Trick question…..it is actually every week! To promote our new church website (and future items to increase our online presence), Father Kirby invited a few of us to write an article or post for the website. I thought about what could I possibly be an expert on and write about for all of our parishioners to read and then it hit me: Write about taking multiple kids to church! We have done that for several years now and we have noticed we could be at our most challenging time….a baby who loves her own voice, two budding and active comedian kids under the age of 6, and two kids who are extremely active and getting bigger and taking up more space. You might have noticed that we are ready to move another pew back to fit our growing family! So, why not just leave them home or why not just skip church more often than go to church? Well, that is why I am writing this post, attending mass with your entire family is too important to worry about how that one hour a week will go. So I will address the common reasons people say they don’t like bringing their kids to mass and show you why they aren’t very good reasons.
1. “We don’t get much out of mass when we have our kids with us because we can’t focus on the mass.”
Well, it depends on what you are trying to get out of mass. If you are trying to hear every word and be totally focused on the Word of God, then no, you probably won’t get as much out of mass. But mass is about a community of worshipers coming together to worship together, be together, and hear the Word of God together. How can you be together as a community if you can’t be together as a family? And as we have learned, with our busy schedules, sometimes the hour-long mass is one of the few hours we get to be together as a family. And now that Father Kirby puts recordings of his homilies on THIS VERY WEBSITE (shameless plug!), you can always listen to his homilies later in the day….you know…when your kids are all napping!
2. “But our kids don’t get anything out of mass, they are too young.”
Well, as you can see from #1, they get family time and that is very important. They get to see other people worshiping together. And as parents, you are the greatest teachers they will ever have, so you can help them get something out of it each week. Growing up, my parents would ask us what we learned or found interesting on the ride home from mass each week. Our son Quinn once said “Poptarts” when we asked him where he sees God each day. Not the deepest answer, but we had him thinking about God and we were having a discussion about God. Sure your kids may be coloring pictures during Mass or may need 3 bathroom breaks, but if you look for it, you will see that they are getting “something” out of Mass each week. And that something is more than they would get if they stay home watching TV.
3. “But our kids distract other parish members and they don’t want our kids there.”
I think about the only adults who don’t want our kids at Mass most times are us….their parents! Kids can be distracting and can be loud, but for the most part, they make the parish community more enjoyable. And at some point, they can actually help at Mass (Abby just started being an altar server!). If they get too loud, you can always take them in the back where they would be less distracting. And yes, there will be moments you wish you didn’t have kids (been there, done that!), but having kids with you at Mass is generally more enjoyable than not…for both you and the rest of the parish community.
I am sure you could come up with other reasons why Mass may not be the best place for a little child, but the benefits outweigh the downsides infinitely. God should be the center of each family and weekly mass should be a time to enjoy and focus the family on God, how strong your family’s faith is, and how can continue to build it. So, enjoy the family time at weekend mass. And when you need a smile, just take a look at ol’ Sully Barry and I am sure he will give you a look that will make you realize why family is so important to our faith.
By Ben Barry-Parishioner