Children should be seen AND heard

I’m sure many, if not all of you, have either heard of or watched the hilarious sitcom, Arrested Development. Before kids and I could watch or listen to what I want during the day, I practically had the show on a loop. The school several of the family members attended, Milford Academy, highly encouraged/mandated children shouldn’t be seen OR heard. Yes, a humorous spin on the already horrific phrase, “Children should be seen and NOT heard.”  It’s hilarious when applied to a sitcom, but when it’s applied to real life? Not so much.

Before I get to my point, let me give you a little bit of background.

I am LDS. Also known as a Latter-day Saint, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or most commonly known as a Mormon. The term Mormon is in truth a nickname given to the early members of the church, because of the Book of Mormon, which was abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. Anyhow, I was born into an LDS family and have been devout my entire life. Although, out of complete transparency, I’ve experienced many spiritual slumps.

When I was 21, I married my sweetheart in the LDS Seattle Temple. We attend church almost every Sunday and serve in different capacities. All members serve and are unpaid for our service. This shows our devotion to God, our Heavenly Father, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Each Sunday is a two-hour service. The first hour being spent with the whole congregation, including children, and different members are asked to speak ahead of time. The second hour, we split into various classes.

Now, let’s talk about this first hour. Remember, it includes children. Children. Now, go ask ANY parent how difficult it is to quietly keep small children entertained for AN HOUR. May I liken it to a bull in a China shop.

I mean, in all seriousness, it’s hard to keep grownups entertained for an hour straight. We can’t wait for an appointment anymore without whipping our phones out. Needless to say, it’s hard to keep little ones quiet for church or pretty much anything. In our case, we also have a child with autism, who can be very vocal. What I mean by vocal is she is LOUD sometimes. Very loud.

Brynn, our daughter, loves the idea of church. There’s lots of people there after all and she LOVES people. She’s such a sweet, loving girl, but social boundaries are not her forte. She would hug and kiss EVERYONE she meets if I let her. There is no doubt it’s an endearing quality, but I’ve watched and listened to far too many crime shows, so I’m not the world’s most trusting person and I’m concerned for my child’s safety.

Oh, geez, I’m digressing AGAIN. With Brynn’s love of others, I deem her sensory system goes into overdrive when she’s around large groups of people, such as church. This causes her to get antsy and vocal. Not a quiet kind of vocal, either. Remember, I noted she gets loud. To add to her sensory overload, we recently moved, so we are attending a new congregation and a new building. Add new people and a new place for an individual with autism and oh boy. It’s a lot for them. Anyone is uncomfortable in a new environment, but it’s on a whole other level for those with autism.

So, when Brynn is overwhelmed, excited, frustrated, overstimulated, happy, sad, and/or mad, she vocalizes her emotions. It’s something I have grown used to, but frankly I hate being noticed, especially in a new environment. I’m perfectly happy keeping to myself, but our sweet girl makes our family known everywhere we go. I swear God has a wonderful sense of humor and sits back laughing at my discomfort from having heads turn our way when Brynn gets loud.

Anyway, at church, out of respect for others, we usually leave the chapel in order to not disrupt the service when Brynn gets loud. Though, in all honesty, ALL the kids are struggling. It’s not JUST our daughter with autism. THEY. ARE. KIDS. Besides, most families with small children know our place. We sit in the back, allowing us to be able to quickly exit with our screaming children. We smart like that.

OK, that was more of a background than I thought I was going to give, but I think it’s important to know for the point I’m FINALLY getting to.

A few Sundays ago, my husband mentioned a somewhat heated discussion occurring in his class, which he participated in. His participation really piqued my interest, since he’s not known to get involved in heated discussions. He explained an older man made a comment regarding the reverence during the Sacrament meeting (the 1st hour of church). He continued in a huff about how it’s too loud and parents need to teach their children to be quiet during the meeting.

              SIDE NOTE: Did you just laugh? It’s OK, I did too when he told me.

Then, after the laughter, I got kind of pissed.

Alright, alright, I got A LOT pissed.

The “gentleman” also mentioned how he can’t be spiritually fed with all the noise around him. (Enter rolling eyes emoji here)

SIDE NOTE: Remember, I sit in the same meeting…it’s just not THAT bad.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do believe teaching our kids the importance of respect and reverence is a part of parenting. There are times and places when and where loud play is appropriate, right? BUT. BUT, to expect children to sit perfectly still and quiet for a full hour is CRAZY talk. If these were my expectations, I would be living a very frustrated life. My little buggers NEVER hold still during daytime hours. So, my guess this older man never had children OR he forgot what a difficult task it is to keep small children quiet. An impossible one, really.

I can’t say I enjoy EVERY noise they make, BUT I love and appreciate hearing my kids. It’s often something we take for granted, but our daughter barely started talking at 5, so I relish in her voice. I eat up my son’s darling little voice when he asks for something politely or declines politely with, “No, thank you.” It’s freaking adorable. How sad I would be if they were silenced.

In conclusion, to the older gentlemen (I used the term gentlemen lightly) and anyone else who believes complete silence is the only way to feel close to God or feel peace, how miserable for you. My children, as much as they drive me bonkers, have only brought me closer to God and I am grateful for their sweet voices every day.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Should we, as parents, be more proactive in teaching our children to be silent in certain settings? Is it possible?

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