The long thank-you

iStock 000010736291XSmall The long thank youMy six-year-old son is usually bored at Mass. For a couple years now I’ve been trying to find ways to draw him into it, but he can’t get past the fact that it’s not fun.

Honestly, it’s not always easy for me, either. I’m not usually bored, but I’ve experienced a wide variety of other unpleasant sensations: I’m often tired, and sometimes feel restless and anxious for church to be over. It is not uncommon at all for me to spent most of the service feeling extremely frustrated by the behavior of my son’s three younger sisters. (The other day I spent a fair amount of mental energy wondering if someone who specializes in dealing with rabid hyenas might be able to assist me in keeping certain toddlers in line at Mass.)

As a 33-year-old woman, I can get over all of this. Even on the very worst days (like, say, this one), I can muster up enough spiritual maturity to have at least a little awe at the idea of God made flesh in the Eucharist. I can stand in grateful humility before the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice for my sins, even when I’m otherwise out of sorts. I can usually even meditate on how cool it is that the communion of the Mass binds all the Body of Christ together, that I’m communing not only with God but with everyone from the saints in heaven to some little only lady in a church in Zimbabwe!

But try explaining all that to a six-year-old boy.

None of it resonates with him. I’ve kept trying to find ways to make this stuff come to life for him, to make him see church for the amazing experience it is. We’ve sat on the front row so that we can see all that’s going on, I let him bring colorful books about the life of Christ to peruse during the homily, I have him participate in all the prayers and listen during the Bible readings, I lean over during the consecration and let him know when the bread becomes Jesus, etc. Last week, yet again I threw all my powers of wordsmithing and imagination to make it interesting and exciting to him, and…nothing. He was still bored.

As we walked back to the car, my son visibly happy that church was over, I said a prayer that he might eventually be drawn into the holy sacrifice of the Mass. And, as soon as I said it, something clicked. I thought of a new way to explain the Mass to him that I’d never tried before.

“What would you do if someone bought you a present?” I asked.

“Say thank you?” he offered, not sure where I was going with this.

“OK, now, what if it were someone you’d hurt very badly, and he still bought you a present? Do you think you might give him an even bigger thank-you?”

“Yeah!”

“Now, what if you’d done something that hurt him really super extra badly, and he bought you the most awesome present in the world — like your own jumbo bouncy castle?”

“Whoa!”

“You’d spend even more time thanking him, right?”

“A ton!”

“But wait…what if you didn’t feel like it? What if it made you feel bored to spend all that time saying thanks?”

“It wouldn’t matter.”

Finally, I had a way to explain it: “Well, that’s how it is with church,” I said. As my husband helped all the other kids into the car, I talked to my son about what Jesus has done for us, and pointed out that one of the many reasons we go to Mass is simply to say “thank you.” And when you’re giving thanks for something enormous and undeserved, it takes a while — and how you feel about it is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if it’s not fun.

It may not have instantly instilled him with a burning desire to spend all his time in the church, but I did see a flicker of understanding in his eyes. I think the inspiration to explain it that way was an answered prayer, and it’s one I’ll keep in mind next time I’m holding a fussy baby and eyeing the exit door in what seems like the 1,000th minute of church. When I can only barely work up inspiration about all the other amazing aspects of the Mass, I can simply think of it as the long thank-you.

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78 Responses to “The long thank-you”
  1. Monica says:

    What a great idea! When my daughter was 5 (she’s 7 now), she started complaining about going to Mass. I was completely taken by surprise — I thought I had 10 more years before needing to deal with that! I tried a whole bunch of things, none of which worked. Then I decided to try the Vision books for kids from Ignatius Press. I started using them as daily read-alouds, and it has really changed things a lot. She now has a special devotion to St. Therese, and loves any story with Marian apparitions.

    But I think I’m going to try your method, too, because she still doesn’t always LOVE going to Mass (though she has stopped complaining about it), and anything that encourages her is a good idea.

    Oh, and an additional benefit: I have read many more stories of the saints, too, in reading the books to my daughter, and even though I knew some of them, they’re always so inspiring!

