Monday, April 22, 2013

Harried moms: Don't feel guilty if you do a split shift! It's okay!

I am seeing a proliferation of blog posts today about babies and toddlers at mass. It's an interesting discussion, and I am a big proponent of little ones in the pews -- bring 'em on! 

However, when I saw one blogger (whom I admire!) mention that it's actually an "injustice" to leave a small child home (or take him to church child care, I am guessing?) and a "serious impediment" to his or her spiritual development, it crossed a line for me. I do not want frazzled, guilt-ridden moms to have one more reason to beat themselves up, so I am reposting my "I don't bring my babies to mass" post from last year. 

With docility we must obey what the Church in her loving wisdom requires, but beyond that, each family is free to determine what is best.


I don't bring my babies to mass.

Yes, there, I said it!

Before I explain, here is the necessary disclaimer:

For all of the wonderful moms and dads who bring their babies and toddlers to mass every week, I salute you. No, I applaud you. No, I pretty much worship you! (Okay, I don't worship you, but only because that would be a sin.) You are amazing and incredible, and I mean that with full sincerity and from the bottom of my heart. In no way is this post meant to suggest that you should leave your children at home, because I truly love seeing little ones at mass, and it's a joy to watch them grow through the seasons. Keep bringing them!

But, I can't do what you do.

I used to think I should, and I used to wonder if I was wrong not to, but about a decade ago, I made peace with the way we do things in the Miller family.

I am not able to deal with fussy babies and active toddlers at mass. We've already clearly established that I am not supermom, and that my having eight kids is only possible through a tidal wave of God's grace combined with a delicate logistical balancing act that I keep recalibrating. For my personal sanity, I must keep things as easy as possible in order to make the "Leila has a ton of kids" thing work. There might be a few other moms out there who are like me, and to them I simply want to say that you are not alone, and it's really okay.

On and off over the years (the last two years being "on"), my husband and I have done split shifts for mass, which amounts to Dean taking two or three kids to an early morning mass nearby, while I take the rest to our regular parish later in the day. Any babies or toddlers simply stay home. As a result, mass is peaceful, calm, and prayerful. Since my life is not that way otherwise, I need it for an hour or so on Sundays. I mean, I reeeaaaallllly neeeeeeeed it!

Some questions might spring to mind:

Do you miss being at mass with Dean and all the kids together? Sure, but not enough to make me want to take the two-year-old. And, I know from 20+ years of parenting that "this too shall pass", and there will come a time when we'll go to mass together as a family again. But now is not that time, and we're all okay with that.

Why not use the cry room? Well, we do -- but only when absolutely necessary. For example, recently, Dean took some of the kids out of town, and I had to bring the littlest guy, Benevolent Destruction, to mass. No way that kid can sit in a pew without putting on the baby equivalent of a Broadway show, so while my older kids stayed with the congregation, I traipsed off to the cry room with the little man. That experience reminded me why I love the split shift.

We are blessed to have oodles of big families and many young children at my parish, and the cry room is just like my house a mad house. Frankly, Miller boys make it worse. There has been many a child o' mine who could not be contained even in the cry room, including the one son who had to be carried out of there by Daddy all the way into the far parking lot, where mortified Mommy (and the rest of the worshipers, including the priest) could hear his unrelenting shrieks and wails.

So, we've never seen the cry room as a good regular option.

Why not church child care then? Actually, I am a huge fan of church child care! We have used that wonderful option over the years, and we will undoubtedly use it in the future. Not every parish is blessed to have such a ministry, and our parish's child care (we call it "church school") is fabulous. The kids are kept busy with good stuff: They learn their Faith, pray the Rosary, sing Bible songs, talk about Jesus, celebrate feast days and the liturgical year, do arts and crafts, have snacks, watch videos, etc. But at this moment, my youngest is not ready to be foisted upon the lovely ladies who run the child care; I wouldn't do that to them. Also, I know that if I did leave him there, I would be sitting at mass just worrying. So for now, split shift is our norm.

