Why I Would Like to Fill All Cry Rooms With Cement

by | Jul 21, 2013 | Can of Worms, Catholic Living, What I Wore Sunday | 52 comments

In my last post: In Which I am Asked Not to Come to Mass . . . by a Priest, I mentioned that I would like to fill all cry rooms in the country with cement.

You guys noticed. And some of you wondered why.


Hannah said: I’m confused – what is it that you hate about cry rooms? 

Here’s my response:

Only everything.

I’ve never been inside one where families were making an attempt to participate in the Mass. I have experienced children loudly playing with baskets of noisy toys and parents chatting in full voice about their plans for the weekend.

I think when you tell people they don’t qualify to be a part of the actual community of believers, they act like it.

But if a cry room exists at that church I’m likely to be given zero tolerance for teaching my children to behave in Mass out in the real church. “We have a place for kids, you should be in it,” is often the attitude in those parishes. But I don’t want my kids, even my toddlers, to learn that the Mass is playtime. I want them to learn to participate.

I also think we should try to see every person who comes into that church, be it a noisy child, or a moaning special needs person, or an old man loudly complaining to his wife about why the priest won’t speak up, as part of us — part of the body of Christ. Not as someone else’s problem that we shouldn’t have to be bothered with. That we should shut up in a special little room where we can pretend they don’t exist.

I just keep coming back to the fact that the Mass is for God. It’s for what God would like not for what we would like. God made children and special needs people and the elderly and I feel certain that he wishes them all to be welcome at his Mass. It’s his party and he invited everyone.

So, I figured that would take care of any confusion.

But then Kim of on our way today said she goes in them — ON PURPOSE. I was shocked. 

So I thought perhaps we could have a discussion. Leave a comment, or if you have a blog, write your own post on it and link it up here. I know some bloggers are participating in Jen’s 7 Posts in 7 Days: An Epic Blogging Challenge, so here’s a topic for ya!

Speaking of link ups, here’s What I Wore Sunday — when we attended Mass at a church that likes families, and we sat in the second row, and I didn’t have to take anyone out. Frankie babbled some (a lot) but he never got too loud, except during the recessional hymn which he REALLY belted out. He was complemented by Mass-goers on his singing efforts all the way out.

I think most of this stuff is repeats. Dress: Target Maternity (already starting to get short, yikes!), Sweater: Anthropologie, Belt: ModCloth, Shoes: Zappos, Necklace: my Grandmother’s pearls, Earrings: from the Amalfi Coast on our last trip to Italy (the same place poor Jenny was vacationing when she was driven home to Rome by feverish youngins, ARGH!), Bump: 21 weeks, Baby: Frankie    
And my photographer, Betty! Dress: gymboree, shoes: Target, watch: Target (And wow, has getting watches for my two big kids made a difference this summer! Now I can tell them at what TIME to do things or be home. And they do it! Awesome.)



And for those of you looking for some closure on what I decided to do about daily Mass . . . I plan to start attending a different parish. We’re only here for the summer anyway, this is an established pattern of behavior for this particular priest, and frankly I don’t like the idea for myself of going somewhere I’m not wanted.

Most of the commenters recommended the humility and obedience of continuing to attend the same Mass, sitting in the back. And that sounds lovely, especially when paired with the suggestion of really trying to win this priest over. But I honestly don’t think that’s the right move in this particular case. The priest will have my prayers, but I think we were perhaps unwelcome by the parishioners as well.  As I’ve looked around at other parishes I think I’ve found a different Mass that would work with my schedule, and I think it will be better for me to have a fresh start.

I have also, as a couple of you recommended, sent a letter to the Archbishop — since I don’t think he follows my blog.

I really look forward to reading your comments and posts. If you do link up, please put a link back to this post on your blog, and remember to link to the particular blog post about cry rooms, not just to your blog’s homepage. And if you’ve written on this topic before, feel free to link that up. It doesn’t have to be brand new, you can edit it to include a link here and you’re all set!



  1. Rosie

    I normally hate cry rooms, but I've found myself wishing more and more lately that we had one at our parish, solely because it's SO so so hard to control 8-month-old twins, an ornery 2.5-year-old and a barely 4-year-old who all just seem to feed off of each other, behavior-wise. I left the napping babies at home with my husband today and STILL had to take both of the big kids out of Mass, carrying my 4-year-old under my arm while he screamed, "I WANT TO BE GOOD!!!"

    And I know a cry room wouldn't actually solve our problems, because it would be full of other families taking advantage of it without real need… But what I want is a cry room JUST for our family so that we don't have to worry quite so much about the babies' shrieks of glee and the toddler's constant babbling and the preschooler's obsession with knowing exactly how old each parishioner is. But I'm pretty sure they won't build us our own cry room and reserve it for us at our Mass every week!

  2. E

    I just think we are all the Body of Christ like you said and no one should be a second class citizen in another room.

    Your decision sounds like the best one for you and your family.

    Have you read Leila's post (Little Catholic Bubble) and why she doesn't take her under 5 year old children to mass? Its interesting. I think she makes a good point of doing what you want to do as a family is best.

    May God bless you!

    • Kendra

      I am nothing if not supportive of people doing what works for their families. I can't imagine doing this myself, but I do know of other families who do. Here's a link to the post.

