We have five kids ranging in age from almost six months to 10 years. To say that keeping them all concentrating on what is happening on the alter is difficult is an understatement. We used to sit near the back of church. The reasoning was that if we were in the back we would “bother” less people and have an easy escape route if one of the children became especially noisy. At some point we heard the recommendation of sitting in the front row. The reasoning behind that was the kids could more easily see what was happening and would be more likely to pay attention.
I resisted this move for some time, after all, if we were in front everyone would see our kids “misbehaving”. I will admit it has been one of the best moves we could have made, and the kids do pay more attention. They aren’t what I would call perfect, but I am not sure my behavior is perfect so why should I expect them to be.
While I still fear our two year old will run up onto the altar or take a quick dip in the baptismal font, it hasn’t happened yet. I still have my moments of, “Oh God, everyone can see our kids doing x,y or z,” but I haven’t seen any dirty looks. I guess that’s another benefit of sitting in front, you can’t see anyone making faces at you because they are all behind you. More often than not though, people come up and tell us how wonderful our children behaved, which always prompts the question in my mind “whose children were you watching?”
Just yesterday alone, we had two gentlemen come up to us after church and give us encouragement. One man told us he was one of six children and he loved seeing large families. The other, and the one that prompted me to write this blog, told my wife that his father was dying, he would probably die that day or today. The whole second part of church our 5 year old was talking to this gentleman, despite my wife asking her to be quiet. Apparently it made this man’s day and took his mind of the current events, if just for a moment.
Had this man not talked to my wife afterwards we would have never known what effect our family had on him. I have to imagine for every person who comes up and says something to us about our family there are others that are thinking it. To think that God used our children to brighten a man’s day make’s my day. Sure there are probably those that scowl at our family when the kids make too much noise, but as I have heard in homilies/sermons before if we don’t start the kids early how will they learn?
Take your kids to church, don’t wait until they are older to start taking them. Sit in the cry room if you must, but go. If you get brave, try sitting in the front row, it really does help the kids pay attention. At our church we actually have a group of regular front row families who all have small children. I call us the crazy front row crew. Come join us, won’t you?
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