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13 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Behavior in church

I have been meaning to write about this topic for a while, because I am really curious as to how other people feel about this particular topic.  While attending church I have noticed several children behaving in a manner which I would consider disrepectful and inappropriate, not just in a church, but in a public place in general.  I have seen kids laying on the pews as if they were laying on their couch at home (although laying on a couch with your shoes on is probably not the greatest idea either, but that is a different story), with their shoes on the back of the pew in front of them or even standing with their shoes on the pews or on the back of the pew in front of them.  What really bothers me is that the parents of these children, many of whom are not exactly little children, are completely oblivious to their behavior and do absolutely nothing to prevent it or stop it.  This morning in particular I was observing a mother with three kids, (about 6, 10-12 and a teenager) who didn't even blink or turn around while they behaved in the manner which I described above.  The youngest one continued to scrape her shoes against the pew in front of you the way that you would do if you had stepped on mud (or worse) and were trying to clean it off against the edge of the step of a staircase.  The older brother had his shoes on the same back of the pew and the older sister was laying cuddled against her mother, as if they were watching tv on the touch, shoes and all on the pew.  The mother did not do a single thing, although she did help her daughter climb on top of the pew in front of them so that she could stand on it and balance herself on it.  I can only imagine what would have happened if I had dared saying anything to her about her kids' behavior.  So, I am wondering, am I alone in being bothered by this?  Am I being old fashioned (or simply absurd) in expecting a much better behavior in church?  Am I being ridiculous for expecting parents to make sure their kids refrain from putting their shoes on the pews?  While I understand it is every parent's right to choose how to raise their children, I believe it is also my right to sit on a pew or kneel down and put my arms on the front of a pew that haven't been stepped on by someone's shoes.  I have seen many parents with many children who behaved much better or who were promptly corrected if any such behavior arose.  I can understand that little children are often hard to control, but the kids in question were not very young at all and I assume their behavior is just the result of their parents never correcting it (at least while in church).  Again, am I expecting too much or does anyone share my feelings about this?

14 Mar 2011
David
More than 50 messages post
Posts:55
Re: Behavior in church

Sounds like this is something that you need to consult your Brothers and Sisters about rather than write about it on a public forum; that is unless you have already voiced you opinion.  If it bothers you that much, then maybe you should pray for some guidance in solving the issue.

15 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

David ~  Thanks for your reply.  I am not looking for a resolution, because I know there can't be one.  I am just curious if I am alone in feeling this way, that is all.  It is a public forum, so I honestly don't see why I couldn't discuss this issue here.  Again, it is not for a resolution, just to see what people think.  I have been to other countries where kids get reprimanded by other adults if they misbehave and there is absolutely no problem with this, but in the States (and on base of course) this just cannot happen.

15 Mar 2011
JoAnne
More than 100 messages post
Posts:123
Re: Behavior in church

M. Have you asked the priest to possibly do an announcement at the service as a friendly reminder to parents of "restless" children, he could also suggest the parent bring the children a book to read or something to keep their hands and bodies still.  Yes, it is sad they can't sit for an hour "however" it might be a better resolution then they continuously disturb other parishioners. Back in the 1800s there used to be something called a "handkerchief church doll" which the mom's would make for the daughters (not sure what they did for the sons LOL) but it kept the children busy when they had to sit for hours in church on a Sunday, its a charming story for the priest to tell the parents that it is normal but they need to find a way to keep their children still.

http://www.google.com/#q=handkerchief+chrch+doll&hl=en&biw=1003&bih=563&prmd=ivns&source=univ&tbs=shop:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=Wkt_TfKXIYXqOcr2hbsI&ved=0CCsQrQQ&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=7a8a85cdb9e39c56

