June 16, 2009

Topical Tuesday

Its that time of the week again. Reverence VS Restlessness. Church can be rough, especially Sacrament meeting.

You talk about being reverent during Family Home Evening and practice every night for prayer. And yet, it seems like you've barely made a dent. And while not EVERY Sunday you have such a hard time, we've all had at least one like this.

One toddler is screaming and struggling to get off the bench and go roaming. Another is crying because they want you to color their picture for them. The baby needs a diaper change and another kid needs to use the bathroom.

You take the screaming child out and then another one starts up because they suddenly want that particular parent that is leaving with the first screaming kid. The one child that needs to use the bathroom, starts threatening an accident and the baby won't stop fussing until that diaper problem is fixed.

You try to calm the screaming toddler and suddenly you have a huge line of snot from them smeared across your shirt. And then the flailing baby manages to pull your hair out of place and spit up on you at the same time. Pretty soon you're wondering if all the strange looks you're getting is for you or for your kids.

That old lady is glaring at you because she thinks you have terrible children. That old lady over there is smiling at laughing cause she thinks its cute and funny.

Suddenly, your kid starts laughing a little too loud and playing with the kid in front of or behind you, especially if they have snacks. Toys and books are being passed back and forth over the benches and food is starting to fall on the ground.

Some people are looking at you like you should be kicked out, while others smile and seem to understand and have empathy for you.

Then, you are trying to get your toddler to sit still or stay behind the chair barricade you set up in the back of one of Sunday School but they just want to climb out because someone else is letting their child run up and poke the speaker in the legs while pulling the table cloth off the table.

You don't want your children to hate going to church so you try and teach them WHY we are to be reverent. But that kid with the cool toys sitting behind them is just too much.

And you know what else? Those "quiet" books you made in Enrichment last week just aren't working.

Marion G. Romney said, "Children are not born with the concepts that produce reverence, and these concepts do not develop in them immediately. Some exceptional children develop reverence regardless of their training, but most children are as reverent as we train them to be. If they are irreverent in their early years, it is because they have not been properly trained."

I think I'll just go ahead and bury my head in the sand right now. Would you mind using that shovel to fill in the hole please? Thanks.

So, where do you draw the line at that tiny bit a wiggle room for them being just kids, and standing by all that talk about being reverent in church?

And more importantly, HOW do you do it?

Even if you don't have kids yet or you are that little old lady who thinks its cute and funny, any observations or insights?

Because if I find out I'm the only person who has Sundays like this, I think I'm going to have to bring out my lemon picture again.

10 super cool people speak:

Katherine said...

Hmm. Most of the families I know don't have kids as close together as yours. In my ward (generally, not always, we're not perfect), the toddlers are on mom or dad's lap, the infants sleep in the car seats, and the preschoolers have been taught to draw, read, or play with a quiet toy. I sat with a family this past week, and every time their 16-month-old stood on the bench to look at the kids behind, the dad picked her up, told her "no", and sat her down on the bench to try to distract her with a book or soft toy.

Another family that I usually sit with has 4 kids 5 and under with the dad in the bishopric. The 5 year old draws a lot, the 3 year old likes to sit with me and draw, the 18 month plays with a single woman that brings toys for him, and the baby is usually asleep or the mom tends to her.

Good luck!

Heidi said...

Was it a lemon?

I'm not exactly sure what all my Mom did with 7 kids under 8--especially when Dad was always up on the stand. (Thank goodness Luke is still with you!) I could always ask her for ideas.

I do know we had the rule that the children's feet did not touch the floor during sacrament. I saw a huge difference in this with my nieces and nephews who had the same rule, and those (as well as all the other kids in the meeting) who didn't. It makes it a little harder on the parents with toddler and younger age, but the kids all seemed to get it by the time they were 4 and did very well at sitting reverently.

I've also heard that having a "quiet" hour every day (usually around the time of day you have sacrament) helps a lot. The children are supposed to sit, read, or do other quiet activities. Takes awhile for the quiet part to take hold, but eventually they get it. Then that one quiet hour on Sunday is not so foreign to or difficult for them.

There's also the 3 strikes and you're out rule (though it probably works best with teens). Every Sunday is the big Sundae night--with 3 huge scoops of ice cream. And for every time the parent has to acknowledge a child for their misbehavior, that's one scoop gone. After 3 times, no ice cream. It works pretty well when it's basically the only dessert kids get all week.

