Reverence Practice

The bishop is worried about ward reverence. He should be, truth be told. The sound level in sacrament typically hovers somewhere between distracting hum and dull roar. But we have 6 (soon-to-be-8) nursery classes. Did we really expect all those 2-year-olds would sit there silently listening to the speaker? Apparently yes. Because I just “heard” (and freely admit that I might be spreading gossip) that the Stake is concerned about reverence, too. Reverence for the building. They are suggesting that no food be allowed in the chapel. Help! Cheerios were our only hope!

Personally I think reverence cuts both ways. Yes, we want to show our reverence by being quiet and respectful and teaching our children to do the same, and, yes, probably some in the congregation need a bit of prompting in that direction. (I’ve risked offending a ward member by trapping her child as he was doing laps around the center section of the pews before.) But reverence is a feeling, a state of being that cannot be dependent on someone else’s sound level or actions. Even if you can’t hear a word the speaker says, you can still revere the Lord in sacrament meeting.

Our married BYU ward met in the Manavu chapel in Provo. It had a glassed-in, two row “cry room” in the back. Whatever happened to that good idea? The Methodist church in my Wyoming hometown had one, too. Of course, given our ward demographics, it might be easier to glass-in the bishopric, speakers and a few front rows and leave the rest for reverence practice.

79 comments for “Reverence Practice

  1. Tim
    August 16, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    It’s frustrating to hear bits and pieces of what’s apparently a very good, very spiritual, sacrament meeting talk because too many parents refuse to take their noisy children out to the hall. I realize that most parents do a good job with their kids, but I refuse to go to my in-laws ward because the kid noise drowns out the speakers entirely.
    It might be possible to feel reverence in a loud chapel, but it’s much easier (for me) to feel it in a quiet one.
    My way to avoid this problem is to avoid wards that have more people under three than over 30. Fortunately, right now, I’m in a position to do this.

  2. Julie M. Smith
    August 16, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    This is such a difficult issue. I’ve been the parent of the screecher and I’ve been the annoyed person who can’t hear anything. I hate both.

    Maybe we should just crank the volume on the microphone?

  3. sscenter
    August 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I once witnessed something in sacrament meeting related to this that i found very amusing. The ward was being quite noisy before the meeting had begun. A member of the stake presidency sat on the stand waiting for the meeting to begin and it was easy for me to see he was becoming quite impatient about something. After a few minutes he apparently couldn’t take it anymore because he stood up and castigate the entire ward for their lack of reverence. So I was left to wonder which is less reverant, a noisy ward with lots of children or a stake presideny member yelling from the pulpit.

    There is a certain irony in a religion that encourages larger families then wishes those children they encourage along would stay the heck out of sacrament meeting.

  4. Researcher
    August 16, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Of course there is the solution that was not uncommon in previous centuries: women with small children keep them home from church until they are old enough to sit through a meeting.

  5. dangermom
    August 16, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    With 6-8 nursery classes, no one has to be screaming for the noise level to be high. 50+ preschoolers who are doing well would still be pretty loud, with the page-turning, wiggling, ‘low’ talking, Cheerio crunching, car playing and all. Even if every parent is taking a crying child out, it’s not going to be quiet. And do we really want to tell parents to keep their little ones out in the foyer all the time?

  6. dangermom
    August 16, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Researcher, why do the *women* have to stay home for 3+ years? (Why can’t they take turns?) In a Mormon household, that would mean staying home for…well, a really really long time. Most young moms are dying to get to a Sacrament meeting, and frustrated and sad because they can never get through the whole thing. Should we really deny them any spiritual sustenance? Not to mention the problems with missing taking the sacrament for years on end.

    YOU can stay home with the little’uns. The rest of us want to go to church.

  7. August 16, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    #33 sscenter you nailed it. The irony of our community encouraging large families and then getting perturbed by the noise levels. I guess children should be seen and not heard.

    In the distant past (prior to my childhood before 1960) in Sacrament Meeting children were left at home with Mom/Dad until they were able to sit still (about age 8-10). Families with little kids attended Sunday School in the morning. The Sacrament was passed to the children in Jr Sunday School. In a ward in downtown Dallas, TX in the mid-80’s a Catholic lady was employed to watch noisy kids during Sacrament Meeting. When this practice was stopped there was quite a bit of murmuring. Cry rooms were great, but people jsut let their kids run amok and the kids did not learn to sit still ( which can take years). The foyer has replaced the cry room in modern times.

    For our family (5 kids ages 20-4) we bring dry food, cup of water, small toys, crayons and paper to occupy the younger kids. They have to put it all up during the Sacrament. If they misbehave they end up in the hall on an adult’s lap without the toys, food etc.. If I am really mad the older ones have to touch their nose to the wall a minute for every year of life.

    It is not realistic to expect children (especially little boys) to sit still for three hours. I had a professor by the name of Alvin Price at BYU in the early 1980’s who had us all do an exercise where we would sit on a table letting our legs dangle facing a blank wall and listened to someone speak in a foreign language. Most young adults could only stand this for 5 minutes or so. It was torture.
    If we are going to continue with 3 hours of church on Sunday we need to make it kid friendly for the current generation, because we are turning them off of church.

  8. August 16, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    If I remember correctly, Researcher is a woman and was probably being sarcastic. I apologize if I’m wrong, but either way judging from his/her previous posts, they’re probably being sarcastic.

    There is a certain irony in a religion that encourages larger families then wishes those children they encourage along would stay the heck out of sacrament meeting.

    Bingo. Sorry, but if you want me at church, you get my two-year-old who would probably prefer to be building Sarlac pits in the sandbox with his dad. I won’t apologize because my kid isn’t interested in the person bearing their testimony about how righteousness their daughter is for wearing a skit that actually goes below the knee.

    You can’t have it both ways, you already claim that family is important while tearing me away from them for worthless meetings and adults-only activites, you aren’t going to do the same during Sacrament meeting.

  9. August 16, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I’m all for kids learning to sit still and listen, but no amount of FHE, scripture study or family prayer is going to make a two-year-old interested in the monotone ramblings of a high councilmen.

  10. Researcher
    August 16, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the explanation, jjohnsen. [Giggle.] The hazards of a non-gender-specific screen name. And am I really sarcastic that much? [Tries to repent; doesn’t work.]

    The misunderstanding is a little funny, because in this case, I’m a mother who stayed home from church for the greater part of the past year due to a medically sensitive child. Why did I stay home with the baby? It can be explained in one word. Lactation. (Including the fact that including travel time, going just to sacrament meeting and then coming home would take approximately three hours, give or take a few minutes.)