15 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

JoAnne ~  Thank you so much for your post and for your suggestion.  Lol, I know, what did they do with the boys???  Actually, the restlessness per se is really not the problem in my opinion, and I didn't really notice that many kids who can't sit still to the point that they bother the other parishioners.  And those that do move that much are the little ones.  The kids who behave this way are grown up kids.  What shocks me is the fact that some parents choose (because I know they can see what their kids are doing) to ignore a behavior which, in my opinion, is truly disrespectful and inappropriate.  I forgot to mention that the teenager in question started playing with his videogame!!!  Seriously?  A videogame in church?  One would think 'where was the mother???'.  Oh, the mother was right next to him and did absolutely nothing.  Not that I ever dreamed of doing anything like this when I was growing up, but if I ever did anything like this, I can only imagine the kind of look I would have got from my mom, and that, I can promise you, would have been enough to persuade me to never try that one again, lol.  And the same goes for my family.  I do not have exactly super quiet children, but they know this kind of behavior is not allowed or tolerated, out of respect for God, as it is a place of worship, and other people.  As you recommended, I could talk to the priest and ask to make an announcement, but I am afraid my feelings might be shared only by a minority, which would make the whole thing pointless.  That is why I thought I would post and see if there are any other people who do feel the same, or if I just have to give up and just look the other way, lol.  I still think the doll idea is super though, thank you for sharing it!!! :)

16 Mar 2011
Mary Jane
Posts:36
Re: Behavior in church

These are also probably the same 8-12 year olds that leave church before service is over to go get 5 and 6 donuts before any one else has a chance to get one.  Again, where are the parents?

16 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

Mary Jane ~ You're right, I had forgotten about that!  Yes, they're probably the same, and I'm sure they're also the ones who touch food and put it back.  Again, the parents are there, unfortunately.  They do see what their kids do and just don't teach them any differently.  And that's just sad.  Fortunately, I was raised differently, and I learned at a very young age what was acceptable and respectful, and I am very proud of my parents for raising me that way and for teaching me good manners from the very beginning.  Good manners, unfortunately, are becoming very rare. :(

16 Mar 2011
Michael
Posts:4
Re: Behavior in church

I feel that I need to also comment in the defense of parents with children that don't behave the way "other" members of the church would like them too. I have a little boy that is almost 7, he doesn't like going to church, so I have to keep on him and try to make sure he "behaves properly" which doesn't always work. I have to remind myself why I am at church and that it is important that I raise my son in the Catholic envirorment. I think that you should remember that these parents are bringing their children to God's house and yes you many not like the behavior but those children have right to be there. All we can do is hope that one day they will grow into young adults and still go to church! Besides have you ever thought that these children that misbehave could have a disablitiy, which causes them to act the way they do?

16 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

Michael ~ Thank you for your post.  I am not sure what kind of behavior your child shows when in church, but it might not necessarily be the behavior I am referring to.  It also sounds like you are the kind of parent who shows concern and wouldn't just block out his behavior, if you feel this would not be appropriate.  The behavior I am referring to is not the restlessness, not at all.  And honestly, I am not even blaming the kids, because it is part of the job of us parents to provide some guidelines in such environments for our children.  Whether they listen to us and do what we ask them to do is a different story, but I don't think we should just ignore their behavior, and that was mostly my complaint.  As far as the possibility of a disability, I imagine that this could be the cause of the restlessness behavior of some children, but that was not the point of my initial post and it is not an issue which I have noticed.  In the specific case of the three kids I mentioned above, I know they do not have a disability, I have seen this behavior repeat itself over and over again, and I have never ONCE seen the mother do anything about it, not one single thing.  I know everyone has a right to be in church, and that is why I am just going to pretend that is ok.  All I was asking for was an opinion to see if I am alone in feeling this way, that's all.  I would like to ask you a question though.  Do you think it is fair to have the feet of the child who believes he/she is sitting on a couch on your jacket/purse?  This is what happened to me.  And the mother looked, saw what happened and, again, did nothing.  To me, this is just plain lack of respect for me, as an individual, with absolutely no excuses.  Besides staring in disbelief, hoping the mother would do something, I could only move my purse and jacket, which is what I did.  We all step on stuff with our shoes, and some of this stuff is very gross.  Is it fair for anyone to have to sit on, kneel down on or put our hands on areas that are not supposed to come into contact with shoes (especially like the front of the pew)?  I just wish there were a little more common courtesy, that's all.  While it is important to take our children to church, it is just as important for them to learn matters.  I would rather for my children to not go to church than to be disrespectful towards any other human being.  But I'm pretty sure that one doesn't prevent the other. :)

