Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Two schools of thought on crying rooms and babies at Mass

Crying rooms: are they an important and necessary sanity-saver for parents of infants and toddlers who bring said infants and toddlers to Mass? Or are they community cop-outs for adults who can't stand the momentary coos or cries from the youngest members of God's family? Deacon Kandra ponders:
What's the single most damaging innovation to Catholic churches over the last 50 years?

It's not the removal of altar rails or the electric vigil candles, or the fancy felt banners that hang from the ceiling. Guess again.

It's the "crying room." [...]

But is a crying baby really such a problem that it demands its own special room?

Clearly, some priests think so.

I once heard of a priest who would interrupt mass—smack in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer—if a baby started to howl. He'd wait until the baby stopped, or the parents took it away, before continuing.

Another priest I know was pacing the center aisle during his homily when a baby started to sputter and then scream. He stopped in his tracks, then walked over to the pew, glared at the baby and said, with a wink, "Knock it off, kid. I work alone."

My pastor takes a different approach. If a baby starts to cry, and the mother begins to slide down the pew to walk it out the door, he'll stop mass to stop HER. "Don't leave!" he'll call out. "Please stay! Let the baby cry. He belongs here with the rest of us." More than a few times, a mother has stopped, mortified and embarrassed, unsure what to do, while the baby lets forth a full-throated "Waaaaaaaaah!" and the congregation chuckles and my pastor coaxes her to stay.

"We'll find a place for him in the choir," he'll say to appreciative chuckles from the congregation, "he sounds like a tenor." (Of course, not everyone approves. One mother who watched this happen expressed annoyance to me after Mass one Sunday. "How does he know what's wrong with a baby and making it cry?" she huffed. "Let the mother decide. If my baby's crying, there's a good reason.")

Be that as it may: when a baby cries, and a mother is encouraged to take it out of church, to a place apart, the parish is sending a distinct and unsettling message. It's indicating, not-too-subtly, that crying children don't belong. We might as well amend the creed: "One, holy, catholic and apostolic church - except for crying babies, of course."

Read the rest here.

The comment box at the site linked to above contains the usual battle lines: babies should be welcome at Mass and yes, crying rooms are at best a nuisance but at least they corral the little darlings whose parents think letting them play hopscotch in the aisle is cute on the one side, and babies should be left at home (presumably to fend for themselves?) while the grown-ups get to have the perfect, peaceful, prayerful Mass they so richly deserve on the other.

You think I'm kidding? Here are two comment samples--first, side one:
I use the cry room to keep others from getting distracted (or hurt - my daughter could probably shatter glass). When my kids cry, other people can't hear the readings or concentrate, so at first, I try to hush them in the pew, but if it continues, I take them to the cry room. When my kids calm back down, I take them back into the nave of the Church. It works well, without teaching them that Mass is playtime, but while also giving the people around me the respect they deserve.

Maybe what we need isn't to get rid of cry rooms, but to make them a place where parents take crying children only until they calm down. Remove the chairs? Alternatively, one parish in my area has no cry room, but has rocking chairs in the nave for mothers to soothe their criers.

A real culprit: nursery. How are kids supposed to learn how to behave in Mass if they don't go to Mass? Children's liturgy doesn't help, either, and at many parishes, it is accompanied by congregational pseudo-blessings and features a ton of kids over the age of reason. If we stop babying them, they might actually grow up.

