8 Ways To Keep Children Quiet During Church, Weddings, And Any Other Public Event

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The first five years of motherhood can have a variety of names. I particularly enjoy “The Time Of Isolation.” Or maybe “The Era Of The Cry Room.” How about “The ‘We’d Better Stay Home’ Period? Let’s face it, for the first couple years, many moms would rather miss their second cousin’s wedding than actually try to control their children in public. We think of it as a public service. We’re saving everyone at Church or at a play from hearing our chattering little monkey.

Unfortunately, sometimes an event rolls around that you simply can’t miss. My husband’s family attends the Holy Days of Obligation together, little ones and all. Even better, we attend Mass in a Church so small that it doesn’t have a cry room. There’s one big chapel and an entrance big enough to hold exactly two parents and two wailing infants. I know this because it’s constantly full.

No joke, I spent two hours on Christmas Eve sitting in the car with my daughter while everyone else received the Sacrament. See, my little girl had realized that the tall ceilings made her voice echo. Echos are irresistible to two year olds. By the time my husband made it to the car, I had run out the battery. Merry Christmas to all.

This weekend, my daughter is the flower girl in a wedding. Honestly, I’m not too worried about her walking down the aisle. She’s always kind of enjoyed being the center of attention. What little girl doesn’t enjoy 400 people collectively adoring her?

My concern is for the actual ceremony that will follow her petal-strewing obligations. How am I going to keep her quiet for the next hour? Of course she knows how to behave in public. Of course she’s capable of sitting still when the situation calls for it. But let’s face it, even the most well-behaved children slip up!

Parents need to be prepared. Here’s how I attempt to make it through graduations, ballet performances, weddings and even the occasional Mass.

What’s your secret? How do you keep your kids from making a scene in a quiet ceremony?



  1. Welly

    March 3, 2012 at 11:51 am

    You’re going to threaten your child with eternal damnation to keep them quiet for a few hours? Seriously? That’s borderline abusive.

    • Ellie

      March 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Good grief. It’s a joke. Unclutch those pearls.

  2. Cait

    March 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Way to make the assumption that everyone reading your article is not only religious, but religious in the same way you are. I haven’t threatened my daughter with any gods because we don’t believe in any, so that little ploy doesn’t exist in my book. If any threatening is going on, it’s the threat of losing a favorite toy or privilege for a while, and that’s only a last resort.

    • fig

      March 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      If the fear of god had been her only suggestion, then you’d have a point, but she gives 7 other useful tips for the non-religious.
      Even if you’re not religious, you can use the equivalent, “you don’t want to be a bad person, do you?” (I suggest this as being good or bad is something that I, as a nonbeliever, see as my ultimate goal.) We all try to instill morals in our kids – use whatever you have chosen.

    • Cait

      March 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      True, I just don’t appreciate the “Don’t act like you’ve never warned your kids that God is watching” line because it assumes that everyone reading this is of the same faith. It’s lazy, self-centered writing and detracts from the otherwise decent list.

    • MommyK

      October 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      Maybe “Santa is watching” would be an alternative. My parents used that one a lot 🙂

  3. Not A MOm

    March 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Oh lighten up. Abusive, really? I’m sure the author isn’t telling her children that they will burn in hell if they don’t act right in church. It’s not more abusive than telling a kid that Santa knows when they are naughty and nice so they better be on their best behavior.

    Anyway, when my significant other and I take his daughter we give her lots of cuddles. She likes to cuddle, so that in itself helps keep her quiet and contained. It also allows easy access to whisper in her ear and remind her to use her inside voice.

  4. NotThumper

    March 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Or one could simply teach their child how to behave…

  5. shannon

    March 4, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Wow everyone judging much? Pretty sure this article was suppose to be helpful and funny. Lighten up!

  6. Brandy

    March 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Ever heard of a Church Doll?

    One special, quiet toy, that only ever gets pulled out for Church?

    Though I abhor giving candy as treats frequently, ring pops are also pleasantly silencing and relatively mess free.

    As a babysitter/nanny, in the past I’ve found a “Magic Box” helpful. Take a plastic first-aid size box and fill with plain paper, a coloring book, cool looking crayons, a few sticker sheets, a small pack of wipes, and, if there is room, a small toy or quiet treat. Only pull it out very rarely and update it regularly to keep the surprise factor going. Tell kids they can only play with the stuff inside if they are quiet while they do so.

    My church has a basket filled with board books, coloring books, and the like in the foyer, plus prints out kid versions of the bulletin each week with new puzzles, coloring activities, or the like. If yours doesn’t, why don’t you help them start one?

    Final option? Find a church that is more welcoming to families with kids, ’cause sometimes even teenagers can’t shut up during church (admit it, even some of us grown folk can’t either).

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