16 Mar 2011
JoAnne
More than 100 messages post
Posts:123
Re: Behavior in church

Nice replies, I have to say I personally would never allow my children to play their gameboys in church..read (color when they were little) but the game boy...No!  Think thats going a tad far.  I fully agree with you M about the teenagers and the dirty shoes it is only for an hour and for the older children they should be used to it by now.  As for the younger ones (and possible dissability) I do understand about ADD/ADHD I know it can be verydifficult for a child or young adult to sit still even for an hour, but a little parental control wouldn't hurt.  What it all boils down to is having a little respect just for that hour.  There are plenty of things for children to keep their hands busy other than a gameboy.

17 Mar 2011
Michael
Posts:4
Re: Behavior in church

M- I agree completely that a child should not be playing video games or being disrespectful to other peoples belonging. I do agree that a parent must at least try to control the situation. I just know that personally I will find my son lying on the benches, which drives me crazy, but if I stop going to church in my mind it shows him that he can act like that and he'll get what he wants. I tell him that God loves everyone, but we shouldn't disrespect his home. As for playing the video game thing, if you know the people well enough maybe you can offer them a religious book for there kids to read or something like that. I just think that is plain disrespectful in it's self! I guess my thing is I know that it is hard for me to have my son sit nice and quitely in church even with telling him how to behave, so I could only imagine other parents go through the same issue. But I can understand where you're coming from. 

17 Mar 2011
Tracie
Posts:7
Re: Behavior in church

I recently read a book entitled, Parenting in the Pew.  It is a great resource to help encourage parents to actively engage their children during worship.  She recommends beginning at the age of 3 or 4.  So many times parents make their children "sit still," but don't help them follow along in the bulletin, hymnal, Bible.  Jesus says over and over in the New Testament, "let the little children come to me."  Jesus blesses the little children.  He loves and cherishes them.  He even rebukes the disciples and tells them unless you become like these little children you cannot inherit the kingdom of God.  So, if parents would begin "training" their children to worship God, talk about the service/sermon at home before and after service and even during the week, by the time they are teenagers, they will appreciate and even love the worship of God.  If anything, those parents need to be taught to help their children worship.  The worship of God is not dishonored by having children in the service.  Even squirmy ones.  Children are blessed by God, especially when the act like who they are..children!!  It is such a joy to sit with my 3 year old in the service and help her understand the worship of God.  That's why we go to church in the first place, isn't it?  Blessings!

17 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

Tracie ~ Thank you for your post and the advice.  I agree that teaching our children about the service does help.  I am very impressed that your 3 year old child actually sits on your lap and follows the service, with your help.  You are very lucky! :)  I don't believe I implied anywhere in my posts that children should not be allowed in church, but I would like to clarify that that should never be the case.  I must say, however, that when my kids were crying very loudly when they were little, I did leave the church until I was able to calm them down, because it would have been impossible for anyone around me to hear a word of what was being said.  Again, I did that out of respect for everyone else.  I know it is hard to keep the little ones still in the pew, and I honestly wouldn't expect them to.  The comments I had were for the parents of the not so little ones.  And they don't necessarily apply exclusively to the church environment.