The biggest question is probably this: What about teaching your kids to behave at mass by taking them consistently from their infancy? My answer is simply that it's never been a problem for us. When my children reach a certain age -- or rather, a certain level of self-control -- we start bringing them to mass regularly. And for child after child, they've adapted just fine. They sit through mass quietly (as quietly as little kids can), and we all have a peaceful hour of worship. So for me, the whole thing is just a wait-it-out-till-they-are-mature-enough situation. At about age four or five, they suddenly become mass-goable. It's like a dream, and it works for us.

And to put another worry to rest, I have living proof -- in the form of tweens, teens, and even a couple of adults now -- that children do not grow up and leave the Church because they missed mass as babies.

Parenting little children is hard, and much of that difficulty cannot be avoided. But if a split shift eases the difficulty, if it helps keep you sane for the rest of the week, if it affords you that bit of tranquility you need, if it works for you, then do it, and be at peace.

That's what I do.



  1. Jamie always says, "Don't be more Catholic than the Pope." I agree. You know I love you!

  2. :) This is a non-option for me in so many ways I can't even begin to count them. But for those who have it available and choose to take advantage of that, I say go for it! My three year old behaves remarkably well in Mass, and I'm actually stunned by how well they have all behaved, as I've had issues with their behavior at church before. And I have a parish full of families who are, for the most part, literally one big family. They are accustomed to children, in all their stages and ages, and I know if I have to take the potty-trainer out for a minute, someone else will have the eagle eye on the rest, and not hesitate to lean over and go, "Hey! Stop that!" if need be. Love it. :) The greatest thing is, when other kids are well-behaved, as theirs tend to be, mine are inspired to act right--or at least not tempted to act out because someone else is. What a blessing!

  3. I should add: My crazy little 2-year-old is now 3, and he is showing every sign of being ready to come sit at mass much earlier than my other boys. We actually will probably start going as a family again soon. Or, maybe not, as half our family is early risers who love the early mass, and the rest of us like a little later mass. It's really okay, and that is all I want people to get out of this post. It's okay to do what works for your family, as long as no sin is committed. :)

  4. Wow, Leila, this is just so... sensible! I admire you for saying it.

    The thing is, my husband and I do not have kids (yet, and possibly never will), so some will just tell me to shut up since I probably don't know what I'm talking about (wouldn't be the first time on this issue). But since we came into the Church a few years ago, we have noticed very often this difference between protestant services and the Mass - in terms of the level of screaming and out of control children. Protestants seem much more open to using nurseries and cry rooms in the early years of their children's time at church. I believe it's out of consideration for others.

    From an outsider looking in, it's obvious that many Catholic parents do want to bring their babies and young children to Mass for all the best reasons - but do not necessarily want to teach them how to behave. We too often find ourselves, along with very many elderly people who have a hard enough time hearing as it is, missing significant portions of the homily as kiddos scream or talk loudly, or play with distracting objects throughout the homily, without so much as a "shhhhhh" from the parents. I would say they seem downright oblivious to how distracting it is to others around them who may already be having a tough time hearing and meditating on what is being said. I want to say that our need for nurishment from the Mass matters too.

    Unlike some, I've never shot the death glance at these parents with loud kids, or said a word to them. But in conversations about the topic, I have been told to "just deal with it" or "get over it." The mean barren lady just doesn't get it, right? Wrong. I get how hard it can be for parents who just want their kids to experience the Mass and Jesus' presence as early as possible. I just wish they considered the struggles of those around them who need that experience just as badly.

  5. I've been reading a lot of the posts on this whole idea...and you make some good points. My husband and I don't have any kidlets yet, but seeing all these blog post's has gotten us having some good conversation on this topic.
    I appreciate what you said about Mass being peaceful and prayerful, and I imagine for a family with little's its hard to find that balance...

  6. I like your perspective! I would hate to judge another parent on their choice- who needs that? The comment that the article you linked was responding to is a whole 'nother story! Very sad that anyone would call those who bring their little distractions to church with them "selfish"!

