Dear parents with young children in church

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  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Feb. 23, 2015 2:17 p.m.

    I’m not sure that the advice given here applies to Latter-Day Saints as much as it does to Lutherans. For us, worship is indeed more about personal scripture study and quiet, contemplative prayer (as the Bible teaches) rather than the group “community” aspect of Church, which while important to some degree, is not sufficient reason to go to church (those who come to church just for the community aspect are often times the first to leave and never return when someone says something to offend them). The reason to come to church is to partake of the sacrament, to learn and grow from the teachings of church leaders and instructors, and to participate in our quorum activities (including RS, YM/YW, and Primary) so that we prepare to serve others and build the kingdom from outside and from within.

    @Hutterite, there is no “good reason” not to go to church. There are only excuses. If a child who has behavioral problems is taken out of the environment where he or she is most likely to learn how the values needed to know how behave properly, the odds of his or her behavior improving are substantially lower.

  • observator east of the snake river, ID
    Feb. 19, 2015 10:36 a.m.

    when our kids were younger, I would hold them at the back of the meeting hall to try to calm them down, but I wouldn't take them out unless it got totally out of hand. Then, in the foyer, they had to stay on my lap or in my arms. No getting down and running in the halls.

    Once they learned that going out in the hall didn't result in a positive reward, they were willing to stay in the meeting and remain relatively still.

    Our children, like all of us, can make choices regarding their personal worship that are appropriate to their age. Until then, we will bring them with me and they will join us in our faith. If we don't teach them our faith, someone else will teach them something else. It is impossible to have 'neutral' children on the topic.

  • annieo Ephraim, UT
    Feb. 19, 2015 9:39 a.m.

    What happened to common courtesy and respect for others? When I was young our meetings were reverent because when a young child became disruptive whether through crying or repetitive outbursts of any kind, they were whisked out into the foyer so an atmosphere of reverence was maintained in the chapel. I did the same when my children were young out of respect for those around me and to teach my child that the chapel was a sacred place. We sing, “The chapel doors seem to say to me, shhh, be still.” But that is not the case. Young parents fight their children to keep them in the meeting. It disrupts the spirit, the worshippers around them can’t hear and it’s disrespectful to the speaker also. One of the biggest mistakes made was taking the cry rooms out of our building plans. This is not only the case in church meetings, but in concerts and similar events also. Our society has lost its manners and it shows up nowhere more profoundly than in church. We should follow Brigham Young’s advice, “Crying children, like good intentions, should be carried out immediately.”

  • MrsH Altamont, UT
    Feb. 19, 2015 9:18 a.m.

    I found myself cheering some of the comments here, crying at others, but all-around a great article and collection of comments, even the ones I don't agree with.
    Good job!

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Feb. 19, 2015 8:55 a.m.

    I think the comment you're remarking on means the ones whee the kid goes up and the parent dictates what they say. Kids should be encouraged to share their testimonies, one of the most moving testimonies I've ever heard came from a kid approaching baptism. But it needs to be the kid's testimony, not mom or dad whispering the right words into their ear.

  • FelisConcolor Layton, UT
    Feb. 19, 2015 8:44 a.m.

    "Parents, if your kid can't say their testimony on their own, wait until they can. It is disrespectful of the child, the congregation, and the concept of testimony.

    Testimony Meeting is a time to share honest, humble thoughts, not to get attention...."

    Where did you get the idea that children cannot have "honest, humble thoughts"? In my experience, the thoughts of children are more honest and genuine than those of many adults. And there are plenty of adults who bear their testimony solely to get attention and sympathy from the congregation.

    In fact, I'd rather sit through a testimony meeting filled with nothing but short "I wuv my Mommy and Daddy" testimonies than endure weepy adults reciting 20 minute-long lists of their personal problems, many of which were obviously created by their own poor choices.

    I used to think like you did. Then I became a primary teacher, and realized that when a kid says he "knows the Church is True" he's probably being more sincere than an adult who says the same thing.

  • B ob Richmond, CA
    Feb. 19, 2015 1:33 a.m.

    When I hear kids in church and they are not mine, I don't worry. I'm not the one straining to pick up the pacifier.

