Photo: Church Cry Room
Cry room supporters argue that other parishioners deserve a chance for prayer and meditation without the interruptions of a hungry newborn’s cries or inappropriate discussions of bodily functions right at the moment of consecration. Mommies and daddies can relax in cry rooms, they say, and avoid the guilt of knowing their progeny are disturbing their fellow Christians.
Cry room opponents say that relegating parents and small children to a crowded, chaotic room with a lousy speaker system makes them want to cry—or just stay home. And it sends the wrong message that children and young families are a problem to be shuttered away, rather than a part of the community to be accommodated, even celebrated.
On the other hand, modern cry rooms with large plate-glass windows and better speaker systems allow families to feel that they are part of the congregation and prevent parents from having to seek refuge in echoing choir lofts, drafty vestibules, or even outdoors when their kids need a diaper change or a break from the pew.
And the Survey Says:
1. Parents with young children who cannot sit quietly for an hour-long Mass should:
56% - Bring the kids to Mass. Kids will be kids, and other parishioners should recognize that.
49% - Bring the kids to Mass, but be prepared to leave if it seems like they’re disturbing other parishioners.
12% - Hire a babysitter or alternate Masses with their spouse so someone can stay home with the kids.
6% - Be excused from the obligation to attend weekly Mass.
Representative of “other”:
“You might have to leave if kids are too disruptive, but parishioners need to be tolerant of normal, age-related behavior.”
2. My parish serves small children and their parents by:
55% - Offering a children’s liturgy of the word during at least one of the Sunday Masses.
45% - Offering a cry room.
32% - Creating an overall child-friendly atmosphere at Mass.
25% - Holding Sunday School/Catechism during one of the Masses so parents can attend Mass in peace.
18% - Holding a family Mass every Sunday.
14% - Other
3. As a parishioner without small children, my feelings about cry rooms are:
58% - They should be provided for parents who want them, but I don’t mind kids at Mass.
22% - I wish more parents would use them, as their crying children are a distraction.
8% - They send the wrong message that children are not part of the community at Mass.
12% - Other
4. As a parent, my feelings about cry rooms are:
33% - I like to have that option when needed, but prefer to feel like part of the congregation.
13% - I hate them. I feel like a second-class Catholic banished to the cheap seats.
13% - They’re OK for those who want them, but I don’t like the glares if I choose not to use it.
7% - Using one is better than trying to feed a baby in the bathroom.
5% - I love them and use them regularly.
29% - Other
Representative of “other”:
“I don’t like them, because they give children the idea it is OK to whatever they want in Mass. Even though my kids aren’t behaving, I want them to see that everyone around them is.”