      And as other commenters have also pointed out, kids can be taught to behave in Mass at ANY point in time. Whether before that they have stayed home or been allowed to run wild in toy-filled cry rooms, or nursed quietly in ideal cry rooms. As soon as the parents and kids are ready for the transition, it can be made then.

      I just like to, in life in general and on this issue in particular, do stuff NOW not later. So that's what we do. And it's always been a great success, except when it's been a huge disaster.

      • Stephanie

        I would rather have a nursing or private room for families woth young kids so instead of standing in the back of a cathedral with rambunctious kids or a kid tantruming..I’ve opted to attend a smaller parish i grew up in and go to a cry room where I can still participate with pews in there and hear Mass still without sweating and being embarassed. Most of the time my kids behave but when I am alone with them..it’s nice to have options.

  3. Ingrid

    I found the cry room so very helpful when I had two young ones. Now that my kids are older I can easily take the youngest one out and leave the older two in Mass if need be without anyone bursting into tears. Our church is very friendly to families and babies, so babbling and whining don't even warrant a pause from fellow parishioners. The priest sometimes makes friendly jokes about the sound of a child's worship as a particularly rowdy baby is carried outside. Still, there have been times when it was soothing to my own nerves to know that I could, in fact, remain for the consecration, while nursing, even if a toddler was inserting louder-than-appropriate commentary or no longer had the ability to sit still. I have never felt unwelcome in the main part of the church, but I have felt the need, personally, to remove myself to a setting where my toddler or sleepy baby had a chance to make it until the end. The cry room at my parents' church is a huge relief because the century old sanctuary echoes and amplifies the tiniest noises into louder sounds that prevent others from hearing the readings, etc. The cry room does not. In both instances, the cry rooms are usually full of people trying to teach their kids how to listen to Mass and I do think they can be a stepping stone. It has been a few years since I've needed one, but I'm glad they are there.

  4. Renee

    We do not have a cry room in our church, but I did attend one in which I did use. I was the only one there, because it was a funeral Mass and my oldest child (Age 6) was feeling a little uncomfortable with the casket up front. The audio was on, it was VERY LOUD for a smaller size room. It didn't hurt my ears, but there is no way you could have a normal conversation and chat.

    Oh… do you take your children to funerals?

    I try to.

    My eleven year old does funeral Masses as an altar server all the time now.

  5. Renee

    A cry room should have 'no toys'. The decor should look like you are still in a Church. Even place a pew and kneelers. Maybe a rocker chair or two for a breast feeding mom.

    It's a cry room, not a play room.

  6. MarianneF

    Hi, I hear you on the cry rooms, but I've also had phases where I used them and was grateful. The times that I've had lots of littles – one baby and one toddler is hard enough, but when you also have squirmy, noisy 3 and 4 year olds…it just gets to be too much and I feel so self conscious and am certainly not paying any attention anyway at that point. It's a combination of keeping the noise down for people around us, and of keeping me less embarrassed and able to listen to what I can listen to without having to shush their every noise. I don't think that anyone should be felt that they only belong in the cry room, but there is a point where the noise is just too much and becomes a huge distraction. It's not about shunning or getting rid of the children, but providing an option where more people are comfortable and the parents can still focus a little on the homily and prayer.

    I am impressed at your attitude re your last post about the priest, that is a shame. You have such a great sense of humor about it! Not to be contrary, because I pretty much agree with your position, but I have to take a little issue with the idea that if young children are in cry rooms, or taken out of mass to "play as a reward", that they won't learn to behave in church. I've used cry rooms fairly regularly for a few of my children (when they were age 4 and under and there were lots of them at the same time) and those that are older now are well behaved in mass. It's not like the cry room prevented them from learning to behave when they got to the age where good, quiet, reverent behavior is expected of them. I don't want church to become the place of torment, where they get pinched and reprimanded and scowled at by us, and where they unfairly expected to be perfectly quiet for an hour, when they really aren't capable of it. I prefer to pray and listen in a cry room without the stress and cold sweats that I break out into while desperately trying to control my toddlers. I think that more charity and understanding from the congregation would be GREAT, but that cry rooms aren't going to ruin a future little Catholic's soul either!

  7. Jess Cathofeminism

    I am going to try to remember to link up and write my own post, but I am with you, sister!
    Also, you look lovely!

  8. Blair

    I love your and your daughter's beautiful, flowerful dresses! I'm neutral about cryrooms. We don't currently have one but sometimes it's harder to manage them in a vestibule with a holy water font and water fountain, than a bare-bones quiet cryroom like we had at our last parish. It was up next to the altar too, so the little ones got an up-close look at the mass.

  9. Kelly M.

    I think to fill up all cry rooms with cement would require a huge attitude adjustment on the parts of many church goers. I've been in good and bad cry rooms but, certainly we wouldn't need them if everyone was just a bit more charitable towards families with young children.
    I wrote about this issue in the past; not sure if it qualifies as a "cry room" post per say, so Ill just link to it in my comment to stay safe. 🙂

    • Kendra

      Attention everyone: If your kids are always perfect in Mass, you probably don't need to read Kelly's post. If not, you should really check it out. At least SHE is on your side! If it doesn't show up as clickable above, you can click herehere.