    I have hope that each child will learn to sit quietly just as I have hope adults will learn to sit still and not look all around to see who is making the noise

    Any one who brings Cheerios to church should be volunteering to clean the chapel.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Feb. 18, 2015 8:55 p.m.

    Here's a thought, I got from a bishop of mine on this topic. He said have a patient and loving heart and LESS JUDGMENTAL. Then ask if you could be assistance.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Feb. 18, 2015 1:55 p.m.

    A "cry room" and foyer are often used when children are "fussing" and cannot be consoled.

    Agreed: older children are best taught to stay seated in the chapel throughout the service. Agreed: a little child can often be taught in a month or two to be relatively silent during meeting. Agreed: a child will not usually be disruptive,(if, when taken out, he's not "rewarded" with having free rein of the halls). Outside he might still learn to sit fairly quietly. Agreed: "appropriate" coloring books and activities be provided and most bambinos should be able to last an hour, even without a snack. Usually I find, in my limited experience, that my infant descendants can learn to be fairly well-behaved while still tots.

    I've had lots of enjoyment over the years watching these little ones grow. One boy says "Amen" when the others do. At three he threw a toy into the aisle and across the aisle another little boy (only two) picked it up and gave it him back. Taking tots to Church gives parents opportunity to attend and trains children in good conduct.

  • sbaggs south jordan, UT
    Feb. 18, 2015 1:17 p.m.

    You'd be surprised how much little children understand from the scriptures. I have been reading them to my granddaughter since she was 2 and she still asks for the story of Nephi and the "boat" and she's just turning 6. Believe me they are smarter than you think.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Feb. 18, 2015 1:10 p.m.

    You say that religious beleif should be determined by prayer, faith, study and time. I would agree with that, I think that is making Bergermough's point. How can someone who is 8(or nine or ten) really do that? Outside of a child prodigy they can barely read the Bible or BOM, let alone understand or contextualize it. They have little to no life experience to draw on to make that type of decision. If a 15 year old kid wants to make a decision on religion, I can respect that. But how can someone who can hardly read Nancy Drew really understand scripture?

  • sbaggs south jordan, UT
    Feb. 18, 2015 1:03 p.m.

    to Joggle, You are so wrong about taking children to church. It helps a child to learn and grow in more ways than just religion. It teaches them to sit still and when they start going to school they are better prepared to handle sitting in classes. I have also noticed that even older children have a hard time sitting through a funeral for instance if they haven't had the upbringing to sit, learn, listen, etc in church. As for forcing them to learn a certain religion, better that than roaming the streets or joining a gang when they are older because they never had any guidance. It's not brain washing, it's love and children will always have a choice as they get older. Think of it this way, don't you think that children should be taught not to touch a hot stove? You teach that out of love. Well, I teach my children to love the Lord out of my love for Him and my love for them.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2015 12:33 p.m.

    @Samuel B Martineau
    "Can you logically prove that it is wrong to kill? "

    Yes, treat others the way you want to be treated. Everyone doing harmful things to each other just makes everything worse.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Feb. 18, 2015 12:29 p.m.

    I'm of two minds on this. So, I wasn't allowed to go to church as a small child. Well, more precisely I wasn't allowed to belong to a church. My parents were of different faiths (LDS and Islam) and didn't want to influence me. I went to the LDS church with my grandparents and to various protestant churches with school friends. When I was 8 I was allowed to learn about churches and eventually chose to join the LDS church.

    I value that my parents waited until I was a bit older. Perhaps also coming from a mixed background I wasn't presented with a unified front of "This is the only thing that is right and you have no choice". On the other hand, my younger sister was raised in the church, she attended from a fairly young age, young primary or so. However our mother reinfoced strongly that we had to have a testimony of our own and that we went to church for the gospel, not because it was part of our social structure.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Feb. 18, 2015 12:13 p.m.

    Article makes good points. Children belong in church -- including the deliberate act at an impressionable age of teaching them that God exists, that He is to worshiped, that His laws are set and good, that we can KNOW absolute truth and KNOW He exists.

