Orthodox Christian Mamas-- how do you handle the long liturgy w/ kids - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-06-2005, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Orthodox mamas:

I am having a problem with attending liturgy conflicting with our AP parenting style. Herre is the typical situation.

I go to church on my own with one or two children. As we all know the Orthodox liturgy is very long, so my deal with the kids is, "as soon as you want to leave, we leave." (AP concept #1) Usually they last about an hour, which I think is great, but the problem is we often have to skulk out at sometimes not the best parts of the liturgy to enter or exit. I never leave iwhen the gospel is being read or the gifts are being brought through the sanctuary, or during the creed or the Our Father, or when the priest is facing the congregation, but there are times where we get a lot of "looks" when we leave.

My kids do not like the Sunday School which is in a different, next-door building. They want to "stay with mama." I've encourage them to go to the Sunday school but they want nothing to do with it, and I respect that feeling (AP concept # 2).

Well people at the church don't understand why I don't just stick them in the Sunday school. They're not mean about it, but I'm tired of all the "looks" and well-meaning (i think) comments we get.

So, do you think I should 1) just continue as we've been doing it, and ignore the "looks," or 2) do I tell the kids they have to go to the Sunday school, because it is too disruptive to abruptly leave when they have had enough? Or 3) do I tell them they have to tough it out for the whole liturgy (which I really don't want to "make" them do, I want them to enjoy it and not force anything on them)? Or do I 4) leave them at home?

how do you handle it??? thanks!!!

PS any non Orthodox Christian mothers, if you have ideas I would appreciate it too!
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#2 of 6 Old 02-06-2005, 07:20 PM
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I read a good article on this by an Orthodox Christian mother which I found on the Faith at Home website, if you can find that.

She made the point that the word "liturgy" means "work". She tries really hard to get her child to understand the different parts of the liturgy.

Having said that, I think that she attended with her husband, and she only had one child - I think it sounds as though you are doing really well to keep yours there for an hour!

There will always be one or two people, in my experience, who are a bit critical of people's parenting, and you can never please them. There are probably a lot more people who are really impressed with what you are doing and who like to see the children in church. Can you talk to people about the issue at coffee time? There may be a few people who would love to give you a bit of praise and support.
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#3 of 6 Old 02-06-2005, 07:25 PM
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At our church bookstore, there are a bunch of different coloring books and things that are designed to explain the liturgy, different saint, feasts and other things. Do you think they would last longer if they could sit down once they got tired and work in the books. My dd is only 14m, so we are battling different liturgy problems, but the kindergarten teacher in me says that may work.
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#4 of 6 Old 02-07-2005, 09:07 AM
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For my part as a single male I try to encourage children to remain in liturgy as much as possible. My co-teacher for the high school aged church school class has two small children, and when they both are a handful for her, I try to help out. Our mission parish is pretty good about letting children do what they need to do during liturgy, with the exception of trying to get on the amvon, and running up to a candlestand, getting in the priest's way when he's doing a censing, etc. There is usually at least 1-2 children sitting on the floor(we only have two rows of pews in the back and even with that everyone who can stands) coloring or reading while the liturgy is going on.

It is amazing how much children can pick up. I have heard with my own ears 2 and 3 year old children singing hymns during coffee hour and at other times. Remember the latin phrase, lex orandi, lex credendi, what we pray, we believe. Just being there for liturgy does an amazing amount of good. But I realize that if a child absolutely, positively does not want to be at liturgy, making them sit there kicking and screaming does no one any good. However, at the same time it is important to remember Christ's exhortation to not keep the children from Him. I think this also applies if we think that our children are too disruptive and should be kept outside or in cry rooms.

Well, I will stop there as I am already probably way overjudgemental. To the OP, I hope you find a solution that works.
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#5 of 6 Old 02-07-2005, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks to all who replied. I'm reluctant to try the "suferthrough it" approach because I want them to be able to walk into any Orthodox church later in their adult life and feel peace and comfort-- not to have memories of being made to sit still and endure.

I'm not sure what to do. I'm thinking of arriving later and sticking it out to the end, but my favorite patrs of the liturgy are the early ones when it is not so crowded in the church (our church gets to packed standing room only! what a blessing, but not for a claustrophobic person!).
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#6 of 6 Old 02-11-2005, 12:47 PM
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Hello. I know it is hard to find a balance--- you don't want your kids to be disruptive, but you don't want them to have bad memories. Does your Church have a sunday school? That surprises me (I have never heard ofd an Orthodox Church that has one.) Children belong in services. I am not sure how old your children are. With my youngest who is only 5 mos old, I do what I can to make her happy... if she makes little noises, that is okay.. when I know she is about to be loud, I take her out immediately. I know so many other Orthodox moms w/ young babies, and you just have to accept the fact that you will not spend a whole Liturgy in Church. Does your husband help? What about other people-- sometimes kids behave better for other people.

I say do the best you can to control your children in Church.. don't let them run around or be loud, but realize that kids will have some amount of squirming .. bring some books or quiet toys to help distract.. take them out when necessary, quietly and quickly, and ignore ugly looks (sometimes people will look but do not mean to be ugly)... maybe make a routine of always taking the kids out at a certain point in the service, take them outside or in another building to run around... BEFORE they have a meltdown.

Hang in there.. I know it is tough!
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