So I think cry rooms are fine, but need to be used sparingly (and never automatically).
And second, side two:
As one of the priests at my parish said, Mass isn't about us, it is about God, and when a crying baby means I can't hear Mass, how is that helpful? Or when I am trying to concentrate on the consecration, but hear a baby sucking on it's mother's breast, how is that helpful? The parents are often too distracted to concentrate on Mass, and so then are those around them. I just wish the crying rooms were full more often. Not because kids are inconsiderate -- but because inconsiderate parents expect others at Mass, who might need a deep Mass experience, to be instead centered on them, or the parents don't even have the courtesy to notice the distraction their kids are causing or who give their kids noisy toys to bang on the pews. At one Mass, a mother let her toddler walk up and down the side aisle with shoes that were designed to squeak like a rubber duck. I was in shock. Also, some parents seem like they are trying to achieve the record for public displays of affection regarding their kids during a Mass. Don't they realize that they are in the direct line of sight between those behind them and the altar? All I ask is that everyone at Mass sit still and be reverently silent. I don't think that's unreasonable or unkind or "misguided." Swim clubs have kids times in the pool and grown up times. Maybe we could have age-restricted Masses for those of us who don't need a wailing baby to remind us of the suffering of humanity or to evidence the fact that in all our messiness "the faith will go on."
I sometimes think that there are two schools of thought as to whether or not to bring infants or toddlers to Mass; the first school says, "Hey, babies are part of God's family and the best way to get children to go to Mass when they're older is to bring them when they're young, so as long as Mom and Dad use some common sense to take the sweet things out when they're about to become tiny air-raid sirens it's all good to bring them!" and the second school says, "Hey, babies are sinless and don't need to be in Church, and moms of small children are excused from attending Mass (says so in the Catechism!) if split shifts don't work out for some reason, and there's really no point for any child younger than six or so to be at Mass but then they'd better be well-behaved even if they've never been there before, so what's the big deal if they get left at home when they're really little so the rest of us can pray in peace!"

As is often the case, I think the answer comes down to two principles: finding balance and common ground, and doing what works for each family. But there's a third principle involved that would go a long way toward reconciling the two schools: charity.

Charity demands that we see the harassed mother with the active, noisy infant or toddler as a human being with an immortal soul who is probably doing the absolute best she can, instead of judging her to be a clueless or careless parent who doesn't care if her little one is shrieking at a pitch even higher than the high soprano in the choir. It demands that we realize that when a child starts fussing, there's no "indicator light" that shows parents that a child is only thirty seconds or two minutes or ten minutes from total meltdown; it also demands that we realize that many parents sit there agonizing: is it more distracting to walk out now, when the Eucharist Prayer is beginning or when Father is about to incense the altar or in that hush following Communion, etc., or to try to wait until a moment when slipping out quietly won't draw 87 pairs of annoyed eyes on one's progress down the center aisle?

Charity also demands of parents that they be aware of their children's activities, and not excuse random bad behavior (like deep-sea bench diving or commando aisle-crawling or repeated soft-toy tossing) on the grounds that at least it is quiet. It demands that parents of little ones make an attempt to restrict truly naughty behavior and be willing to whisk a loudly crying baby out of Mass regardless of the feeling that to do so is to take a Walk of Shame down the center aisle.

If we would all try to out-do each other in charity towards small children and their parents, or parents of small children toward everyone else, then maybe we would actually be acting as if we remember that we are in God's presence--and that the wiggliest toddler is much more pleasing to Him than we often are, Sunday after Sunday.

31 comments:

Rebecca in ID said...

I think cry rooms or areas in the vestibule with chairs are a great idea for a mother who wishes to nurse discreetly, or to take her child who's just too wired, or whatever. I kind of cringed when I read of the priest who stopped mothers trying to take out their babies--because what if all she wanted to do was nurse the darling, and now all eyes are on her! Anyway, I do often spend a great deal of time out in the vestibule with my very young children because they often lack the stamina to be still for very long. Daily Mass they usually can handle, but the hour or more on Sunday is often too much, and they just need to wiggle, toddle, explore, whatever. I do try to have them sit with me in the main area as much as possible and I think people need to get used to normal baby noises as part of the background. I think it's ridiculous to hold the position that babies cooing softly or breastfeeding are seriously going to interfere with anyone's holiness.

I love your post and agree wholeheartedly--charity is the measure, as usual.

Charlotte said...