  10. Deltaflute

    I see them as a benefit. If you feel akward about nusing its a comfortable place to sit. If you're children are squarmy and need a little extra space where they wont be tempted to pull a strangers hair or climb over or under then they are good especially for moms like me who usually take there kids by themselves. I can see how people feel alienated or others not focused on Mass as being the down sides. But since i was a cryroom baby maybe im biased because i prefer them. I still learned reverance and Mass etiquette.

  11. Jeannie

    I'm not a fan. However, I have only been to a few here in California nd maybe that is the problem. Are those of us here in California too lax in the cryroom?
    We have been to a handful maybe 4 and they were horrible! And I mean parents with older kids, we are talking full on 7-9 year old range, eating(!), playing with toys and books from home and mom and dad happily ignoring them. When we have gone to a church with a particularly noisy cry room we have stayed in the vestibule with the baby until baby quiets or falls asleep. I have been to a flat out empty cry room during a regular Sunday Mass, the only reason it was empty, because no other baby other than my infant Chiara at Mass. 🙁 That was in LA.
    We prefer to not use them, personally.

    -excuse typos, please

  12. Anonymous

    You and your daughter look so sweet..and your baby is adorable.

    Thanks for posting about your daily Mass dilemma…I was wondering. 🙂

    I linked up thoughts about cry rooms in my post. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Oh..and I love that you used a can or worms graphic…that totally made me laugh.

  13. Anonymous

    I don't think cry rooms are all bad. Our parish has a *tiny* one that couldn't possibly fit all the families with young children, but it is really helpful when I have a newborn who needs a lot of help nursing and spits up all over the place. A couple families do camp out in there, which is not what they are supposed to do, but I've found that they will always get up when someone who actually has a crying child comes in. Also making it really tiny means it's totally packed, and kids cannot spread out and make a mess, so it tends to be a quiet place. So I vote for cry rooms, but make them too small for anyone to get comfortable in.

  14. Colleen

    I wrote about cry rooms like 3 years ago..the post is a little less charitably written than what I would now write, but I must have written it after getting back from Mass in a fury 🙂

    Our 5th baby is almost 2 and he knows that the cry room is a time out room, which is how I wish all parents would treat it. BUt I don't know if they should completely removed because I know of a lot of special needs kids that REALLY can't control themselves and need a place to go.

    • Tacy

      I agree that some special needs kids need a place to go. I think Jesus would be welcoming of Cry-Room People as well.

    • Kendra

      Hey if parents of special needs kids want to use the cry room, who am I to tell them not to?

      But I WOULD say that at our neighborhood parish in CA which doesn't have a cry room, there is a group of special needs adults who come with a caregiver, every week, to one of the Masses. They sit in the front row and some moan and some wave their hands around and some say the wrong responses and I COULD NOT be more grateful to have them there.

      What a beautiful witness of how important our faith is. And how God loves ALL of us. I'm so glad my kids can see them at Mass.

      The same goes for the family at the San Fernando Mission, where we now attend Sunday Mass (built in 1797, no bathroom, let alone cry room!) who bring their special needs young adult son to Mass with them. He moans and plays with a bag of stuff that interests him and they have to drag him up when they go to communion.

      My son asked me, "What's wrong with him?" and I said, "Well, his mind and his body might nor work as well as some people's, but his soul is as perfect as the angels'. He's never sinned. So in the ways that count the most NOTHING is wrong with him."

      I'm so glad they're not in a cry room. I'm sure it's very, very hard. But I think they do us all a great service to be there in the main church.

  15. Erin

    Awesome post!!! I couldn't agree more!! All my kids are close in age so we've had a baby/toddler (or both) for the past 8 1/2 years. All the cry rooms we've been in have been kids running around and playing with piles of toys (or video games)! If we need to take a kids out we go out in the narthex until they settle down (or fall asleep). We've been told numerous times at different parishes that we should take our kids to the cry room or put them in the nursery. It fires me up!

  16. Susan Anderson

    Hi Kendra,

    Yes, what good is a cry room except for nursing a baby? We were new converts with five kids, all baptized at once, when we were both 33, (me and hubby). I was impressed my a certain lady with umpteen kids in the front row. Her husband was never there at Mass, and she duked it out anyhow. I loved the teaching that the Eucharist is like the sun. We sit in Jesus' presence and bask in Him. I wanted that for my kids. I have to admit that my grace seemed to be spent by the end of Mass with all my parenting in the pew. It is like Peter said, "Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. Where else are we to go?" Love your blog. I am now motivated to write about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Soon to follow, http://www.sacredoysters.blogspot.com God Bless…

  17. Theresa

    AMEN! I agree with what you said about cry rooms, although I could never say it as well as you did.

    And I'm glad to hear you're going to a different parish for weekday Mass. I think that was a good decision for you and your kids.

  18. Ashley Sue

    I disagree with cry rooms for my family. My oldest wants to see what is happening. Where I am at as a mother, I know my children and I know that I can teach them how to go to mass. So, we sit in the front. There are times I have to walk out; there are times when my 3 yo has to be reminded that licking the floor/pew is not necessary because we help clean on Fridays. I have noticed that once my children had jobs to do at the church, they behaved much better at Mass. My son brings up the offering every week. My daughters and I clean on Fridays. We as a family volunteer as greeters and do several other hospitality things.