    We have done both- split shifts and together. I much prefer together, but Sunday church always seemed to lead to Monday colds/flu bugs! It just made more sense to leave the littles home.

    More than anything it just makes me sad that people are as intolerant toward young families as they are- my daughter has expressed to me that she has felt glared at on several occasions when bringing her two little children to church. As Catholics we should all be supporting those young people who are practicing their faith and remaining open to life!!

  7. Thank you for reposting. This whole thing is turning into "whose kid is going to be more holy then whose" simply based on whether they were present at mass in the main sanctuary during infancy/toddlerhood is ridiculous. Forget that st. Terese stayed home with her mother at that age and others like my brother and myself who were cryroom babies and still practice the faith. I plan on posting as soon as I get more time.

  8. This is in response uniconoclast.

    Many parents who take their kids to Mass don't do so with the express purpose of taking their kids to Mass, but because they have an obligation to go (as do all Catholics) and don't have any other options than to take their kids. From talking to my Protestant friends, Protestant nurseries are fraught with peril...many babies/toddlers get very distraught at being left with strangers (mine always did) and I wouldn't leave them screaming and frightened in a nursery. I've had breastfed babies (have one now currently) that I CAN'T really leave...not even for the 1 1/2 hours of Mass. We've been in situations where we couldn't justify the extra gas in driving twice or where our church was further away (making two trips impractical) or times when my husband was out of town, or for other reasons, splitting shifts wasn't really an option.

    I think really, we just have to asssume the best...that everyone we see in the pews (whether their kids are with them or not) is doing the best they can and be as encouraging and supportive to each other.

  9. I also do this as well Leila! It makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one.

    I mentioned this in your original post but I will say it again for new readers: my son has ASD (autism spectrum disorder), and because of the crowds (the congregation), the lights and music, this was all too stimulating for my son and he would act out in ways of bashing his head against the pew or moaning throughout the Mass. Add 3 more littles to this and we were getting dirty looks left and right.

    My husband at that time was a fairly new convent and struggling as it was with Mass. Being distracted and frustrated throughout Mass made it extremely difficult. We finally decided that we would go to Mass separately--my husband went by himself and then I started to "church train" my son when he reached a more mature age (age 6) to deal with the atmosphere of church. It took a full year to get my son to be able to sit in a pew without being a distraction to others (he would wander up and down the pew, make moaning noises with his voice) but by age 7, he received Holy Communion, and by age 8 and 9, he is now very reverent during the Mass. I now "church train" all of my children and add children as they reach the age of six. My 3rd child, who will be turning 6 this summer will be added to our church group. I'm really happy that we no longer are frustrated during Mass, and this solution works for us.

  10. Thank-you. I needed this. I get so down on myself for not taking my 22 month old twins that it becomes even more disheartening when I do take them and they act like, well, 22 month olds. I will begin taking them regularly when they have the self control to sit still and that way I can actually get something out of the mass.

  11. There's so much I want to say...mostly because I've thought about this a lot recently. My wife and I have a 3 year old, a 1 year old, and expecting our third in July. If you've seen my blog, you'll know that our family usually sits in the last pew, and I frequent the rear aisle or the vestibule often with one of my young ones. It bothers me that we can be quite disruptive at times.

    With that being said, I agree that "injustice" and "serious impediment" are a little strong, however it's important to note that we cannot underestimate the Eucharist, and how it changes lives. Therefore, if children can be brought to Mass, they should be. There are people in the world that have no priest, no Mass, and they would do anything to be able to just have the opportunity to have their children hear the words of the Gospel or be present for the Eucharist, even if they have no idea what is going on or even sleep through it.

    Interestingly enough from a Canon Law viewpoint, Canon 1247 instructs that the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass. It does not offer an age range like it does for fasting/abstinence or other privileges/obligations members of the Church share.

