Do your children balk at praying the Rosary? Emily Jaminet offers strategies parents can use to encourage prayer.
When I hear the words, “Do we have to?” spill out of my children’s mouths, they are often linked with chores, homework, and sometimes even praying the family Rosary. Our house is one of constant motion and lots of frenzy with seven kids that range from preschool to college. I have come to realize that this question of “Do I have to pray?” lingers in all of us. The Rosary is a gift given to us by the very hands of the Blessed Mother to St. Dominic, yet we can struggle to make time to pray it regularly.
As Catholic parents, if we are not careful, the inspiration to pray as a family can easily be lost. If your family prayers go unsaid, there is a danger that family prayer will fade into the background of life and be lost. I admit that praying with children is often challenging; there are many obstacles to overcome and it can be difficult to summon the patience to lovingly instruct, listen, and serve as a role model in prayer when small children are acting up or teens are disagreeable. However, as parents, we are called to teach our children how to pray and prioritize prayer in our daily lives.
As a parent, it is easy for me to be perplexed by the question, “Do I have to pray the Rosary?” until I pause and recall my own questioning of my parents as a teenager. I can recall that our Sunday-night family Rosary sessions were not always peaceful. During these prayer gatherings, we would always pray but also sometimes fight, argue, and critique each other until all five decades were complete.
Amazingly, despite all that, my siblings and parents all agree now that special graces came from these gatherings, even though it felt bleak at the time. Furthermore, those experiences did not leave us resentful toward the practice. Rather, the opposite is true; we all still do our best to pray the Rosary daily and seek to pass this gift on to our children. Our childhood spats amid prayer didn't hinder our love for Our Lady at all. If anything, we look back and laugh at our innocence and are all the more committed to giving our children what we received.
This story should bring hope to all parents struggling with family prayer. What matters most is that when you pray the Rosary, you pray it with love and show this love to your family. This practice will yield lasting results for generations.
Now, if you are “Out of Rosary Shape,” it doesn’t FEEL peaceful and graceful with a house full of children; it feels like a chore, a challenging task. This prayer gathering is like the first time I began a workout program five years after having a baby. It was not fun, and I felt horrible. Yet, each day it got easier, I got stronger, and soon I came to enjoy it. Likewise, this “chore” of a family prayer gathering slowly changes as the prayer unfolds. We soon go from dealing with wiggly children who are struggling to recall the prayers, to a peaceful rhythm that can amaze any onlooker. Sometimes, if we time our Rosary just right, the younger children will fall asleep at the end and appear almost angelic. As parents, we must recall that prayer takes time, grace, perspective, and perseverance.
For many parents, the question, “Do we have to pray?” is often followed by, “Why the Rosary? It’s so long!” Why we should pray the Rosary is one of my favorite questions, for there is so much to say! You can comment on how our Lady of Fatima requested that we pray the Rosary daily to obtain world peace. You can explain how it is a powerful “spiritual weapon” against the power of darkness or talk about how the different Mysteries of the Rosary help us to meditate on God’s love for us and his majesty. You can mention how old the prayer is and how special it is to pass on this mighty prayer from one generation to the next.
In truth, answering your children’s questions helps us to remember how important it is as well and helps us to stay committed to its recitation.
Running the Catholic parenting race is strenuous and tiring, and we can often feel like no time might seem right to pray the Rosary, but do it anyway. If we set aside the time, no matter how chaotic our family prayer sessions appear to be, the Blessed Mother will shower us with Graces from her Son.
No time is better than today to pray the Rosary, especially during October. As St. John Paul II said in his 2002 apostolic letter on the Rosary, “With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty of the face of Christ and to experience the depths of His love.”
Copyright 2020 Emily Jaminet
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About the Author
Emily Jaminet and her husband have 7 children. Jaminet is the Director of Sacred Heart Enthronement Network www.enthronements.com, shares "A Mother's Moment," a daily radio reflection, She is the co-author of Divine Mercy For Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina and The Friendship Project . You can read more of Emily’s work at EmilyJaminet.com,Divine Mercy for Moms, and The Friendship Project Book.