Thursday, May 17, 2018
Adventures with family prayer time...
My kids are now 12 and 7. Translation:
"I don't want to go to church! It's SO BORINNNNNGGGGG!"
"I don't want to pray the rosary in the car, can't we listen to music instead?!"
"Prayer intentions? What do you mean?"
This is all exacerbated by the fact that I am the only adult (practicing) Catholic in my household. My husband is incredibly supportive of my raising our kids Catholic, but he does not consider himself a Catholic and comes to Mass with us only occasionally. He has my back with getting the kids off to Mass despite their whining, and he is also wonderful about assuring that they pray before eating with respect and reverence, including a full, and not hurried, sign of the cross. He attends the required parent pre-sacrament meetings, and plans the baptism and First Communion parties with gusto. I am very blessed.
When it comes to the nitty gritty, though...well, as I knew when I signed up for this job, it's up to me. And God. Whoops, this is true, I can't forget Him. :0
Henry and I have read saint stories together before bed now for years. He still very much enjoys this tradition, despite me thinking that maybe he was growing out of it. I know, though, that he is at an age wherein I need to be vigilant and do more with him to instill his faith in Christ. In our diocese, children are not confirmed until *11th grade*. So we have a ways to go until he receives the grace of that sacrament.
Anne and I have no bedtime prayer routine, we read a story (non-Biblical) together, and that is our tradition. But I really feel like we should have one. Every few weeks, she receives a school assignment to pray a specific number of decades of the rosary that evening, and we always do that together. But we rarely pray the rosary together without that impetus. Whenever I try, I am met with a chorus of groans.
It's difficult. I am not at all surprised by any of this - I too am a person that many decades ago used to complain about Mass being boring. I did not pray the rosary until I became a young adult. I did occasionally pray in general, but only if a crisis of some sort hit, and I asked God for help.
I do my best to be a good example for my kids. I very much love the liturgy, and try to talk about why I find it not only soothing but fascinating, especially on specific feast days or liturgical seasons. We attend Mass every week, and I incorporate elements of faith into our family life as much as I can. During Advent and Lent, for sure, but also during other times of the year.
But am I perfect in this way? Or in any way? :0 Of course not. So I know that I could do more to make the faith real and exciting to my kids. To be a good example of a Catholic Christian living out her faith.
One of those ways is regular prayer time. I've experimented through the years with making a set aside prayer moment special with candles, new rosary beads, and a calm and lovely setting. Those things worked, but only for the short term. I want to make a permanent addition to our routine that will nurture their fledgling faith.
My kids are getting older, and I feel like we are at a crucial juncture. Henry is well into middle school (and an altar boy), and Anne will make her First Communion in two years. It's an important time for them to associate their faith with strong memories of compassion, trust and security that will aid them for the rest of their lives.
Here's where the advice village comes into play. ;-) Thoughts? Ideas? Each child may have different faith needs given their age difference, so something separate for each kid, or more of a family effort? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
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No kids here, so I don't have any first-hand advice. Honestly, I was a lot like your kids at that age (and still am sometimes, haha). But I've heard good things about "The Little Oratory", a book that's billed as a beginner's guide to praying in the home. I haven't read it, but it seems to get very good reviews. In particular, one of the bullet points on Amazon mentions "How to pray the Rosary with children and keep the rowdiest of them calm and reverent" and there's several others that mention children too. Since you mentioned starting a prayer time and creating a nice setting, maybe the book will prove useful.ReplyDelete
Kevin, I'm on it! Heading over to Amazon now!Delete
Just had a sample sent to my Kindle! *virtual high five*Delete
Awesome! I hope it lives up to the hype :) Let me know if you end up getting the full book -- it's been on my list for a while and a good review from you would probably push me over the edge to buy it.Delete
We have instituted a bedtime prayer with the kids since Autumn was little. We used to do it in her bed until we got bunk beds... now it’s in the living room or playroom before bed. It’s a simple Our Father, Hail Mary (just the kids and I because I have a Lutheran husband), Glory Be and a time when we take turns listing what we are thankful for that day (sometimes it’s dinner or tball, sometimes it’s for silly brother and sister). four of us partake in this... and we ask Adam too— he always says “amen”. She has a list of people she prays for after communion, Violet will soon join in if they can behave together for two minutes. We have never prayed the rosary which I’m sad about but the Non-Catholic partner brings some things that I struggle with. Mary as a holy and sinless person is a core difference in our household. We go to Mass and Lutheran service, alternating one one weekend and the other the next. The Lutheran Church has a Sunday school and Adult Bible study Sunday morning— and we always go regardless of which church is being attended for worship. At their age the Sunday school content is the same as what she learns in school. I think that helps a lot because it’s a small group of friends learning together—and she only sees them on Sunday. She will join in their VBS too, and I’ll help (their VBS time works better for us than the Catholic school). We’ve read (lectores) in church at the Lutheran Church together and she read a petition at mass—I think the active participation (such as Henrys’s altar serving) helps. Next year you can work on the Girl Scout award with her and get the pin at church! Marc does attend Mass with us and I attend service—family praying together is more important to me than the denomination. He is very concerned that they are able to enjoy, or at least NOT dread church. We will spend quite a few Sundays at the Lutheran camp in Angola for the outdoor service and then beach time. We have kids’ praise songs pretty much on repeat in the car and Autumn joins in the Christmas pageant for the Lutheran Church. I try to volunteer a lot at the events happening at both churches—the Lutheran gets more of my time because it’s closer, but we try to help at service projects at the Catholic church. I know we will hit a point where the kids will have to make their own choice— they are being raised in the Catholic sacraments, but Autumn knows there is a difference. I’m hoping they at least embrace their faith in God and Jesus throughout their adult lives, and that I can be ok with the path they choose. Kids are so tough! If you ever want to join in the “things” we’re doing, let me know!ReplyDelete
Tracy, this is *wonderfully* helpful, thank you so much! I wonder with Henry, if we can take turns reading the saint stories, and then the other person points out something they particularly enjoyed or learned from the story. With Anne, sigh. She follows her brother's lead, and because he complains about going to Mass, so does she. She didn't used to mind, but then again, neither did Henry. Maybe she and I can look at age-appropriate prayer books and find something that we could pull from each night after our story time. I think she'd be loathe to give up story time, and I love it too! I'd just like to add something else in, albeit short.Delete
I am SO excited about the GS religion award/pin next year!
