Behaving in Church

Crunchy Con (a.k.a. Rod Dreher) had an interesting post Sunday about a church service in lovely England that was almost ruined by the antics of a squirrely little boy.  I couldn't resist commenting (I'm near the end; I don't know how people get to read these things the minute they go up!)  I usually can't stand reading comments on his site, because some of the people are so spiteful and vitriolic I wonder why they're reading in the first place.  But in this case, I really wanted to know what everyone had to say, and they were all very thoughtful and polite.

I don't want to reproduce my comment here, but what I said was similar to what others had already said: it's wrong to condemn the parents outright, but also wrong to allow a child's behavior to impede worship for others.  I also thought, later, that I should have made a distinction between someone you see once (parent in a grocery store) and someone you see every week.  I mostly commented because I wanted to share the inspiring story of Mary Klopcic.  I later found out she had been interviewed for Frederica's podcast (scroll down to "And Baby Makes 12!")  She's a pretty amazing lady.

My dear friend Melanie and I were talking about this a few days ago.  She had an interesting point of view: everyone should be welcome in church, which includes noisy children.  But "everyone" also includes people who may be so distracted by the noise that they don't feel welcomed.  Older folks don't hear well; younger folks are tempted to play with them instead of worshipping (this is the worst for me, really!)  So, it goes both ways.  Consideration is important.

As a parishioner, I can ignore this kind of behavior, or simply pray for the parents and for my own patience.  As a piano teacher, however, it can and does interfere with my ability to do my job.  Parents are supposed to attend Suzuki lessons alone with the child who's studying, but many times they must bring the child's siblings, and many times those siblings make it impossible for them (or me) to concentrate on the piano.  But I am so afraid of appearing judgmental (in part because of articles like this) that I would never confront a parent and ask him to be stricter; all I can do is speak directly to the child when her behavior becomes so distracting that I can't teach.  I don't like that it has to be this way.  I feel I should be able to bring up the subject without it being offensive.  But it's such an explosive topic that I don't dare, and so it continues to stand between us all, a barrier to true understanding.