    • Dean says:

      While i think the “thank you” response is great, one of the things I miss after leaving a Protestant church for the Catholic Church is church day care while small children could be supervised and play away.

  2. Marian says:

    Wonderful, Jennifer!

  3. I love this–for your son (and maybe my future children someday), and also for myself. It’s so easy to forget the purpose of attending church/mass sometimes, or to feel like it’s all about *me*: what am *I* getting out of this? I think of it as an act of obedience sometimes (and when I’m feeling especially martyr-y, of sacrifice, which when I write it out like that is so awful) but I’ve never quite thought of it as a thank-you. I love that. How humbling to think that our thanks can matter to God.
    Kelly @ The Startup Wife recently posted..When my dad gets involved in my writing

  4. Teresa says:

    Jennifer -

    Children are interested in things that they see as important. Your son at six is going to laser in on what he sees as meaningful, very important, worthy of his attention.

    Don’t put focus on his attention or behavior at any particular Mass.

    Focus on his religious education. Daily, not weekly. Focus on sharing your faith, continuously. Focus on raising your son in your faith tradition, so that every day’s experiences are seen in its light. Immerse your son in the faith, as a way of life.

    This is difficult, in The World. Rise to the challenge.

    As an integral part of your son’s education (including continual discussion and experience), he will learn what the Mass is and understand its importance. He will still have his six-year-old wigglies to contend with … but he will want to contend with them, because there will be something drawing him in.

    Is your son reading on his own yet? I might be able to recommend some books.

    If not, it’s a lot of talking. (Come to think of it, even if he’s reading well, it’s probably still a lot of talking.) But never begrudge a moment of that talking. It’s very important. It’s your vocation as a parent.

    The hardest transition of my parenting life was six years ago, when my son was seven. I realized that he needed me just as much as he ever had. Meeting his needs required mental energy on my part, not so much physical energy … but just as much energy, and more importantly for me, JUST AS MUCH TIME.

    Parenting is a sacrifice of your own life. It will sanctify you. It will require impossible sacrifices. It will lead to rewards unimaginable until you get there.

    But astoundingly, I believe that it is through parenthood that God leads so many parents to Him.

    God is so Good. He is so merciful and His love for us is so boundless. Thank you, Lord, Amen.

  5. What a beautiful analogy, Jennifer. I’m 20, and have no excuse to feel the way your son does – but every now and then. . .like, this morning. . .that “Ugh. I don’t want to do this. I’m BORED.” feeling creeps in. I’m not confirmed yet, so I can’t participate in the Eucharist with the Church Universal – but I am humbled at the idea of a really long thank you. Thank you for sharing.
    Kassie Rutherford recently posted..I kissed dating goodbye but couldn’t handle the separation anxiety

  6. Jackie says:

    Ahhh Jen! That’s a beautiful explanation and nice way to put it but I agree with Theresa, I wouldn’t worry about them being bored . As long as you are faithful in going to Church every Sunday . Does your church have sunday class for children ? You know , when they go to their special room outside of the sanctuary and learn the gospel from some kind volunteer ? Did he make his first communion yet? There is a lot that the church offers for kids I think . You could help him with memorizing certain prayers if he doesn’t already know them like the act of contrition . Just my two cents .

  7. We have been struggling with our 5-y-o on this issue for quite some time now. I’m not satisfied with sitting still/being quiet; I want him participating, and he’s been *so* resistant. Various liturgy friends have suggested that this is my button and he knows how to push it (I’m a choir director & former liturgy director), but be that as it may, I can’t stand by and let him drift through his childhood just *hoping* that eventually he gets it! I like your take.

  8. Julia says:

    Good for him for getting it that you still need to say thank you! There are a lot of adults who still don’t get it that you can (and must) do the right thing regardless of your feelings. Related: when my kids ask “Why do I have to say I’m sorry when I’m not?” I tell them that sometimes your words lead your heart in the right direction.

    I tell my 6yo that the reason he’s bored is that he doesn’t understand (yet) what’s really happening at mass. And as he starts to understand, he will go from thinking mass is the worst thing all week to the most important thing.