    I like Kylie’s idea of glassing in the front of the chapel. Perhaps the glass could be retractable like the basketball hoops in the cultural hall, and could move back and forth based on the needs of the ward. One of the nursery-heavy wards might need just two or three quiet rows in the front. A big city ward might need just a few “noisy” rows in the back of the chapel, and a young single adult ward can keep it up for the whole meeting. (Unless they need a couple of rows in the back for a few people to be able to text during the meeting.)

  11. elitist
    August 16, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Sitting for an hour listening to people talk is such a poor method of teaching anyway, that I don\’t think anyone should lose sleep over spending most of their kids\’ lives in the foyer…just gotta make sure it isn\’t dad who gets to skip all of the boring talks or just mom who never gets to hear any of the spiritual messages.

    The number of talks I can remember from the past 31 years can be counted on one hand. At least the speakers generally learn something when preparing… If I tried to use 1-hour lectures with my undergrads I might as well just give them all their grades on the first day of class and call it good for all they would learn.

    To get more to the point though, I have never thought kids were the problem. The adults in my wards have always been the ones who could never get it into their skulls that if *they* talk in the chapel, not only do they make noise, but the *kids* see that it not a special place. It’s all about the adults, make no mistake.

  12. Kylie Turley
    August 16, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    So glad I’m not alone in seeing the irony. I really do understand Tim and others who want a quiet, understandable meeting (perhaps this is the reason why children don’t go to the temple?). I’m sure I’ll be there in a few years. But, if I stayed home or even just stayed in the foyer, I would not have been in church for the last 13 years. And my youngest is only 2, so we could probably tack on another couple of years just to be safe. BTW I do take them out when they cry. But I stay through quite a bit of squirming, poking, fighting, etc.

    I do know of one family in my sister’s ward in Idaho who have 4 young children and take nothing to church–no food, no crayons, nothing. The kids sit reverently the entire time; I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it on a couple of occasions. The only explanation that mom gives–husband is in bishopric on the stand–is that her kids just know that’s how it is done. I seriously wonder if we have the children from the same place.

    Researcher, the bishop in our married BYU ward (1990s) insisted it be the men who take babies out. It was doctrine from the pulpit in that ward. Loved it. Of course, he was also the bishop who insisted that the home teachers (not VT) should be the ones who arranged meals when a woman had a baby.

  13. Kylie Turley
    August 16, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    There is a single mother of one teenage child who sits behind us on a consistent basis. She brings a small bag of Teddy Grahams every week. After we’ve pulled every trick out of the bag (and, trust me, the bag is big), this fabulous woman starts hiding teddy grahams on my kids’ heads and in their sleeves. It gets us through the last fifteen minutes of sacrament meeting. In any case, Denise is my example of reverence in action.

  14. Scott Fife
    August 16, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Why is it that during Sacrament Meeting, many small children are quiet-reverent, and others are just the opposite? It seems to me it often comes down to the preparation of the parents and their training of their children for church meetings. The worst mistake any parent can make is to continually take a misbehaving-noisy child out of the chapel to the foyer. This child has just been taught that bad behavior in the chapel is rewarded with fun time outside in the hallway. Undoubtedly, this misbehavior will be repeated, in order to get out.

    When any of our young children got out of control in the chapel, one of us took the child out of the chapel to an empty classroom, and closed the door. We then beat the heck out of the kid. No just joking. We calmly sat on a chair, with the child on our lap. We folded the child’s arms and put our arms tight around the child. He wasn’t allowed to move an inch. He could cry and yell as much as he wanted, it didn’t matter. The only way he was going to be released from this unpleasant “captivity” was to behave in the chapel. In other words, it was a lot better sitting in the chapel quietly, that being held captive by mom or dad on a chair in classroom.

    I know this isn’t rocket science, but it sure worked. My wife and I had few problems with our children being disruptive in the chapel.

  15. Sara R
    August 16, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I’m glad that worked for you, Scott. I’ve been doing that since the age of 18 months with my now nearly 6-year-old adorable sweet girl (with a figurative curl in the middle of her forehead). This method worked a lot quicker with my other children. I guess parenting requires patience and humility.

  16. Researcher
    August 16, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    “Why is it that during Sacrament Meeting, many small children are quiet-reverent, and others are just the opposite?”

    It also has a lot to do with the temperament of the child. One of my five children stays with me and remains quiet and peaceful 95 percent of the time. The older three fought their childhoods through sacrament meeting despite the consistent use of tactics like those listed by Scott in comment 14. The youngest has just discovered that he doesn’t want to stay in sacrament meeting and that he doesn’t have to. All he has to do is give one loud scream and his dad takes him out. I don’t have any control over the situation since I am usually watching the antics from the organ.

    Here’s the lecture that my kids hear every week on the way to church:

    Get a drink and use the bathroom before the meeting starts.

    Sit quietly on the bench.

    Do not fight about who sits where.

    Sit quietly until the sacrament. After the sacrament you can do some quiet activities.

    Pretend you’re listening even if you’re not.

  17. August 16, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Why is it that during Sacrament Meeting, many small children are quiet-reverent, and others are just the opposite? It seems to me it often comes down to the preparation of the parents and their training of their children for church meetings.

    It also comes down to the individual personalities of the children. One of my favorite stories in this regard concerns a family that had four well-behaved children who sat quietly in church; the parents could never understand why other people’s children were so rowdy and ill-mannered–until they had their own fifth child, who was much harder to control than any of the previous four had been.

    I do know of one family in my sister’s ward in Idaho who have 4 young children and take nothing to church–no food, no crayons, nothing. The kids sit reverently the entire time; I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it on a couple of occasions. The only explanation that mom gives–husband is in bishopric on the stand–is that her kids just know that’s how it is done. I seriously wonder if we have the children from the same place.

    I’ve known a least one large family in which all the children sat still as mice through sacrament meeting without any entertaining distractions because they were terrified of what would happen to them if they didn’t. Frustrating as it undoubtedly is, a certain amount of normal age-appropriate resistance to sitting still in church isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Although I wholeheartedly agree that children should be taught to behave, overcontrolled, perfectly behaved children terrorized into silence isn’t the ideal anyone wants, either.

  18. C Jones
    August 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    We actually did “reverence practice” when my kids were small. My husband had callings that left me getting the kids to church on time by myself and sitting alone without him for most of the years that my 5 kids were small. I started by explaining what was expected and pointing out violations for a few weeks, then moved on to actually timing them– when they started misbehaving I looked at my watch and noted how long the bad behavior went on. Then when we got home, they had to sit on a chair for that amount of time with arms folded, etc. for that same amount of time– 10 or 15 minutes or whatever. Soon, all I had to do was look at my watch and look meaningfully at the offending kid. It was like magic.
    Of course, I also had activity pages from the Friend and other busywork for them during Sacrament meeting. It wasn’t like they had to sit there like robots– they were still allowed to be kids, just not noisy or fighting ones.