    That being said, I have used cry rooms for placement of the fussing (read this as octopus flailing and screeching pig noises) babies and toddlers. Our old FSSP parish in Richmond, VA had a great cry room. No toys, huge windows, a speaker system, and a bathroom. So, When one or both of mine at the time wanted to start the metamorphosis into octo-pig, I would calmly sit in that cry room until the child returned to the calm loving one I recognize as my offspring.

    I have used the Nursery when my husband was deployed for a stint of 12 months because I needed the break from holding a 15 month old and newborn. I rocked the double sling everyday, so I took a break on Sundays.

  19. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    Cement them up! And this is coming from a mom whose daughter is not the *best* behaved person at Mass…

    I can't pay one single iota of attention in those circuses!

  20. Jeff and Emily

    I love our cry room. I love the option of having it for those mornings where things just aren't going well for my 2 and 1 year old. I am able to talk a little louder to the kiddos about when to sit and kneel and why we are praying etc. without needing to whisper and have my kids not hear/understand me. We still stay quiet and follow Mass just as we would outside of the cry room. To me it is like wearing a cover up while nursing. No it's not necessary but it makes it a lot easier for those that are just learning how to do it! I am very thankful for our gorgeous cry covered with beautiful stained glass images of Jesus holding a lamb surrounded by little children. We've met so many other families there, we meet for children's rosary in our cry room after Wednesday mass, and recruit new mama's for our Moms and Tots group with flyers on the wall. I think it does a great service to those that may need it in our Parish at least 🙂

  21. The Nem's!!

    Love the discussion! Lately, I've been feeling this is a hot button topic for me–much like breastfeeding! 🙂
    I don't LOVE the cry room, but I definitely use it (2 y.o. & a 1 y.o.)! In fact, I drive past our home parish to the church across town because they have a cry room! I don't feel like the cry room is not part of the "community of believers"…I am just happy to be AT church! For the first year of my sons life, we went to church only ONCE. My first was a tough baby and after being told how to hold my baby correctly by a fellow church goer, my husband & I didn't want to go back (silly in retrospect, but we were overwhelmed!). Call me selfish (but apparently the priest who asked you to sit in the back would call me the opposite, I guess!), but I am just grateful that we go to church (cry room and all) and I don't leave frustrated/upset/angry with my kids, my husband and myself before it's even noon. I feel that God sees that we made the effort no matter where we sit! I KNOW God would rather us be at church (even the cry room) than not making the effort at all.
    I have had only one poor experience in the cry room where grown women were talking to each other in their normal voices (and not about the mass or even about their kids behavior) and that was at Easter mass this past year and I could only assume that they were "holiday" churchgoers only. My husband & I treat the cry room like we would sitting out with the "community of believers"–we sit, we stand, we kneel, we pray, we hold hands, we sing, we give the sign of peace, we shush our kids! I even remove them from the CRY room when they start their high-pitched screaming (anybody remember that age??) or banging. My husband and I model appropriate behavior and to me, that is most important. (My 2 year old is the only 2 year old I know who can do the sign of the cross AND who has our bedtime prayer memorized–not saying other 2 y.o.'s don't know, I'm just saying I haven't met another one personally!) At playdates or swim class, we tell our toddler that just because so-and-so does this or that, doesn't mean it's okay and it's not behavior that OUR FAMILY tolerates. Same applies to church/cry room. Would it be nice if I didn't have to say that to my kids because parents all taught that to their own kids? Sure. But, unfortunately, that's not realistic…even in the Catholic church (nave or cry room).

  22. Katie

    I would normally agree with you, but today I went to a cry room at an Extraordinary Mass parish that was actually pleasant! The sanctuary was SO QUIET and the building was constructed in such a way that my only option was the cry room. All the moms were silent and the kids were all moderately behaved, most sitting and reading books or crawling close to their moms. It was amazing!

  23. JenniferM

    Our main church area is more accommodating to child noises on Sunday as the overall noise level due to the number of people/children in attendance covers up smaller noises. But, on a weekday Mass or even sometimes the earlier Sunday Mass, the place is SILENT. Even whispers can be distracting because people far away from you can hear it. Babbling from a baby would be too much noise. Also to be considered is that there can be a big difference depending on the type of Mass you attend. If you're at an EF low Mass (which is where I was this morning) there's not much activity noise to cover up child noises.

    I usually prefer to stay in the cry room (on good days it's quiet in there, other times the kids are difficult but the adults are still quiet) because I don't have to constantly worry about whether or not the noises from my children have exceeded anyone's tolerance level. The older children (7,6,4) behave better in Mass with my husband when the baby and toddler aren't there. Overall, I can pay better attention and the older children can pay better attention when I keep the two youngest in the cry room.

    If I didn't have a toddler, we'd probably all sit in the church and I'd only leave to nurse the baby, but that hasn't been the case for seven years.

  24. Anna

    My first was born in June in Florida where we attended a church that had no cry room and no narthex. He was a colicky baby (I don't mean fussing a bit; sometimes he would wail non-stop) so I spent many Masses on the church steps in the sweltering heat. On top of that I was a first time mom figuring out how to breastfeed and my only option for nursing was to just sit in the pew and do it there. Now, three babies later, I would have no problem with this but at the time this made me very uncomfortable.