    I agree that cultivating his relationship with God, praying together, and talking about faith are the key. And we pray frequently, “Jesus, help me love holy Mass.”
    Julia recently posted..When you cant make things better for your child

    • Tara Seguin says:

      Oh Julia! I LOVE your explanation of apologies. That is going to be one less battle for me as my kids get older… :-)

      Jen – bouncy castles! I love it!

  9. Nadja says:

    Little boys are a plague at Mass! I had just gotten out of confession, pouring out my heart to Father about how I didn’t think I was getting my love of God across to my kids, and how I feared they would abandon the faith one day. So I go out to do my penance. And my 5 year old, already bored with the rosary being recited, slides along the pew to me, leans in and says, “When I grow up, I don’t think I want to be Catholic!” Just shoot me now, kid, and get it over with!

    He also is the skeptic: “Mama, part of me believes in God and Angels and stuff like that, and part of me doesn’t.” I told him to just keep praying to believe, and to pray as if all of him believed, and that God will do the rest. But he is a constant thorn in my side when it comes to Mass!

    • Trish says:

      Don’t throw in the towel yet:) My 10 year old, who collects holy cards of Saints and used to want to be a nun, is worried that she may be “doubting” because Jesus seems just too good to be true. I reminded her that St. Thomas, the Apostle, who saw Jesus do miracles, love His enemies, and preach forgiveness for three years, had moments of doubt. We all at one time or another question what we believe, but God is faithful to the one who seeks Him. That’s what I told my 10 year old. By the way, remember that “doubting” St. Thomas eventually believed wholeheartedly, spread the Gospel to India, and endured death for the faith. I hope the most we and our kids have to endure is “the squirmies” at Mass:)))

  10. Barbara says:

    Awesome. Do you think that explanation would work with teenagers? I had to separate two in Mass yesterday. Sigh. Truly it never ends.
    Barbara recently posted..Seven Quick Takes Friday – Late- Late Edition

  11. Megan says:

    What a wonderful explanation! God truly does answer prayer! :) I am going to file this away for when my kids need to hear this someday.
    Megan recently posted..His Temptations

  12. Leila says:

    That was a wonderful illumination from on high, no? Great job explaining it!
    Also, I echo those who say not to sweat it. It’s normal for kids to be “bored” at mass, but the important thing is that they know it’s “what we do” and who we are. Eventually, it will stick, and they will get it. That has been my experience.

    By the way, we have eight kids and I have no shame in saying that we often do split shifts for mass (leaving the littlest ones at home), and when we do have our smaller ones with us, we often take advantage of child care (we call it “church school”). Some of the wee ones are teens now, and this approach has not harmed their faith, but it has preserved my sanity.

    Anyway, great post!
    Leila recently posted..Catholics- you must understand this!

  13. 'Becca says:

    That’s a great explanation, and I’m so glad you found a way to get through to him!

    In The Episcopal Church, any baptized person is allowed to receive Communion. My son began receiving right after he turned 3, and it’s been amazing to watch his faith develop by leaps and bounds ever since. He’s 5 3/4 now. I’ve been watching the same process in two friends who are 3 and 4 and recently began receiving. It’s hard to imagine having to make this happen without the Eucharist until age 7! Of course there are other strategies, like practicing liturgical songs at home and on the way to church, and reading from the Bible regularly…but the Eucharist has been key for him, as it was for me when I became an Episcopalian as a teenager.
    ‘Becca recently posted..Christian Childrens Television

  14. Karie says:

    Thanks Jennifer. It brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful way to explain what we are doing in Mass – for any age. I’ll try this when I get the “don’t wannas” at church.