    I completely empathize with children making the Mass everything but peaceful. I can't tell you how much I miss it; with my kids behavior there have been times I questioned if I even really participated in it. However I'm wondering if that's just part of the vocation of being a parent. I miss that my house used to be quiet. I miss being able to actually sit at the dinner table for a meal. These facts of life apply to the Eucharistic table, too. After all as parents, the Church asks that we put the needs of our kids first. This could include forsaking a "peaceful" liturgy. Perhaps it also requires a creative solution, like going to Mass twice- once with children then once without, or perhaps finding a Mass time or location that caters a little more to a family's particular situation. God has asked for bigger things from parents before, and He does not ask without providing the ability to answer.

    I do not judge anyone that has made the prudential judgement to not bring their children to church for whatever the reason. The key word is prudential, and it's OK to re-examine or revisit the decision periodically to make sure the decision remains prudential. It's become too often that families elect not to go to church because of their small children. Before you know it, they've never made it to church and the children are preparing for their First Communion or Confirmation and the inside of a church completely foreign to them. I think we can all agree if this were to happen, then it would be an "injustice" or "serious impediment."

  12. I like your post! I actually had not had the dire need for the 'divide and conquer, go-to-Mass-in- shifts' approach to Mass UNTIL our 5th child Adam. Incidentally, Adam is our only kid to think of swinging on the holy water font! He did that once!
    I admitted to going to Mass in shifts somewhere in these letters between my son Adam...and CatholicAllYear's Frankie: These toddler letters a reaction to a certain kids-at-Mass experience and fallout.

    I remember being shocked when a priest asked me why I insisted on bringing little kids to Mass each week. He wasn't asking out of concern for the disruption they would bring...but just that maybe I was missing out...losing that opportunity to participate in the Mass and hear what was going on. I was shocked...and adamant that I needed to train my kids from the earliest age or how else would they learn how to behave at Mass? Quite a few kids later...I have mellowed.
    Somehow, ...I think being able to focus a little at Mass without my little guy....helps me cope better through the next week!
    I'm confident we will be able to return to Mass as a family...someday soon! Adam turns 3 tomorrow!

  13. Leila, you always have the best things to say on this subject. Dr. Greg and all these others are way off base. As I said in another discussion about this: "This is a question of prudence, not Faith. Prudence proper function deals with particular circumstances. Yes, you can have general principles of prudential behavior, but those more or less guide particular decisions. Not bringing your child to Mass is not a sin. Not raising your child in the Faith is. He is making a gross and ironically un-pastoral generalization to essentially state that it is always better to bring your child to Mass with you on the average Sunday. He bases this idea on what . . . anecdotes of his and others' lives. Furthermore, in the comment section, he equates not bringing kids to Mass with smoking cigarettes around your kids. A little insulting toward people who have raised devout Catholics while going to Mass in shifts rather than with their little ones."

  14. Props to you, Leila! I don't split shifts, but I wouldn't veto the idea. I have wee ones and I absolutely LOVE IT when another adult looks at my daughter and sweetly makes the "shhh" sign or tells her to be quiet in a kind matter. LOVE IT. I am not sure if other parents are offended by that, but I appreciate it. Most kiddos behave better for other adults. I can tell her to be quiet 15 times and she'll ignore me. But another adult? She gets quiet really fast. I have never had anyone at Mass be rude or ask rudely. If you're brave enough, playfully ask a little child to be quiet. Maybe it will help!


    In support of you!

  16. Thank you all! I really appreciate the great comments. And deltaflute, that was a really good post! I'm just so sad that in addition to the other accusations in his OP, Dr. Popcak is in the comments calling the decision of parents to split shift "foolish" (even as he admits it is permitted by the Church!). Really, it's soooooo none of his business, nor anyone else's. It's the right of the parents to decide what is best for their family.

    Paul Lim, you said: It's become too often that families elect not to go to church because of their small children. Before you know it, they've never made it to church and the children are preparing for their First Communion or Confirmation and the inside of a church completely foreign to them. I think we can all agree if this were to happen, then it would be an "injustice" or "serious impediment."

