Thoughts About The “Cry-Room” at Church

A few days ago, I shared my thoughts about how I admire parents who take their children to Mass. Today I would like to share my thoughts about the “cry-room” (also known as the family room) that most churches provide for mothers or families with young children. My thoughts were inspired by one mother’s experience on taking her kids to Mass alone. (If you want to read about it, here it is: “I Took the Kids to Mass Today!“)

There is no doubt that churches have put up the “cry-room room” with the best intentions–that is, to make sure that worshipers get to hear Mass undisturbed. However, I believe that parents shouldn’t be forced (by anyone) to use the room if they think their kids can handle sitting with the general audience. Of course, they are kids and there certainly will be some minor hiccups from time to time, but I think that as long as a child stays put and doesn’t throw fits, there is no need to use the “cry-room”.

Furthermore, I think that parents ought to train their child to behave well during Mass rather than choose to have them stay in the family room–where no one really gets anything out of the Mass. It is important that we teach our children the right things early on, instead of having them do what they want all the time. It isn’t fun to have to correct their wrong behaviors, but it is the right thing to do.  Lastly, if you happen to sit beside a mother with her kids in the general audience some time soon, please don’t ask them to sit in the “cry-room” and deprive them of the chance to enjoy and worship the Lord fully.

Comments

  1. Thank you for the link to my post, and for your loving and thoughtful words regarding the use of the cry room! Like I told the priest after mass, “I have stayed home for SO long because I’ve been afraid to bring my children to church, but today, we made it through!” I have received so much loving support and encouragement from Catholic parents that are cheering me on too keep up the consistency in teaching my children to revere Holy Mass and appreciate Christ with us at Church – IN the church.

    I know there will be days that I will need to move to the cry room, or days that we’ll need to join the donut line early to keep from having a meltdown, but I will persevere in teaching my little children about Mass, arriving early, having church-related playthings available, and sitting up front to allow them to actually SEE what we come to Mass to participate in <3 . . . hopefully those that attend Mass with me will be supportive. I know the internet sure has been for the past couple of days!

    • Amy,
      You are very welcome for linking to your post! I thought it was a great post and a good topic to cover. I am glad to hear that you have been supported by other Catholics! It is great to hear that people understand you are trying to teach your children about Mass. That is such a wonderful thing! You seem to have a great, positive attitude concerning how you are going to handle bringing your children to Mass, and I respect your efforts very much! Best of luck teaching your kids about Mass, and may God bless you! I will be sure to check in on your blog for updates.

  2. Erin:

    I enjoyed your post and think that you are absolutely correct.

    Our children should be welcomed and seen in our Churches and at Mass.

    Let me ask this question: Does anyone believe there is any correlation between our use of “cry rooms” and removing our children from Mass to a separate room and a separate “liturgy” and the fact that so few of our Catholic children continue with their Faith or attend Mass once they make their Confirmation or leave home for college? I do.

    Parents brought their children to Mass for centuries and did what was necessary to instruct and discipline them while they were there – an admittedly tough thing to do. But parents have successfully done so and are still doing so now. My spirits have often been uplifted by the witness of families who have been successful in instilling a sense of reverence and the sacred even in very young children.

    We have done a disservice to our children and parents by having a separate “liturgy” for the children and offering what is more often then not a separate “playroom” where any one there would be hardpressed to reverently and actively participate in the Holy Sacrifcie of the Mass.

    Children need to be at the side of their parents learning prayerful and reverent conduct. They deserve to be in the Presence of their loving God.

    The rest of us are quite capable of putting up with some occasional distractions, knowing that by doing so we are helping parents form “little saints”.

    Just one man’s opinion.

    • Michael you pose an interesting thought. I agree that there could potentially be a correlation between the two. The bottom line (in my opinion) is that attending Mass should be a family oriented event. Children do need to be at the side of the parents for Mass. There are so many lessons they can learn from attending Mass, just as there are new lessons for adults each time they attend Mass. Thank you for your comment Michael!

  3. Dear Erin:

    I agree that parents ought not be forced to move to the cry room, but there are absolutely times in which it is considerate for parents to move. This consideration is as much for their own infants as it is for the elderly parishioners (for whom hearing the Mass over the wails of an infant may be impossible).

    Cry rooms are for infants, children who are under 2 years of age. These children cannot be taught to sit quietly and “behave” for long periods of time. It is not developmentally appropriate. They just don’t have the capacity. There are many reasons a mother may feel better about being in a cry-room with her infant child. I know I do!

    I have endured a crying infant during the Mass in a church without the respite of a cry room. I have nursed my infant in the pew uncomfortably – for a variety of very practical reasons. I have stood at the side of the pew rocking a crying babe in my arms, unable to enjoy the Mass, but scrambling to soothe a frustrated 18-month old who just doesn’t want to be in the pews.

    I appreciate the kind consideration of a cry room. This is not because I don’t want to teach my children to love the Mass, nor because I want to separate myself and my children. Frankly, with a busy 18-month-old in tow, I am better able to enjoy and learn from the Mass from the sanctuary of the cry room!

    My 5-year old and my 4-year-old have both learned how to sit quietly and even to enjoy the Mass. On days when my husband’s schedule means that he is working on Sunday, my choice is either to take the children to Mass alone or miss the Mass. I would rather attend. My children are perfectly capable of sitting quietly in the pew, should I have to excuse myself and my infant to the crying room. And I appreciate that there are elderly women in our parish often seat themselves near us, so that should I have to get up, these “grandmothers” kindly offer to keep a watchful eye over my other children. This is a true spirit of generosity and service!

    And in response to Mr Seagriff’s comments, perhaps he might volunteer to teach the children’s liturgy. Our parish offers a wonderful children’s liturgy in which young children are taught the basic beauty of our Catholic Faith and the Mass is gently explained to them in such a way that they grow up learning to love the Mass. I do not understand how this would lead to their leaving the church at their first opportunity. On the contrary! With an instilled understanding of the Mass, these children will grow in their Faith! I understand that there are probably some parishes where the children’s liturgy is an utter free-for-all. However, the responsibility is ours – we as adult brothers and sisters of these younglings – to train up our children in the way they should go. Concerned Catholics ought to take the lead in teaching our dear little ones to love the Mass. It should not be a punitive experience in which children are constantly shushed and chided. It should be a joyful celebration! A place where they feel welcomed and instructed. Furthermore, the children’s liturgy need not and should not replace the entire Mass, but rather complement it offered as part of the Mass, but not a substitution of the Mass. Children need to be present for the Eucharist.

    Certainly, once they reach a level of maturity, children should attend the Mass beside their parents. I agree. But these sweeping judgements of the cry room and the children’s liturgy do not accommodate parents and young children in a meaningful way. The Mass should be a family event.