  15. Hermit Mama says:

    Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.
    Hermit Mama recently posted..Movie Queue Monday- Defying Gravity

  16. Margo says:

    Jennifer, I don’t have children but if I did that would be the perfect strategy. I’m happy to hear that you spent the time talking to your son and explaining things to him. It probably made a world of difference! I thought what Barbara said was cute (about the two teenagers!)
    Margo recently posted..109th Street – Part Three

  17. Doris says:

    What a great way to put it. As a lifelong Catholic who is often ashamed of herself for being bored-anxious-disengaged-tired-did-i-mention-bored? in Church, I truly appreciated this outlook.
    Doris recently posted..Shining Star

  18. Paul says:

    What a great answer to prayer. Semi related to this – the only complaint I have at church is the super long pre-final blessing announcements – as a parent of 3 young ones I’m usually in full damage control mode by then and the fact they always seem to have a long winded speaker is just brutal. I came from a parish that did all their announcements before mass started (way more appropriate IMO I like to leave mass contemplating on the Eucharist and not the bake sale they just announced) so it’s taking a little getting used to.

  19. Salome Ellen says:

    Maybe, as a relative “newbie” you aren’t aware that the word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek “eucharisto” (ευχαριστω) which means “I give thanks.”
    Salome Ellen recently posted..Word and Question 4 aka The Poetry Game

  20. Aubrey says:

    Well said! We struggle with our children here and there. Although they behave well, they still appear to be bored. We ordered Magnifikid and it doesn’t seem to make a big difference but I’m hoping it will because my older two girls (8 and 7) can read, so they can follow along with this well-written weekly mini-magazine.

    Mass is truly the biggest, best thank-you we can offer our Heavenly Father. After Mass, the children walk back toward the vestibule where the priest kneels and prays with them afterward. Everyone prays: O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament divine, etc. I heard a visitor lean over and ask her friend, “Do they do that every week?” Yes, they do. Every Mass! The children look forward to it. :)
    Aubrey recently posted..Dave Matthews Band Part 2

  21. Shelly W. says:

    What a great explanation! I will definitely remember this one. :)
    Shelly W. recently posted..A Word to Parents of College Students

  22. Jennifer says:

    I think it’s ok for children to be bored at Mass. Children are bored by a lot of things that adults do, like going out to dinner and having to listen to adult conversation, etc. But the real issue is not to give up and give in to the children’s boredom by not going to Mass. I always told my children that we do this because we are Catholics. As they grow in maturity and come into the fullness of the Church, they will understand it more. I’m 44 and I’m still learning about it. It’s a life long endeavor.

  23. Michelle says:

    I love it! What a great way to present it. I have three girls before my son…and as you are noticing they are much different. My girls behave and my oldest is very spiritually mature. But I am so glad to now have this explanation in my brain for future use!!
    Michelle recently posted..Monday Mumbles

  24. Sister Lynn says:

    This is wonderful… my 7 year old niece was at Mass and stage whispered to my sister “I don’t like this” … my sister said “don’t like what?”
    “I don’t like this M-A-S-S!”

    My sister said she was sure that the nuns behind them couldn’t spell.
    I am going to pass this post on to her!
    Sister Lynn recently posted..Dreaming

  25. Geomama says:

    We’re struggling with the same thing with our 7 year old. He’s preparing for First Communion, but he just doesn’t get it. I’m hoping something will click before May. One book I find helpful is “The Weight of the Mass.”
    Geomama recently posted..Beaded hoops with crosses

  26. Lana says:

    Wow, this is a great insight for kids and parents. Thank you!

  27. Laura says:

    Thank you! That was beautiful and will help me with my 5 and 7 year olds. God bless
    Laura recently posted..7 Quick Takes – Back to School Edition

  28. Cathleen says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Loved this conversation with your son, and your inspired explanation. As your children get a little older, the preface to Matthew Kelley’s Rediscovering Catholicism has an amazing analogy that really resonated with my pre-teen daughter. I enjoyed your RCIA talk via your blog, and have “liberated” the quote about the teachings of the Church being a prescription for life. Please keep up the wonderful writing – you are touching so many lives!

  29. Dave says:

    As a father of six ranging in age from 21 to 5, I still don’t know much. But one thing I have figured out is that regardless of how much time we spend explaining (or trying to think of better explanations for) the Mass, the Sacraments, the Catholic Faith, the primary thing we need to do for our children is PRAY for them, especially in the world they live in now. They each have free will and will need to have their own encounter with Christ to enable them to stand strong against the temptations of “the world, the flesh, and the Devil.”

