praying with kids

Ian at Musings from a Catholic Bookstore has a great post on praying the rosary with children. And asks a tough question: does this count as prayer?

I posted a response there, but wanted to re-post it here. I’ve been thinking about the topic of praying with children quite a bit recently. Danielle Bean also had a good post on managing small children at mass and, of course, about to embark on the great adventure that is parenting, Dom and I have talked more than once about the vocation of parenting and about how we want to raise our children in the faith.

We�re still waiting for kid #1 to be born� any day now! But we�ve prayed family rosaries with my husband�s brother�s family (six kids) and his sister�s family (three kids all under age six) and what you describe sounds pretty familiar. While I have a hard time concentrating and don�t find those prayer times particularly hlepful for meditation, I think they are in other ways even more valuable than the time I spend praying the rosary by myself or the time spent praying the liturgy of the hours. Praying with children helps me to remember that we are all called to become like children. I remember first that prayer is not primarily about me and how I feel and my state of mind� after all St Therese had years of dry prayer when she was in a dark night of the soul. It seems to me part of a parent�s vocation is to sacrifice some of that feeling of closeness to God in meditative prayer as we live out our vocation to lead our children to Christ. So we don�t get to meditate on the rosary the way we used to, we don�t get to hear the whole homily, we have to leave mass to change a diaper or take a child to the bathroom, or calm a screaming baby� but the thing is in doing all those things we are following God�s call for us to let our children come to him.

And how many times in the gospel does Jesus seek out solitude to pray only to be beseiged by his followers? They always seemed to be able to find him just when he most wanted to have a little peace. But he was always patient with them when they interrupted his personal time with the Father. He never turned them away.

So yeah, I think having the amazing saintly patience to pray with our children, especially when they seem uncontrollable, to take them to mass every week and to teach them about God� That�s what God calls us to do as parents. And that�s what I�m counting on to get me to heaven.

3 Responses to praying with kids

  1. Melanie Bettinelli May 16, 2006 at 4:28 am #

    I’m generally not a fan of textbooks. I like Laura Berquist’s approach, though. She suggests that for history one use a textbook as a reference or an outline. You read it to get a broad idea of a period but then spend time reading biographies, historical novels, literature written during the period, and other books (for example David MacAulay’s excellent Pyramid, Cathedral, or Castle) to supplement and enrich, to feed children’s imagination and inspire them with heroic role models.

    She also treats science in a similar way, combining hands-on experiments and observations with biographies of famous scientists and explorers and linking the study loosly to the historical era they are exploring. I could see a textbook as coming in handy for reference, though.

    Math I suspect will require textbooks of some kind, I’m still looking into it.

    I suspect, though, that trial and error will play a huge part in my approach. I note as I read blogs by home schooling mom’s that they frequently tailor their approach to their children’s likes, needs and wants. For example Melissa Wiley says one daughter loves workbooks and flashcards, even though she herself abhors them. So Rose gets workbooks and is allowed to work in them at her own pace.

    Likewise, I could see a child loving textbooks and I don’t think I would stand in their way. I would suggest supplementation though. For history especially I think learning to use primary sources is key. And I want literature to be the core of my children’s education.

  2. Katherine May 16, 2006 at 5:21 am #

    I think I am somewhere along the lines you are. I do think I will have to do it to fine-tune how I will do things. I also want my children to be well-read. At the same time I have a hard time imagining doing things like math, history and science without a textbook playing at least some role.

    Thanks for your response. You’ve read more on the subject than I have and, in general, I’ve agreed with you and liked your comments in your reviews.

    I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of your little one. God Bless and safe delivery!

  3. Katherine May 16, 2006 at 6:49 am #

    Melanie,

    So where do you see yourself on the spectrum of homeschooling? Would you use any textbooks or no textbooks? I’m not sure where I will fall myself yet, but I was just wondering.

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