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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Confesses Discomfort in Church Cry Room

DEAR ABBY: My family recently moved to a new state and was blessed to find a wonderful new church to attend near our home. There's only one drawback. We have a young toddler, so we sit in the cry room during Mass. At our previous church, the cry room was a place for us to practice church etiquette with our son so that we could someday sit with the rest of the congregation without disturbing the Mass.

The culture at this church is different; the cry room seems more like a playroom. Seeing all the other children running around makes keeping my toddler sitting in the pew nearly impossible (think major meltdowns). If we allow him to play with the other children, we spend the Mass feeling like we've failed as Christian parents. The result is that neither my husband nor I has felt fully present at a Mass in months. Do you have any suggestions for how to reconcile this issue? -- MISSING MASS

DEAR MISSING MASS: From where I sit, you're not only being overly hard on yourselves as parents, but also your small child. Please discuss this with the priest at your new church. Allowing your child to be a child isn't "bad Christian parenting." Few toddlers have a long enough attention span to sit through Mass. The cry room is designed to be like a playground so the children will learn to enjoy going there every Sunday and want to keep coming back until they're old enough for Sunday school. And that's a GOOD thing.

P.S. A way for you and your husband to focus on the Mass each Sunday would be to alternate taking your child to the cry room.

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