    Absolutely! And I hope it goes without saying that folks who willfully miss mass are committing a mortal sin, so I'm definitely not advocating that. Families who just decide to skip mass altogether have a bigger issue than wriggly little ones. They have a serious crisis of Faith.

  17. Just my two cents...

    Yes, I agree we need to participate in mass to the best of our ability, but sometimes it is very difficult to focus as you all said, when you have to deal with children. I always brought my children from about the age of four or so, but ONLY if I thought they could handle it. There is no right or wrong in this as long as we always make our best effort. And as far as focusing on the mass, I look at it this way:

    I came home from work one day and my kids were playing in the back yard. My little one of four(at that time) saw my car pull into the driveway and she got up and began running towards me yelling Papa! Papa!, excited to see me as it was. She jumped in my arms and gave me a big smooch and I began to ask her little questions about how her day was, did she have fun and so on, but then she heard the other kids in the back yard playing and laughing and she kept looking back at them, even as she was answering me, yet her focus was elsewhere. Even though I didn't have her full attention, her little arms were tight around my neck. She would not let go. She wanted to be with her father. I was pleased to no end.

    We go to mass to worship God in the Eucharist. We will always have distractions no matter what we do whether from the outside of us (children or others)or in our thoughts. When it happens we just try to refocus ourselves again on our worship. We are in the presence of God at mass but we cannot always shut out the world. We do our best and if we are distracted, we keep our arms around our Fathers neck. He'll understand.

  18. I have so much to say on this matter but I'll try to be brief. My husband is not Catholic so most of the time I go to church alone leaving my 4yr old home. My son attends Bible study with me because of my husband's work schedule (everyone at the parish encouraged me to come to Bible study with my son). Since I see how my son acts during Bible study (it's rather long, including a meal which he typically refuses to eat. He wants to get up and walk around the parish hall) I was sure he could not sit still during Mass, but I brought him on Easter and he was pretty good! I have brought him one other time since then, but this past weekend he didn't want to go stating that it was boring. I gave up and just let him stay home since I didn't want to deal with a grumpy kid. I used to bring him to church when he was much younger and honestly it felt like such a chore most of the time. I spent many services in the foyer (no cry room). When I was involved in a parish that offered a nursery the catch was that you must volunteer to work at said nursery (like once a month?). Frankly I was not able or willing to commit to that and wasn't really fond of the idea of leaving my son with people I barely knew or never met. And like you I didn't want to do that to the ones running the place. Felt the same way about hiring sitters.

  19. Leila, I really appreciated you posting this. At this point, I have one child. He is just a little over three. He is a talker (understatement of the century). I've been wanting to post my thoughts on taking him to Mass lately--on how understanding and welcoming we should be of children in the pews... and I don't mean out of control, I just mean that I shouldn't have to feel awful if my son whispers questions through most of it and really there is no one that has made me feel that way other than myself.

    He's just now getting to the stage where it is *enjoyable* to take him to church. However, we have twins on the way and I've already had waves of anxiety and stifling laughter imagining life with three little boys in the pews. I'm going to keep this post in mind. :)

  20. I went to bed thinking of this subject and thought of another thing. I definitely encourage parents to at least try to bring little ones to church for the sheer cuteness of being able to see your toddler attempt to genuflect, insist upon having conversations with Mary and Joseph statues, and because it is just too heart-warming to hear him or her singing "LORD HAVE MERCY!" at the top of her lungs while wandering the grocery store later in the day. Plus, the Joy of watching her get to know the priests and deacons. Its always worth a shot, and the fruits are abundant. (I say this now, and my 2.5 year old will probably make me regret it on Sunday!) Also, Daily Mass is a great option, its quieter, shorter, and my kids always behave better at daily Mass.