David ~ From what you say, I know you are not one of the parents I am referring to.  The fact that you even took the time to reply to my post and share your thoughts shows that you do care.  I am positive that the parents who allow such behavior wouldn't probably give it any thought and just continue to behave the way they do, because that is what they consider normal.  Again, my children do not exactly sit down quietly either, so I know exactly what you're talking about, but I try as much as I can to teach them the proper behavior in church or in public.  You're absolutely right in continuing to take your son to church, I hope I never gave the impression that you should not, because that was never my intention.

Thank you all for your input, I enjoy reading all of your responses! :)

17 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

Michael ~ The post I accidentally addressed to David was for you, I am so sorry!

17 Mar 2011
ANON
Posts:28
Re: Behavior in church

M,

I'm a Christian (not Catholic), so I can't speak to your mode of worship, but I wonder why there aren't separate services geared toward children and youth in an environment/manner appropriate for their age?  Might be a worthwhile suggestion for your priest...and would not be offensive to anyone.

18 Mar 2011
Mandy
Posts:25
Re: Behavior in church

Did you seriously come on here to start a gossip train about the parents you don't like in CHURCH? Sheesh....I have been telling myself for weeks that I need to start getting to church, but if I have to sit worried about when someone will post on Naples Allhands about me or my parenting I'm not so sure. The God I have always prayed to is a God of LOVE, COMPASSION, and Understanding. You do not know the battles others are fighting, yet you judge them. Leave the judgement to God, If you REALLY have such a HUGE problem with something that you need to gossip about it, Please, do it elsewhere not in such a small community going back and forth with guesses at childrens' ages and specifics. If I were to see something like this that applied to the ages of my children, I would NOT think-'Oh you're right, next week I'll punish my children in church' I would think "WOW! never going back there!" and just like that you have turned a child of God away from His house. I think a good resolution would be PRAYER, for whatever battles that poor mother is facing, or the disabilities those children could be dealing with. Prayer also for yourselves, that you can gain patience and compassion from these experiences. But, Like you said in your original posts, you were NOT here to find a resolution, just to 'see if others felt the same as you' i.e. Gossip about them. 

Nobody should be made to feel that they are unwelcome in the house of our Lord. No age group, no behavior is turned away in the eyes of the Lord, who are you to judge? The church should be the one place they can count on to go that they won't feel judged. God is Love people, and to LOVE is to know Him. 

18 Mar 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

Anon - Thank you for your suggestion, it is definitely worth looking into this option.

Mandy - Thank you for your post.  I would like to reply to the points you have brought up.  First of all, I believe I specified several times that I never wished for anyone to be turned away from the church.  If you want to read this message in my words, you can most definitely do that, but that is not what I mean.  What I was trying to say is that I wish there were a little bit more parental control for children who, in my opinion, should be showing a little bit more respect in a public environment, and this could apply to other environments, not just a church.  Also, as I said before, I do not wish to have anyone's shoes on me or my belongings while in church, and I also wish I didn't have to come into contact with what other people's shoes come into contact with while sitting down in church.  I don't believe this is really strange for anyone to wish for, but, obviously, you feel differently.  Should I assume that if your child(ren) behaved this way you would just let them do that (play videogames, standing on the pew and on the front of the pews, putting their shoes on other people's stuff)?  From what you said, it appears that you don't find such a behavior inappropriate, so I gather you woud just let them behave this way.  God is love, that is absolutely true.  God also teaches respect, and to treat others the way we would want to be treated.  You are saying that it is ok for parents to let their child(ren) do whatever they want to do in a public place.  This is not, by any standard, teaching them respect for others.  Finally I would like to add that this is a public forum, and it is open for everyone to discuss whatever they choose to.  If you do not like the topic, don't read it or don't respond, but don't expect people to follow your guidelines simply because you don't agree with the contents.

