Kids and Church (a TFT but not on Thursday!)

Porter and I went to church today, and I dropped Porter off in the nursery before finding a seat in Fusion (thats what our “services” are called). It was pretty crowded so I grabbed a chair in the ‘Parents sitting with Children’ section. I figured that way if Porter ends up crying and they flash my number on the screen, I’d already be in a child/parent area.

Around me were three separate families with kids.

Family 1: Had a 1 year old. Kiddo was pretty quiet, but halfway through, the mom ended up walking to the back of the room to pace with him.

Family 2: Had an infant and 2-3 year old. Infant was ok, Toddler was all over. Passed between grandma and aunt (I’m assuming) and mom. Dad just kind of sat there like a lump. I later saw him alone outside lighting a cigarette, while the mom, grandma and aunt had the 2 kids. I wondered what a well manicured, sophisticated mom was doing with a guy who obviously wasn’t helpful with his kids.

Family 3: Had a 9-1o month old little girl. She was ok through the fusion, but ended up playing on the floor while the parents both stared down at her entertaining her.

So… now that I explained these families… I just wonder… what exactly did they get out of Fusion? Were they even able to concentrate on what the pastor was saying inbetween passing the children from parent to parent and entertaining them with snacks and toys? Did they even get the message? I was merely a spectator in their events, sitting in between Families 2 and 3, and behind Family 1, but even I know I didn’t get the full message from Fusion as the sweet little girl next to me was tapping me and smiling and cooing at me. And how can you ignore that sweetness? I also was busy taking mental notes (for this blog post! HAHA) on how much they actually paid attention to what was being said by the pastor. Very little. Most of the time they were passing the child from one parent to the other, getting out snacks, toys and sippys, and entertaining the kids. Why even be there?

When Porter was an infant, I’d say up to 12 weeks old, we’d bring him into Fusion with us as he’d sleep- even through the loud rock music. Once he began being more awake, and fussed easier, we’d leave him in the nursery. We/I went through a few dry spells of not attending church for awhile, and then there were a few months when Porter was severely ailed with separation anxiety. He wouldn’t stay in the nursery. I tried to bring him into Fusion with me but I ended up feeling like it was a waste of time to even go to church as I didn’t get anything out of being there… other than wrangling and entertaining Porter. So, I just stayed home rather than endure an hour of trying to keep him quiet and half ass listening to the pastor. And even now, if he ends up crying in the nursery and they flash my number, I try to let him sit with me but if he is too antsy we just leave as it makes no sense to me to be there and not be listening fully and being able to fully internalize the message.

I also know that some churches don’t even have nurseries, which I think is crazy, but I know they’re out there. And some parents just choose to not put their kids in the nursery for convenience or other reasons. It doesn’t matter to me, as I normally sit away from the kid areas, or just ignore the kids. But I just wonder if the people who do bring their toddlers/infants into the church service feel like they are fully able to devote their attention to the message and get all that they could out of the morning service.

So… I’m curious…

How many of you put your kids in the nursery? How many take their kids into the service?

If you have or do take your kids into the service, do you feel like your attention on the message is limited? Do you walk away feeling like you got something out of being in church, or are you like me… you feel like “Holy hell, I made it through the service without my kid being too noisy!” and feel a little bewildered at what exactly you listened to the pastor saying?

  1. We usually keep our kids with us for the beginning part of the service, for worship through the singing time. They like singing with us, I like doing that together as a family, and then towards the end of the worship time one of us takes them back to their classes. I couldn’t keep my kids in service with me. My kids are pretty well behaved and can keep pretty entertained and quiet, but I just think it’s too distracting. Not only would I be worried about them distracting others around us, but I definitely agree with what you’re saying. When we were looking for a new church in Jackson we came across a few that didn’t have nursery or kids church and we almost walked right out. I’ve watched enough friends and been in enough Catholic/Lutheran services that don’t offer childcare so that there are infants/toddlers/preschoolers sitting in the service, challenging their parents to keep them happy and quiet and that is just not for me. I don’t think there is any point in me being there if I can’t listen to the message, if I have to spend that hour making sure my kids are quiet and entertained instead of listening to the pastor’s words, reflecting on his message and take anything home with me.

  2. Also, I’ve had this thought before…I want my kids to go and have fun at church, learning their songs and bible stories on their level. I don’t want them growing up in the church bored by adult services and memories of being shushed and having to sit still. They aren’t understanding or getting anything out of sitting in our service. I want church to be applicable to them and something they look forward to and that’s what the nursery and kid’s church is for. In my opinion.