    I personally have never felt pressured to go to the cry room, maybe I'm just oblivious to other people's non verbal cues. I'm sure if this was my experience I would be really annoyed by that as well. As it is though, I felt most uncomfortable at the parish in which I had no where to go with the baby. The church we attend now doesn't have a cry room and the narthex works just fine if we need to excuse ourselves. So I wouldn't say that a cry room is ever necessary just that there needs to be something.

  25. Kim

    Ummm…is there rock I can hid under somewhere? LOl Well, if you would have seen their behavior in Mass on Sunday then you would know why we chose to sit there..hehe…but seriously, though:

    Two of the boys have aspergers and add/hd, the rest are just high energy or toddlers or babies and its the only place where we can be where we are not a sideshow.

    But, in the last two years I find myself agreeing more with Leila. But, that's just for me and my family. Since both of the asperger boys had to make their communions in the last 2 years I had to concentrate on them alone. So I often left the younger ones with a sitter and just focused on them. It helped their behavior and understanding a lot.

    I bring them all sometimes but not all the time. What works best for the main church is to break up our family to different masses. My mom will take one of the youngers and one of the olders to an evening mass, I take 2 to a morning mass and my husband takes the rest to a later. Now this works for us but is not an option for most ppl I realize. But, I will say they are all perfectly behaved children this way. When They are all together is when we have issues and really belong in then cry room.

    I think the utmost respect should be given to the blessed sacrament and having kids–even (my) special needs making noises or making weird hand motions or bouncing etc is not respectful (in my terms) and to be in the main church is for those that act appropriately. If they can't stop making disrespectful actions then they don't belong in the mass where they can bother others who are respectful and appropriate. Now again this is my personal opinion and I hope I am not bashed by other special needs parents. Its just my opinion. This is Jesus they are seeing and I would feel not right if I allowed my kids to be in any way disrespectful.

    There are 2 other special needs kids that are in there with us usually. The one down syndrome boy has a problem with running and would run right up there on the altar and touch stuff if he was allowed. So if he is to be brought to mass then he needs to be shut inside a room where his running boundaries are limited. Its not that he is less deserved to be there he is more, but the issue is you can't have him touching the altar ! That is disrespectful to others. The other boy has classic autism and just makes really loud noises nonstop like animal sounds. Of course he can't help it at all but really loud shrieking isn't polite. I just think some kids need more boundaries than others.

    • Anonymous

      As a mom of a special needs child and two younger children (all under 6), I completely agree with what you've written. My oldest son needs more boundaries and is overwhelmed sitting outside the cry room. However, we do encourage him to follow along in a Magnifikids magazine, and we do our best to keep all our children quiet and respectful at mass regardless of where we sit. We've had people make rude comments to us about sitting in the cry room, but we've also had others say rude things to us about our son when we don't…..it's discouraging to feel like you are upsetting someone no matter what you do. It has definitely taught me to be less quick to judge and to assume the best in others, even if I don't make the same choices for my family.

  26. Nanacamille

    I am glad you wrote the Archbishop as I was going to do it if you didn't. Enjoy the new church. God bless the grouchy priest but not in my parish.

  27. Anna

    I wanted to add one 'cry-room story' I just remembered. Our second parish had a cry-room. Our daughter was born 2 weeks after we moved to a new state and woman I had never met, but who went to the Catholic church in town, stopped by our home with a meal for our family. She introduced herself and said that she and her 3 kids went to the 10:30 Mass on Sundays and that maybe we would see her in the cry room from time to time, since she and her kids just stayed there for all of Mass. She was a fellow military wife and her husband was in Iraq and she said that staying in the cry room was the only way she could make it through Mass every week by herself. I know it sounds like a sorry excuse. All of us have been to Mass without our husbands before, we do it for daily Mass after all right? But the thing I remember about having my own husband in Iraq is just that EVERYTHING is so much harder. Not just Mass, but dinner time, waking up with the kids, never shopping by yourself and being anxious and lonely just makes every little thing a little bit harder. I'm sure it's the same for special needs parents or single parents or who knows what other people are going through. And I can't blame her for wanting a break, even if objectively it seems like poor parenting. Maybe camping out in the cry room is a 'misuse', but this woman has my empathy. And gratitude too, because it takes heart to bring a meal to a stranger right?

    I hope that's not too irrelevant to the conversation. I just think it's good for all of us to remember to think charitably of others, even if they seem to make bad parenting choices.

  28. Dixie

    I think the main problem is probably a related one that you identify, Kendra: maybe not so much just having a cry room, but having an expectation in the parish that children who make any noise at all should go there and stay there.

    Our previous parish had a cry room (and a good in-between space in the back of the church), but the parish also had a culture that was welcoming to children in the main part of the church. The pastor had guidelines published at least once in the bulletin while we were there, and they were wonderful: asking parents to please bring their children to Mass and sit with them in the sanctuary; to bring snacks or drinks or books or toys, but only quiet ones; to take children out if they began to really scream; but to please bring the children back in again as soon as possible! It was really nice to have it clarified so explicitly, and also made us feel more comfortable staying in the pew with a fussy but not hollering baby. Maybe clear guidelines could help in many parishes?

    On the other hand, our current parish has an explicit policy asking parents to remove children making what I would consider normal and acceptable child noise, and it stinks. The lectors are supposed to announce it before the readings. But maybe in parishes where the pastors are more tolerant of child noise, they could help out with an occasional reminder? of the good of having children in church?

