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Just to horrify my mother...

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I am sending a letter to her pastor. We went to Easter services with them at their church (which I hate anyway- it is one of those megachurches that tries too hard to entertain). I am not actually a Christian, but I do admire Jesus and try to emulate him.

Anyhow, he ticked me off by really pushing parents to put their babies in the nursery. So here's my letter (feel free to offer suggestions):

I recently attended one of your Easter services in which you urged parents to take their children to the nursery. You also asked that crying babies be removed from the service. I don’t have a problem with your second request. I am considerate enough to take my babies out when they cry, so that they don’t disturb others from hearing the service. I do however have a problem with a blanket recommendation that all parents should put their babies in the nursery. Babies belong close to their mothers. The smell, sight, and sound of her comforts them. Another adult is not as good, even if your nursery were staffed with one on one care for babies, which it isn’t. A baby is always better off in the arms of a loved one than in a crib attended to by a stranger.

If someone chooses to leave their baby in the nursery, that is their right, but I don’t think it is the church’s place to encourage mothers to leave their babies, particularly newborns. Jesus said, “Let the little ones come unto me.” He didn’t say, “Let the little ones go to the nursery, so the grown-ups can listen to me speak.” He wasn’t bothered or irritated, despite the fact that the other adults present assumed he would be.

I think it would be wise for the church to try to remember that we are trying to live as Christ did. We aren’t trying to run a well-oiled machine of religion. While children might not have a place in a machine, they are welcome anytime in the arms of Christ.

I am just offering my opinion. I would only hope that you would think about amending your request to parents. Rather than suggesting that all parents put their children in the nursery, I wish you would direct your comments to only those parents of crying babies, asking them to step out and take advantage of the headphones you have generously provided.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
post #2 of 25
I like it....but...this is what you are going to hear...

The church may have thought that you and your dh and your mom and did may want to enjoy the service together. They really meant nothing against you. I have been in charge of setting up babysitting services at my own place of worship and when I was in college I was the babysitter in a place of worship. I have been there!


I like what you said and I agree with you, but this is the thinking of most people.

I have always taken my own children out. It was a matter of yrs. that I was always outside with one of my little ones and a long time before I was able to sit through a service without needing to go outside.

But I miss those days now.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Oh, I probably won't hear anything back. I'm not even a member. It just really bugged me to hear him pushing people to use the nursery- I mean, the people that want to use it do. So he is aiming it to the people who want their babies with them. My girls are still really little and because of the attitude of the church, almost everyone we spoke to said, "You know, we have a nursery." My mom kept saying, "We know, but she is really protective." :

She warned me he would say something beforehand. Apparently crying babies are his pet peeve.
post #4 of 25
Well *I* really like your letter and agree 100% about Jesus' probable position on children at a service. He would never have thought children, crying or not, are inconvenient.

Very articulate letter. Good for you.

La Den-den
post #5 of 25
I visited a church with my sister once that is incredibly cool about kids -- they provide books, crayons, and coloring sheets, there's a nursing rocker with soft toys at the back, the nursery is two feet away, and if you start to take out a chatty kid Mother Ann (it's an Episcopal church) will stop you and say "No, no, I'll talk louder!" Truly disruptive children are rare, from what I hear, because they're so involved in the service. Probably helps that there's lots of "church aerobics" in an Epscopal service ...

laralou, I thought your letter was great, and good for you for sending it! Would it be possible to imply that you're looking for a "church home" (even if this isn't so much true) but need a parish that's more child friendly? Churches really need members, and one of the reasons my sister's church is so progressive is that they were losing population and had to make some drastic changes (including the choice of priest!). They are now thriving.


post #6 of 25
I think your letter is perfect: Nice tone, nice references, friendly. I do find it odd that even on Easter the pastor would make such a point about separating families. I'm sure that when Mary and Joseph went to temple, they brought Jesus along! Probably nursed him in there, too.

This is exactly the reason I stopped attending church. It wasn't a megachurch, either, just a little ole Episcopal church. Every time we went I was greeted with at least four people telling me, "You know, we have a nursery." I didn't see what the big deal was about bringing kids with me but I did notice there were never any other children in the service. Never a one.

At the time, I had a child in their preschool, and the nursery happened to be in the same room as my daughter's preschool class, but it wasn't the same. The preschool was a place to send your child for fun and learning; the nursery (with just two adults for the 12-20 babies and toddlers) was just a place to dump the kids so they wouldn't bother anyone.

I also found it funny that I was getting megapressure to work as a nursery volunteer. There I was, trying to attend services with my newborn, 2-year-old, and 4-year-old, without my husband (he worked on Sundays), and being told week after week that it would be so much easier for me to leave them in the nursery. If people thought it was hard for me to handle my three, how did they think it would be any less hard for me to handle my three plus a dozen more??

I do think a cry room is a good idea, and it's wonderful that your mother's church provides headphones.
post #7 of 25
My church has a coop babysitting room, staffed by the parents that use it on a round robin basis, BUT the babies have to be at least 1 year old...and an inconsolable baby who is missing them is carried into the church to mom or dad.
We are freaks!

That said, in the last few months of her first year, when DD was really loud in the service, I was tormented and felt like I was either a) ruining the experience for everyone else or b) defeating the purpose of me getting out of bed on Sunday to drive all the way to church so dd and I could NOT be in church...Anyway, one Sunday when I was really NOT handling her or the situation well, the priest actually said from the altar (like he could feel my distress from the back of the church) that a crying or babbling baby was part of life, and that he hoped the baby's parents would handle him/her with kindness and respect, that in his experience, it was parents responding angrily or other people shushing aggressively that was MORE disturbing!

THAT'S what a pastor should say!