    We mostly agree "Civil" -- except 1-4 is awesome (but I strongly favor not changing meeting times each year; that's what is disruptive), best to not sing a hymn (a viable choice) than to not sing all the verses when a hymn is chosen.

    Church is not the place to play or to eat. Neither is necessary! No, your children don't need toys or distractions; and teaching them to be distracted instead of attentive to the speakers and proceedings is a poor parenting choice -- even if the right thing is a difficult struggle. Children can go an hour and ten minutes without eating; they can go three hours without eating. And the obesity that surrounds us is evidence of the excessiveness of reinforcing the idea that we have to constantly be eating and attending to the physical over the spiritual. Toys and food for kids at church is just taking a lazy cop-out.

  • Transaction7 Commerce, Texas
    Sept. 18, 2013 12:30 a.m.

    You are right. Also, I'm 74 and this is nothing new. I think I was in junior high when a smart pastor said "Better a crying baby than a snoring saint." We attended church as young children. Now that I'm an Old Fellow and have on occasion snored, I appreciate the comment even more.

  • ardent birmingham, 00
    June 8, 2013 10:28 p.m.

    Great debate here. I'm catholic and I wrestle with some of this stuff about belief with my own kids. Virgil, I can get them to accept historical evidence of Jesus, but not my view that he had divine potency. Big D, their view is that absence of evidence IS evidence of absence i.e. if one contends that something is real, be it a disease cure or the existence of life on other planets, one should be able to prove it (`the burden of proof's on you Dad.`) Grateful for all thoughts. I'm running out of road.

    June 5, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    I see this, and agree with much. But? Parents?? Its still important to at least TRY to keep kids quiet. I have a 17 month old right now. I haven't managed Sunday school or RS in weeks, but I still at least bring QUIET toys, Sunday appropriate toys and books (not a firetruck with lights and sirens). I take him OUT if he is screaming at the top of his lungs -but not to play, the foyer shouldn't be a reward for bad behavior. And slowly? he is learning that there is a time to play quietly. Now, he will stay in the pew, not throwing toys and snacks, and gets my attention quietly. He is learning to enjoy the music, so it doesn't matter if you sing 19 vs.

    As a parent? I ask nicely, to at least make an effort. Yeah, its a struggle, we've all been there, some of us are STILL there, but you can take this idea and attitude too far.

  • Civil Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2013 1:33 a.m.

    Parents, if your kid can't say their testimony on their own, wait until they can. It is disrespectful of the child, the congregation, and the concept of testimony.

    Testimony Meeting is a time to share honest, humble thoughts, not to get attention, nor train your child. Family Home Evening and Primary are the times to train.

    Adults, are you compelled to bear your testimony, or just looking for attention or something to do? If it is the latter two, don't.

    Children of all ages can and do benefit from the Spirit, and from humble talks. Keep those up. Parents, keep the faith.

    And whomever thought up the 1-4 meeting schedule, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Not about nap time or small children, or their parents, I assure you.

  • Civil Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2013 1:27 a.m.

    As a parent I ask, please be considerate.

    It IS hard to sit with children in meetings. So end the meeting when it is supposed to end, not after.

    In fact, if the speakers finish early, Bishop or Stake President, do not be compelled to fill in the "extra" time. The fact that you are ordained doesn't make you wiser than those who spoke, nor essential to the Spirit communicating God's message to the congregation. Some times a little is enough, and a lot is too much.

    Dear sincere person giving the prayer. It is a PRAYER, not a TALK. If you were supposed to give a talk, you'd have been asked. Open a meeting in < two minutes, close it in < 30 seconds. Trust the Spirit and the congregation. We don't need a recap.

    Let out early once in awhile. On purpose. Don't poor the glass so full. It just spills over and makes us wet.

    Chorister, we don't HAVE to sing all 19 verses. Sometimes ONE VERSE WILL DO.

  • Joggle Somewhere In, HI
    June 3, 2013 7:31 p.m.