  29. Lisa

    We have two kiddos, 23 mos. and 7 mos. but have never actually used a cry room, so I guess these are more observations than experiences. Here's my 2 cents:

    The parish we belong to just built a new Church and it doesn't have a cry room (it'd be interesting to find out the decision process for that). In the old church the CR truly smelled like urine- gross. In the new one there's a huge vestibule that spans 3 sides of the church, so you can still hear/ see the mass. If our girls start crying/ really fussing we take them to the back, or into the vestibule. As long as we don't let the toddler down, that's usually enough to keep her calm, and we always try to go back to our pew once they're quiet.
    Now, this church seats 1500 ppl. and often you can see open spots in the pews, BUT ppl. regularly park themselves in the back or the vestibule. I mean, we're talking no wall space, and many of them are adults or teens, and they're not all playing the "I came in late" card. Maybe they're allergic to the pews? Anyways, I have serious beef with that. Parents need a place to take their kids- that's my view.

    My hubs and I feel it's very important to teach our kids how to behave at mass, but (esp. since they're so young) we do feel we should take them at least to the back of the church if they start screaming or crying. BUT if my girls are only going to see kids running wild in the back, or there are droves of ppl., where else do we go- outside?

    Two of my SILs have used the cry room at a nearby church (also newly built, w/ 2 CRs on the sides) but say very similar things to what you've experienced- kids allowed to run wild, not pay attn. etc. I think the point of a CR should be, a temporary place parents can go if their child is screaming/ inconsolable etc. But I think ppl. really abuse it's purpose. So…cement them!

  30. Sew

    Wow! I have just learned so much! Thank you for this post….

    I had my first 2.5 years ago and really had NO idea what I was doing and I still don't. I never thought to use the cry room to collect ourselves and then go back into the church. My first kid HATES the cry room. HATES it and so do I. HATE IT!

    We have always sat in the cry room and it's awful. I make the 2.5 year old sit on my lap and it's like wrestling a cat in the bag. Nothing can be seen from the cry room. Inside the church she does better but then talks loud and claps her hands and basically acts like a toddler. With baby #2 I have a little bit more experience and she is a completely different temperment.

    Last Sunday, we put the 2.5 year old in the nursery. And wow, what a great Mass experience we finally had. Baby #2 was perfect in Mass and #1 LOVED the nursery.

    I guess, my thought process, is to give my first time to grow out of it. Is that lazy parenting? LOL I feel like I dropped the ball but I don't feel fighting during Mass is going to get us anywhere at this time.

    One family with 5 kids sits in the front row. I asked how she does it, because there is something she does to get her kids to sit all through Mass. It's truly beautiful. I think that is how it is supposed to be but I don't know how to get there. Is it age? Is it my parenting? So I'm taking the easier route at this time and working with baby #2 and hopefully I will get it together.

    So this gave me a lot of ideas on how to work with Baby#2 and use the cry room or back of church to hush it and go back in. Maybe if that is all they know, the expectations will be easier to follow. And I will just squeak by putting my 2.5 year old in nursery until I figure out how to change the expectation or until I feel she is ready.

    Or maybe I have just created a bigger problem putting her in nursery. LOL I probably have done just that but it's okay.

    Thankfully, we all have room to grow here! LOL And my inexperience can grow as I figure it out….

    I've heard from moms of many that the younger follow the older ones….?

    • Kendra

      I have loved reading all the responses too.

      As far as what you, personally, should do. I honestly think you have to go with what works for your family. I'm the kind of person who likes to just rip the bandaid off. I'd rather go through the training now with my little guys and have them all sorted out as soon as possible. But that's my temperament.

      If sending your preschooler to a nursery is what works for your family, then do that. You absolutely can teach her proper Mass behavior later. You can do it now. But you can also do it later.

      Again, if the cry room works for you, use it. But if it DOESN'T work for your family, please don't ever go into one again. I don't. If I need to take a baby out, I go outside or into the vestibule, settle baby down and come right back in.

      I did experiment with cry rooms as a younger mom, so I certainly understand moms doing it now. But I came out of it believing that cry rooms are a failed experiment for our family in particular and for the church at large.

      As for if it gets easier with subsequent kids, I'd say mostly yes, but sometimes no. If you had asked me before Frankie I would have said, "Slam dunk, all you have to do is train the first one and the rest all fall into line like ducklings." But it turns out that my numbers 2-5 were just easier than my numbers 1 and 6. So, Frankie's been a challenge, but I know what I'm doing so much more now, and I don't take it as personally as I used to. If we need to go out we do. I can look at my oldest and know that it will all work out eventually!

  31. Renee

    I have not had the opportunity to read all the responses but wanted to offer this: I think that you should attend another parish, as you have planned. This is my judgement obviously, and I do believe that practicing humility and obiedience is important; however, if this happend to me, I would be too distracted at further Masses (the thoughts that would come into my head and the chest-filled-anxiety that I would go to would not be beneficial to me participating in Mass and my prayer). Of course it's important to overcome these things but as you are only there for the summer, I suggest attending another parish.

    I am not raising any children, so I don't have first-hand experience with those sorts of things day-in-day-out; but my mother told me that it's important to bring children to Mass because that is how they learn. She was often complimented about her children's behavior and she creditied it with just brining us and teaching us from the moment of birth what is expected in Mass. She also stated that those that wait to bring their children often would find hardship in training their kids and often those children would not be seen in the pews when they turned high school and college-aged.