  19. StillConfused
    August 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    The screaming kinds only annoy me when the talk is boring anyway. If it is a captivating, engaging talk, there could be a hundred of those little demons running around and I wouldn’t notice.

    Also, I found a way to ge tmy kids to be quiet in Church. They were being noisy once and I just got up and went to the foyer by myself. They were dumbfounded and didn’t know what to do. So they sat there quietly waiting for me to return.

  20. makakona
    August 16, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    our sacrament rules: no toys, no food or drinks in the chapel unless you’re too young for nursery, sit on whatever side the bishopric does and only three or so rows back. you can look at only the hymnal till sacrament is over, then you may quietly look at whatever book you brought. and don’t you dare make mom pack up the entire family just to take you out of the chapel (dad is only rarely able to attend with us) because boy, will the rest of the day suck!

    our kids are pretty well-behaved, especially when compared, but they surely have their moments of pure rotten-ness. we were grateful to become friends with a couple who were parents to the best behaved kids ever seen in a chapel. we took LOTS of notes before our kids were born.

    sitting so close allows them to pay better attention to what is going on and we can quietly discuss it. “do you see how the boys are tearing the bread? who is speaking right now? did you hear them say jesus’ name?” i firmly believe there is a direct correlation between how far back the family sits and how rotten the kids are. the worst behaved kids i’ve ever seen in sacrament were ones whose families sat in the overflow in the cultural hall on the folding chairs. toys also get SO out of hand. i’ve seen entire backpacks of toys get dumped onto the floor. one family recently bought a full-size magnadoodle for their 2yo to use during sacrament. don’t know why they couldn’t get one of the tiny ones, but they bring it, a toddler backpack of food and toys, and a stuffed animal every sunday. rarely do they make it to the halfway point before they’re in the foyer. once the stimulation wanes, he turns rotten.

    i’m fine with some noise because hey! they’re kids! but the parents who don’t parent drive me nuts. like i said, my kids can be as rotten as the next, but they’re pretty good at keeping it in check during church because we’ve been drilling it into them since they were babies.

    and because this isn’t long enough… i started taking them with me to clean the chapel when they were three. they bring their own rag and wipe down the benches while i vacuum. we have quiet conversations about the chapel and they love getting to go onto the stand and into the sacrament room when we’re finishing up. i think it’s helped instill an extra dose of reverence for where they are. we also ask them to fold their arms when they’re walking through the chapel on sundays… hard to run or poke your sister that way!

  21. queuno
    August 16, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    When any of our young children got out of control in the chapel, one of us took the child out of the chapel to an empty classroom,

    I’m glad you live in an area that has empty classrooms during sacrament meeting. In many places in Zion, this just isn’t possible

    It may have been said already, but sleep schedules play into this. And you can’t necessarily structure 7days of sleep schedules just to make Sunday work.

  22. Kristine
    August 16, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Both the understanding of “reverence” as a particular mode of feeling/acting during Sacrament Meeting and the phenomenon of young children attending Sacrament Meeting are relatively recent (mid-twentieth-century and later) developments in our church’s history. One hopes that in another few decades we’ll evolve to the level of most Protestant churches and have a humane system with a brief children’s sermon and then excuse the kids to age-appropriate forms of (religious-flavored, if we must) childcare.

    Or we could just continue teaching children emotionally manipulative songs about how their wiggling makes baby Jesus cry, haranguing parents from the pulpit for not being able to force their children into wildly precocious quietness, and indulging in public smugness if we happen to have the kinds of children who have an easier time with this kind of self-control…

  23. August 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm


    Is your ward having Sacrament first or last in the 3 hour block?

  24. Shelah
    August 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Wow, I thought our four nursery classes was a lot. In my experience, trying to keep four kids quiet with a husband who is working more often than he’s at church, bringing a lot of stuff doesn’t help. Threatening helps only intermittently. Food helps quite a bit (our SP has designated our chapel a “no food zone” and I’m dying to ask his wife, who sits through SM with her four kids ages 0-9 by herself every week, how she feels about that policy). But feeling nervous that I’m going to drive people away or offend those who aren’t used to the din of little children is probably the worst thing. I get nervous and high-strung, which makes my kids nervous and high-strung. Which is a disaster.

    Before I joined the church, I rarely went to more than 15 minutes of our protestant church services. After a couple of hymns and a prayer, the minister called all ambulatory children (the rest were in the nursery) to the front of the chapel and addressed us directly for a few minutes, then sent us off to age-appropriate sunday school classes. When I brought my kids to my godmother’s protestant church a few years ago and they were less than perfectly silent (there’s no sound proofing in those buildings!) we were asked to leave!

    I’d rather endure noise than be asked to leave church altogether, but there could definitely be a better solution (shorter sacrament meetings, cry rooms, no church during naptime). In fact, all three of those ideas sound pretty darn great to me.

  25. August 16, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    wow. Sometimes it is so hard for me to get to church, and I do my best to keep my daughter quiet. All the while, I know someone is looking down on me for not doing enough. Well, this is one definite way to loose mothers to inactivity. I am always on the edge, and I do not enjoy church when I am chasing after a toddler who does not understand the meaning of reverence, no matter how well I try and prepare. If they say no food in sacrament meeting, I think I may have to just stay home.

  26. August 16, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Amen and Amen #23 Kristine #24 Shelah

  27. tisheli
    August 16, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Since it’s been almost two years since I’ve been to church with any regularity, a fact that is directly related to the age of my youngest child – two in September – this issue is close to my heart. Right now we’re on the 1PM schedule, and he’s down napping at 12:30 – no way can I make it to church before 2PM. Since he’s been of nursery age, I often take him at that point and leave him to snack and play with the little ones while I go to classes. I’m hoping to be able to start going to church again in January when we shift to the 9AM schedule, but my boy is very rambunctious, and if I were to get the impression that his absolutely age-appropriate behavior were *that* offensive to someone or if someone were to come along and tell me not to bring snacks, I’d probably continue to stay home.

    ITA with those who have suggested that there are contradicting expectations within the church – that we have lots of kids (and I certainly don’t fit that bill – I’ve just got two) and that our worship sessions – which run ridiculously long – be quiet and reverent. It’s cruel to expect it of the kids and unreasonable to expect if of the parents.

