When we all go to church as a family (we have a 2 and a 3 year old), our toddler likes to sometimes laugh, stand up, etc., and when he does he makes a lot of noise. I myself get very nervous, and have even left service early because I feel that I am preventing others from receiving the message. However, after praying about it, we always feel encouraged and ready to try again. I figure that church is the last place where people should be insensitive and cruel, because we as parents are only trying to expose our little ones to our beliefs (plant the seed to create a foundation for them to want to learn more as they get older). While we have encountered dirty looks and people even moving to other aisles, we trust that God knows our hearts and understands our motives. I try to stay encouraged and trust that I know in my heart my motives are pure, everything will work out fine. Toddlers especially have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time. Also, I like the comfort of having my kids with me in church. I at least want them to be able to speak and communicate with me to tell me what they are learning and doing while being watched by someone else. I know I am not alone 🙂
Jesus said “let the little children come to me.” I believe that you go to church to worship God and since we are to train our children to worship Him, there is nothing wrong with having your child with you. My son is 22 months old and I have kept him with me from the start; some days he is great, other times not as great. Every now and again, I get reminders that we have a “toddler room” (which I have worked in) but I still keep him with me. To those who feel that “if you are going to have your child in church … then what was the point in even coming to church?” How can you walk with God everyday among all the disruption of life when you cannot worship with children around you?
I bring enough books, snacks and other things to keep him occupied. Does he sometimes get loud? Yes. Should the others around me be understanding about the importance of teaching my little one where he should be at that time? I think so. Do I have a hard time concentrating on the service sometimes? OH YEAH!… But we get to be together, sharing church as a family and my 2 year old is learning that he should be there and how to behave – even if it will probably take a little time!
Some pastors encourage their ‘participation’ but I know not all want that. Some pastors reiterate that we are a church family and it is EVERYONE’s responsibility to help our children participate in the church service. I have found that it’s best to keep it going; when you leave the children win. I have found it to be helpful to have ‘church only’ items stored in their own diaper bag so it’s a treat to get those particular toys and a few snacks. It just gives them something to look forward to. We have also tried my spouse & I alternating weeks going to church alone while the other watches the little ones. None of us liked that too much.!
Church service is just like everything else we must teach our children. It takes time and patience.