by Stephanie Engelman
Countless saints have exhorted families to pray the Rosary daily. St. Pius X said, “If you want peace in your heart, in your home, in your country, assemble together every night and say the Rosary.” St. John Paul II said, “How beautiful is the family that recites the Rosary every evening!” and Venerable Pope Pius XII promised, “There is no surer means of calling down God’s blessings upon the family… than the daily recitation of the Rosary.”
The question often remains, however: How can we, as parents, overcome the objections, the fidgeting, and the distractions to establish this virtue-laden habit of prayer in our own families?
As a mother of five completely normal, fidget-prone, complaint-filled children, I’ve tried just about everything. I’m proud to report that my efforts have (mostly!) paid off, and happy to share a few tips here.
1. Start Small
Rather than diving into a full Rosary, try beginning with a simple decade. It’s hard for kids to argue that they can’t spare four minutes, after all! Once everyone’s used to praying a single decade, you can gradually add decades until you’re able to achieve a full five.
In my own family, I love to pray a decade one-on-one with each child at bedtime. They love the individual attention of this treasured routine, and participate gladly.
2. Take Advantage of a Captive Audience
Long car rides are an ideal place to pray a full Rosary with the family. What else are they going to do? And, besides, there’s no better way to ensure safe travels than beginning the trip with a prayer seeking Our Lady’s protection!
During the coronavirus quarantine, frequent walks with my kids have become another “captive” opportunity to pray the Rosary. I love to think that we’re spreading prayer throughout our neighborhood as we grow in peace and holiness together as a family!
3. Teach Them to Think About It
St. John Paul II expressed the value of contemplating the mysteries of the Rosary, saying, “without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning.” Contemplation is an awfully big word for the average kid, but thinking about something isn’t so hard!
Of course, stating the mysteries at the beginning of each decade leads to more big words — words like “Annunciation,” “Presentation,” and “Transfiguration,” not to mention the ever-confusing “Ascension” vs. “Assumption!” Take a moment to remind them of the story behind the mystery, and provide a few ideas to think about while praying the Hail Marys. Interjecting pieces of the mystery between the Hail Marys, either directly from scripture or in your own words, will further remind children that this is a time for thinking about Jesus and Mary, not sandboxes and schoolwork.
4. Invite Participation
Keep the kids actively involved by letting them take turns leading the decades and prompting them to remember and state the mysteries. My kids tend to race to be the first one to call out each mystery, with the “winner” being the one who gets to lead that decade.
5. Keep It Close to Their Hearts
You’d be amazed at how quickly kids will grab their rosaries when you tell them you’re going to pray for Grandma’s upcoming surgery, for the child at school who’s terribly sick, or for the repose of a beloved soul. Like all of us, kids long to make a difference.
Likewise, invite the children to state their own intentions before you begin. This provides a great opportunity to talk about the things that are on their minds. As a further bonus, children begin to recognize and value the power of prayer, especially when an intention is gratitude for prayers answered.
Have Reasonable Expectations
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself — or your kids! They’re young, and their brains are still developing. Our Lady is honored, and God is pleased, by the simple act of trying. Neither of them expects perfection — only effort!
About the Author
Stephanie Engelman is a wife, the mother of five, and the author of Pauline Books and Media’s A Single Bead – an award-winning novel about the power of prayer. Stephanie speaks publicly on the Catholic faith, the Rosary, and her personal experiences of trusting God through the trials of her husband’s life-changing brain injury. You can find Stephanie on the web at www.StephanieEngelman.com and on Instagram as www.Instagram.com/Stephanie_Engelman