I found this link to a great post over at The Common Room on Children in Public Spaces. Years ago one of my friends recommended that I read Parenting in the Pew, but it was out of print and almost impossible to find.
I noticed that Amazon has an updated version available now so I thought I’d pass the info along.
I love that her approach to having your child with you in church isn’t just about getting them to sit there quietly or keeping them busy with coloring books, it’s about teaching your child (and the parent) how to listen and participate in an age-appropriate way.
And really the same concepts can be applied whether you’re attending a play, a wedding, lunch, or some other type of meeting. With some practice ahead of time, and some good clues on what to listen for and expect, most kids can actually participate appropriately with the adults and be a blessing to the people around them rather than a distraction.
The other day I realized that I still needed to do some more work in this area. We went to a cousin’s choir performance and my youngest was really, really restless. And even though he was quiet about it, anybody there could have told that he couldn’t care less about what was happening on the stage and that he was just biding his time until it was over and he could play with his cousin.
I should have prepared him better for how long it was going to be and engaged him more with what was going on. It really does go back to the Golden Rule and thinking of others more highly than ourselves. The kids on stage had worked hard and deserved a good audience and the people around us didn’t need to hear repeated whispers of, "How much longer is it?". Plus, he could have learned a lot from the musical if he hadn’t tuned it out.
It has been a blessing to see each of my boys grow in self-control (Jon did sit much more quietly than he would have a year ago), but it’s still nice to be encouraged that we can keep working on these things. I really do think that most children appreciate being taught how to behave in public. It’s so much nicer to get positive attention rather than negative attention. It just takes a little more work.
Have a great week y’all!