    All that said, that was a very good explanation. Another is that the Mass is a representation of Christ’s sacrifice, and so is our participation in the turning point of history.

  30. Brianna says:

    LOVE this! Such a great perspective. I think sometimes we expect to be entertained or moved or whatever during a church service, when really…we are there to worship God. This is one reason I am so grateful to be part of a liturgical church now (as opposed to the nondenominational church we used to attend.)
    Brianna recently posted..First Bible a giveaway I want to tell you about!

  31. Kristin says:

    We have a few videos and the music CD by Fr. Antoine: http://www.childrenofhope.org/productinfopage.html Sometimes he is on EWTN which my kids really enjoy the other afternoon programs too.

    My kids (6 and 4 yr girls, not so much the 2 yr boy) like the Fr. Antoine stuff a lot and I find it often helps them get into a more charitable mode and mindset of thinking of God. My oldest will ask to visit a church to say a Hail Mary (that’s as long as we can last) after watching the video. They enjoy these little 5 min trips to church to say hi to Jesus as we are out doing errands. Often, the church is empty during the day, so the toddler activity and noise being disruptive for others isn’t a big worry for me during those visits as opposed to the local adoration chapel. I just have to keep the youngest from taking a bath in the big holy water font. :)

    Thanks for sharing your insight. I plan to use it too.

  32. MelanieB says:

    What a beautiful moment of answered prayer! I love it when things just click like that.

    This reminds me of a conversation I once overheard between a college friend and his younger sister, who was in high school at the time and expressing the same feeling of being bored. He told her we don’t go to Mass to be entertained but to give thanks and to praise and to worship. Mass is only boring if you don’t know what’s really going on: heaven comes down to earth and God becomes truly present.

    He also realized that a huge part of her problem was a lack of understanding of what the Mass is about and of what is going on during each part of the Mass. When it’s all just a jumble of words that you recite by rote without understanding, of course Mass is boring.

    I wonder if it might further help your son if you broke the Mass down into its parts for him and translate each part into its basic action, help him understand what each one is for: Now we are thanking God, now we are asking for his help, now we are telling him we are sorry we hurt him, now we are telling him how much we love him, now he is telling us how much he loves us, now we are giving him gifts, now he is giving us a gift in return. I don’t necessarily mean to do this during Mass; but slowly over the course of several weeks read over the Mass parts and discuss in very broad terms the meanings of the various prayers. And then repeat and repeat because of course he won’t learn it in just one go.
    MelanieB recently posted..Reading Round the Net

  33. Ellen says:

    Great idea! I’ll be using this at church when its my turn to deal with bored little boys… =)

  34. Victor says:

    I have 4 kids under 6 and I can’t tell you the last time I got to enjoy Mass. This was good.
    Victor recently posted..The Real Crusades

  35. Ann says:

    Jennifer – beautiful explaination! I am going to try this with my almost 5 year old – he is bored too. We go to a fairly big church – but I have noticed he really likes small chapels and lighting candels and getting close to the altar and checking it out. We do this when mass is not going on.

    Also – I tried to leave you a comment about the grocery store incident but had technical difficulty. I just wanted to say I relate to you and the only thing that works is beign more proactive – you need to speak up in a polite way “excuse me – I need some milk – thank you”. I have noticed the women who get heard are the ones who sound like Ducks – so you have to quack it out – not to be rude, but to be heard –
    “excuse me – I need to get to that milk – thank you” – pretend you are an older woman who lives in the city and is a little pushy.

  36. Shannon says:

    Jennifer, you might look into the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for all your kids. It’s a Montessori-based approach to religious education.

    In our parish, children are included from day one. They are invited to ring the bell that summons people into church. They bring food for the food bank and deposit it in a basket near the altar while the collection is being taken up–even the babes in arms, so there’s not a time they don’t remember NOT doing it. Teenagers take responsibility for being the liturgical ministers at one Mass once a month, not a “teens only” Mass, but at the regularly scheduled events.