  21. You know this post is near and dear to me for several reasons Leila! :) And since first reading it I have really come to terms with splitting up when we have to - all the while keeping the goal of going as a family. The three youngest are now 3,5 and 7 and mass is manageable again! yippee. (though still not as prayerful as I like!) We end up going all together every other week or so and it's nice! I guess I'm finding that what I lack in personal worship on those weeks ends up speaking to many around us as they witness our large family all together. A good thing. But I don't mind when the schedule dictates that I have to go with only one or two kids :) I love LCB for keeping it real!!

  22. I have found this whole debate across the Catholic blogsphere interesting, largely because it is such a cultural thing. In my church, we only have one liturgy a Sunday (the alter should only be used once per day unless granted an oeconomia by the bishop), so 'tag-teaming' cannot happen for practical reasons. There is also the issue that our children receive the Eucharist from infancy, so it does not even cross people's minds to really leave their young children at home. There is very much a sense of the children being a part of the community right from the get-go. I am sure it also helps that our churches tend to be smaller, so it is much more common for most of the congregation to know one another, so people enjoy being able to see the children grow up.

    Given what I have read about what happens in the Latin church, it seems to me that people really just needs to do what is best for them. If, as you described, people find it works best to leave their children at home and 'tag-team', do it. But the idea that children should not be welcome I find disturbing.

  23. These comments are great, and they are making me smile (you all are great parents and I can tell you have cute and wonderful kids!)

    Ruth said: "But the idea that children should not be welcome I find disturbing."

    Yes, me too. Absolutely. We should welcome and rejoice when small children are brought to mass! Like I said, bring 'em on! I so enjoy watching them, and I always smile and encourage the parents.

    Maureen, you have a little bit different of a situation, in that your husband (I am guessing) is not really ever going to join you for mass. In that case, and since your son is already 4, I think I would try very hard to bring him to mass and make it the "norm" in his life, not giving him the chance to say it's "boring" and stay home with dad.

    For obvious reasons, it's more difficult to raise and keep a child Catholic if his father is not going to mass, so as hard as it is, that task falls squarely on you in a way that it doesn't for others. I have known mothers who have raised and kept their kids Catholic despite the fathers' unbelief and non-mass attendance, and those women are heroes! But they had to fight for it in a way that others don't. If you can, I would really dive in now and bring your son with you every time since you said he wasn't too bad at Easter (and since there is only one of him, it's not going to be overwhelming). Your situation requires a different strategy, IMHO.

  24. I love this post (must have missed it the first time). My husband and I typically take the babies to Mass until theyre about six months old, then we play it by ear. My boys are currently 1.5yrs, 3 and 5yrs old and some Sundays I'm able to take them with us but most of the time we also do the split shift. Our situation is a little different since most Sundays my husband is serving at Mass (he is a Deacon Candidate) and that would put me in the pew with three rambunctious boys all alone...scary, lol. Occasionally I do attempt daily Mass and it usually reminds me that the kids just aren't quite ready. When I start to beat myself up over the guilt of not taking them I remind myself of the saints who stayed home til they were a bit older, I remind myself that our home is filled with our Faith, I remind myself that my boys are quite prayerful and they attend Atrium so they aren't missing out persay. They recognize Jesus in the Eucharist, they have seperate devotions to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception...and soon the oldest will attend Mass with me regularly with his brother's following suit a few yrs after. I'm with you...its each individual families decision on how they handle their children and Mass. No matter what our choices I feel that we need to support each other and not cast the "evil eye" at other parents, we need to remember that our children are individual little people and despite a parents best efforts sometimes a kid is gonna do or act like the kid wants to. The best thing for us all is to know our Catholic community supports us even if our children are having a bad day.

  25. Leila, yes that was my intent... to start bringing him to Mass regularly. I brought him once since Easter and the second time I was so close to bringing him. He was showed and dressed for Mass but started giving me such an attitude about it that I reluctantly gave in saying to myself that he was probably just going to be a pill, pouting and possibly being disruptive out of spite. But my husband and I made an agreement that if he stayed home he did not get to watch TV or play games (making staying home a lot less appealing). I am going to try my best to bring him this weekend. I joined a Catholic homeschool group and feel kind of guilty that my child doesn't regularly attend and here we are discussing religion...

