20 Playful Ideas for Fostering Faith in your Kids

Every family has their own wonderful ways to encourage and teach each other.  Here are a few of mine.  I’d love to hear a few of your ideas too!

  1. Display a colorful book at the breakfast table (a children’s bible, a book of saints etc.)
  2. Gift cute stuffed animals that have a little recording of a bedtime prayer.
  3. Play bible games (memory, Pictionary, trivia).
  4. Have kids flip your rotating Christian calendar.
  5. Host parties for Saint’s feast days.
  6. Put up hand written Scripture verses around the house from your own personal prayer.
  7. Celebrate saint feast days specific to your children.
  8. Let your kids light a candle at a church on a special day – like the anniversary of their baptism.
  9. Give Holy Water to your children and let them bless the house.
  10. Start your drive on long trips with a prayer.
  11. Pray the rosary in the car.
  12. Listen to cd’s about saints, scripture or good stories.
  13. Explain basic prayer into words kids understand.
  14. Participate in Feed My Starving Children with your family.
  15. Pray every night at bed time.
  16. Make a morning offering with your kids.
  17. Walk your kids on a tour of your church.
  18. Walk the stations of the cross as a family during a time when the church is open but not busy.
  19. Emphasize the physical motions of piety and reverence during Mass.  (Kids love kinesthetic learning!)
  20. Aim to do a devotion every morning with your kids.

For 10 more tips…

3 Easy Ways to Get to Know the Saints

I didn’t used to be crazy about the saints until I realized that they were becoming my friends.  As I get to know the stories of their childhood, their struggles and their ways of living out deep concepts, I myself find a strong grace at work in my own thoughts and actions.  Surprisingly, I can see this effect in my children too as they relate to Christians from the past and carry a kindred connection to the present.  Here are three of my favorite ways of getting to know a saint.  I call it “easy” because the writing of these three approaches is simple, story like- almost candy. Continue reading “3 Easy Ways to Get to Know the Saints”

Guide for Confession

Sometimes getting ready for the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be like staring at a blank wall.  We don’t know where to start.  Plus, you might be freaked out because you don’t remember what to do once your are in the confessional.  Here are two guides that that my family uses.  1. One of the guides is to prepare (we often do this in the car on the way to the church, at the church in the pews or in line for confession).  2. The other guide is a cheat sheet to bring in to the confessional so we remember the steps.  Priests way of conducting Reconciliation vary quiet a bit so, this can make any guide a bit ridged at times.

You can use this word document or read below.

Confession Steps and Prep

Continue reading “Guide for Confession”

A Good Bedtime Prayer

There is a wellspring of things to offer to God and receive from him by simply looking at your life.  This prayer never seems to get old because life is so full and God is so active.  Here is my version of this “examen” or “reviewing of my day with God.”  Most of it was passed on to me by some great Jesuits.  5-7 minutes is an ideal amount of time for this prayer but depending upon circumstances, it can take between 30 seconds to 30 minutes.  Whether you pray with words, feelings or images, lift up everything to God, bringing your life into the loving Light of Christ.   Periodically you can adapt this to review a certain season in your life instead of just a day.

Prayerful Review of the Day

Pray for Light

  • Ask that you can look at this day with His light.
  • “Holy Spirit, please enlighten my mind so I may see this day you gave me in truth and love.”

From this day, for what am I most thankful?
Where do I see God’s grace active in this day? 

  • Converse with Jesus about these things and listen to what these good things mean in your life.
  • “Thank you… Jesus, you are… This is special because…”
  • Allow gratitude to well up.  Offer it back to the Father with love.

From this day, for what am I least thankful? 
What needs to be converted?
What was a challenge?

  • Converse with Jesus about these things and listen to what needs healing.
  • “Please forgive me… I’m sad… Please help…”
  • Offer it back to the Father with love.

Tomorrow with Christ

  • Converse with Jesus about how God wants to (or has already) equip you for tomorrow.
  • “What concept, scripture verse or resolution shall I carry in my heart for tomorrow?”
  • Make a tiny resolution about your own action for tomorrow.  Ask for God’s grace to fulfill it.

