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I have three children and we are at Mass every week. One jumps at the opportunity to head to Children's Liturgy of the Word, the older one prefers to stay in Mass to listen (he makes his First Communion in a few weeks), and the youngest stays with us, as well. It is quite disheartening to see this many negative comments about being "where we belong." We belong at church, in Mass, learning how, despite our many imperfections, we are loved and welcomed by God unconditionally. We do not go to the Children's Chapel where many children are left to run and yell and we do not seek to be "friends" to our children. We are there to grow and learn-along with everyone else at Mass, young and old.

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At my church, we've been repeatedly encouraged to bring the kids to the front row or one of the front rows whenever possible so that they can see what is going on, and participate in mass. (We don't have a nursery, child room, Sunday school, etc. - the priest says the kids should be at mass.) It's hard since you know they will do kid things sometimes, but they do pay more attention and engage more, and you can help them see what the priest and the altar servers and doing, and feel more of a connection with the people doing the readings and the choir. They learn from the reverence and kindness of the people around them. While it's been a challenging journey, it brings me great joy to see them understanding in their own way the beauty of the mass.

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