Monday, January 11, 2010

On Cry Rooms

So I've been thinking a lot about cry rooms lately, as I've been trying to attend more daily masses with my beautiful, yet talkative 2 year old. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a cry room is a room usually found at the back of the church where you can take a screaming baby but still see and hear the Mass.
And I am all for them...when you have a screaming baby, or sick and whiny child, or a toddler having a temper tantrum, etc.
But, there are some misuses of cry rooms that make me cringe. First of all, I do not like when people with kids just use the cry room so that they don't have to teach their children to sit still and be quiet at Mass. How are these kids going to learn proper Mass behavior, when they are allowed to run around and talk all during Mass? Yes it's difficult to keep your kids perfect during Mass, but they do not have to be perfect. You can give them snacks and books and quiet toys while they learn to whisper and follow the whole sit/stand/kneel/stand/kneel/walk/sit dance ;)
Secondly, I'm really shocked that people choose what church they will attend based on if they have a cry room or not. Really? Is that what your faith means to you...that you'd rather have a weak pastor, or a weak community in your Parish just because they have a cry room? We picked our parish because of the Pastor, and his traditional, straight-forward theology. We had 4 kids within 5 years - and we have no cry room. So we made due - sometimes we use the sacristy to calm a noisy child. Other times, a quick walk to the back of the church does the trick. But picking your church based on the cry room? Well that's like picking your spouse based on the car they drive.
And most importantly, I can not stand it when adults without kids sit in the cry room. Ummmm, are you planning on yelling obnoxiously in the middle of the Consecration? No? Then go sit back in the pews with the rest of the adults. Why do they do this? It's not even because the pews are too full...they arrive early and choose to sit there. I don't get it. Then, when I am in there with a crying baby, they look at me like "Could you please're disturbing me". Hello?!?! It's a cry room!!! That's the purpose!
Phew! Now I feel better after getting that off my chest. Let me hear your thoughts - I have a feeling some of you might disagree ;)


  1. I couldn't agree MORE!!! We don't have a cry room...I once complained to my mom and said that I was thinking about the next Catholic church in the town because they DO...and she talked me out of it and I'm so glad she did. The truth is...if we DID have a cry room I would "give up" way too easily and just head back there at the slightest thing. Now my kids have learned/are learning to BE GOOD in church. Not perfect, but GOOD. And I've never been bothered by any other children crying, screaming, talking etc...because everyone has bad days and we can't all be perfect every second.
    Loved this post!

  2. The cry room is the only way we can go to chuch these days! And I'm very thankful for it!!

  3. I am not a fan of cry rooms mainly because I think they a "misused". Like you, I only use a cry room if my child gets too loud in the main church. I view the cry room as a place to teach my kids the proper behavior at mass. Unfortunately, most cry rooms I have been in are more like "free for all" . . . kids running around, talking full voice and eating!! I will be honest, it drives me crazy! My kids end up being worse in a cry room because they start begging for food and fidgety watching all the other kids run around while I am asking them to sit quietly in a pew.

    Our church does not have a cry room . . . if the kids act up at our church, I take them to the vestibule area.

    I blogged about it a while ago:

  4. I totally agree. And when we went to a parish with a cry room, people in the main church were totally annoyed if my kids made any peeps! So it made an atmosphere that little ones don't belong in Church. sad!

    If the room was used properly, it would be great for those "difficult" times...

  5. I also agree! The cry room at our church is also the daily Mass chapel, so for a while people still respected it as sacred space, which made it a very reasonable destination for the tantrum-throwing toddler or the I-Need-To-Nurse-NOW infant. The conditions in the cry room have changed so much for the worse that these days I steer clear at almost any cost. If my kids saw that behavior we'd be taking 5 steps backward in Mass training.

    My husband convinced me early on that the best place for kids is in the front row - AUGH! Now that can be embarassing! but now that I've said that, I have seen the benefits (even our 2 year old is paying more attention and participating in the responses.) Yes, it's a long walk of shame during those rough moments/days, but it's more good than bad for us. What a total opposite of a cry-room mentality!

    Can I dare to say a lot of the fault lies with the lack of catechesis about the beauty and Sacredness of the Mass - all those adults that don't care don't know to teach their kids the Love of the Mass.