  26. I just draw the line at considering my family's right to celebrate Mass together, and my child's right to be a child and to be in Church, as more important than another parishioner's right to hear and focus on the Mass. We all need to be considerate of each others' desire to get the most out of Mass. I don't subscribe to that "it takes a village" mentality regarding children in our midst at Mass. A disruptive child means a parent has to sacrifice their Mass experience by going somewhere more secluded or focusing quietly on the child to stop the disruptive behavior...not that the whole parish owes the child this courtesy.

    I'm talking about disruptive behavior though - lots of walking around, trying to engage with people kneeling in the next pew, kicking the seat or kneeler, talking while the priest is...

  27. I have been in the nursery once during Mass. At our most popular Mass there is actually professional childcare arranged so it is a true nursery. This is great for parents of toddlers. Not so great for a new mom with a tiny infant trying to breastfeed and nowhere to go. I quickly learned to breastfeed in the pew (sitting in the way back). I missed less Mass that way! (Also, the nursery was inevitably a germ factory). That said, it is difficult for a parish to meet all parents' needs at all times. Trying to accommodate the toddlers led to being unable to accommodate the infants. We all just have to do the best we can and be kind to one another. (And I don't know what other parishes are like, but at our parish it is super rare for a parent to be so clueless that they let their child scream and distract others needlessly. Fussing, the occasional cry, etc - yes. Obliviousness to their child's behavior? No).

    And another thing: I actually stayed home from Mass for entire month after N was born. He was born when flu season was ramping up, and you couldn't have paid me to go into a crowd - and that included Mass. I think some were shocked I disappeared like that but... I felt it was my responsibility to keep him safe (and while families are definitely welcome at Mass, one of my true pet peeves is the number of folks who come to Mass contagiously sick as THIS is a true burden on everyone... kids are great, the flu is not. :)).

    1. U have a 6wk dispensation if I'm not mistaken. ;)

  28. Leila,

    This is sensible and the people around who do not have children have the right to be at Mass with little distractions. However, I'm curious as to what has happened to us as a culture that has made it so difficult for us to all go as a family? I mean, I can't imagine my Great Grandmother saying, "I can't get all the kids to church." It simply wouldn't have happened and we can all agree that no one had a Chevy Suburban to coral all the kiddos. So my general question to everyone is, have we lowered our expectations and then justified our reasoning? I'm just curious.


  29. Jon, it's a great question, and I really don't know! Sometimes I think we have lowered our expectations, and then sometimes I think maybe the techniques used to keep children quiet (and scared?) in the older days might not have been good, either. I would like to ask those older moms how they kept their brood of little boys quiet and still in the pews! I imagine there was a lot more corporal punishment involved, but I could be wrong?

    In general, I do think we have lowered expectations for the behavior and moral development of our kids, absolutely.

  30. Jon, I think some of us are guilty of letting our child get used to watching TV or other stimulating activities which makes less interactive toys (the ones you would bring to the church) seem boring. I know my kid would rather play games on the Kindle than read a book in the pew but I'm not bringing the Kindle to Mass. Of course, my son isn't reading yet so maybe that has a lot to do with it lol.

    Holly, daily Mass is a great option for what? Exposing them to Mass? Parents are still required to make a trip to the church on the weekend, but I could see that being a good way to expose them to church time.

  31. Jon - I am not sure if this is accurate or not, but in reading the threads for this debate many are saying that our grandparents actually did not bring the babies/tiny ones to Mass all the time. That this expectation is more common with our generation. So I am not so sure they were "better" at keeping the kids quiet. :)

    I also agree with Leila's point that corporal punishment or other scare tactics may have been more common. I'll never forget years ago when I was dating a man how his mother - in trying to give advice on how to raise our future children should we have any - talked about how she and her multiple siblings (large family by today's standards) all sat in the front row and were so quiet (and parents just aren't as good at parenting these days). Problem was: This woman was the ONLY practicing Catholic out of all her siblings now that they've reached adulthood. So while they did a great job at sitting quietly at Mass as kids, it didn't automatically translate into adult devotion (and it's worth noting that I am not just picking on this one woman - many, many, many folks in her generation dropped church attendance once they grew up. So sometimes the "good old days" never really existed, ya know?)

