The Loud Kids at Church Belong
Have you ever been sitting at church and your kid won’t be quiet or sit still? I mean laying on the pew, standing on the pew, sitting on the ground, asking a million questions, or being disruptive. Or you ventured out with a baby and the child will not stop crying despite your best efforts. It feels like every single eye in the congregation is on you and the loud kids at church. That hot, flustered feeling starts to take over. You’re silently pleading with the child to please; please settle. Yeah, it happens to me almost every single Sunday. But here’s the thing, no one cares.
Yeah, no one cares about the loud kids at church.
Ok, maybe 5% of the congregation cares. That means that the other 95% does not care, so it only feels like all the eyes are on you. As your kids get louder (and louder), most folks are reminiscing about times when their kids were younger and disrupting the service.
This past Sunday, after my infant spent most of Mass trying to sing during the quiet parts, three couples approached me after the service. They were all smiling and telling me what a joy it was to hear my child at church. Seriously? A joy? I am sweating from wrestling an active nine-month-old, and they were telling me she was a joy?
One lady even said to me ‘you look so well rested.’ Wait. What? The bags under my eyes are pretty dark. I haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep in a long time. But here we are.
That’s part of it too, you know. You still woke up, got your entire household ready, out the door, and made it to church. You showed up. It would be much easier to stay home and make a big breakfast. Instead, you chose to go to church and show your children how to practice a faith. Consistently showing up for church is one of the best things we can do to help shape our faith- and our children’s too.
Bring your Loud Kids to Church.
Hear me when I say this, it matters that our children learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith and everyone is welcome. We’re teaching our children that their worship matters and also that they are enough as members of the congregation. We’re showing them that they don’t need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of the church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their cries and whines are joyful noise because it means they are present.
On Easter Sunday as we were singing one of the hymns, I heard this little voice beside me. I looked down, and my preschooler was singing along to the best of her ability. Loud and proud, the way every child sings anything, she was singing. During the chorus she hit her stride, every Alleluia was sung with such enthusiasm it brought tears to my eyes. Mass had been such a struggle. She took four trips to the bathroom, laid on the pew, stood on the pew, and even told our infant something that made both me and my sister giggle like schoolgirls. But here she was, at the end of Mass, reminding me why it’s so important to bring my kids to church.
Need more reassurance that it’s ok to have loud kids at church? Dr. Greg Popcak mentions in his article, Why you SHOULD Bring Baby to Church, that kids have a right to be in Church. He also notes that it is the duty of both the parents and the community to support raising faithful children, which means bringing them to Mass every week, even if they can’t sit still for an hour.
Bringing your kids to church is so important, and it matters despite how hard it is. I know it’s tough and making it to church with tiny humans is something to celebrate. By showing up and doing your best you’re teaching them what it looks like to practice a faith. Children were not built to stay quiet and still for extended periods of time; they weren’t. God knows that; after all, weren’t we created in His image? Be kind to yourself; you’re doing great.
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