18 Mar 2011
JoAnne
More than 100 messages post
Posts:123
Re: Behavior in church

Mandy, I truly don't think M came on here to gossip.  From how I read it, it was more on the fact that the older kids and teens were wiping their dirty feet on the kneeling stools which I have to agree is unsat.  As for the little ones laying around the pews, ok I don't have a problem with that as long as there is enough room for everyone to sit comfortably.  Lastly games boys....unless the child does have a disability and needs that to keep their concentration..ok!  But if not then I have to agree the parent should encourage the child to sit for an hour.  I mean what's after a game boy, laptop, portable DVD player.  There should be some limitations, that’s all.  I do believe what it boils down to is respecting each other and the person giving the sermon.

18 Mar 2011
Mandy
Posts:25
Re: Behavior in church

Nowhere in my post did I say it is OK, or not okay for that matter, for children to act in any way that may cause disturbance to others. Quite the opposite: I made it clear that nobody should be judging others based on the surface of what they see happening! We should absolutely treat others how we would want to be treated. That said, if someone disagreed with something they saw you do in public, would you want them to talk to you about it, pray with you or for you? Or would you rather they post complaints about you in a public forum? WWJD. 

Please do not judge me before even meeting me, do you know whether I do or do not even have children?? No. Again, the judgement in "assuming I would just let my children act that way and think it's okay". Kids will be Kids....and again, you do not know the battles they or their mother are fighting-she could just be at her wits end at that moment for any number of reasons and just needed some time with God. If you'd like to, we can sit down and chat about the way God calls us to react to situations where we are offended or bothered-THIS is where His teachings about Respect would come in. I would love to share quotes from the Bible such as "Turn the other cheek" and "He who hath no sin shall cast the first stone". I am not trying to attack you, because we are all sinners, and all fall short of the Glory of God... I just hope you can take a step back and see the big picture. Is there really no space left in the pews not caked in mud, as you make it seem, that you could rest your hands? I'm fairly certain there is, although I have not been inside. Does it REALLY matter that much in the grand scheme of things?? Take a deep breath, and just let it go! It is just not that big of a deal that you should ever need to publicly announce others' short comings. With all the disaster going on in the world around us, shoes on a pew being your biggest complaint should be considered a blessing. 
I do understand that this is a public forum in which you have the right to say what you please about whomever you please. Does having the right make it the right thing to do?
That is all I will say about the topic, I hope you all have a fantastic day! God Bless!! 

18 Mar 2011
Jade
Posts:7
Re: Behavior in church

I couldn't agree with M. more. I myself have an 11yr old and often BRIEF him to spare an hour with GOD in serene and behave manner and encourage to sing the hyms together with me and my husband. Although, we are guilty of my son sometimes stepping on the kneeling stool or kneelers... but consider it nipped in the bud as of today. @M: we've been here for quite a long time and most predecessor priests will address any concerns for the community (as necessary), so, IMHO you should bring this up. Some parents just blown this concern out of proportion...unsat.

04 Apr 2011
andre
Posts:3
Re: Behavior in church

Kids will be kids if you let them.

11 Apr 2011
Davina
Posts:9
Re: Behavior in church

As Anon mentioned, how come there isn't like a "children's church" for younger children or for teenagers? I also am Christian and we have those for both that way the younger people can learn at what they can grasp rather than sit in big church with the adults getting bored. Just curious, I don't know if Catholicism works differently or not, just a suggestion.

12 Apr 2011
M.
More than 100 messages post
Posts:102
Re: Behavior in church

Thank you everyone for all your comments.

I wanted to clarify that my main complaint was not really about kids who can't sit still through the service.  The issue I had was with them behaving in a manner which I find disrespectful (for any place, not just a place of worship), and their parents being completely oblivious to it, that's all.  If I am invited to someone's house, I can assure you that my kids are not going to get with their shoes on the host's couch or chairs, period.  I would expect the same kind of respectful behavior in a church, or at least an attempt by the parents to prevent this, that's all.  The problem is, however, that some parents might not have a problem with that kind of behavior, and that is just, as someone stated before, unsat.