    When children are being prepared for the sacraments, they are called forward, named, and blessed by the community. Part of their religious education is getting to know the place where their Catholic family worships, so there are always small tours going on after Mass, an older child with a younger one by the hand.

    I think it helps too that the L’Arche community is part of our parish. We’re used to hearing the laughter of Bobby who is in his late 20s now and has no other words to express himself. There’s a man from L’Arche who wears his bicycle helmet to Mass so he doesn’t injure himself. Can I tell you how delighted he was when another man showed up wearing a bike helmet? The second man had had a stroke and needed to protect his head as well.

    Most of all, we are a singing parish and it’s not uncommon to hear the kids outside after Mass singing the “Alleluia” or the “Lamb of God” in English or Spanish or an African language.

    Will they go through the “I’m so bored” routine. Sure they will. We all do. But in the meantime, they know they belong, they know the words of our common songs, they know they have a part to play.

    • giarose says:

      I was going to comment about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as well. Two of of my boys have been going for the past three years. I know your parish has it as well. At the parish where I take my boys they are doing all three levels (ages 3-12) together because “that’s how families are” :) I’m looking forward to when all three boys can go together! It has really made a difference in their behavior during Mass (they are now 6 and 4 yrs old). They know what is going on, they recognize the sacramentals being used, and are much more engaged. And they now think about Mass when they are not there! They often pretend to hold “Mass” at home and will do “Eucharistic processions” in the yard and through the house and sing, “Alleluia” with a huge cross my son made out of scrap wood. I’m not saying CGS will cure all disobedience/squirming/boredom ills during Mass, but it sure has helped!

      Another great idea from a friend, which I have yet to implement, is to find out the entrance hymn for Mass each week and sing it with the children the week before, as well as the responsorial psalm.

  37. Great explanation and you presented some good insights on the Mass.
    You might want to study the life of Saint Dominic Savio and present some of it to your children.
    Dominic was about 5 years old when he acted like a Saint.
    He also had some fantastic quotes for children.
    God Bless your efforts
    Brother Joseph
    Bob and Penny Lord Ministries

  38. Linda says:

    Jennifer,
    When my children were very young (like yours are now), I found it helpful on Sundays if I had found the time to go over the readings with them during the week before. Do one a night (so four nights, including the psalm) and talk about what they mean. After a while, the children realized that not only the readings, but Father’s homily sounded familiar, too, because our talk about meaning was often part of his homily. If you know what musical setting the psalm will be, it’s helpful to sing it with them on “psalm night.”

    Most of the time when children are frustrated with the Mass, it’s because they really can’t follow along. If they begin hearing phrases they recognize, it’s much easier for them.

    And when they were too young for the above, I found some lovely PAPERBACK (aka: quiet) Bible picture books and story books so they had something to enjoy at their level (the books were NEVER available except at Mass).

  39. Marie says:

    What a great job explaining to your son! I highly recommend getting the CD called CatChat (Catholic Chat) for Kids. They have different CD’s for different topics like Mary, the Saints, and my favorite was the Mass. The CD explains what the Mass is all about and they do it at the children’s level. They even have great music to go along with it! My kids enjoy them so much. Hope you try it out.

  40. Laura says:

    Aha! Granted, my sister is sixteen and not six, but she’d asked me just why people are supposed to go to services, after I told her they’re not meant to be entertaining. Your explanation was simple, yet it really explained everything. My explanation, “because you have to”, probably wouldn’t have cut it.