    Finally, many of the “discipline” (read: punishment) methods I’ve read here seem to me to be designed to make a kid hate church. I’d rather just wait for my kids to mature to the point that they can find enjoyment in the meeting before I expect them to sit reverently through more than a few minutes, like through the passing of the sacrament. I didn’t think much of sacrament meeting until after high school – I can’t imagine my 6yo being interested enough to be reverent for a long time yet.

  28. Ray
    August 16, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Haven’t read all of the comments yet, but:

    #11, last paragraph – Amen! I can handle little kids noises if they simply are active kids with reverent parents. What twists my knickers is the terrible example of some adults – and the parents who actually let their children “run wild”.

    Having said that, there is a degree of understanding that needs to apply in some situations. When I lived in AL, there was a family whose very young daughter literally was all over the place in Sac Mtg. It was distracting and annoying, until you remembered that her older brother had drowned a few months earlier in a ditch on their farm. The last thing those parents could do at that time was “discipline” their daughter during Sac Mtg.

    One more thing: We don’t have “cry rooms” attached to the chapel, but we do have rooms where people can hear the meeting if their kids simply are too loud – and where the sacrament can be administered if everyone knows those rooms are being used as cry rooms. In my ward’s meetinghouse, these are the RS room and the Primary room.

  29. August 16, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve said it before elsewhere — my time as a kid in UU services taught me how to sleep while looking like I was paying attention to the minister. I believe this is a vital survival skill that should be taught to all children as soon as they’re able to understand the concept of “pretending.” I, incidentally, was expected to be absolutely silent, with no distractions, and had my father and grandmother watching me from the choir loft (there were sometimes two or three rows of pews between me and the next person.) It helped a lot that there were no little siblings to harass me, though — it also helped that my mom and dad both did the “if you disrupt ______, you’ll go outside and be miserable” thing. It worked well on all of us except my next-youngest sister and my younger brother — they didn’t really respond well till they were six or seven. But the other four of us had it down before we started school.

    What’s odd to me are all the kids who misbehave so much, but whose moms are also constantly prodding them to be more reverent. I wish I could have watched their behavior over time, and see which person started the cycle.

  30. Kylie Turley
    August 16, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    #23 Seth: We have 11 am – 2 pm church right now. Like #21 mentioned, timing has a lot to do with things. Little babies (two naps per day) do not have any possible 3 hours stretch that doesn’t interrupt a nap and feeding. Right now we miss lunch. I try to have everyone dressed by 10:15, so we can pound down some toast and milk right before we leave–but they are still starving by the time we come home again. And, as I’m sure you can guess, starving = behavior problems. It all goes better the older they get, but–and I’m not kidding here–it used to take 3 days to recover from the Sabbath.

    #19–I love it. I just may try it.

    #20 makakona–Did you volunteer to clean the chapel? Or was it an assignment? It sounds like a good way to teach some respect for the building.

    #27 I have one friend who lives right next to her church. The baby monitor works fine at that distance and she’s left one child napping for a half-hour–because it makes all the difference. Wish it could work out better for you. Maybe in a year or so.

    I’m loving all the good ideas. Don’t you find that something works well for about 9 months and then you have to reinvent?

  31. August 16, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    No, I meant do you have Sacrament Meeting first? Or do you start with Priesthood/Rel. Society?

  32. Kylie Turley
    August 16, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    #28 Ray–I think someone said it above (about a quiet classroom to take an unruly child), but there actually are not any rooms with sacrament sound available in our building because of overlapping ward schedules. Good idea, though. It sounds like it would solve the reverence problem from most all of the angles.

  33. Ray
    August 16, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks for the reminder that many wards, especially in the Inter-Mountain West, don’t have rooms available – since there can be wards meeting simultaneously. I grew up in Utah County; I should have remembered that.

  34. August 16, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    This is the first time I have heard of a ward or stake where eating in the chapel was not allowed. We have a family history of serious blood sugar problems. I, myself, have to eat in church, as do two of my children and a couple of my grandchildren. The 11-2 schedule is almost impossible. Since we have no empty rooms in the building during Sacrament Meeting, the only places to feed these children (if we don’t feed them in the chapel) are the restroom (gross) or the foyer (in front of several other children). Believe me, a child (or an adult for that matter) with low blood sugar is not capable of being reverent in church, only cranky or incoherent.

  35. Ray
    August 16, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    #34 – I am over facilities maintenance in our stake, and the church-wide instructions are to avoid eating in carpeted areas. It’s not just a Sac Mtg thing. Of course, Sacrament Meeting is our worship service, and the chapel is our sacred space in the meetinghouse, so the counsel about food in in carpeted areas is stressed even more for the chapel. **However, diabetes and other medical necessities should be exempted every time.** My diabetic son carries food with him always, and the chapel is no exception.

    I have found in my current calling that when “no food zones” are stressed (when a “crackdown” occurs), it often is because there has been a problem in the recent past – mice, cockroaches, ants, serious cleaning costs, etc. – and the stake or FM Group has to bring it to the Bishop’s attention. Other times, it simply is a black-and-white leader who learns of the instructions and feels the need to enforce them rigidly. A happy medium generally is possible, but when the use of food gets ridiculous (literally feeding kids messy sandwiches and cans of soda, for example, and using the pew as a napkin – *sigh*) or when cleaning costs simply get out of control, draconian measures can be necessary – and I say that as a father of six. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve seen since I was given this responsibility. I hardly can believe some of it.

    We struggle with our own side of this; we rarely see the facilities side.

  36. Paula C
    August 16, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    This is such a tough subject as it is so easy to see both sides of the issue. When I cleaned the chapel last month, it was disgusting – all the fishy cracker crumbs, smooshed gummy fruit snacks, spots where juice had spilled from a sippy cup. My first thought was to call up the bishop and suggest that food be banned from the chapel. Then I was reminded about how many times fruit snacks have saved me….especially since we always seemed to have the 11-2 time slot during my kids’ toddlerhood.

    I don’t know what the answer is about the noise level in Sac Mtg. It has been a long time since I visited a service at another denomination. However, I don’t recall a high decibel level at those services. Whenever I notice how loud our meetings are, I always wonder if there are any investigators or visitors in the audience. I wonder if they are able to feel the spirit? Do they find it endearing that we have all these cute little families and overlook the noisy children or do they find it distracting?

    I don’t now much about how sound travels, but I wonder if it would be better if the families with little kids were encouraged to sit in the back half of the chapel and the people who want to listen sat closer up? Even if the sound was still an issue, there would at least be fewer distractions in terms of people moving around, parents getting up and down to remove crying babies, etc.