    PS – I am not a fan of crying rooms either because of the reasons you state (I was shocked at my first experience, the cry room was located adjacent to the altar so the ENTIRE church could clearly see in, and three children were running around with no attempt to stop them). I do believe this is a matter of disciple and a failure of leadership coming from the top (parents/priests/the community allowing it/etc).

  32. Anonymous

    If you decide to fill all the cry rooms with cement, I will personally volunteer to drive the cement mixer!!!

    We attend a very old urban parish full of rambunctious children and no cry room. Everyone is wonderful about our little ones, and they feel they are a part of the community and the liturgy there, even as tiny as they are. Now, the downside is, the church is so noisy and the sound system so ancient that you frequently cannot hear a word of the homily! But I'd rather that my children and I feel welcome to participate in the noisy, imperfect, boisterous community of believers than hear the homily, personally.

    During the recessional, all of the smallest children in attendance often flood out of their pews and bounce up to the front of the church, where they dance delightedly in the aisle until the Mass is over. It is wonderful.

    The one time we went to a church with a cry room, we were glared into it within five minutes of arrival at Mass with our well-behaved, happy, babbling infant. I sat in there feeling isolated, humiliated and excluded — the baby wasn't crying, but I was. We've never been back to that parish since. Now, we drive past it (and three other Catholic churches) to attend Mass every Sunday. It's worth it.

  33. gracelovesiggy

    honestly i've debated becoming one of those "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" and pretending i believe in "sola scriptura" for a few years just to take advantage of their nurseries and built in coffee shops.

    but then my kids would think i was untrustworthy.

    i've done both the cry room and mass and i end up so frustrated after mass.

    for some reason, the elderly really like the cry room at our church, and they don't like crying children.

    i do try to get them to be quiet but the room gets so tense when a kid starts crying because of them shaking their heads and gritting their teeth like they're annoyed.

  34. Ouiz

    Ooh. Cry rooms. Great discussion! I'm glad I found your blog!

    As a mom of 8, AND one of those people who can't handle distractions at Mass (or noise… or mess… yeah, you can laugh. I'm not sure what Our Lord was thinking, either!) I have to say that I am thankful for cry rooms, BUT — I do NOT allow my children to get out of my arms, or forget that they are at Mass. Whether they are in the sanctuary or out, the rules are the same… they have to stay in my arms until Mass is over.

    Thankfully (maybe because they don't get to run around if I have to take them out?) they decide pretty quickly that life goes much better for them if they stay quiet, AND still, and sit in the front row so they can see.

    I wish… I TRULY wish… that I was one of those people who could smile and be patient as little kids make noise during Mass. I feel horrible, and I'm truly sorry. I try to be like St. Therese and offer it up, but I just wind up being more frustrated and crying during Mass.

    I know how awful cry rooms are (and the people who use them as opportunities to talk… and I must confess, I've done it myself. Shame on me..), and I can only assume that God gives special grace to all of us parents who, out of charity for others, take our kids to the cry room.

  35. Anonymous

    I think it depends upon your stage of motherhood. When I had 3 kids, ages 4, 2, and newborn, the crying room was my salvation. However, now that I have older kids who can behave themselves (ages 5, 7, and 9), I can send the baby (14 mons) to that room with an older sibling, but otherwise, I want to be out among the congregation.

    I too hated them, because my older kids didn't behave as well, and other families let their kids run wild, so no one could concentrate.

    My hat's off to you, Kendra, for finding another mass. I hope it gives that priest something to think about. I would have done the same.

  36. Anonymous

    I get distracted easily. Sometimes a child will startle me and I look before I can stop myself. I always smile. I hope the smile assures the adult that it's all good.

  37. Anonymous

    I'm so glad I found your blog and read your posts about this! My youngest is 15 now and I've forgotten what it was like to have toddlers who can't sit still (and yes my baby was one of those boys who had worms for legs!). When I look back, I think "my kids were so well-behaved" but I forget those earliest years!!! I think that's what's happened to a lot of people– they forget. I also think that people tend to lack empathy because they don't hear the actual feelings of the families who feel shunned. I know one member of our church (used to be my friend but her negativity wore on me!) who goes on and on after Mass about any disruption that occurred. My first thought was "Did she even pay attention to the homily and what was happening in the Mass?"! My husband and I only joined the Catholic Church about 9 years ago and I have to say that it was easier at the Protestant churches. In our situation, everyone knew everyone else, so there was more sympathy and more help (we passed children up and down the pew for a new perspective!) and the atmosphere was less formal so it was a little easier. I was taught and I firmly believe, that when I see someone at Church, I rejoice that they made it there, no matter what their state! I am teaching Religious Ed to the PreK/K class starting in two weeks and I think I'm going to figure out a way to let my parents know that they are welcome IN the Mass. So many young families stay away when they have little ones for this very reason and I do remember that when my kids were little, I really needed the Faith community and to be around other families and adults to give me strength and fellowship. I will keep families like yours in my prayers! Thank You! Bethany H.

  38. Francie@EscovedoEscapades

    Oh my…. did this strike a chord with me. I agree, you had to do what you felt was right for you and your family. I personally don't like the cry room, for the same reasons you cited.