  6. I agree. I hate going to the cry room when so many other kids are just running amuck. We usually just take our now 2 year old outside so he can run off a bit of energy then we slip back in when everybody is standing or going for Eucharist. We sit usually within the first 5 pews. Clark does much better when we sit close and he can see what is going on in front, and sometimes behind him.

  7. I totally agree and actually am in the process of posting an event that took place somewhat related; I'm going to reference your post! :-)

  8. Oh the cry room debate! -- it's ongoing in almost every parish I've ever attended :)

    I don't generally love cry rooms, mostly for the abuses you mentioned, but my Mass opinions are generally thought to be pretty "hard core" by most of my friends ;)

    We don't allow snacks, drinks (except for a baby bottle if we happen to have a baby), quiet toys etc . . . we will allow one religious book/missal for the younger kids, but the older ones are expected to behave and pay attention. We also don't allow our older children to be excused for the children's liturgy of the Word, which is held in our hall during Mass and which is open to kids up to 6th grade. We think that if our children are old enough to receive or are preparing to receive the Eucharist, then they are old enough to remain in Mass and pay attention.

    I've been a member of some parishes that had totally tricked out cry rooms -- air conditioned, upholstered seats, closed circuit tv of the sanctuary, etc . . . I can see why people sought it out as a "nice" place to sit. It was totally cushy, but not given to helping people focus on the beauty and sanctity of the Mass.

    I also agree with the commenter above who mentioned that in churches with super cry rooms some parishioners give you the hairy eyeball if your child makes one tiny noise. That has been my experience as well.

    Our current parish does have a cry room, but it is so uncomfortable and inconveniently located that no one uses it. In fact, few people even know it exists. You have to go upstairs and climb through the choir loft to reach it, and even then it is tiny and has no heat/AC. I think 5 ppl total can fit into it. My whole family fills it to capacity. We don't use it -- but we have logged MANY miles walking in the vestibule. :)

    No matter how you slice it, having young kids with you at Mass is tough. But it's a great place/time to offer those struggles up! :)

  9. Our Methodist church has a cry room. The old men sit back there in the rocking chairs, leaving the nursing moms in a lurch. Lovely, no? Thankfully, we also have a small chapel & you can turn on the speakers in there and hear the service, something I did on more than one occasion.

  10. Mmmm.. this is so super interesting... and i'm guessing that after reading through the comments so far I am the only non-catholic to comment ... i've never in my life heard of this cry room... at our church.. we call it a nursery... imagine that, lol :).. but hey, same things apply... moms taking the kids there and the kid NEVER learning to sit through a service...

    one cool thing about our nursery is.. it's hooked up to the sound in the actually sanctuary.. so a mom can hear the minister preaching, BUT the actual nursery is soundproof.. so the congregation can't hear the crying baby...

  11. well I could write a novel on this but this is just a comment box so I will try to keep it brief.

    I would definately pick a church based on whether or not it has a cry room or not. I really can't go to mass without one. To me, the most important thing is to go and recieve Jesus in communion not whether or not I like the priest or parish. I have disliked a lot of priests and I have liked a lot of priests too. Its always a hit or miss but most importantly is can I go with my family and be able to fulfill my Sunday obligation and recieve Jesus? If a cry room enables me and others to go then I see them as a necessary evil. Ideally all kids would be quiet and listen but in life that doesn't always happen.

    Plus I think back to Jesus's time when he was giving his sermon on the mount and such I really don't think they were sitting in neat little rows and all the kids were quiet.

    I think sometimes that people may look at children misbehaving and think now why on earth does that large child behave so badly ? Well I guess from my experience that I think that there may be something wrong with the child even though the child looks normal. So I have learned to not question ppl's motives for crying rooms.

    I have myself known kids that look perfectly normal but have serious issues. I knew 2 children (siblings) that had childhood schizophrenia and would act out at mass. There were a few other autism children in our parish as well that made a ruckous...

    My own kids I never really knew what was wrong with them until the last year. All I knew is that every week I would try and try try to get them to sit and not talk but that never happened. I blamed myself and kept thinking what am I doing wrong?