    Introducing religion at an early impressionable age forces children to make one of the most important/complicated decisions of their lives before the age of critical thinking, logic, reason and the ability to read/understand the scriptures being used to indoctrinate them. It takes away their free-will to choose their own path. Faith can also be used to create an immunity to evidence and reason. Once the seeds of religion are planted and nourished with weekly doses of dogma, the child would grow into an adult being unable to rid themselves of a belief system planted in their innocent unsuspecting, unquestioning brains. They have been coerced via their emotions, making what they think they experience in regards to "God", subjectively true, and when contrary evidence presents itself, there seems to be a reflex fear/anger emotion that keeps them from researching with a critical mind. People acquire a religion before critical thinking skills are developed and that religion is promoted without most people noticing. That's really not a very good reason to believe that a religion is true. Real experiences that have a profound impact on a person can have completely natural source and does not equal knowing.

  • Big 'D' San Mateo, CA
    June 2, 2013 1:26 a.m.

    Dear bergermough,

    As a trained, practicing scientist, I feel compelled to broaden what you wrote. If "theism is irrational," so must be atheism. Laboratory science has no approach to the question of whether deity exists. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. If "that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence," then atheism must be dismissed as readily as theism.

    Any scientist professing an opinion on this subject, if the opinion is based on "reputable, replicable [peer-reviewable, publishable] scientific evidence", can only profess agnosticism. Anything beyond that is personal belief formed by subjective experience, the interpretation of which is possibly biased by personal ideology.

    As for me, my own five senses have experienced enough to know that God is a real and loving being. (Well, 3 of 5 anyway; no olfactory or gustatory experience yet informs my opinion on the divine.) To me, these experiences are as material as any biochemical data that I produce in the laboratory. I cannot deny them. Nor can I give them to you.

    But if you desire to know for yourself, "Ask, and it shall be given you. Seek, and ye shall find." This I know.

  • bergermough Sheffield, 00
    June 1, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    food for thought, all. Thank you

  • ? SLC, UT
    May 31, 2013 8:23 p.m.

    Dear Bergermough,

    An interesting thought from “Compatibility of Science and Religion” Science, Evolution, and Creationism, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine. © 2008 National Academy of Sciences

    “Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience. In science, explanations must be based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world. Scientifically based observations or experiments that conflict with an explanation eventually must lead to modification or even abandonment of that explanation. Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend only on empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities. Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways. Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.”

    What do you think?

  • ? SLC, UT
    May 31, 2013 8:07 p.m.

    Thank you, Bergermough,

    Don't know if this helps any or if it is of any interest to you, but there is an International Society for Science and Religion, UK. They may or may not have what you seek. Also, an interesting book I've read is "The God Who Weeps" by Terryl and Fiona Givens. Another that Terryl Givens has written, I have not read but sounds interesting is "When Souls Had Wings."

    For many who do believe in religion and God there are personal experiences. For many this has included study, thought (reason and logic might fit in here somewhere), prayer, faith, and time. Everyone's life experiences are personal. Even if people experience things at the same time, it seems it is still possible for both to come away with a different take on the experience. How that all plays out in the scientific realm, I don't know.

    Best wishes.

    May 31, 2013 6:25 p.m.


    Just a thought. Science is not the only branch of human knowledge. For example, there is no way of scientifically proving that Julius Cesar existed. For that, one must turn to Historical proof, which is an entirely different thing altogether.

    I for one am very comfortable asserting that Cesar actually existed.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    May 31, 2013 5:04 p.m.

    I love it when parents whisper testimonies in their ear. I heard from a grown who said he was a kid he thought "shadow of a doubt" was all one word. He had no idea what it meant though. LOL!!

  • bergermough Sheffield, 00
    May 31, 2013 4:58 p.m.

    Thanks. By way of response to '?' I feel compelled to say that theism is irrational, yes, inasmuch as it is a belief in something that has no evidence base testable to scientific standards. Unless you know different? Show me the relevant article in a scientific journal and I'll examine it with impartiality & care. Atheism by contrast holds that `that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.'

    I don't object to kids being taught generally about the existence of different belief systems - Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc, but it concerns me that some children are taught that any one of them is uniquely real and right.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 31, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    Recently President Monson told on himself - how he started a fire outside when he was 8 that almost got out of control. Another time he related how he made his Primary President cry because of his behavior.