Deacon Greg's wasn't the only discussion on this this week....I got involved in an embroiled discussion on this on a different blog, where the commbox now stands at over 170 comments.

If you want to know where that is, just ask. But I'm telling you now, it wasn't pretty.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

This is not a uniquely RC problem, so I don't feel impelled to refrain from commenting. What has been presented here is a good case for, don't try to impose a one-size-fits-all rule. Babies are part of life. Adults should adjust to their being around. Children need to be socialized, but babies will not display the maturity of five year olds, much less 25 year olds. They mature at different rates. Parents know them better than anyone else. Some behavior can become so disruptive, and so difficult to suppress (or suppression may be unwise), that they should be removed. There should be a place parents can take their children. (I have seen fathers as well as mothers be the one to take baby out of the sanctuary -- in a church where only the men are "voters" no less). It should not be mandatory. A humorous remark from the priest is not out of line, but should not be a mandate.

Baby may need feeding or changing. There is a whole other debate about whether one or both should be conducted in full view of everyone. But sometimes, it may be best to take baby out of the service.

Word verification: kindlys

Red Cardigan said...

I'm curious, Charlotte. Where was it?

Sleeping Beastly said...

It's a judgment call and a call to not be too judgmental. I don't think it's a good idea to have separate crying rooms where parents just sit for the entirety of the Mass. In my experience, that leads to kids treating it as playtime, and the parents not paying much attention. Kids need to be in the pews to learn to be quiet and reverent (or asleep.)

The problem is that every kid will go through a difficult age (age one to two, in my experience) where they want to talk loudly or scream or climb all over the place during Mass. That's distracting, and you have to take them out until they can be calmed down, and then bring them back in. Sometimes this back-and-forth happens several times during the Mass, and the parent who takes them out misses most of the readings and the homily and isn't around for the Lord's Prayer and generally doesn't really have a full experience of Mass. But that's how the kids get used to the idea of sitting quietly through the Mass, and after a year or so of having to do this periodically, they get that church is a place for being quiet and respectful, and then you would be surprised at how civilized an energetic four-year-old boy can be for an hour of sit-stand-kneel-stand-sit.

But you don't really need a dedicated crying room for this. The vestibule usually does nicely, and if the kid isn't screaming at the top of his or her lungs, there are often little nooks you can take them into to calm them down.

In my family my wife and I trade off, and it's a treat to get to sit with the big ones while the other parent takes the little one out to calm her down.

geeklady said...

This may be the only good thing I can say about our parish's new church, but it doesn't have a cry room. It does have a narthex, with doors that shut the noisy baby noises out of the rest of the church. It's nice, when our son was in an especially disruptive stage, we could sit there where he couldn't bother anyone and we could still participate in the Mass. But when he reached a certain level of development, for him it was two, we brought him back inside, and started teaching him how to behave in the pews, taking him out when needed.

I understand there are lots of people with kids that don't use any judgment at all, and real problems come of it. But when you are trying to both be considerate and catechize your child, the cold stares come down hard. Every reasonable little wiggle, every peep, even expressions of infant piety can make you flinch. It's hard on the parent. And if the parent doesn't react well to that disapproval, we can take it out on the child by becoming unreasonably angry with him over minor misbehavior, or worse, poorly timed good behavior.

It's rough, when you're at the point where you can't take them out without causing a bigger scene, but still want to melt into the pew from pure shame. Last Sunday's peccadillo was my son's strong disapproval that another family bore the gifts to the altar. Because it was our turn. Which it wasn't, but good luck convincing him of that.

Dawn Farias said...

Agreed.

Topherdone said...

Mrs. Manning,

Go to abbey-roads. It's the "Mass Chat: Summer Distractions" article.

Red Cardigan said...

Topherdone, thanks.

And those comments--!

Wow. Just wow.