  37. Paula C
    August 16, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    This is such a tough subject as it is so easy to see both sides of the issue. When I cleaned the chapel last month, it was disgusting – all the fishy cracker crumbs, smooshed gummy fruit snacks, spots where juice had spilled from a sippy cup. My first thought was to call up the bishop and suggest that food be banned from the chapel. Then I was reminded about how many times fruit snacks have saved me….especially since we always seemed to have the 11-2 time slot during my kids’ toddlerhood.

    I don’t know what the answer is about the noise level in Sac Mtg. It has been a long time since I visited a service at another denomination. However, I don’t recall a high decibel level at those services. Whenever I notice how loud our meetings are, I always wonder if there are any investigators or visitors in the audience. I wonder if they are able to feel the spirit? Do they find it endearing that we have all these cute little families and overlook the noisy children or do they find it distracting?

    I don’t now much about how sound travels, but I wonder if it would be better if the families with little kids were encouraged to sit in the back half of the chapel and the people who want to listen sat closer up? Even if the sound was still an issue, there would at least be fewer distractions in terms of people moving around, parents getting up and down to remove crying babies, etc.

  38. ESO
    August 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Wow! 8 nurseries! The most I have seen (and heard) were 4 and boy, was that a restless Sacrament group.

    I find that, almost without fail, these sorts of complaints come from people whose kids are teens and older or who have never attended church with kids in their stewardship. Yet, kids and “young parents” are ALWAYS blamed. A few things I would suggest to any such complainant:

    Let’s focus on those old enough to have made covenants that need to be renewed. Are they on time? Do they show up in enough time to sit and mentally prepare for the Sacrament? Do they avoid socializing and checking in with other peoplewhile the prelude is being played? Are the speakers prepared enough that their message is timely, timed, and pertinent? Are they intent on listening for the content, not leaving for the soft chairs in the foyer?

    If they are particularly worried about a specific family (I would guess most of these complainants have some specific culprits in mind), have they considered sitting with the family to help? Have they offered to take the baby out? Have they made a relationship with the family such that help offered might be taken?

    Lastly, would Jesus really blame the kids?

  39. ESO
    August 16, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Paula C–were I told I had to sit in the back half of the chapel because I attend with children, I would laugh and ignore it. I figure anyone who REALLY wants to sit in front of me is free to get there as early as I do to choose their seat. I sit in the front because my children will be less distracted by people in front of them and my job is to teach them to be reverent. Tell me I need to sit in the back, and I would offer to switch places with you so YOU can teach the kids reverence as they have the entire ward (and all their friend’s) bad examples to learn from.

  40. Julie M. Smith
    August 16, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Kristine, I love you.

  41. August 16, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    The irony of this is too crazy. From the Worldwide Training broadcast in the roundtable discussion either sister Beck or the other one talked about a young mother’s struggles with scripture study. She had a goal for 10 minutes a day, but the kids were crying the whole time. And the advice of the leader? She was 8 minutes too long. And I keep thinking, if they realize that kids have a hard time sitting still for a long time, why oh why do we force the kids to be quiet through sacrament meeting and primary?

    And Kylie, I never appreciated that window in the methodist church until I had children of my own. I like your idea of glassing in the bishopric and a few select rows. Then sacrament meeting would be a lot less stressful.

  42. Kylie Turley
    August 16, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    #35 Ray, Thanks for the reminder about the other side of the issue. Perhaps you know the answer about volunteering to help clean. Is it done differently in different areas of the church? It seems to be since my parents regularly take their “ward turn” to help clean and nothing like that seems to come up in my ward.

    #31 Seth, My 11-2 church is sacrament first, which does help things a lot–at least as far as getting through sacrament is concerned. I feel bad for primary teachers, though. The worst time we ever had was 1-4pm, sacrament last. There was seriously no hope for that set of circumstances; rounding up no-nap kids from 1 1/2 hours of primary or nursery and then trying to have them behave reverently for the 2:45-4 pm sacrament meeting did not work even once. But I’m probably exaggerating about it being the “worst” time since my sister in Brazil had 4-7 pm church, then home so the kids could get up for school the next day. That was hard on everyone. But I guess no one was napping then, so maybe it worked better for some!

  43. E
    August 16, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    #22, well said. My solution was to take my babies/toddlers home and put them down for their naps.

  44. August 16, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Ray (#35):
    I do appreciate the problem of keeping the chapel clean. I can’t imagine bringing drinks (other than water in a sippy cup) or peanut butter sandwiches into the chapel. Of course families should always clean up after themselves (not just food, but papers, Hymn books, etc.). I think having families clean the chapel (which I believe is church policy) helps teach reverence and respect for the meeting house.

    Unfortunately, policies are often made by ward and stake leaders without considering all of the ramifications, such as the effects on reverence or the health problems of indivdual members. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing policy. Members can be taught to bring less messy food and only for those who really need it (medical conditions and very young children). A blanket ban (especially for a whole stake) only draws attention to those (like myself) who cannot comply.

    FWIW, our entire building is carpeted (except for the restrooms and the very-small kitchen), and the R.S. room is designed to be an eating area, with a pass through from the kitchen.

  45. Ryan
    August 17, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Catherine, as I said, I’m all for reasonable relaxations. We have a couple of buildings in our stake like yours, and they eat in the carpeted cultural hall. Fwiw, no leader should ever make the general restriction even tighter, and necessary situations should never be banned. (and I include very young children when meetings conflict with normal meal times, especially when travel requirements make it a 4-5 hour block, in reality)

    Having said that, many of these difficulties can be handled with some creativity and forethought for most families. Simple snack food can be eaten prior to church starting – or in the ten minutes that should be set aside between meetings – perhaps on the lawn or concrete area just outside the building. Non-crumb creating food can be brought. Tables can be set up in the cultural hall throughout the meeting block for people who need to eat something, with the sound system turned on during Sac Mtg. I know these won’t work everywhere, but generally there is a creative way to keep food out of the chapel for non-medical situations. Even minimally healthy young children should be able to go 70 minutes without eating, given some planning and creativity.

  46. Ray
    August 17, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Sorry, Catherine. My son used my computer, and I hadn’t realized he commented here before he gave it back to me. I thought he had only been reading and didn’t check the name field. That last comment was mine.