    I also often find myself explaining to my friends why I go. (They’re not being mean; they really don’t understand.)
    Laura recently posted..A Fantastic Life- a Fantastic Lie

  41. Paula Spears says:

    Well, I have a 21 year old son who still acts bored at Mass, which concerns me a lot…

    I also have two reasonably faithful teen daughters and two EXTREMELY bored six year old twin daughters. I think their lack of English hampered them at first, as they have only been home from Ethiopia for a year. We do let them read “church” books and they like them. I think I’ll try the Vision books someone mentioned above. I think one of the most important things to do is to keep taking them to Mass even though it’s not always fun for you, the parent, and also to make them participate. Try to say the prayers, sing the hymns, kneel during the kneeling times. And remember that kids are kids. Let them see you pray. Sounds to me like you’re doing pretty well. :)
    Paula Spears recently posted..A glass of milk

  42. Pete says:

    Thanks Jennifer. This was an excelling insight and will be helpful in increasing my own appreciation of, and participation in, the Mass.

  43. Kathleen Moore says:

    Always a challenge. I recently read the intro to Kelly’s Rediscovering Catholicism to my 10-year-old, in an attempt to explain why we go to Mass every Sunday. I think it hit home. Sitting close to the altar helps, too.

  44. gb says:

    A few months back I was trying to explain to my 8 yr & 10 yr girls why its important to say the Rosary & stay close to Mary. We had had the same discussions many nights at bedtime without much progress. Then I thought of saying, “What would happen if we went to the Mall to go shopping & you both ran away from me & wouldn’t stay with me?” The youngest said, “I’d be lost & scared.” The oldest said, “I’d probably cry.”

    Then I said, “That’s what happens to you in life if you don’t stay close to Mary because she’s your mother in heaven. She will always take care of you but its better if you pray to her everyday so you can stay by her, like you do with me when we go to the Mall.”

    I’m happy to report we haven’t had to have anymore of those bedtime discussions since I said that. Must’ve been my angel inspiring me!

  45. Jennifer,

    What a great way to explain it!

    My husband and I recently transferred to another Anglican parish because we were made to feel very unwelcome because our toddler acted like…a toddler (although the most well-behaved toddler I’ve ever seen). Our new parish is great for kids. We have Sunday School for adults and kids before Mass, then the younger kids go to Children’s Chapel where they participate in a kid-oriented version of the readings, prayers, and homily. They get to light the candles, pass around a prayer pillow, and sing. Then during the Peace, they enter the church to join their parents. At this point, my son is usually more worn out, and he enjoys putting money (his own that he gets for helping out at home) in the offering plate, and going up with us for Communion (he just receives a blessing). I can see that he wishes he could receive, but he will be waiting for First Communion.

    This is a much better method, IMO, for limiting boredom than our previous parish offered. When he’s old enough to understand your “Thank you” lesson, I’ll be sure to share it with him (he’s 2.5)

  46. whimsy says:

    Everyone will think I’m crazy, but I have six kids under 12 and we’ve been going to Mass every Sunday and Wednesday for ten years. It’s not always easy, but I definitely think it’s contributed to the kids’ behavior at Mass. We always sit in the same spot so that people who are annoyed by us can choose to sit far away from us.

    Also, now that they’re a little older, talking about the readings coming up has been fruitful, as well.

    It’s a quiet discipline that has been borne out of habit. Not that “only” habit is a good thing, but virtue is a “habit of doing good”.

    Catechism in Catholic circles tends to almost focus entirely on the intellectual; devotions like Mass and Rosary helps balance out the intellectual with the spiritual.

  47. B. says:

    Sorry for responding so late, but I would like to add one aspect.

    When I was a kid, I was bored at mass. As soon as I was a teenager, I stopped going to church and drifted away from the faith.
    After my conversion in my 20s I started going to church again, and at first, I was in awe. However, after about half a year I realized I was bored again at mass, and I knew that was absolutely wrong, but I just couldn’t do anything about it. So I started to look around and went to a Traditional Latin Mass. I have been going there for five years now, and can honestly say that I have never been bored again at mass. Sometimes I even wonder if I would have kept the faith if I had gone to a TLM as a kid.

    I have since heard it from many parents that their kids think the TLM is less “boring”, and they are much better behaved there. I don’t know how to say it without sounding like a rad-trad, but I somehow have the feeling, that the Novus Ordo is inherently boring especially for boys and men (ever noticed the male-female ratio in church?).

    These are just my personal experiences and what I have heard from other people. I do not want to come off as pushing people to the TLM.