Howard be thy name?!?… the Our Father for kids

If you listen to a kid pray the Lord’s Prayer, it is super cute “our father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name”… until you realize that she has no idea what she is saying.  Even for adults, it is easy to zip through the prayer without meaning the words because they are different from the terms we usually speak.  So, here’s a translation for a 9 year old:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
God, you are our father.  You are in heaven. Continue reading “Howard be thy name?!?… the Our Father for kids”

Surrender your dreams for your family? No way.

At a soccer game this weekend, I listened as a lady and her husband lamented that they could not turn back the clock to a few months ago, before their son began playing Fortnite.  They wished they could do it differently.  These parents longed for the old productive good fun their son had and they felt a bit mournful and defeated amidst his new addiction to the game.  However, they were wearing a chipper attituded in the midst of their “defeat” because they love their son no matter what and figured this is the way it just had to be.  At least it wasn’t worse, they thought.  We traded stories.  At first they were surprised at my family’s stringency however, by the end of the soccer game (which we won), the mother was ready and energized to restore the order she and her son once had.  The only thing that my stories really told her was, “you can do it.” Continue reading “Surrender your dreams for your family? No way.”

Family Prayer

We pray as a family around the fireplace every so often and sometimes just as a married couple.  Since this time is not always easy, it can help to have some format.  Here’s an idea to try adapting along with your own message:

Family Prayer
 
Song 
Bless the Lord, o my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name.  (or a different song)

Light Candle with Prayer
Leader:       “This candle reminds us that Jesus is with us.”
All:              “Jesus, you are welcome here.”
Leader:       “We come together as a family to love you, to listen to you and to be filled up with you.”
 
Message
Deliver a good short message to the family using the bible, a book, storytelling, art, conversation, witnessing etc.  Ideas: a healing story of Jesus’, the importance of kindness, the definition of love… Continue reading “Family Prayer”

Deliver to Heaven

While trying to explain the “thees”, “thous” and “arts” of the Our Father, my daughter murmured something about a mailbox.

“What did you say, Sweetie?”

“Does God put us in an envelop and send us away from evil?”

“Oh, right.  The Lord said, ‘deliver us from evil.'”

“Yes, deliver us.   The address should say, ‘heaven’.”

Oh, kids!  You’ve got to love their perspective.  But as cute as that is, it is hard for my adult mistrusting brain to really take in the message of God’s loving deliverance from evil.  Continue reading “Deliver to Heaven”

We Are Lifeguards

About three years ago, my little kids are with a babysitter and I fidget, half naked on the bleachers, waiting for this life guarding course to begin.  The blue bathing suit just purchased on Amazon feels a little tight around my 40-year-old flab.   Quickly looking around, it is obvious that no one else here has nursed four babies.  Goosebumps already forming, I’m afraid of being cold from nine-five for a week straight.  And I’m really worried I can’t hold my breath long enough at the bottom of the diving well. Continue reading “We Are Lifeguards”

Serving our Children in the Midst of Awful Things in Our Culture

You and I both know that there are awful things in our culture.  Things that wound us, disturb us, threaten us.  Sexual abuse by the clergy, for one terrible example.  If you have a little one or one who isn’t so little any more, then I know you desperately want to navigate life with them.  But I find it difficult, often, to really listen to my kids when many of the troubles of our culture are swimming around my brain.  Sometimes, at the right moment, I am able to share my thoughts and gently show them some of the sadness in our world, or in our Church.  But mostly, I need to listen their worlds.  Celebrate the ups, work through the downs.  In these times when many of us Catholics are reeling from devastating discoveries, I am trying to focus a bit more on my children – literally – through eye contact and prayer.  Filling myself with a few brief moments of contemplation morning, midday and evening so that I that can continue to walk with them on the path, teaching them to find grace.

What about you?  In what way do the troubles in the church or in our world affect the way you are with your kids?