Cry Rooms - Yeh or Neh?

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crybabyOne of my favorite authors and speakers, Mike Hayes of Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s, has an interesting post on crying babies.  Mike’s post is his reaction to and thoughts regarding a post by Deacon Greg and shares his personal thoughts on what to do about unruly children and crying babies at Mass.   It’s an age old dilemma – Mike advocates for the old “cry room” as a respite for children who cannot be consoled.  He aslo shares a horrifying tale of a priest who basically banished one poor mom of rowdy kids during the middle of a homily.

I don’t know how I ever survived hauling my two crazy boys to Mass when they were toddlers – I have to admit that I frequently relied on the assistance of our parish babysitting service, which actually no longer exists.  I’m so proud of my sister Erin, for the great job she’s done with my nephews Evan and Tyler – they have always gone to Mass as a family and their large, urban parish does not have a “cry room”.

What’s your take on Mike’s post?  Share your comments on his site, or let me know here what you think about cry rooms, crying kids, and cranky priests.

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

6 Comments

  1. I’m a big believer in cry rooms and nurseries and a big believer in allowing the parents of children to decide whether or not to use them. God doesn’t need us at Mass; we need to be there, and IMO in more than just body. Of my three kids, one was fine in church–she’s easy going, compliant, a pleaser. My autistic son and my hard-headed independent young one just weren’t cut out for early church-going.

    There was a group of about a dozen couples who got married about the same time we did, and had kids about the same time we had our big ones. These couples were all regular churchgoers. Some took the kids to mass. Some used the cry room, some fought the good fight in the pews. Some switched off, some used the nursery. About the time the kids were five, they could all behave in church–and those who were more mature in other ways usually “got” church earlier than the others did.

    The last thing we need is for young families to leave the church because the Protestant church down the street is more family friendly.

  2. As a mother of three daughters, two who are now grown and one still in high school, I have to say that we used the cry room in the back of the church minimally. We have a small church in a small town and once my sisters-in-law and I all had children we ended up with 10 children on our three pews. Not counting the extra children we picked up each week and brought to mass, too. Between all the aunts, uncles and grandparents, we were able to manage them quite well. We never missed taking our kids to church on Sunday and, if we did have to get up to go to the cry room, it wasn’t a fun time when we allowed them to run around the room and cut up. We also didn’t take them outside to play on the slide during mass. So many times, parents are so worried about not upsetting their children. It’s ok if they get upset. It’s ok if you correct them and teach them that when you go into church, it’s time to sit down and behave. I always brought cloth books that I made for the girls or soft cloth dolls that they could cuddle when they were very little, but after a certain age, they’re all smart enough to know when to sit down and be quiet. I think we need a cry room, but I don’t think it should be necessary to use it every Sunday. If you do, then the child will learn that if she cuts up enough during church, you’ll take her out and she’ll get to play. I know, I know, I’m old fashioned, but so far they’ve all turned out great.

  3. I was all for crying rooms in my single days. Unfortunately, the crying room at our parish has numerous parents who allow their kids to eat, run around, and play with toys during Mass. My husband and I feel that we will never teach our kids how to behave in this environment, so we fight it out in the pew. If a child is terribly disruptive then we take him or her out. We’ve had people make rude comments and I always feel like saying “if you don’t like children, then don’t sit by them.” (Our church is quite large). Jesus said “let the children come to me”. I think worshiping as a family is important, even for toddlers. I don’t want for our children to disrupt others, but it is lousy feeling unwelcome at Mass as well. Mother of four ages 10, 4, 2, and 1.

  4. Our “cry room” is actually a generously sized chapel at the back of our large church, behind the altar and facing the congregation. We also have families who allow their children to snack, play with toys, and wander the pews during Mass in the chapel. The location also makes it difficult for my older children (and us) to understand what is going on. My children are 6, 4 and 21 months. Our two oldest were great in Mass from age 2 1/2 and up, but we are still at that tough age with the youngest, and EVERY TIME we place him in the nursery we battle a cold or a fever the following week! So we try for Mass with everyone else, but sometimes it is so stressful. I am just coming out of severe morning sickness with my fourth pregnancy and have strengthened my resolve to get us back to Mass every week. I know very large families who are there every week and I have tremendous guilt that we are not one of those families!

  5. I actually know of a family that left for a new life church due to wanting a more ‘family-friendly’ service. Our previous church was very small, and did not have a cry room or nursery-one time our 1 year old (very rambunktous) toddled his way up to the father during homily! (pretty embarrassing, I blame my slowness at being very pregnant at the time). No one in the church ever gave us a dirty glance, and all were smiling-Father even gave him a hug. Our current larger parish has a nusery, dropin preschool, and cry room. The cry room is a bit noisy too. My advice would be to try taking turns with your littlest ones-either go to a later Mass a few of your children while your husband stays home, then switch, or at least try to each get to Mass every other week-definitely better than not going! I too liked the idea of bringing my boys young, but at a certain age (toddler) it is just a fight, and you are distracted from the Mass, they are too young to understand. Better they are in nursery or at home, and you can read to them, or get some website printouts of the topics.

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