Our parish includes many young families. This is a blessing, but also a challenge!
The acoustic in the church is very ‘live’. This is great for singing, but also means that any other noise carries too - including the ‘noises’ that come from young children. This can be embarrassing for their parents, and irritating for others.
However if we all bear this in mind it makes it easier for all of us to deal with the situation. Those without children will try to be tolerant to families with younger children. Those with care of the children will want to be considerate to others in the parish. We will never get things perfect, but with tolerance and consideration we can give things our best effort.
Parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of prayer and faith. Our parish wants to support and encourage them in their role. Helping children to learn to pray at Mass is a key part of this.
The Respite chapel in the south transept (on the right, near the sanctuary) provides parents with a place where children who are particularly unsettled can be taken for a while to calm down, while their parents can still hear the Mass.
Children learn about prayer and reverence from their parents from the earliest age. Young children like to imitate their parents. So how you pray before and during Mass; how you join in the singing; how you follow the Mass and so on sets the pattern that your children will follow, particularly if you help and encourage them. Some children will learn more quickly than others, but always your example makes a difference.
Some practical suggestions that have come from other parents include encouraging children, even the youngest children to:
- make the Sign of the Cross.
- stand, sit and kneel with the rest of us.
- follow and join in the prayers and songs.
- learn that they come to Mass to pray, not to play.
Please do not give children food and drink during Mass. It is a distraction for others, and sets a poor example for older children.
If very young children bring a toy to church, please make sure it is a soft toy, which does not make a noise when played with or dropped.
Finally - what ever the struggle - please know you and your children are welcome and valued!