Charlotte, now I know why the Catholic blogosphere has been depressing you. I wonder what all of those "Leave your children under five at home!" people would have said to Thad and I when we had three under three, one Mass in town, and one more over an hour drive away? The one in town was at 9, and the hour-plus--drive one at 10:30, so no, split Masses wouldn't have been possible without miraculous bilocation even if we had ever thought that was a terrific idea.

Oh, wait, I know. As the mother it was my duty to stay home from Mass until the youngest was 5. I could always make my Easter duty by having my husband drive to the Easter Vigil an hour away, and then I could slip into the 9 a.m. Easter morning (sans kiddies, of course) for my once-a-year spiritual treat. Because that's much, much better than anybody ever being even slightly inconvenienced by a wiggly toddler.

Or, of course, we could have hired a sitter--assuming there was an atheist in the tiny rural town we lived in, because everybody else in town would be at one of the two or three dozen Protestant churches on Sunday morning. With their children. And dressed to the nines, too...

Do any of these people ever check in with the real world? Sheesh.

Rose said...

Erin, lol'd over the "Walk of Shame". I completely agree that charity is what is needed on both sides. I have four littles, all six and under. I have to say, that at my parish, it's the teenagers who distract way more with talking during mass and a total ignorance of reverent behavior or why one would want to be reverent. Still, I can say that I've been on both sides of this issue in my life and I'm also sure I'm capable of forgetting how hard it is with kids and being tempted to judge moms when (if) I live through to have them all grown up and out. God bless!

MacBeth Derham said...

I think the good deacon missed a point here, and that is the existence of the crying room turns it into a requirement for ALL moms with kids. God forbid your well-behaved child whimper into the technologically-enhanced ear of old Mrs. Faithful. She'll tell you where you should be sitting to hear Mass. "Don't you know there is a room for people like you?"

Not to get into a TLM vs. NO argument (we attend both), but why is it that the TLM is full of children, has no crying room, and the moms manage to whisk their babies out of Mass when necessary (their own discretion), and no one suggests they must leave? The NO is nearly devoid of children (my daughter often remarks that all she sees from the choir loft are "sheep heads"--old ladies with white perms), despite the newly-built crying room.

(Word verification "phembot"? Really?)

MightyMighty said...

Amen! I have a 3-year-old and a baby on the way and we never let him sit there and make lots of noise. I myself can barely concentrate in Mass, and would hardly expect other people to do so under air-raid-siren-conditions. I do get how hard it can be to have to stand in the vestibule or go in and out, but it's worth it. We sit in the back and come and go as needed. He is better behaved than the bratty 8-year-olds who dominate the "cry room." I rarely get dirty looks, usually just admiring looks because my son has electric blue eyes and my husband always has him dressed to the nines. Or I have convinced myself that all of those looks are admiring. :)

On the other hand, I have little patience for people who just sit there and let their kid scream for more than the time it takes to get up and moving out of the pew. Recently one family let their two-year-old howl for about 2 minutes until about half the church was looking at them. You quite literally could not hear the homily over it. That's not okay. They weren't even mean looks...it was more like, "Did one of the parents die? Is somebody seriously hurt?"

I do love your idea of both of us trying to outdo each other in charity. That would pretty much deal with it. :)

Also: breastfeeding is beautiful and doesn't need to be covered up or hidden in the back. I reject the notion that bf needs to be discreet in order to be okay in church. Granted, I'm not in love with the people who make no effort to cover up the easily-covered-up-excess-boobage, but pro-life Catholics should take back the body to the point that we do *not* sexualize nursing in any way. I have gotten dirty looks for nursing, esp. once my son was past the newborn stage. Tough taters, it's God's plan for moms and babies and it's gorgeous. I nurse anywhere I need to, any time. No, I will not feed my son in a bathroom so that you don't get offended by me not using synthetic milk in a plastic bottle.

Archaeology cat said...

Red, I'm with you about how ridiculous it can be to say that we should just leave our young children at home and/or have the mother stay home with them. I need to go to Mass. I need that grace. I think it's important for us to go as a family. Yes, it would be possible for my husband and me to switch off and go to different Masses, but I won't do that unless necessary (like a child is ill, for example).