    I used to absolutely dread mass when my children where little (They are now 10 and 13). My oldest was always the most disruptive. He's ADD/ADHD, and as a toddler, the chaos of the cry room area just made his behavior worse. I usually ended up taking him outside which benefitted neither of us. Eventually, I quit going to mass for a while. As he got a little older and son #2 came along, things improved. My oldest was still fidgety most days and complained that he couldn't see. I finally dawned on me, despite the packed sanctuary, the front pew was always empty. Guess where we started sitting? Yup – front and center. It made a HUGE difference. As soon as my sons were able to actually see what was going on, who was speaking, etc., there was a vast improvement in their behavior.

    Although the priest we had before never said anything negative regarding children in mass and in fact, encouraged them, he was more, shall we say… reserved. My children, and myself included, would often glaze over during mass. Sad, I know.

    We now have a younger (40ish) priest, who we all adore! He's funny, he loves children, and he keeps their attention with great stories and jokes. I remember one particular incident when a child screamed out during mass, Father raised his hand and yelled out an enthusiastic "Amen!!" Which, of course, brought the congregation to laughter.

    I think if I were to ask my sons which mass they remember most, it would probably be the one in which Father used a story about his sinus infection to teach a lesson. I kid you not!

    I say all this to say…. some people just need to lighten up. Kids are not miniature adults. They are children, and should not be expected to sit stock still and behave like little Stepford kids. Just my two cents, for what it's worth.

  39. Aubrey

    Can we put the baby-complainers in the cry room? Ala blankets for the heads of people who are bothered by nursing? 😉

    The only time I've been asked to leave mass, we were visiting an EF parish for the first time–desperately looking for a place to teach our kids to respect the mass. At our regular parish, people didn't always look up from their cell phones for the sign of peace, & there was a mass exodus about 10 min before it was over.

    So 2yo was pointing to the stations of the cross, identifying Jesus in ea one, quietly, & I was trying to get him quieter, but he was almost done…I was sent out, only to find dh already in the cry room w/ baby–she was so quiet, I hadn't noticed them sending him out, too. So who was inside w/ the other 4!?

    The cry room was AWFUL. Mass was streamed in by video, but people kept trying to adjust the screen for a better picture, changing the channel, etc. There were baskets of toys, & other parents were talking & offering food to 2yo.

    The worst part was when 2yo asked to go back to mass & I had to tell him no. He can't say his 'w' sound yet, so he said, "Yie not?"

  40. Sarah Negovetich

    I actually love the cry room at my inlaws church. It is situated directly behind the last pew (of a small sized church) and is decorated just like the regular church. We even have kneelers. Other than the glass wall in front, it feels just like we are in the regular mass. I always take my children in there when we visit, though they are still expected to strive for good behavior.

    For me, I get the relief of knowing that a random outburst or cry won't disturb someone else in their worship and this allows me to better focus on the mass and liturgy without constantly thinking about my kids' behavior.

    I think a lot depends on how the cry room is structured. I would not be happy in a cry room that is separate from the church, not set up for worship and is abused as a play room. If done correctly, a cry room can be a great way for the parents of young children to feel included.

  41. Kendal Sinn

    I like the the cry room for emergency situations(3 year old up half the night), nursing babies, and times I have to take the kids to church solo. I have had to stand outside of churches in the freezing cold when there is nowhere to go. I love the idea of having a place to be when life happens.

  42. C

    Hi Kendra,

    So … a version of your story happened recently after Sunday mass. It was the last straw. The priest is not a people person and is very easily distracted. I’ve witnessed countless examples of him shaming parents of young children.

    We’ve been blessed to find an AMAZING child-friendly parish only ten minutes away. There’s a nursery, children’s church, and still a massive number of little ones in mass. There’s a constant undertone throughout mass of the noises small children make, and the congregation seems perfectly pleased with this. We’ve switched to this parish.

    But here’s my question: what’s my responsibility to those still at the old parish? A friend (who happens to be on the parish council) has implored me to contact the bishop. This priest has great difficulty dealing with people in general, and while I believe he’s doing his best, he’s clearly not suited for parish life. I feel uncomfortable with the idea of going straight to the bishop’s office. But I just don’t have the energy for the fight that I would need to go talk with the priest directly. And, as we’ve already moved parishes, there’s no point in it. This isn’t some parish policy I want him to change, it’s his personal ability to handle the noise of children in mass. And that’s not going to change. What are your thoughts? Did you follow up in any way after your confrontation with the priest after daily mass?

    • Kendra

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that! Yes, I did contact the diocese and a priest there got back to me and was very kind and said he was making note of my concerns and that was that. If the priest who hassled you is not the pastor, then I think it’s appropriate to go to the pastor first, but if he’s in charge of the parish, then I think the bishop/the diocese is the appropriate next level. And we switched parishes. Our guy isn’t at that parish anymore, but he managed to get the median age at Sunday Mass up to about 60 years old and they haven’t recovered. 🙁


  1. 10 Important Questions to Ask Before Marriage–Part 1 – Grace Elaine Brown - […] daily Mass for a more reflective time! More on that on Kendra’s blog: Catholic All Year. Why I Would…

Submit a Comment

Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way that’s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

Contact me at helpdesk@catholicallyear.com

This blog contains affiliate links and sponsored posts, for which I receive a commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.