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!
- Display a colorful book at the breakfast table (a children’s bible, a book of saints etc.)
- Gift cute stuffed animals that have a little recording of a bedtime prayer.
- Play bible games (memory, Pictionary, trivia).
- Have kids flip your rotating Christian calendar.
- Host parties for Saint’s feast days.
- Put up hand written Scripture verses around the house from your own personal prayer.
- Celebrate saint feast days specific to your children.
- Let your kids light a candle at a church on a special day – like the anniversary of their baptism.
- Give Holy Water to your children and let them bless the house.
- Start your drive on long trips with a prayer.
- Pray the rosary in the car.
- Listen to cd’s about saints, scripture or good stories.
- Explain basic prayer into words kids understand.
- Participate in Feed My Starving Children with your family.
- Pray every night at bed time.
- Make a morning offering with your kids.
- Walk your kids on a tour of your church.
- Walk the stations of the cross as a family during a time when the church is open but not busy.
- Emphasize the physical motions of piety and reverence during Mass. (Kids love kinesthetic learning!)
- Aim to do a devotion every morning with your kids.
For 10 more tips…
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.”
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”
There is only so much you have the capacity to do. No matter how much planning, creativity, staying up late or amazing effort, you can only be in one place at a time, doing one thing.
Kids naturally know this limitation. They whine. They call, “Mooommmm”. They expect their things will be taken care of even though they don’t pick up, put away, clean etc… They say they are hungry and expect to be fed. They don’t plan. They don’t understand all the work a parent needs to do, they just want to play with that parent. They cry and expect to be picked up. They trust.
Continue reading “We are limited”
People have been telling me forever that my kids are well behaved at Mass. I’ll tell you the secret… It is really easy and takes no preparation. Most people aren’t willing to do it though. Are you ready?
Sit in the front pew. Not the second, not close to the front. The first row. Think about it. If you were 30 inches tall and you were standing behind a 6 foot man and a large lady, what would you see and think about at church? Rear ends! Even if you hold your kids up (which does help) they still are not seeing as high as you are and it is not practical to hold them the whole time. There are SO many distractions in a crowd. Up front what do you see? The candles, the priest, the bible, the bread and wine, the cross. Kids become engaged in the “play” of the Mass. Sitting up front helps even at a VERY young age- as soon as a baby has long range vision and continues through all of childhood. You can whisper in her ear about the candles, about Jesus, about the kids who are helping at Mass.
Of course, kids do make noise. Lots of it sometimes so, having a get-away plan is pretty necessary in the early ages. Sitting on the side helps.
Not only will your kids benefit but, once you start this as a habit, you will realize you your self are getting tons more out of Mass.
With babies and toddlers, having a bag ready to go full of good toys for church will save you some angst. Watch out for hard plastic or metal which can be banged noisily on the pew. Opting for special toys which echos the message of the gospel (loosely) helps to set the tone for Sunday. Try stuffed animal lambs, bible bored books, Christmas cards, holy cards, bible character figurines, rosaries, holy water bottles, religious picture books, Christmas nativity figurines. If your child puts everything in her mouth, purchase a small photo album and slide in a bunch of pictures of Jesus, the saints and his people. Although this won’t totally protect your pictures, it will keep your child from eating paper. You can cut these kind of pictures from nonprofit organization mailings, trifolds in the back of the church, religious calendars, Christmas cards or holy cards you purchase at a religious books store or online.
Kids need lots and lots of physical affection. Well, actually we all do. For most kids, extra daily physical kindness from parents will aid healthy brain development, confidence and (believe it or not) obedience. A playful toss up in the air does more to establish the parent’s authority than a harsh talking to. So if it is welcomed, daily load it on…high five, give a smooch, tousle hair, cuddle, back scratch, tickle feet and enjoy the authority of affection.
Singing a hymn for your baby every time you put her down to sleep has many benefits:
- it establishes a peaceful routine,
- you are teaching her to pray,
- there is a special song in her heart,
- you get to beautifully tap into God multiple times during the day,
- the words of the song take on numerous meanings.
If you use the same song every time then this becomes almost a magical song for her and will bring peace even much much later in life when she hears it. This baby song makes an easy “go to” for prayer as a toddler.
Disclaimer- I know I’m not mainstream on this one. If I’m driving you crazy on this but other parts of this site are helpful, please let it slide.
As useful as technology is, using screens for kids under four is going to hurt more than it helps. Teaching reading, mathematics, science and other subjects can all be done very well in a more hands on, tactile and relational way without creating unhealthy synapse and changing the way the brain develops.