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Sacrament Meeting Rules

I am so grateful that my kids are old enough that we have passed the days of Sacrament Meeting temper tantrums, leaving to change diapers, and fetching them from under the pews. I even stopped bringing the “church bag” with books and crayons and toys in it, because they really didn’t ever use it anymore. They are pretty easy-going kids that keep themselves busy by drawing on the bulletin or other available scrap paper.

Today, though, Cricket found my husband’s stash of pencils in his inner coat pocket. He then handed one to each family member, informing us that we each got a gun.

“I am not sure that we should have guns in Sacrament Meeting!” I declared.

Cricket responded, “No, Mom. We will shoot them very quietly—very, very quietly.” 

And while he was, indeed, pretty quiet, I nevertheless felt a little disquieted about my kids playing such a game during Sacrament Meeting. I suppose that a FHE on reverence is in order.

So in preparation for this proposed FHE, what are your rules for Sacrament Meeting?  How do you help your kids be not just quiet, but be truly reverent? 

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • jennycherie January 22, 2012, 9:34 pm

    Since Cricket is not my child, I just think this is too cute! Nothing says gospel peace and family harmony like guns during sacrament meeting! I’d probably do the same thing ( and have an FHE about reverence) if it were one of my kids, but he got the basic idea, right? I’ve seen so many little boys (and sometimes my girls) in actual hand-to-hand combat inside the church building that quietly pretending pencils are guns doesn’t seem so bad to me. 😉

    Our rules for sacrament meeting? The first one that comes to mind is no headlocks or bloodshed, but I’m only partly serious. We’ve never had actual bloodshed, but we have had more than our share of headlocks inside the church building. Teaching true reverence is a work in progress, always. My son is fifteen and I am thrilled every time he volunteers an anecdote from one of the sacrament meeting talks or testimonies. We are still learning. I don’t let my kids have anything for entertainment during sacrament meeting, and I don’t let them leave during sacrament meeting unless it is a true emergency. This has been my main concern, mostly because we have occasionally found ourselves sitting next to a family that wears a path to the hall running back and forth, 2-3 at a time. I do, normally, ask them about their lessons and the talks in sacrament meeting, but I feel like we are making progress if *I* can listen to what is going on in sacrament meeting without getting too carried away with shushing.
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  • Tracy Polyak January 22, 2012, 9:52 pm

    Jennycherie, “no headlocks or bloodshed!” LOL!
    I am totally with you on the “no leaving Sacrament Meeting” rule. We institute that one right around the age they go into nursery (with diaper changes being an exception).

    I have been really wondering particularly about talking. My Grasshopper is a very talkative girl, though she does know to talk very quietly during Sacraement Meeting. But at 6yo, I am not sure how long I can expect her to be completely quiet. I try very hard to listen to the talks, but I am very often distracted by either child simply talking to me.

  • Pattyann January 23, 2012, 8:15 am

    All my boys are grown now, and we only have the girls left. We still bring a bag, but it is filled with past copies of the Children’s Friends, and colored pencils and one notebook.
    Our rules have always been very simple.
    1. Don’t make mom annoyed.
    2. Refer to rule number one.

    Seriously!!! That being said, we don’t allow pencils or Friends until after the Sacrament is passed. I also tend to take notes during Sacrament and all the girls see that I always do that. We use the talks from the Sacrament meeting as subjects for family home evening. That way, they are getting the message one way or the other. The oldest now listens quietly and we talk about the talks sometimes after church. The middle one (13) also listens although occasionally she will still doodle while listening. The youngest is 10 and she is the one that the bag is for. We discourage talking, and all bathroom breaks must be taken before church starts. We don’t get in and out of the bench once the meeting starts, so they are very good about that.
    Also, everyone must look at the hymnbook during songs. So far, they all like to sing, so that has not been a problem, but I do have grown boys who used to try and avoid that rule.
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  • Amber Mae January 23, 2012, 6:12 pm

    We’re not there yet, right now we’re still doing the sacrament meeting shuffle (In and out with diaper changes , feedings, and bouts of crying). Right now I’m trying to not put the baby down and let her crawl around when we have to take her out so she thinks it’s more fun in sacrament. I don’t know what we’ll do in the future, but it sounds like another fun (not sarcastic) phase of life with its ups and downs. 🙂
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  • kiar January 23, 2012, 8:21 pm

    This week was ward conference, and with my husband working, and myself in the choir, my kiddos, all five of them, got to sit by themselves. I fully expected to have to jump on them, or worse, have to leave the stand to break up a fist fight. To my pleasant surprise, with only a few dirty looks from me they made it through without bloodshed. Until this Sunday, it has been a huge struggle to get them to sit still. They range in age from 11 to 1.
    I figure, it will come. As long as I keep taking them, and not making excuses, eventually they will sit still and listen.
    (on another note, in Sunday school, when I asked my one year old to fold his arms for prayer, he did! I was so excited! And he was adorable)