  47. makakona
    August 17, 2008 at 1:46 am

    re: #30… our ward is now the only one who meets in our building, so building cleanup is solely our responsibility. we have a signup sheet and there are five or six slots for people to volunteer every saturday morning. unfortunately, people rarely ever do sign up and the same few charitable souls are stuck cleaning every week. i try to sign up once a month and grab whatever week still has the chapel available because i think it’s a great experience for my kids. they also like that they get to go for doughnuts afterwards, which is the only time mom would ever encourage such a junk food! previous wards did cleaning schedules similarly, except you usually only got stuck with one week every several or one month every quarter or the likes.

    i’ve always tried to flex naptimes around our ward’s schedule. maybe i just have compliant babies, but it’s never been a big deal, really. more often than not, in my not-too-many years of parenting, i’ve flown solo at church. it’s a struggle, but especially once my kids were primary age, it’s very important to us that they attend with regularity. taking a chunk of time off because i don’t care for the meeting schedule or because i have a toddler just can’t be done.

    i’ve seen several families take their kids outside of the building for a quick snack after sacrament is over and i like that idea if bigger kids really can’t seem to make it the full three hours. when we meet at an awkward time, i try to cram something in my big kids as we walk out the door. if you’re meeting at a really awkward time and your kids are younger and are struggling with hunger, talk to the primary president. i’ve been in two wards who have opted to have a snack time for sunbeams and even ctr5’s because we met at a weird hour.

    worse than cleaning up cheerios or goldfish in the chapel is FINGERNAILS! seriously, who DOES that in the middle of church?! last time we cleaned the chapel, there were two separate sets of them on opposite sides of the chapel. gross!

  48. August 17, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    When I was an investigator, one of the many things I loved about the church was the low roar of kids during sacrament meeting, and how we didn’t stuff them into a nursery somewhere during it, and how people tolerated it with such patience and kindliness. I adore little kids, and I think it speaks really well for the LDS church that it’s evident from our meetings that most everyone else does too. There’s so much joy in them. Part of feeling the spirit during Sacrament meeting for me is my delight in all the children, and in their joy.

  49. Velska
    August 17, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Dittoing Scott Fife’s #14. We figured from watching other families that letting kids run wild in the foyer isn’t going to teach them anything. So we started taking the misbehaving kid to a side room with nothing fun to do and nobody to react to their mouthing off. Taught the first two that way and the rest of them were easy, since they followed the example of the older ones.

    I realize this may not be the one and only “right” solution, but it worked well for us. And it’s worth the effort to teach them as early as possible, because then they first let others learn if they wish, and then they might actually listen. We’ve had our 10-year old jotting notes from talks (with no coercion whatsoever) while some others the same age have been running around the building. Of course, the latter kind don’t always turn out to be criminals… ;)

    And ditto also to that as for me, my wife and a bunch of other people it’s not the toddlers that bug us with their squirming, rattling etc. It’s the adults, who should know better, who raise their voices when the member of the bishopric starts the meeting. I wonder why they come?

    When I’ve been in Primary (including nursery), the teachers and leaders have been pretty good at accommodating very short attention spans, so the three hours of church isn’t all Sacrament Meeting.

  50. DavidH
    August 17, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    1. “my time as a kid in UU services taught me how to sleep while looking like I was paying attention to the minister. I believe this is a vital survival skill that should be taught to all children as soon as they’re able to understand the concept of ‘pretending.'”

    Amen. Unfortunately, I did not learn this skill until I became a high priest, but boy is it handy.

    2. Loads of small children in a ward, with lots of noise.

    One of the blessings of living in a ward in an older urban area is that we enjoy the occasional outbursts of the few small children in the congregation. When our children were small and very restless in church (and trying to climb over the benches or crawl under them) a couple of older couples told us how much they enjoyed watching us wrestling with our children. And they told us that, in their opinion, small children who were restless and squirming and energetic in church services grew up to be very intelligent adults. True or not (it seems to be true in the case of our children), it was a lot of comfort. Perhaps bearing with the high noise level of a ward with 8 nurseries is a small price to pay for a future of very intelligent committed members of the Church.

  51. RachelW
    August 17, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    We’ve found the easiest way to keep our kids reverent is to get there early and sit on the side in the very front. Pews are great for helping to contain little guys: they don’t shift around the way chairs do. Unfortunately, our current little branch has no pew, and our newly walking 1yo is starting to be a challenge. When I have to take him out, the 6 & 8 yo are fairly quiet, even if they are compelled to poke each other some.
    Far more annoying to me are the cell phones going off in sacrament. Or the lady who returned a call on her cell in the foyer during the passing of the sacrament (I was out there with the baby).

  52. Jonovitch
    August 17, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Most of my thoughts are already stated above…

    1. remove noisy kids to an empty classroom, not foyer!
    2. sleep schedules and 1 p.m. sacrament mtg don’t mix
    3. the chapel is not a cafeteria, or a playroom, or a cry room (see point 1)

    …so I have only this one anecdote to share, told to me by my dad, about his dad, who was the ward organist.

    My grandpa was apparently an excellent piano player (in a jazz band in his college days), and he took organ lessons in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Each Sunday before sacrament meeting started at his ward, he would play a prelude as everyone filed into the chapel and found their places. Over the course of a few minutes, he would slowly increase the volume of the prelude (pull out a stop here, push down on the pedal there).

    Of course, as the volume of the organ would increase, so would the volume of the chatting and visiting and laughing, etc. About two minutes before sacrament meeting was to start, he would suddenly drop the volume of his organ prelude to the point that everyone realized how loud they were being, and they would sit in their pews quietly. The bishop would stand up and begin the meeting in near silence.

    I have often wished I knew how to play organ, simply so I could do that every Sunday. :)


  53. such and such
    August 17, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Been impressed by the quiet in some protestant services I’ve attended as some offer childcare or separate childrens’ service during sunday school. Many churches don’t have nearly as many children in the main worship service as mormon churches habitually do.

    I lived in moon apartments right by manavu, which we used for firesides and institute and which was remodelled a few years ago, taking out the plum tree by the parking lot :(

  54. Sue
    August 17, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Today in relief society our RS president announced that the stake RS presidency (who visited the prior week) wanted us to work on our reverence before and after relief society. The thing is, our RS isn’t really a rowdy bunch. We’re fairly sedate, just the normal quiet talking and greeting and pre/post meeting socializing. But I guess rather than talking to each other we are supposed to sit quietly and reverently, pondering the prelude music with our arms folded. Because – this makes Jesus happier? Or something?

    Apparently the Spirit is extremely timid and is frightened by the sound of women chattering. Sends the Spirit running for the hills.

    I know that I’m very immature, but three hours of sitting quietly and reverently makes me want to run screaming from the chapel. I kind of want to go back in time. I hear in Joseph Smith’s ward there was dancing.

  55. Ray
    August 17, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Reverence before and after Relief Society? Wow.