But as one with no kids, I can't really back up all I say because I haven't had to endure it myself. I only observe and see what has and hasn't worked. Good luck! I know you're working very hard. Every day you make it through alive is a success.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Kathrine: Yes, I guess the age and spacing of children could have an impact on this.
Savannah is usually okay, as long as she has a ream of blank paper she can draw on.
And I can see how it would be helpful to have a couple extra hands to help out with the kids.
There are quite a few families with little kids in our ward though.
We do try to keep our kids from turning around on the bench but, like I said, sometimes the kid with the cool toys sitting behind us is just too much and the screaming beginnings.

Good thoughts though, thanks for sharing your observations!

Heidi: I had to laugh at your comment because almost everything you mentioned was what my parents did with us! With 7 kids under age 8 as well.

I think the toddler age is the hardest because Savannah is getting pretty good as being reverent and holding still. Its only when she's tired or hungry that we start to have problems.

I like the quiet hour idea. Usually That is when I stick a movie on for them but I should try and do it with books or other quiet activities.

Thanks!! Those are some great ideas.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Oh ya, and click on the words "lemon picture" there on the post and it will refresh your memory. =)

Mama Smith said...

Heidi's parents must have read the same "Ensign" articles on raising children as we did...(smile)

One other thing? WE NEVER BROUGHT FOOD to church!!! The baby was the ony one that got a bottle...THAT's IT!! We felt that the chapel was not a cafeteria...The chapel is a sacred place of worship...No child starved to death during those 3 hours...(smile) The "3" scoop ice cream on Sunday...worked GREAT!!! PLUS, the reason we sat in the FRONT ROW...was because there were NO OTHER CHILDREN to PLAY WITH! (however, sometimes our family provided entertainment for the Ward)(smile)

Reverance in church was EXPECTED...If there was any problem...your dad made sure it was WORSE elsewhere than in the CHAPEL...Example: if in the hallway --- "NO FEET" EVER HIT THE GROUND, except the parent's...or private room...NO PHYSICAL punishments ...just sitting on a chair by yourself...while he closed the door and stood OUTSIDE the door...There were the wailings and knashing of teeth...but, your dad never budged...After a few times of that...usually no problems...

One more thing...the PRACTICE at HOME...is CRITICAL...They learn that at PRAYER TIME...they must be reverent...When reading scriptures together...there is NO PLAYING...They learn that these things are important...and there is expected behavior during those times...Makes it ALOT easier when they attend church...

There is nothing wrong with using CONSEQUENCES for unacceptable behavior...Our Heavenly Father gives us COMMANDMENTS...If we live them...we are blessed for it...If we choose to disobey...we have a CONSEQUENCE...This is an ETERNAL PRINCIPLE...We must PRAY...on how to impliment the "consequence"...Helping our children develop "self-mastery"...is a blessing TO THEM! Their life will run much SMOOTHER...than if they do not learn CONSEQUENCES...

Mama Smith said...

I see I posted my comment before finishing the last sentence...(smile)

It should read: "Their life will run much SMOOTHER...if they DEVELOP "self mastery"...or LIFE will teach them "consequences" that will not be pleasant to live with...We have become a society...that it is "everyone elses' fault"...The truth is...we will be held accountable...for all that we SAY and DO...ACCOUNTABILITY is a word that is being TAKEN OUT of our SOCIETY...Regardless what the world is teaching...Our FATHER has taught us that it is a REAL PRINCIPLE...

Shara said...

I'm not sure I can really add much to this. But one thing I think is important is leaving the chapel shouldn't be a "reward" for bad behavior. Like when the little one is crying or screaming it doesn't make sense to take him out only to let him run all through the hallways. To me that seems like a "reward" for the screaming. I'm not sure yet how I would do it, but I would want to teach my kids that having to be taken out of the chapel for bad behavior is not a good thing.

I'm not sure I know how I would handle that situation yet, but I'm going to read these comments to get some ideas. :) Good luck!!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Mom: We don't bring food to church either anymore. Which is why its so hard on MY kids when the kids behind us are munching away on Fruit Loops and start "sharing" with my kids.

Shara: I totally agree. We NEVER let our kids run around when we take them out. Often times I have to go to an empty room so my kids don't see the other children running around.
Once we take them out and make it more miserable for them, they calm down and we bring them right back.

Good thoughts!

Heidi said...

That's right! We didn't have food either. And we were always there on the front row as well. (My own embarrassing family moments from that, but they make me smile now.) In fact, years after we'd moved from one ward, we learned that no one had taken that row because "It's the Tice's bench." I guess we leave our marks in odd ways.

E said...

This post was SOOOOOO helpful. My mom keeps telling me that she never brought food either. I guess I have just forgotten all that my parents did with us. I really needed this. Thank you again! (Especially Serene's mom...again...so helpful!)

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