  • Tracy Polyak January 23, 2012, 9:11 pm

    This discussion reminds me of a time years ago, before I had kids, when a woman in my ward, a mother of four all under the age of 5yo, asked my advice about what to do about her children’s behavior in Sacrament Meeting. (In hindsight, I wonder why anyone would ask parenting advice from a non-parent, but I suppose she was desperate.) I told her that if they had could not sit still during Sacrament Meeting, then they probably needed some practice at home. I suggested having them spend a little time watching clips of General Conference and rewarding them for sitting quietly for whatever length of time she felt was appropriate for their ages. She said she actually tried it, and it worked well, though I wonder if she was just being nice by saying so.
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  • Sandy Grant January 26, 2012, 12:05 am

    Honestly we were a lot better with our older kids. They knew that toys, pencils etc. stayed away until after sacrament and we never had an issue. It goes to show you that either each kids comes with there own quirks or after 6 kids mom is just too tired. My youngest two (boys) have come with there own issues. #5 took forever to figure our how to talk quiet. He literally could not do it. He even whispered full blast! (on a side my husband also has problems with this and had had to be told several times to quite down in the temple). He is getting so that he is not so loud but it has taken a while. My youngest is very independent and stubborn. If he wants something out of his scripture bag it is just quieter to let him have it than to have have the same discussion again that he just doesn’t seem to get no matter how many times we discuss it. (I do not do a big bag, if they want paper, pencils etc it goes in their scripture bag. My youngest even had a diaper and wipes in his for about a year till he was potty trained.)

    Anyways, some things we have done was to make reverence books by cutting Jesus pictures out of the church magazines and then adding words to help them remember the purpose of the sacrament. Then they are able to look at these while the sacrament is being passed.

    We also make it a point to sit up front. It might feel like you are up front where the whole ward can see your kids antics but they FEEL more like they are in church and act accordingly. How can you expect them to focus on a speaker they can hardly see? Not to mention the chair at the back are uncomfortable.

  • Holster Chick January 26, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Hahaha loved your story! One of the things that has brought reverence in our family is bringing a few children’s reverence books. You can find some cute hardback books at Seagull Book or Deseret Book and they help keep the kids focused on the Savior. We also play gospel hangman (using words that the speaker says) and that can help keep the kids interested in the meeting instead of just the game. good luck!

  • Tracy Polyak January 26, 2012, 6:20 pm

    @Sandy–Thanks for reminding us about the special difficulties with larger families or individual kids. It is hard not to get annoyed with the large family that sits right up front whose kids are in and out through the whole meeting. I am glad you shared your experience with this.

    @Holster Chick–I love the gospel hangman idea. My kids are not quite old enough, but I will have to keep that one in the back of my head for use in a couple of years.
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  • Julie January 26, 2012, 10:38 pm

    I love the part about only using the guns quietly. I have two children 1 and 3…..have had many the moments where I thought I would die from embarrassment with these two. I really like the idea of playing hangman based on the Speaker….what a neat way to focus. Can’t wait till mine our old enough to try it. In the mean time I use books, and crayons. It usually works.

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  • Jean January 27, 2012, 8:23 am

    For my part, the best thing to do is to remind them what is good and what is not. It sometimes helpful to let your kids know who is control of the situation. It is good to be a strict parent sometime set rules for them to follow or face a consequence. Don’t do it always though. Let them see the difference of a good and a bad situation.
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  • Tracy Keeney January 27, 2012, 2:34 pm

    My kids are all teenagers now– but the number one thing we’ve done since the kids were really little and STILL do to this day, and will continue to do, to contribute to reverence during meetings, is sitting on the front row.
    Nothing helps a kid to behave, sit still and focus on the speaker more, than being in the front row. It causes a little “positive pressure” to be alert when the speaker and the Bishopric have you in full view.
    The only other thing we did when they were little, was have “the quiet bag”. Crayons and blank paper, church-related books, etc. My mother was always sending those board books with the lyrics to Primary songs and pretty artwork. She also put all the Gospel Art pictures in those clear sleeves, along with an explanation of the picture and the scripture story that goes with it on the back of each one, then put them all in a 3 ring binder. As they got older they had to really listen to ONE talk and be able to give a synopsis. By the time they were 8 they have to pay attention, period. I figure if 8 year olds (who are baptized nonetheless) can sit through 7 hours of school, they can pay attention to 30-35 minutes of talks. I DID let my girls continue to “doodle” during talks for a few more years, as long as they were still able to listen and tell me what the talks were about. But once they turned 12– they can only have a pen and paper in hand if they’re taking notes. (Of course, the notes are often surrounded by “doodling”, but even I do that when I take notes!)

  • Tracy Polyak January 27, 2012, 2:47 pm

    Tracy K.,
    I like your rules, and I agree that if a child is old enough to commit to baptism, he is old enough to commit to listening in Sacrament Meeting. I have heard a lot of suggestions for sitting in the front row, and I could help but imagine what would happen if every family with young children concurrently decided to heed that advice, lol.

    When I had babies, I actually prefered to sit on the side against the wall, where they are blocked in on one side. That way, their routes for escape were limited. I do personally like to sit up front, but two large families with 11 children between them are taking up that space right now, and I think it would be highly distracting to add more children to the mix. 😉

  • Tracy Keeney January 27, 2012, 6:43 pm

    “imagine what would happen if every family with young children concurrently decided to heed that advice, lol.”

    good point! 🙂

    A side note– I’ve always told my kids that I expect them to sit in the front row at school, too– for the very same reasons.

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