  48. Lucia Maria says:

    My nine year old son told me he gets bored at Mass earlier this year. I told him when that happens to him, to imagine all the angels that are there. There’s a guardian angel that comes in with every person that is present. As well, there are heaps of extra angels in adoration on the altar, that are there even when the church is empty. And, when the priest tells us to lift up our hearts, that’s when Heaven comes down to us and we lift our hearts to Heaven, and so the Mass becomes a window through Heaven to Jesus on the Cross. Even though we can’t see all of that, that’s what’s happening.

    It seems to have helped.
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  50. Helen Chris says:

    Most kids are not really into mass because what they most like is games and toys…
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  51. Abril says:

    A very inspirational article you got here. I myself was touch with what you have explained to your kid. I will definitely use this to give my kids something to think about every time we go to church.
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  52. sammygirl21 says:

    LOL I can relate to that. When my 2 sons where in their toddler years they too are like that. They complain, twist their body make unnecessary noise or even pinch you and they yawn almost 20 times. We all go through this stage, but little by little they will get used to it. It is also a practice to their patience.
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  53. sophie says:

    this is indeed very motivating.. parents should always let their kids know how important it is to go to mass because nowadays, children seem to forget the real value of it

  54. sophie says:

    this is indeed very motivating.. parents should always let their kids know how important it is to go to mass because nowadays, children seem to forget the real value of it :)
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  55. King says:

    it’s a great reminder for every parent to keep their kids active in mass.. i guess people somehow forget about the value of being a good catholic and the responsibilities of being one
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  56. briannaadamson says:

    this is inspiring. i will remember this and will surely be shared with my future children and on my end as well.
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  57. Belle says:

    Sometimes the best feeling in the world is getting to say thank you and be thanked for what you have done, while expecting nothing in return. God truly works in mysterious ways.

  58. Alyssa says:

    Jennifer..

    I was deeply moved by the way you were enlightened by God in finding a way to share your faith to your son. Really, I can never find another explanation much better than you did to a 6 year old. With that, I salute you and I wish you more blessings.

  59. Kendra says:

    God really works wonders. To hear your story and how you managed to enlighten your son about God’s kingdom is fantastic. Knowing you WERE and atheist before, I’m sure God really appreciates you efforts in this world dear.
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  60. Alyssa says:

    I hope that your son will grow up bearing the light of faith that you have instilled in him. May God bless you so much.
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  61. Feely says:

    You remind me of my grandmom. So faithful to God in so many ways. She managed to inculcate in our minds the faith of God at such an early age. I owe her alot in my faith to God now.
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  62. Nayumigrante says:

    It is right to give God a lots of thanks.. We are nothing with out Him…
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  63. Suzie says:

    wonderful, that was a very nice way to explain it to a kid. thumbs up!
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  64. Fara says:

    Excellent.It is really nice for us mums to talk with our little one , in a proper way and attitude.I salute you.
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  65. Kisha says:

    Great. Do you think that explanation would work with teenagers? Now a days I don’t think so.

  66. Betty says:

    aww you’re a very sweet mom. i love how you explain it to a 6 year old kid. you really made him listen to you. good job!
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  67. Faye says:

    Great shoot thanks for sharing this i really like the pictures…
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  68. desperadas says:

    Well, we should really expect for our children not to understand what is the reason what is a Mass all about.. It’s the parents’ obligations

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  69. Marcella says:

    i love your article, this happens a lot. and i like how you explain it to a kid :) you’re a great example to parents.
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  70. Pia says:

    God really answer prayers, there are only 3 possible answers to all our prayers YES, NO, and WAIT.. so that’s why we should not stop praying. I enjoyed the story :)
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  71. nikkilao says:

    A very inspiring article you’ve here. II’ll certainly take advantage of the to supply my kid something to think about every time we visit chapel. myself was touch in what you’ve referred to for the kid.
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  72. nikkilao says:

    This article is very touching. I myself don’t have the time to visit church much so definitely my wont be interested as well. Thank you for inspiring me and help me out.
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