Q. I’d love to bring my toddler to adoration with me but I’m afraid she’d be too noisy and distracting to the other people there. I know that children at Mass (with all their fussiness and noises) are generally more tolerated, but our little adoration chapel is a much smaller and more intimate space where her squirms and sighs would really be more noticed. I enjoy going to adoration but this issue is causing me a lot of anxiety. I wish my church had a cry room attached to their chapel or provided a set “family hour” for families with small children. What do you suggest?
A. I think it’s important to be considerate to those around you, but not to the point where it causes anxiety. Families and children belong in the Church, so just do what always been done: go as you’re able. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and get stressed out.
As your daughter’s mother, you know what she’s capable of. If all you get is five minutes in adoration, then that’s fine. Parents should often be more forgiving to themselves and remember that there’s merit in the effort and intent of just getting there. I think it’s wonderful that you want your daughter accompany you to adoration and encourage you to continue to do, even if it’s just sporadic and short visits, for now, until she can actively join you in it.
On the flip side, there is also no reason to force the issue either. It is not a requirement of our faith to go to adoration as it is to attend Mass every Sunday. If your daughter is going through a fussy stage it might be more frustrating to all involved (you, your daughter, and other adorers) to make her come with you. Arrange time with other family members to watch her while you pop out, and if that’s not a possibility then just take her for however long you both can manage.
If the point of her coming to adoration with you is because you want to pray with her and have her see you praying (example setting), you can pray with her at home or in the car or anywhere really. You could practice adoration before your home altar until she’s a little more mature. There’s a reason why we wait until children are at a certain age to receive the sacraments and participate fully in the Church.
When my son was an infant I could go because he mostly slept in the carrier I had strapped to me. But once he reached the mobile, vocal, and inquisitive stage of toddlerhood, I didn’t go as frequently as I would have liked. I had to accept that was situation for the time being. Yes, I would get frustrated from time to time because I felt like I needed some quiet time in prayerful adoration, but we managed. I learned a lot about patience during those early years and had to let go of my need to control everything. Looking back, I see now that my frustration wasn’t without its own merit in the long run.
So my advice is that you should continue to bring her with you when you can for however long you can manage. If she gets unruly I trust that you wouldn’t let her run hog wild, and if you are doing all you can to keep her quiet for a few minutes, and you still get the stink eye glare from other adorers, don’t let it discourage you from coming back. As she gets older there will be more opportunity for you both. In the meantime, include your daughter in other practices of piety at home and be encouraged that most Catholics love to see children at church and adoration.