As a clergy person who preaches every Sunday morning and is often found at weddings and funerals, I often get to tell parents, “Don’t stay away. You and your baby are welcome!” In fact one of my church members has fun teasing me when she sees me sway while I pray. Or sing. Or… Anything I’m doing up front while I see mom rocking baby in the pew.
- At Baptism we welcome babies into the life, love, grace, and fellowship of Christ’s Church. That includes worship! They have a right to be in Church. IF YOU ARE BAPTIZED, YOU BELONG. PERIOD. END OF STORY.
- We promise to help parents raise their children in the Christian faith. Where better for them to learn than right in the midst of faith expressed? “Whatever you do to the least…” (Mt 25:40). Education begins right at the moment of birth. Not when our little ones first go to preschool. Your baby or toddler needs to have the opportunity to learn the ebb and flow of worship; the sights, sounds, and sometimes smells. Spirituality is a sensory, an emotional response to God’s call to us. It doesn’t even need words.
- There’s a difference between a fussy baby or fidgety toddler and one who’s screaming. As part of this Christian family we others are called to do our part. Distract the child with some smiles or waves, be understanding and sympathetic. As Jesus said to the apostles who were pushing the kids away, “Let the children come to me. Don’t get in the way. Theirs is the kingdom of God.” (Mt 19:14)
Some tips for moms and dads.
- Sit in front. Yup – this one’s counterintuitive! Children behave better when there’s something to watch other than another person’s butt or the back of their head (which is, after all what’s on their eye-level).
- If you need to step out of worship – go for it! Don’t worry if it’s “the right time”. Come on back in when you and your child are ready.
- By all means, bring that quiet toy, board book, crayons, or cheerios if that’s what your child needs. Keeping them in a special “going to Church bag” keeps them special.
- When you feel frustrated or just done, ask for help. You might not know how many of us in the pew would just LOVE to hold your baby!
- Yes, it can be tough, and yes, you may certainly do other things to get your spiritual needs met, but Sunday worship is for your family. Go as a family.