    I think he turned out alright. And maybe that is hope for us all as we struggle with our kids.

    God Bless all of you who do struggle. You are by far the majority.

  • ? SLC, UT
    May 31, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    Dear Bergermouh,

    Are you saying those believe in religion and God are not rational or logical? If so, why? What make a person more rational or logical in their thinking just because they don't believe in religion or God over another person who does?

    There are many people with personal experiences that have given, at least to them, sufficient reason to believe though it might not be enough to convince others.

    In the end, it may be just as fundamentally wrong to deny children the opportunity to know about religion and God. Would you deny children any other kind of education or knowledge or just a knowledge of and belief in religion or God? As happens with many children raised in any home, as children grow older they still are able to choose whether or not to beleive the things their parents and society has taught them. Some believe while others choose a different path.

  • bergermough Sheffield, 00
    May 31, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    so try as you might, you can't come up with any logical argument to demonstrate why we shouldn't kill each other?

  • Samuel B Martineau Bountiful, UT
    May 31, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    To Bergermough

    No offense taken, but I respectfully disagree. If we could only teach children things that we can prove logically, imagine the world we would live in. Can you logically prove that it is wrong to kill? No, because it always comes down to a base value of life. We believe that life is valuable even though we cannot gather data to prove that fact. The same is true with any moral code. Moral codes can't be proven logically, they are a matter of conscience. And thank goodness they are because they are also the basis of our society.

    The same is true of religion. You cannot prove that God exists, but I know that He does exist in the same way that I know life is valuable or that kindness is good. And religion too serves as a basis for our society. It provides moral teachings and organization for good works. I am grateful we still live in a largely religious society.

  • bergermough Sheffield, 00
    May 31, 2013 3:09 a.m.

    this might not be a popular view, but I think it's fundamentally wrong to raise children in any religion. They should be raised in a rational, logical environment. If you can't back up claims of a deity with reputable, replicable scientific evidence, you shouldn't make them to children. When they're adults, they can then make their own choices. Please don't take offence, none's intended.

    May 30, 2013 6:48 p.m.

    Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

  • AnonSMF Sacramento, CA
    May 30, 2013 5:04 p.m.

    I loved this article. And I can say from personal experience that I was not always the best model of behavior in church when I was quite small. But I did absorb things and learned. 40+ years later, I remember some of those early experiences in church. The love and kindness of teachers who had infinite patience, exposure to hymns and scriptures which have become ever more meaningful as I've gotten older. Keep bringing your young children to church. It will make a huge difference in their lives in years to come.

  • Grundle West Jordan, UT
    May 30, 2013 4:02 p.m.


  • Terrie Bittner Warminster, PA
    May 30, 2013 3:44 p.m.

    I'm glad parents bring their children to church even when they aren't perfectly behaved. I am not worried when a toddler slips away and bangs on the piano before getting caught or races around the chapel with a parent in chase. They can't learn if they aren't there.

    Besides, when the service ends, they come to me in the children's classes. If they didn't come, I'd have to go to boring adult classes where they never teach with flannel boards and puppets. I, a grandmother who has to borrow children, look forward all week to teaching my little class of wiggly, giggly preschoolers and I depend on you to bring them to me.

    When my children were small, I figured I might be spending half my time in the foyer, but I was coming--and bringing the children--to show God I cared enough to have us in the right place on Sunday morning.

  • Ironhide Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2013 3:27 p.m.

    Amen to the article.

    If only those parents who refuse to being their children to church because of the struggle would realize they aren't making it easier on themselves when at 6yrs and 8yrs the kids still don't know how to behave, since they weren't taught how early on. The solution of one parent staying home with the kids while the other attends is thoughtful but truly a cop out. It's essentially an excuse for the parents to not keep fighting the often literal fight. Patience and fortitude will never come from emotional breakdowns and concession. You can do it, just please don't give in to giving in.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 30, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    Dear parents with young children; what you do matters everywhere. And if they behave in church like they do in other spaces public and private, It's a good reason not to go to church. I know, that's a broad generalisation, but wow some of the stuff you see kids up to when they're out around other people. Makes you wonder.