We definitely still do story time, but once the kids are physically in bed after our prayers.Delete
I recently took a class for catechists as I teach 6 and 7 year olds. One of the points I took away was how much kids that age like stories and learn from them. Perhaps this is because I think my storytelling skills could use some work. Could you swap in a Bible or saint story some nights?ReplyDelete
Melanie! This is awesome! Henry always loved his Bible storybook when he was this age. Anne owns several, but I haven't tried to read any with her in quite some time. She also owns a number of saint books appropriate for new readers her age, including "The Pope's Cat" that I got her for Easter. We could absolutely try again! I needed this kick in the pants to give it another go.Delete
Hello! Wanted to respond to this thread before it's gone. While I don't have children, I have helped raise 12 - long story and I did homeschool two of my nephews from kindergarten to high school graduation. So this is an issue that I've dealt with a LOT. It was difficult with the children who I was related to -but who weren't mine. While their parents (half of them) professed to 'be' Catholic it was often like the situation with your husband. While everyone liked the idea that I set things up - Bible stories, Rosary, etc. -it was often difficult to have the parents follow through.ReplyDelete
Here are just a few random things that have worked for me at various times: Your children are a little older than the nephews when we began the Rosary (we just did a decade at night for the longest time), but maybe these ideas could help you and be adjusted to your situation.
Keep them moving! One of my nephews has a seizure disorder and having him try to kneel or even sit confined in the car (tried that!) to say an entire 5 decade Rosary spelled disaster. Early on we started to walk during the Rosary - even in the house - or at a park. When it's winter and we were in the house - I'd let the boys choose pictures of the Rosary mystery we were saying. They could place them anywhere - within reason - in the house with a little candle in front. We'd 'process' to each picture and they could light the candle. Not sure if your children aren't too old to like this idea - but you never know!
Easily bored children often like to watch a DVD of the Rosary. There is one for children that's cute for younger kids. I think we got ours from Autom? If that's too young, there is the 'quickie' International Rosary on EWTN at 3:30 eastern time. (You could DVR it.) The boys liked that one because the prayers are begun by a child and some of the prayers are said in foreign languages. They liked being able to either listen to the Hail Mary in another tongue or saying it over with the person. It's fast too - not a requirement for the Rosary, I know, but with reluctant kids. :) There is also a Rosary from Lourdes on EWTN on Saturday morning. You could DVR that - it's interesting if the kids know the story of Lourdes to recite the Rosary "right" there where the Blessed Mother appeared.
Donna Alice, you are a wonderful wealth of wisdom! My kids used to enjoy praying the rosary, but their age has changed that. :-\ I would love to try some of these new ideas to spruce it up for them again. DVR'ing the international rosary is a smashing idea!Delete
With Mass attendance - sometimes you wonder why you go. :( Are the kids getting anything out of it? I tried just about everything but found the best thing with any number of kids was to make the day special. Mass, then a 'treat' like eating out or going to a park. (While I really dislike shopping or doing such things on Sunday - I figure that helping kids to cherish Sunday is more important.) Right now my sister and I are trying to keep two of our younger nieces and nephews interested in Mass and the sacraments (long sad parental story). We pick them up and take them to Mass, then do something special. It's "their" day and we make them aware that God gives us all good things so we 'visit' with Him first. This includes a side trip to light a candle or look into the bookstore -etc.ReplyDelete
As for books and a routine - grab whatever you can and go for it. Don't wait for THE perfect book or time. Henry might actually be at the age to enjoy reading from the real Bible. My late sister taught Catechism for many years and she often interested reluctant students with quizzes from the Bible. The kids had to find out certain things - how many men were in a fiery furnace but didn't burn? That type of thing. You can find things online or even search for quizzes already written up. Let HIM teach you something you don't (:) ) already know. For Anne, how about a small saint a day book? Each night you could read a page about a different saint - or even once a week? Start small and don't get overwhelmed. Any child would gladly stay awake a few extra minutes even for a short saint story. :) Or you could do something different in the summer and read the stories earlier in the day with a treat? Hope some of this helps. I will pray for you to have guidance and wisdom! And for the kids to be receptive.
You know, my son just asked to stop off at Dunkin Donuts after Mass yesterday, and I nixed the idea, because I always look forward to getting home to my coffee (he was serving at the 8 am Mass, so it was still quite early!). Ugh, I will still want to head straight home. :0 But you're right, making Sundays special for me and the kids surrounding Mass is bound to help. Sigh. I will brainstorm on this one, because I do think you're right!Delete