I want to know how some of these parents do it. Not only do they get their multiple children ready for church and appear on time (almost as by magic), they have an amazing way of teaching and disciplining their kids during church. Of course, I’m talking mostly about Sacrament meeting, as Primary is generally easier for kids and they’re not confined to a semi-hard bench for 70 minutes.
My small experience with this includes helping Mom with my younger siblings when I was a teenager, watching a dear family in our ward while the parents sang in the ward choir (several times, including the Christmas and Easter meetings where the choir takes most of the time), and the few weeks we’ve taken our newborn to church where she’s slept the entire meeting–I know that is about to change. But with this limited exposure to parenting in church, I have been able to see how much parenting goes on in a single meeting.
I am amazed as I look around and see all the parents with their children and the circumstances in which they navigate church.
Take, for instance, the young families with multiple children where Dad is in the bishopric. Mom has to get the kids ready, get there, and then be on parent watch by herself the entire time. It’s impressive to say the least.
And what happens when one child needs to be taken out? That amazes me as well. There are times when the older children who are still not all that old are left to be reverent by themselves for a few minutes (and they are) and times when someone in a neighboring pew steps in to watch a littler one while mom takes the baby out. It’s an interesting dance of being flexible, teaching your children how to behave in church, and watching out for one another as ward members.
Then there are the tools of the trade: quiet books and toys, the Friend magazine, coloring books and crayons (my personal favorite), and snacks. Without these, many parents would probably pull their hair out. But how do you use these tools appropriately and not abuse them? How do you teach your kids when they’re appropriate and when they’re not? I guess that has a lot to do with your own parenting philosophy. I have a lot to learn.