I think a lot comes down to common sense and charity, as you say. My kids are 3.5 and 16 months. They both go to Mass with me on a daily basis (I'm blessed to live within easy walking distance of our parish). There is no cry room - in fact, I've only seen one parish with a cry room during my almost-5 years in England, and it's not in my city. My son knows we will take him out if he's not behaving . My daughter is in the loud phase, but I do my best to keep her quiet and I will take her out to the narthex if necessary. I had to do so three times today because she kept bumping her head on things. She likes to talk to the people behind us, and I try to keep her from that, even though they personally don't mind. I don't want her to think it's acceptable. I think children should be welcome at Mass, and thankfully my priest agrees. But I also try to teach them how to act so that they don't unduly distract others.

Deirdre Mundy said...

The other huge problem with cry rooms (we don't have one here, but we see them traveling) is that it makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to discipline a bad 3 or 4 year old. After all, cry rooms are usually snack and toy bonanzas! Those aren't a punishment, they're a REWARD.

My church has a changing/nursing area next to the ladies' room. It has plenty of boring white corners, and I have told my kids it's called the "Boring room." So, when the three year old acts up, he goes to the boring room, and quickly decides that sitting quietly in the pretty church is better than standing in the corner.

If we had a nursery or a cry room, he'd have an INCENTIVE to misbehave!

(We do try to hit the most baby-full Mass, however. That way, no one remembers your bad weeks because someone has a bad week every week, and it's not always the same family!)

Recently, I have been having to take my 1 1/2 year old out every week--- he's teething and wiggly and just DOES better standing in the back than sitting in the pew. But it's also a season that will pass as soon as those molars come in... Well, he also has the post-communion toddler meltdown "I want cookie! I want juice! Need it!"

Liz said...

I no longer have little ones, but I do have a two year old granddaughter. She is pretty beautifully behaved at Mass, although she does need a few distractions (things in grandma's handbag work as well with her as they did with our own when they were little - I even tuck special things in there when she's going to be here for the weekend). She actually made it through Easter Vigil this year, although my daughter did take her out for the homily.

Our parish, and the one they attend at home, has no cry room. There are still spots the kids can be removed to, but they are toyless wildernesses that no kid would prefer to spend his time in. My kids grew up in a Protestant church that had a nursery, but we rarely used it. What we discovered as the kids grew up was that nearly all of the kids who spent their Sunday mornings in the nursery are no longer practicing Christians. Meanwhile, those of us who parented are children through church are blessed with kids who still love the Lord.

My reaction to struggling moms at Mass is to give them a smile and congratulate them afterwards for the effort they're making. I do think that a baby or toddler who's really crying needs to be taken somewhere else for a few minutes because it is important to be respectful of other people. However the idea that anyone can hear a baby nursing, or that tiny baby noises are distracting seems over the top. I suspect that there are some people who need either to practice custody of the eyes and ears, or to remember the lesson that St. Therese talked about with the clicking rosary beads, and simply consider it the baby's concert for God.

When I was in high school our principal said that he didn't insist on absolute silence in study hall because we needed to learn to concentrate even when there were distractions around. When it comes to anything short of really loud noises or toddlers careening down the aisles of the church I think the same principle applies to the other people at Mass. Pay attention to what's going on at the altar and keep your eyes on your own work and the toddlers and babies at Mass won't be such of distraction to you. That doesn't excuse the parents who allow their little darlings to fling toys into the pew of the people in front of them or grab the scarf that's dangling behind the old lady in the next pew. Parents do need to ride herd on their children, but the rest of the congregation doesn't need to have their gaze fixed on the young family (even if they are an oddity in the parish).

Deirdre Mundy said...

Just wanted to add-- I keep misreading your title as "Crying MOMS and babies at Mass." Which does sum up a few occasions when we've had a particularly bad week!

Barbara C. said...

