Keep kids in church: my case against “Cry Rooms”

Let me paint you a picture of church with my toddler. It’s usually just the two of us. Here’s how today went:

Miriam thinks the kneeler is a balance beam. Okay, I can handle that. Whoops, elbow’s getting too close to the the people in front of us who are kinda rustling like “what just touched me?” Time for a new game. Try to escape the pew! Testing the limits of how far I’ll let her go… out of the pew? One step? Up the aisle? No? Okay, after stomping and grumping, time to meet and explore the people next to us. I don’t want Miriam to distract them from worshipping so I pull her back into my lap. Ah, nice. For five seconds, then it’s onto exploring the people behind us! And now they are kneeling so their faces are REALLY CLOSE, HI!!! And so on, and so forth. It is HARD.

I would not say any mother is wrong for wishing they could just enjoy church in peace, wishing they could focus entirely on the Lord during this worship time, wishing that there were no distractions. I could not fault others in church for wanting to create “cry rooms” or nurseries, or bully the families with babies into sitting in the wayyyy back. Here’s the thing though, these kids, need to be in church with their families. They need to be front and center.

I come from Jewish heritage (converted to Catholicism from a mixed religion family when I was 22) and my Great Grandmother’s synogogue was faced with this exact same problem. Children were making all kinds of noise and running around and generally being a distraction. Some of the congregation wanted to make a seperate room for the kids to worship in, and here’s what this wonderful rabbi said:

“If you kick them out now, what makes you think they will come back?” let that sink in for a minute. If we make Sunday school during mass time, if we make cry rooms, if we kick out the children… why would they come back? They will be going, quite literally, farther and farther from the church and the community inside. Our children are the future church leaders, they need to be with us, partaking in the traditions, making good memories from the earliest ages.

Okay, so they have to be in church, why can’t they just all sit in the back? I can’t recall where I read this, but one of the Popes wrote about how the family is the most important structure of society, and that the rest of the society should use the family as it’s model. So families are really important. They need to be where we can see them.

I once read a story about a girl who was in the midst of a crisis pregnancy. She was unmarried and very young, and she was considering abortion. She went to church and in front of her sat a family with a baby and seeing that beautiful life, that tiny baby was just what she needed… she decided not to abort her child and was so glad that she had made that decision. If we put all the babies in the back of church, the people who most need to see babies, to see families, to see that joy and wonder and new life will be deprived of that gift.

So folks, I implore you, keep kids in churches. I know it’s hard, it is hard enough for me with one I can only imagine how hard it must be with many. Once I saw a mother alone at church with about 5 kids, I was so impressed. It is doable. Ask for help if you need it, make church buddies, team up with another family. If your baby needs you to leave for a minute or is screaming, by all means, step out and take care of him or her (which reminds me, breastfeed in church! Pope Francis okays it too.) But come back in. Keep the children in. Follow Christ’s word which says,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” [Matthew 19:14]

This post has been shared at Coffee & Conversation


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Kara Bout It