    All 3 of my boys have issues and I suspect the youngest will have a diagnosis of Add/hd by next year. But, as I have blogged about James has a form of autism. He can not sit still and he talks incessantly during church and very loudly. If we were to sit amongst other ppl they SCOWL at me and give me dirty looks and judge me and my kids. I understand that he doesn't look
    like there is anything wrong with him but there is.

    Not only that, but other people's lives may have things going on that I know nothing about that makes their life even more challenging than mine. Maybe they just lost their jobs or a loved one died...So when their kids act up at church I guess I just feel bad for them and whatever is going on in their life. but whatever works for them to keep going to mass is great. Its very easy to get discouraged and just stop going...I have known many people that just tell me, well I stopped going to mass because of the kids or whatever....If it's a cry room that makes their life easier and enables them to feel welcome at mass than I am all for them.

  12. Babyyahyah: I also love cry rooms when they are needed. And if a child (no matter what age) needs it, then go for it!!! I would never judge WHY they needed to be in the cryroom. I have an autistic nephew whose family sits in the cry room at every Mass, and of course, I feel they are completely justified in doing so. You know what your kids can and can't handle, and the best way to deal with point was only that cry rooms are often misused. Peace :)

  13. Every church I have ever attended had a nursery...but usually the parents just left the kids there after the first part of the sermon.
    I agree with all you said though, kids need to learn that there are times when you MUST sit still and LISTEN.
    Discipline and love is the best that we can do for our kids.

  14. I agree!! Cryrooms are abused, misused, and, worst of all, are the exact OPPOSITE of where you want to take your children when they are misbehaving. So many parents let their kids run wild in cry rooms, eat snacks all over the place and, in general, goof off.

    I think the one good thing most (and I do not mean all, as there are certainly cry rooms out there that are effectively used and by parents who are doing their best and whose kids do need a break without their parents "giving in") cry rooms do is show our kids how NOT to behave anywhere in public.

    Yep, we are up-front church goers - the whole family - and when our kids act out, then we take them out and deal with it, and the kids know that their best option (if they are removed for misbehaving - not diaper changes or something like that) is to shape up so that we can return to the Mass as soon as possible.

    But, at the same time, people in the pews have to understand that babies and toddlers making noises as they are learning to communicate are not intentionally being disruptive and other church goers have to chalk up these things to the general potential disruptions that can take place during a Mass.

    If church goers are upset that they are distracted by a child's innocent noises or actions during Mass, it is something that they personally need to work on and they need to realize that parents and children are not to blame.

    Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me..." So, all people need to be respectful of the children's right to be in Jesus' house with the rest of us.

    Sorry - I'll get off my soapbox now - I had a bad experience once with someone who couldn't pay attention during Mass and blamed it on my innocent and lovely baby...

  15. Thank you, yes, I completely agree with the misuse of cry rooms. We were visiting a church last spring shortly after Kameryn was born, and she was the "I need to nurse NOW" infant someone was talking about. I got up to go back to the cry room, but noticed that a dad and his daughter were using it. The girl was at least 3 or 4, and she hadn't been making a peep. They apparently just wanted to play. It was slightly irritating to me because I wasn't going to nurse my newborn in front of this man, so I wasn't sure what to do. I think, in the end, I had to go out to my car. Very uncomfortable, and a total misuse as far as I was concerned. At our old church moms and little ones would all congregate downstairs in the basement where the nursery was. There was a speaker down there, but all the moms were yacking so much you couldn't hear the message.

    So . . . I couldn't agree more! :)

  16. When my kids were younger I wished that we had a cry room. But not having one has made my kids get used to sitting still and being quiet during church. That is weird that adults sit in the cry room. I wonder why they do?


  17. When we started going back to church I was getting aggravated at the people who used the cry room. I was surprised at how old some of the children who were playing in there were. It was at the point that I couldn't hear mass becuase people around me were having everyday conversations. I was also frusterated becuase when I tuaght first grade I took 20 kids to church and had them behaving for the most part.
    It has pushed us to not use it and work with Owen more on how to behave in church. At 20 months it is not easy but I feel like we all get much more out of Mass this way. We do still use it occasionally but more often than not we are not able to hear Mass at all when we do.


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