Over the years, I’ve experienced many different parents bring their assortment of kids to shul. And almost every time, I get upset. Don’t get me wrong; I think that many kids are suited to go to shul. But there are just too many times when the kids end up being a distraction to everyone else.
At the hashkama minyan today, someone brought their daughter to shul. I’m sure the guy had the best intentions. Maybe his wife was sick and he was trying to get her out of the house so that she could rest. But if you’re going to have a daughter talking very loudly during shmone esrei, maybe he should have brought her to a park instead. Especially since this continued throughout davening.
I used to go to another hashkama minyan before I was married and I remember that there was this one guy who had about 10 kids, the youngest being 10 (with one set of twins). And each week, without fail, six of the kids would show up for mussaf. And talk. And fight. And eat. And make messes. Only after the shul members got the rabbi involved did he finally stop bringing the kids to shul.
I understand that people want to be mechaneich their kids to learn to appreciate shul and davening. But if all they do is eat candy, chips, and pretzels, while being told to be quiet every 10 seconds, what is being learned? That if I come to shul I get candy? Is that the right approach?
Again, don’t get me wrong; I know that some kids can handle shul very well. I see one kid almost every week who when he comes, he davens with his father, sometimes reads a book quietly, but then goes to youth groups so as not to disturb the others who are trying to concentrate on davening.
I know it’s impossible to set standards of who can come to shul and who can’t, since each child is at a different level, but many parents have to wake up in terms of seeing the reality of whether or not their child belongs in shul.