Two things REALLY bug me: 1) When families, even those without toddlers, go straight to the cry room or vestibule and settle down before Mass begins. Our cry room is usually so full of families of kids between 5 and 10 that there is no room for those of us with babies. And 2) All of the adults who insist on standing along the back wall of church when there are plenty of room in the pews. Sometimes a baby will be content if you can just stand in the back, but there is no room because of all the people who are "too cool" to sit down. (These people also tend to chit chat a lot through the entire Mass.) And don't get me started on the tween boys that wander to and from the bathroom 50 times.

Jeremy said...

Rod Dreher wrote on this very subject a little less than a month ago. His view point is (as usual) pretty balanced, coming down mostly on the side of the other folks in the pews who don't appreciate being distracted by naughty children whose parents seem oblivious

Read it here: http://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2011/07/06/little_hellions_in_the_pews_106281.html

Nicole Stallworth said...

Child-free church culture. Sheesh.

Disclosure: I have nine kids, and I almost always come down on the side of cutting parents some slack, even when they don't "deserve" it, because I don't want to be the servant in Matthew 18.

I find it ironic that in the example comment on "side two" starts out about how "Mass isn't about us" and then argues point after point about how parents with children inconvenience/are not helpful to the commentator.

"Kid times" and "grown-up times"? "Age-restricted Masses"? Seriously? Who was it, Erin, you or Mark Shea or somebody else who recently blogged that the child-free movement currently gaining traction is evil?

Rebecca in ID said...

The only time I'm really bugged by kids in Mass is when a small child is "past it", obviously, and the parent sort of seems to be insisting that the kid stay there--maybe they think they're going to "reward" the child if they take him out; I don't know, but it can be seriously disruptive, and this is where again I think it comes down to charity towards one's neighbors. I'm talking about a kid really yelling for a minute with no end in sight and the parent isn't budging; the "showdown" situation--that just really isn't an option for a way of training your children. I don't see that a whole lot, though; mostly it's normal kid stuff which can be taken in stride.

Oh, and I agree, everyone, about breastfeeding in Church being perfectly acceptable and normal--my comment about the lady maybe wanting to take out the baby to feed it (or to deal with a major blowout?), just referred to the fact that sometimes it's difficult to do the juggling act in the pew, especially depending on factors such as: Are there men behind you and is it a part of Mass where everyone's standing/is the baby at an age where it wants to rip off your shirt/is the baby at an age where it gets too easily distracted by people around/is the baby having a hard time latching on and it's clearly going to be a major, loud project...there are many more reasons why those of us who do nurse our babies in public, sometimes would prefer a little privacy. Anyway, that was why I thought it was a little clueless of the priest to stop her in front of everyone, though obviously he meant well and I much prefer that to the glaring, scolding priests who believe that Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, when they're eighteen."

JMB said...

Here's my take: I'm fortunate that I can go to daily mass (within 3 miles of my house there are masses starting at 6 am and going until 12 pretty much on the half hour every day except Sat) so that is my refuge from the noise and distractions of children, teens and whatever is bugging me. That said, Sunday Mass for me has always been hard to stomach. The music, the length of the homily, the Communion line singing, and yes, kids eating in the pews, teens texting during Mass and those souls who walk away from the EM with the host in their hands. Flame away but sometimes Sunday mass to me is like being on a crowded airplane stuck on the tarmac. As long as the kids crying aren't my own, it doesn't bother me.

Sleeping Beastly said...

You know, I'm normally on the side of cutting kids and parents slack, but breastfeeding in the pews?

Archaeology cat said...

Why not breastfeed in Mass? For one, a baby can't be told to wait. For another, there's nothing shameful about breastfeeding - it's what they're for. Not all women can express easily, nor should they have to do so. There isn't always a place to go to breastfeed in the parish, even if the woman wanted to get up. It's also usually easier to stay seated in the pew instead of gather up the child and whatever else you have/need, by which time the child might be crying. As you have probably guessed, I breastfeed at Mass. Many times people haven't even noticed that I was doing so. I was standing right in front of the priest after Mass, with my daughter latched on, and he thought she was just asleep. Kate Wicker sums it up nicely for me: http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/wicker/04022.html

Anonymous said...