  56. Kylie Turley
    August 17, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    #54 Sue, we had a fabulous experience in RS today with the lesson on building Zion. Everyone chattered before and during the lesson (about the lesson, of course). As the teacher was wrapping up, she said with the fling of her arm, “I could just toss these notes away because what we had here today is the start of Zion–sisters talking, becoming friends, and loving each other. That seems like Zion to me.” I loved it. Of course, I have been in meetings where the chatter was so loud and distracting that you couldn’t hear the lesson. But this time it worked perfectly.

  57. Jonovitch
    August 18, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Sue (54), I don’t know about the Spirit, but the sound of women chattering sends me running for the hills. :)


  58. Researcher
    August 18, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Thanks Jon (comment 52) for the technique. I’ll have to try it next time the noise level starts building to a fever pitch before the meeting starts. Sometimes the ward is reverent before the meeting, so it wouldn’t always be necessary, but sometimes it does get really loud.

  59. Steve H.
    August 18, 2008 at 10:24 am

    One of the wonderful things about our Mormon meetings is that our congregations all know each-other well; we also have big families, and this inevitably leads to meetings which are not at the “temple” level of “reverence.” (In other words, our meetings are noisy.) In my opinion, this noisiness is basically wonderful. I have always felt that the solutions to our “reverence” problems are much worse than the reverence problem itself. They can kill a community, or an individual spirit. We should accept the fact that a quiet chapel is usually a sign of a lack of children, a congregation which is disconnected from each-other, or a result of a shrinking congregation. I enjoy temple worship, and I expect it to be quiet and reflective there. I don’t have such expectations at church on Sundays. Therefore, I am rarely let down by our generally unruly congregation. I see no reason to make any significant changes. Our lack of reverence is a direct reflection of our family-friend and close congregation.

  60. August 18, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    To be fair, you really only have to beat the one child really good; the rest of the siblings tend to fall in line after that.

  61. August 18, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    To be fair, you only have to beat the one child really good; the rest of the siblings tend to fall in line after that.

  62. CS Eric
    August 18, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    I’m in love with the idea of glassing off the bishopric. The image that came to my mind was something like a hamster cage.

    One of the things I love about our ward is how we help mothers with small children. We have a lot of little wanderers, and it is not unusal for at least a third of the nursery-age children to be sitting on the lap of somebody other than their parents during Sacrament meeting. For the last several months my wife has been in an electric wheelchair, and the little ones love to push the buttons on its controller and see the lights flash. It’s easier to help with the kids than to complain about them. I understand that in a ward with eight nurserys there may not be very many extra laps, but every little bit helps.

    I am the organist, and I don’t have a problem playing the prelude over the talking before the meeting. On the other hand, I play the postlude after the meetings at the same sound level as the prelude, and I would be surprised if anybody hears a note I’m playing. Is the need to be reverent/quiet over once the meeting is over? Shouldn’t we still take it to the foyer/anteroom?

  63. Researcher
    August 18, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Hmm. I’m of the theory that the postlude music should be loud and energetic to get the people marching straight out of the chapel to their classes. That is, of course, unless it’s been a particularly spiritual or touching meeting, then something reverent is appropriate.

  64. Kylie Turley
    August 18, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    The music comments are making me realize how much someone can promote reverence from the organ bench. When I was a teenager, we had an organist who broke into full-fledged (loud) anthems to speed us to our classes. It worked. In the Manavu chapel ward we had a graduate student in organ performance as the organist; he was so phenomenal that his day job was playing at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. He would improvise each verse of the hymns dramatically and differently; no one talked because everyone was listening. Of course, that might have caused problems because people tended to stick around in sacrament meeting listening to the postlude music.

  65. CS Eric
    August 18, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks for the tips on postlude. Maybe I’m making it too comfortable for people to stay and talk. I never considered that my job was to chase people out of the chapel. This gives me a great new challenge……

  66. Al
    August 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    If we could only bring BBQ ribs. My kids would keep quiet for about 30 minutes.

  67. Researcher
    August 18, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Portable DVD players would probably have an even better effect. Kids watching Lion King in one pew, Pocahontas in the next, the Pink Panther in another; whatever will keep them immobile for 70 minutes. (Should even work up to 90 minutes if the high councilor doesn’t mind the clock.)

  68. Bob
    August 19, 2008 at 11:12 am

    One word: Benadryl

    Then our kids could sit through Sac meeting in a stupor and the rest of us parents could have a break from having to sit on them. How would that affect the participation during singing time in primary? “Teach me to walk in the light of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

  69. Lulubelle
    August 19, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Do you know what would be heavenly? A Junior Sacrament Meeting for little kids. After the Sacrament is blessed/passed, they get excused to go to a different kid-friendly and appropriate meeting tailored just for them. Honetly, most Sacrament meetings I’ve been to are pure torture. The noise level is totally unacceptable and embarassing to investigators. Most talks are too long and incredibly boring. And three hours of church is nearly impossible for anyone, let along a small child. I vote for a 2 hour block, junior sacrament meeting, talks to go no more than 7 minutes each.

  70. Marianne
    August 20, 2008 at 2:31 am

    I think kids need to learn that the expectation is that they will sit quietly and not be disruptive, eventually transforming to actual paying attention to the speaker. Parents need to learn that this may not happen for a long long long time but it’s a goal worth having. You can see the parents who are trying–they seem prepared, they remain unflustered even with a screamer, and they react promptly to deal with whatever’s going on with their kids.

    Our bishop thought we had so many parents using the foyer as an excuse to sit and chat on the comfy couches while babies crawled around that he announced they’d no longer pass the sacrament out into the foyer. Instead, if you were out there with a kid and you wanted the sacrament, you needed to stand by the chapel door ready to take it. Also, he strongly suggested that if at all possible the dads should take the kids out. When I was a kid my dad was in the bishopric and we sat close to the front, right in front of him. There was never any doubt that if necessary he’d come off the stand and march any of us out–he developed quite a repertoire of hand signals and pointed looks to put the fear into us.

    A few years ago in my kid-full ward we had a couple with 3 kids who just seemed clueless, completely tuned out to their kids and at a loss to deal with them. I was convinced that someday we’d hear that the kids had just gobbled them up one day in some kind of Roald Dahl-Hansel & Gretel-reversal morality tale. And for the past few weeks I’ve watched one clueless couple send their 2-yr old up to “play” with another 2 yr-old. It’s been great for them because they’ve really been able to quietly take the sacrament and listen to the speakers never noticing that their daughter repeatedly instigates conflicts and that the other parents enjoy their sacrament experience refereeing and parenting 2 toddlers. It’s just unbelievable.

