I think that this comment from a young mom is pretty much how I see things:
As the mother of an eight month old infant, I live in fear of a parishioner that asking, “Why is your child in Mass?” As a baptized Christian, my child should be a celebrated member of the congregation.
Some weeks, I spend a majority of the Mass in the back of the church looking at statues and other beautiful artwork because my son simply can’t handle sitting still for an hour during Mass. We try to be respectful of the other parishioners around us and leave briefly when my child acts up, but sometimes it’s not possible to get to the gathering space before he really belts it out. Understanding parishioners go a long way towards difusing a situation. A child can sense when Mom or Dad is not at ease.
It’s also not just about what the child gets out of Mass – the parents are there to worship as well. God must give a special grace to parents of young children, because some weeks I don’t feel like I got anything out of the Mass. However, when my husband and I baptized our child, we promised to bring him up in the faith. How can we do that if he doesn’t come to Mass with us? And with no family in the same town as us, if we didn’t bring our child to Mass with us, we wouldn’t be able to go at all. [...]
But there are an awful lot of comments like this:
There were times when the noise from irate children was so bad and the parents weren’t doing anything about it, so I left. I could not take that much disrespect and distraction. Please don’t use the “Jesus loves the children” line. Yes he certainly did, but that doesn’t mean we all should tolerate noisy babies at Mass. Please don’t tell me to go to an earlier Mass, my work schedule doesn’t allow for that. God gives me special graces too for being at Mass. That is not unique to parents with young children. Getting the kids started young does not guarantee they will continue to attend Mass as they get older. I have been around a long time, and have seen countless young parents believe they were setting the right example; years later, those same kids are nowhere near the church.
I consider myself to be a devout Catholic, have been all of my life. I go to Mass because I want to participate. I want to honor Jesus. I want to be around other adults too. I want to receive the Blessed Sacrament. Do I have to do penance by listening to a screaming child in order to accomplish this? No, I should not have to. All of the focus here seems to be turned on those “poor Parents’ who are doing their best, which I have no doubt that they are, but would you sit in a restaurant, a theater, a ball park, or any other public place and let your child/baby act up? I very much doubt it (well, some people are arrogant enough to do just that, I have seen it). After so many years of this, I have gotten to the point where I just leave whereby denying myself reception of the Blessed Sacrament, although at times I have waited outside until Communion time then came back in to receive. As parents you must understand something. You are not the only one’s who are “offering it up” by stepping out of the Church when you child acts up. I have offered up the distraction of the crying many times. Finally, I also am a parent, when my children were young, it was a given that I would step outside with the babies anytime they acted up/cried or fussed. My thought was about the others who were present at Mass, that they should not have to put up with this. Most parents at that time did the same. My parents did the same. If we missed a part of the Mass, that is the way it was. I didn’t feel denied any graces because I felt that being a considerate parishioner was more important than putting others through unnecessary beguilement. I didn’t center the whole thing around myself like I have a “right” to be there so I will just let my kids cry. Of course, that was in another era, when people were more considerate and respectful of others. It wasn’t the “all for me” and what I want generation. There are sacrifices all young parents must make. In my opinion, one of those sacrifices is removing an irate child from Mass when the situation is warranted. If it means going to the cry room, then go there. If you have to go to the narthex/vestibule, then go there, or go outside in warm weather. But don’t think you have a “right” to cause a disturbance to others because you do not.
I have every right to be at Mass too, and have the right to be able to pray without distraction. I am rarely at a Mass anymore, including weekdays, where there isn’t some child acting up. I have even been at Adoration, supposedly a time for quiet prayer with Our Lord, and someone would be there with a crying baby and would not leave. How insensitive! I do not consider myself to be a pious person. I am a Catholic like all of you who is also doing my best to survive. I have my own problems in life to cope with, just like you do. That is my opinion, however unpopular it may be here. But I will tell you, my opinion is not unpopular among my peers. The question asked here was a pointed one, so I am giving a pointed response. God Bless You. [...]