I love your letter.
post #8 of 25
I like the letter too. not argumentative and it certainly doesnt make him want to be defensive.
post #9 of 25
I think your letter is perfect - it does not come across as harsh or argumentative at all. I've been to a church like that, all small children were expected to be left in the nursery. We were fortunate enough to find a church that is very kid-friendly. They do have a nursery, but almost no one uses it. The pastor encourages parents to not feel embarassed if their child talks or cries during service. His attitude about children is amazing. I couldn't attend a church that pressured me to leave my little one in the nursery with strangers. I think it's great that you're sending that letter, maybe it will offer that pastor a different perspective to think about.
post #10 of 25

Re: Just to horrify my mother...

Originally posted by laralou
Jesus said, “Let the little ones come unto me.” He didn’t say, “Let the little ones go to the nursery, so the grown-ups can listen to me speak.”

That is too much. I think your letter is great!

I don't attend church, but dh, ds (16 mo) and I recently went to a local little country presbyterian church because our friends attend and they were part of the "house band" (bluegrass gospel music!). Anyway, I was nervous about ds, especially since the sanctuary was so tiny, like 10 x smaller than the one in the church I grew up in! So we sat in the back, and everyone said ds was welcome, there was a box of toys in the corner, they "welcome crying babies" (one kid did fall once and cried for part of the service), ds and I sat in the aisle for part of the service, playing.... they had a children's time near the beginning of the service, and kids could go to the "nursery" or stay, those that stay got a couple sheets of games (search a word and the like). It was really cool!
post #11 of 25
That is great. I have an issue with churches that do that too.
Maybe its because I don't even leave dd with family (only dh) why would I leave her with a stranger? And what about bf babies who don't take bottles?

Luckily my church welcomes babies. You hardly ever see babies in the nursery only toddlers.
post #12 of 25
GO for it!

We took Goo to a service at our Temple a few weeks ago and while we took her out when she got fussy and wanted a bottle, she enjoyed the service and even clapped during one of the songs! The Rabbi and all of the people there loved it! Children are the most important part of a religion. Who else will carry it forward?
post #13 of 25
That is a beautiful, well-written letter!! Good for you!
post #14 of 25
I love your letter!

So agree with you about children in church, I wish more people held your view.

When ever we go to a church first thing people tell me is the nursery is ... Dh just tells them we like our children near us though he doesnt really have a problem putting kids in nurseries.
post #15 of 25
Well written letter.

As a new mom, almost 2 years ago, I had my ds in church with me. He started to fuss, so I left and went into the hallway for about 20 minutes till I got my baby to sleep. One of the older parishoners came up to me after the service and gave me heck for taking him out when crying. He said to me, "Your baby is only singing to the angels. You should not take him out of church everytime he cries. God likes to hear that his littlest ones are there as well." That made me feel so much better and I worried less when he fussed in the middle of service.

We now belong to a new church community that is prodominantly younger families. It is so nice, because almost everyone understands when your toddler is throwing a fit. They have all been there. We have got "looks" from people when Nik is screaming, but I find those are not the regular parishoners and my dh tends to look right back at them. (Unfortunately ds' nap time is right when church is, so we tend to have some unhappy, fussy behaviour from him..... it's not his fault. I wish they had it at another time, but they don't.)
post #16 of 25
Great letter!!

I took dd1 to a church when she was about three that I was considering attending regularly. It was great until the potluck afterwards. The children were not allowed to eat with the adults!! They had to eat in a separate room! Needless to say, we did not go back.
post #17 of 25
Great letter!

Sometimes churches forget about how Jesus was with children, and I find that so sad.

I quit going to one church-- they wouldn't keep my babies in the nursery (fine with me) because they cried, if you had a fussy baby in the santuary you were swooped down on and ushered out, so I tried the quiet room, until they turned it into a fancy-smancy office, and babies were no longer allowed to go there. Then I was told that my pacing back and forth in the foyer, which had doors with windows into the sanctuary, was "distracting." Oh yeah, I got pregnant again, was on bedrest, told the church office, but guess what kind of calls I got--"would you please work in the nursery this Sunday?"

So where was I supposed to be? I felt like an outcast because I had children, and the only place I was welcome was where I was "working" with other kids, plus my own. I was already taking care of my own kids all week, with no help, and burned out, and I am taking care of even more kids for spiritual fulfilment.
No thanks.

Sorry to highjack, but I totally agree with your letter! Jesus would not shoved the babies aside.

post #18 of 25

When my oldest DS was one, I took him with me to see the late great pediatrician, Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn, speak.

Halfway through the speech, DS started to be "loud".

I got up to leave, I thought a polite gesture to the rest of the audience....

...But Dr Mendelsohn told me not to leave because he loved to hear children talk back to him.

I bought the tape of the lecture. It is a sweet momento. DS is now twenty years old.
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by amarasmom
And what about bf babies who don't take bottles?
This is the case with one of my twins!

Everyone, thanks so much for your support and sharing your experiences. I hope it is ok if I incorporate some of your ideas into my letter.

I'm hoping to make the world a little more child friendly one person at a time!
post #20 of 25
I think it is a great letter and I hope you send it That said, not every church is anti-kids. Mine is proactively pro-children. To the point that the minister, during her sermon, stated flat out that children are a welcomed and expected participant in the service and if people cannot hear because of kid/baby noises, than they should "sit/move closer to the front"

To some degree I see this as a generational conflict, at least in our church. Some older parisioners take issue with kids being in the service and making noise (kids should be seen but not heard ). Our minister has two late teens-age kids and a 6 yo., and is relatively young in age and spirit, as well as being a - homebirthing, breast feeding, gentle parenting, organic feeding- mama . Her goal is to attract young, progressive families to the church to infuse it with energy and life, so there is somewhat of a tention there (but thankfully her stand is firm).

So there is hope out there...
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