Anyone who questions the propriety of breastfeeding the pews should take a look at the images of our Blessed Mother included in this very interesting piece on breastfeeding and NFP for Catholics that I read yesterday. Love those images! http://defende-nos-in-proelio.blogspot.com/2011/07/elephant-in-room-breastfeeding-and-nfp.html

Anonymous said...

Right. As if the Blessed Mother breastfed in the temple. Considering women weren't allowed in there - nor babies - I think people have a very misguided idea of what the religious life of Jews were 2000 years ago.

Yes, bf in the pews if you are discreet; most people won't notice. But did you catch the earlier comment? She was not discreet. That is just low class.

And bf is not just what "they're for". The majority of the time they are not producing milk. And some women don't use them for feeding at all; doesn't make them any less female.

KC said...

Our priest has a wonderful take on children in church. A great many of the moms are going it alone due to deployments. He know how hard it is and feels that it was probably a BIG deal to get the children there for mass let alone keeping them very, very quiet. So, he says, it's okay if they make a bit of noise.

We are very lucky. Of course, we have the people who glare and the parents who wait too long to take their children out.

I agree about cry rooms usually being filled with families with older children.

One parish I know has signs encouraging breastfeeding moms to go to the sitting area of the ladies room. I was so insulted. Unfortunately, this was the least of their problems.

Archaeology cat said...

Anon @ 8.01pm - if you're referring to me, I never said I wasn't discreet. I'm a modest person and show as little as possible. As mentioned, many don't even realise that a woman is breastfeeding. Of course, I also think being "discreet" is rather subjective, since some think you need a cover to breastfeed and many, myself included, disagree (note that not using a cover is not tantamount to showing everything, either. It should also be noted that many children refuse to be covered). I hope that clarifies matters a little.

And biologically, breasts are meant for lactation. Of course a woman is not less of a woman if she isn't lactating, just as a woman isn't less of a woman if she doesn't have a child.

And Anon @8.34am - beautiful images.

Archaeology cat said...

Anon - I think I see that you were commenting about another poster remarking about not needing to be discreet. My apologies for the mistake. The way I read that remark is that she doesn't feel the need to use a cover or go to another room to breastfeed, and I agree. I wouldn't call that not being discreet, though. The majority of us who breastfeed in public just get on with nursing our children when needed and don't flash anyone (at least not intentionally). I absolutely agree with MightMighty that society needs to stop seeing breastfeeding as sexual or indecent.

God bless

Anonymous said...

So, in the two thousand years before crying rooms, where on earth did crying babies go?

And, is there, perhaps, more crying these days because there are more single parents and less discipline altogether? Parents trying to teach their children "self-esteem" instead of shaping their characters' and teaching mastery of impulses? Parents who are friends and buddies to their children (if I hear one more parent call his child "buddy" I think I'll scream) instead of....... wait: mothers or fathers? (I know, the very words are quaint these days.)

Just wondering why after two thousand years a significant change in church architecture is needed for things that there were MUCH more of years ago -babies. When the average Catholic family consisted of anywhere from four to thirteen children and now consists of two or three, it does seem odd indeed that there would need to be entire rooms created for things we have less of.

So the Springtime goes.

AH

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I think that the place where some mothers take their children is actually the narthex; vestibule is the same space in a non-ecclesiastical type of building.

Alice said...

Anonymous,
I never heard the term "narthex" until I started hanging out with Episcopalians. We called the same thing in our churches vestibules. Narthex looks like an Anglo-Saxon word and vestibule is obviously Latin, so that may explain why Episcopalians would use the former and Catholics the latter. It might also be a regional thing. (I'm a Midwesterner.)