  32. Gotta jump in on this one. First a couple notes. Ashley, congrats on the twins. We had twins on our second pregnancy and it is a wonderful wild ride. Take all the help that is offered and give your husband a couple of breaks now and then. When guys are past three weeks of sleep deprivation we start thinking we can fix everything with duct tape and thats not good for infants. The ordinary Catholic, I love your perspective. So, I really do not disagree with any of the comments or your post Leila, and mostly because it truly is a matter of whatever works for you. However, I do think that people tend to give up to quickly on making it work. So here is our deal. For some reason (I cant even really remember why) we decided we were going to die on this hill. Through much hard work and many a frustrating mass, using many techniques, we managed to end up with seven amazing, perfect angels. Any Mass, any time, any pew, bring it on! We can do funerals, weddings, restaurants, speeches, doesn't matter. My wife can no-look, backhand pass a binky 15ft down the pew on a rope, directly into the baby’s mouth before she lets out her first cry. Ok , actually I have to catch it first , then put it in the baby’s mouth. Now we have always practiced many of the things mentioned here: split shift when kids/parents are sick, or some special circumstance. Always 3 strikes and you’re out with toddlers, crying baby's immediately out, no toys, never let them walk and no corporal punishment etc. But I truly believe that over the years our commitment (ok, and Gods Grace) has paid off. Now that I've made everybody gag, I simply say this to encourage younger couples to really try and stick with a commitment to make it work if at all possible. Maximize your effort to go as a team. It really is a joy to have everyrone at Mass and functional, at peace, not disruptive to people and worshiping as family. I guess I just hate to see people quickly default to the split shift before it's necessary and miss all the potential bennys.(older folks will actually buy you donuts after mass)Or it just becomes a habit. When I look back to the cryroom and see the dad in the full linebacker stance, with a toy in hand , trying to anticipate the 3 year old going right left or up the middle, I just feel terrible for him and fully understand why a alternate plan is better. But maybe he doesn't have to get to that point. So now that I've guaranteed projectile vomit right on the priests vestments while he's in procession on Sunday, I'll end here. Thanks for the fun topic Leila. God Bless all.

  33. Chris, you are awesome and every comment you leave rocks! Thanks for the smiles and the wisdom!!

  34. Sometimes we do the split shift, sometimes we go together as a family. It all depends on what's right for our family that given weekend. :)

  35. I just posted this morning in specific response to Jon's question above.

    My post speaks more directly to those who say that children should not be allowed at Mass until they can sit quietly, not so much to people who decide to split shifts.

  36. I understand why some would want to 'split shift'- but it makes me sad....this means Mass and breakfast will be apart....basically half a day (I guess I am projecting- our only family time is Saturdays until 2 and Sundays after 5)

    1. We have mass at 9 and 11. My family is up by 6 so you can still all eat breakfast before hand. Not sure if your eastern rite but in Latin you only have to fast an hour before....does that make sense?

      We don't split shift but that's how I would do it.

  37. Hi Priest's wife! We generally don't have breakfast all together no matter the day of week. I am such a night person (late riser) along with the older kids, and my husband and the little ones tend to get up at dawn, ha ha! So, for us at least, that angle doesn't factor in. However, now that I think about it, we do generally have a nice lunch together when the second shift gets home from mass, then hang out the rest of the day. Also, my oldest two kids are away at college, so sometimes they are here with us (summers, breaks), and sometimes not. I guess psychologically I am so used to the split shift, with my oldest two gone, that it seems so second nature now, both on the front end and the back end, ha!

  38. Sheesh. The blogger seems stuck on his superiority as a Catholic parent, regardless of others who've been successful in raising Catholic children in a manner contrary to his beliefs.


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