  71. kate
    August 20, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    re: Comment 14. My 2 year old does not have an inside voice. He tries to whisper. It doesn\’t work. He doesn\’t run, he doesn\’t move, he just talks. The entire time. In an \”outside\” voice. He plays with stickers or crayons during Sacrament meeting. My husband asked me on Sunday if I had any quiet stickers. Uh, I thought stickers WERE quiet. For this kid, stickers of clouds are just as loud as animal stickers. Commenter 14, any ideas?

  72. BR
    August 22, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    This post reminds me of a small issue we are having in my ward. In our ward we have a young Bishopric with young kids who have been known to wander up and sit on their dad\’s knees. One member of the ward felt \’the Bishop loses his mantle\’ every time his kids sit on his knee during sacrament???

  73. Marianne
    August 22, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I think that it would actually enhance rather than tarnish his authority. I’ve often wondered why more stand-sitting dads don’t get up and help out when their wives are having a terrible time with the kids. I have no problem with a kid sitting by or on their stand-sitting dad if they’re not being a spectacle. Our current bishop gave up his seat on the stand when his wife was gone for a few weeks rather than pawning his kids off on others. Is it THAT essential to have 3 men staring at us during the meeting when moms might be melting in the congregation? We’re a family church, right? Family first?

  74. Researcher
    August 22, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    “One member of the ward felt ’the Bishop loses his mantle’… (72)

    That’s so funny. Or sad. It takes all kinds to make a world, and it is never clearer than when people are exercising ignorant judgment upon each other.

  75. August 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    When our chapel was built some years ago, parents were asked not to tarnish the new building by bringing snacks for their children into sacrament meeting. They agreed. I didn’t live in the ward at the time and made no such commitment. I’ll clean up the Cheerio crumbs (right, like my kids leave crumbs) but as one of my friends pointed out, the previous generation’s covenant doesn’t necessarily apply to the current generation…much like the Anti-Nephi-Lehites! (How’s that for likening the scriptures to ourselves?)

  76. MSG
    August 25, 2008 at 2:47 am

    I think it would be great to shorten Sacrament Meeting to just the announcements and the taking of the Sacrament and then be dismissed to Sunday School where we might actually learn something and the kids as well. I think there would be more emphasis on the sacredness of the Sacrament that way.

  77. Scott Fife
    August 26, 2008 at 1:42 am

    # 71. A child speaking randomly in a loud voice while in a public place, such as: theater, restaurant, library, classroom, or Sacrament Meeting is unacceptable behavior, because it disturbs people around him. Just as a child swinging his feet while sitting on a church bench, hitting the back of the bench in front of him is unacceptable. It disturbs the people sitting in front of him. This is not cute behavior, and the child must be taught that this behavior will not be tolerated. Most of the noise occurring in the chapel should be from babies, not children.

    First, talk to him prior to Sacrament Meeting about why it is so important to be reverent and not disturb the people around him. Mention to him other children who are reverent. Emphasize that disturbing people in the chapel is not acceptable. When the meeting begins and if his loud talking continues, then follow through and take him out of the chapel and do the captive empty room technique, and repeat as necessary. The ball will be in his court. I am betting that he will choose to discipline himself, and show respect to the people around him, including you.

    I know that children can be very different and two year olds are a handfull, and I do not claim to have all the answers for all situations, but I believe as a general rule this kind of discipline or similar techniques really do work if parents stick with it. It is not harsh. The child is taught self-discipline and he is blessed as are those sitting around him. Good luck!

  78. September 8, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Kids are kids we can\’t let them act like adults. With parents sitting with them they can be controlled in loving way. We also have same problem in our branch. I suggested to let parents with kids sit at the back where nearest back door where next room is located so they can move there in case kids noise can\’t be controlled. There mommies also can fed their hungry babies Those with urinal problems should also sit at the back so others won\’t be disturbed when they need to go to the toilet. All these went to the deaf ears of our branch president.Since some members come late for the sacrament he give orders to lock the door so late comers can\’t come in? Is this the proper way to observe reverence in sacrament meeting One more thing, our church attendance has dropped. Very alarming. I need your comments and suggestions. thank you.

  79. Kim
    October 6, 2008 at 3:09 am

    I have four small children – three boys (7,5, and 3) and a one-year-old girl. They all sit still for all of sacrament meeting, most of the time – we have our bad days when they go to bed late the night before, etc.
    Sometimes people assume that we were blessed with behaved children. But we weren\’t. They\’re kids and they\’re boys. I used to get judgmental stares when my oldest was 2-3 years old, because he would frequently be noisy and run away from me. Several times, I didn\’t catch him before he made it to the stand where everyone in the congregation could see a blond head bouncing up and down in front of the Bishopric, behind the speaker, and then down the stairs on the other side.
    Then, I was given advice from my mom and a loving Bishop. Don\’t bring food or toys; they are not appropriate for sacrament meeting. I was terrified to try it, because it was all I had to keep him occupied. I gradually brought less stuff each week. I had gotten to a point where I brought a car and a bag of goldfish \”just in case\”. If it looked like he would have a meltdown, I would pull out the goods.
    Eventually, he didn\’t need any of those things anymore. Now, I allow my 7 and 5 year-olds to bring ONE small piece of paper and ONE pen or pencil to draw quietly AFTER the sacrament is passed. Sometimes, they don\’t bring anything and just sit there. I quietly play little finger and hand activities with my 3-year-old. He also likes to lay his head on my lap while I play with his hair. Again, people sometimes think he is just mild-mannered. But, I am here to tell you that he has tons of energy and has the most animated personality of any kid I\’ve ever met. Even in Nursery, I always get comments on how active he is.
    As a young mom, I also came to realize that I wasn\’t fully in control of my child; not just in church, but also at home. I was afraid to take him anywhere. Once I learned how to be in charge of my child and teach him that I was the authority, he was easier at home, at church, at the store, anywhere. I am strict in a loving way, and my kids respect that.
    Don\’t assume that behaved children were born that way. Some are, I suppose. But mostly, they are trained by their dilligent parents, as are mine.
    Don\’t be afraid to lose the cheerios….and the crayons….and the toys. Trust me, it makes sacrament meeting easier, not harder. Kids become dependent on those things, then they can\’t sit still. Teach them that there are times when they have to sit and do nothing. It is a great skill for everyone to learn. It will make church a better experience. And it makes other outings easier, as well. As a side note, I bring a snack, some board books, and a bottle or sippy cup for my little one in case she needs them. But in another 9 months or so, I won\’t anymore :)

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