  3. We take our kids to their classes and have since they were about 3 months old. I cannot concentrate when my kids are with me. We have had several different periods of time when we would get called out to get Norah. We would end up bringing her to the service with us and all focus on the sermon was gone.It drives me crazy when people bring their kids into the service when we have great kids programs. Today there was a family with their 1 year old – and he was so loud! They let him carry on for atleast half of the sermon before they went to the cry room. I just don’t get it. I know that I don’t get much out of the sermon if my kids are in there – but I am also trying to be considerate of those around me. I also think there is a point where it is important that the kids come into the service and participate in the worship and experience what church is. At our church most kids – even middle school and high school – go to their classes while the parents go to church and then they leave. I think it is very important that as kids get older they go to their own classes and then also go to the service.

  4. My church only offers nursery during classes, but not during sacrament meeting, which is really hard with a little one. I’m the type of person who thinks it’s rude if your child is being loud/distracting and you don’t take them out in the hall. It’s not fair to other people trying to hear the message. We haven’t been to church in a long while, mostly because we don’t get much out of it because Gavin doesn’t want to sit still. It’s just not worth going if we can’t enjoy the message.

  5. Before I get started I’ll throw out the disclaimer “I enjoy my Church,, but they definitely need more parents w/ young children on the board…”Our church offers ‘daycare-type’ settings @ the school across the parking lot for later masses (we prefer the 7:30 am mass)when the weather is good. No parent rooms, no nursery as was promised the last time a major collection was taken up, just a setting where your child is a parking lot away & you have to pay quite a fee for them to stay for an hour while you attend mass.They get restless in that hour & I don’t want to disturb anyone else from enjoying the service, because I know it it annoys me when they act up!So we usually take turns attending mass & that is no fun, but at least you get 1/2 a chance @ getting something out of it. Until someone comes along with toddlers & plops down right next to you……

  6. I have often wondered how parents get anything out of the service with their kids in there- I am not a parent- so I don’t know first hand. I will say that I am very distracted when I sit by people with kids. Mostly because I love kids and people watching. But I don’t understand how you could concentrate when you are either watching, playing, or monitoring your child.

  7. at our church, the children attend the service for the firs 15 mins or so and then leave for their sunday school classes. this works out really well!

  8. Here is my belated comment. We attend church twice a week and get together with 2 other couples from church for prayer once a week. Prayer is casual and just at someone’s house…no big deal, usually enough stuff to keep Matthew occupied. For the church services we share responsibility. On Sundays we rotate each week with who takes Matthew downstairs. All the kids are in service for the music/worship (there are only 4 kids total) then they are dismissed to the basement for children’s church. One of us takes Matthew to watch him and keep him out of trouble since he is quite a bit younger than the other kids (they all stay together). We miss the adult lesson but can get a review of stuff we learned as a kid while we listen to the children’s lesson. Then, after we get home we discuss together what the pastor shared upstairs.On Wednesdays Matthew goes downstairs with the other kids all by himself. The lesson is much more casual and more “activity” driven so it is easier for the teacher to have Matthew without one of us. Matthew is fairly well behaved for the most part and we haven’t had any problems with this arrangement. Up until a couple months ago, he stayed upstairs with the adults on Wednesdays and sometimes on Sundays, depending on how distracting he was.I have to mention that our church is very small and does not have a staffed nursery, just a room set up for when there are babies who need to sleep, nurse, etc.For our family, attending church is not an option unless someone is sick. We do not want to teach Matthew that if he acts up he doesn’t have to go to church so we will never not attend/leave early because of his behavior.

  9. I am way late on commenting on this, but had it starred in my Google Reader and wasn’t able to leave comments from work. We had been bringing Lukas into church with us up until he turned 22 mos. Back in August we thought we’d give it a try and after 3 weeks of hard goodbye for him, he loves it now. He looks forward to going into his sunday school class now and doesnt even look back when he knows he gets to see Ms. Cindy and his friends in the class. And then of course we started him in the 1 year old class, but then turned 2 in October. So I started worrying about, “Oh crap, he just got situated in this class, now we have to move him.” Then Tony reminded me that kids don’t move up a grade just because they have a birthday. DUH!! Anyways, He turned out to be in the right class and will grow up with the right grade, since we had decided to hold him back the first year and wait until he is actually 5 and then turning 6 when he is in kindergarten. Well, if thats not a long comment for ya, i should’ve just made a blog out of it! HAH!

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