exposed to God and the Church as much as possible for obvious reasons. On the other hand, the adults want to hear the message being given at the service without being continuously distracted. During the service on Ash Wednesday, I commended the priest and his staff for not being phased by the commotion and for moving right along with what they had to do.
If you are a parent and feel that you need to bring your 5-year-old child to Church, you should be able to convince your child of the importance of where you’re about to go, and that the child should fully respect the situation. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I believe this is a subject for healthy debate.
(Originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)
About the Author
Bob Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is a self-published author of four books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, and has written columns for local and international organizations. Bob’s web site is