1st communion & belief in reincarnation

My daughter is slated to receive her 1st communion this spring. I am doing her catechism classes myself and am frankly don’t know what to do about the situation. She has let me know that she believes in reincarnation. Now, I know that this is contrary to the teachings of the Church. I’m not exactly an expert in the Catholic faith, and since it caught me completely off guard, I didn’t know how to answer her. (FWIW, she is going through a difficult period where she is opposing much of what we say, talking back, throwing tantrums until she gets her way - which we don’t give in to… 8 going on 13 is more like it!)

Obviously, I need to explain this to her in more certain terms. Could anyone help me find a way to make her understand this teaching?

The whole situation is truly disheartening because… If she refuses to believe in what the Church teaches, then she may not receive her sacrament, correct?

What does she think of Heaven? This is our projected final destination.

Wow, that’s young to have that much in the way of theological disputes with Church teaching. Although it is possibly a copycat of some teen she knows who is rebelling?

Where did she get the concept from, has she mentioned that?

This is a social group on CAF I started, “Reincarnation Rebuttal Apologetics and Evangelization” - some of the posts explaining and defending Church teaching against reincarnation might be helpful (there are a few from persons who aren’t as sure but most are pretty solid).


Maybe your daughter would be willing to have a rational discussion about the matter and maybe there will be a tidbit of information that will convince her, either in this group, in the Ask an Apologist forum, or somewhere. Try to remain calm so she doesn’t get on the defensive, just gently say, "But what about . . . (insert issue that would disprove reincarnation here)?

First of all, she’s 8. I suggest you not overreact to her ideas on reincarnation. It’s likely a phase. I would make sure I was monitoring what she is reading and watching on TV. These sorts of eastern ideas find their way into lots of TV and movies. So, make sure you’re screening things that reinforce these ideas.

I would much more concerned regarding your statement that she has serious opposition and defiance in all areas of her life. This reincarnation thing is a symptom of something bigger. Counseling may be in order.

Focus on the idea that having lived a good life, when we die we go to be with Jesus. Focus on heaven as being with Jesus in a special way that is full of joy. Don’t focus on reincarnation. Just focus on what the Church does teach.

Has she had some sort of loss in her life that makes reincarnation appealing? A pet? A grandparent? Someone else? If she brings it up frequently, perhaps try to get to the root of where this idea comes from, but without dwelling on it and making a big deal out of it.

No, that is not correct. She’s 8. Give her a break.

Regarding the Eucharist, in the Latin Rite requirements for children to receive the Eucharist are quite minimal:

Can. 913 §1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

§2. The Most Holy Eucharist, however, can be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion reverently.

Regarding heaven - we’ve had the discussion with her already as we have lost close family members. At the time, she didn’t question anything. But I don’t really know what she believes right now. Time for a good old question period…

As to where she has heard about reincarnation? Well, it was from me… I believe we were discussing something else and I gave her reincarnation as another example of silly things that people believe in. And then she states that that is what she believes in. Wish I could have seen that coming!! I don’t know if she just said it as a way to rebel against me or if she actually believes it. We’re def going to need to discuss this further once I figure out how to explain everything.

I suggest you get some books on the developmental stages of elementary aged children. At this age, they need very concrete examples. Don’t get theoretical, or get into such philosophical discussions.

Stick to the basics. And, I would not bring up other “silly” things other people believe in. At this age, that’s not an approach I would use.

I’m wondering if you are trying to teach her at a level that is too adult. Really, stick to simple things. Stay away from introducing ideas that contradict the faith. Stick to the facts of the faith.

And, yes, this is likely a phase. So, don’t harp on it. The more you pick at it, the more entrenched she’ll become. Just move on to another topic.

Maybe that was just a “let’s see if we can shock Mom” moment, then . . . :rolleyes:

Or just a fantasy notion that sounded appealing at the time, and then she got a bit fixated on it.

When I was a kid, my friend and I were watching the old “Dark Shadows” series about vampires and werewolves, and then when my mom found out we were thinking of having a seance, she made me quit watching it.

Which was undoubtedly correct of her since I have OCD (we didn’t have a name for it then - I was just a weird kid :wink: ). But it broke the possibly unhealthy obsession until my emotional maturity could catch up a bit and be able to distinguish fantasy and reality better.

I still don’t like true horror movies or books, and some of the crime dramas are more intense than I prefer. But now I can watch a suspense thriller - or read/watch Twilight without taking it seriously - and so on.

In other words, know your kid, know what’s developmentally going on with her, find out what the significance of this issue is for her at this particular time in her life. Then pray for guidance, and just do your best to strike the right note in your approach.

She’s 8, and perhaps (as you indicate) simply “rebelling” (as kids are wont to do). I say, let her receive Communion. Nobody’s perfect.

It is definitely important that she understands Church teaching and that you answer any questions she has about it. If she is serious about reincarnation, there are websites and groups that can help you logically explain to her (in a way she can understand at her age) why reincarnation is false.

I think it is possible that she is doing this for attention. Lots of kids go through stages like that. She throws fits and then disagrees with you just to see your reaction. It might be a good idea to set aside some bonding time, if you’re not already doing so. I know it’s hard with work and school and people being so busy, but maybe you could take a special trip to the mall just with her. A special day for her, which is nice, especially if you have other children. Or have family game nights/movie nights/etc. A lot of families are growing apart lately and it’s important to set time aside so you can grow closer together.

Another possibility is that she is saying she has different beliefs because she’s trying to carve out her own identity apart from her family, which is part of growing up. She’s at the age where kids start to want peer approval more than adult approval, and they might want to spend more time with their friends. If you suspect this is true, maybe she could start a hobby (sports, scouting, sewing, knitting, origami, scrapbooking) or take a class (ballet/dance, gymnastics, martial arts, foreign language) that is something that is hers alone. She is still part of your Catholic family, but she also has interests of her own.

correct, if she does not believe in and accept the church teachings(which doesn’t mean to understand them all or completely) then she cannot receive communion,
here is some of what canon law has to say about it -

*Can. 913 §1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

§2. The Most Holy Eucharist, however, can be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion reverently.

Can. 914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion.*

if you need some help in educating your child, check out these very helpful and trustworthy Catholic resources -

i don’t know if you send your child to public or private school, or if you homeschool? the most common place for a child to develop such an attitude or rebellion is simply from friends and other bad influences(such as tv, books, internet, and music)
if a child, who is not well educated and protected in the faith, is sent out into the world to fend for themselves, then they are more than likely going to be taken more to the world and of worldly things than they are to be taken to the church and God, and why? well because when we are young we are very undisciplined and weak, a child is much less likely to resist their evil inclinations, which we all have from our fallen human nature, and yet how much more so in spirit, which we are even more young and undisciplined in?
but i think with your daughter, it may fall under something like this - perhaps her friends belittle the church, after all, children are very perceptive to what their parents say, and we all know the scandals going on today concerning the church,
when a child is educated in the world before the church, things like this are bound to happen, and the only reason i say that is because i’ve been there, it wasn’t that long ago that i was in school, or out with non-religious “friends”, i know how it is first-hand, and believe me, private or not, schools nowadays are not Catholic and are not “good” for our children,
and although the answers to these problems are not always easy ones, but the truth of the matter is, we were not sent to this world to live in it, or to gain “social skills”, we were sent here to choose between heaven and hell, between loving God or hating Him, and it matters very little what we make of ourselves in the worlds eyes, it only matters what we make of ourselves in Gods eyes, despite what others may think of us.

well, i’m kinda just rambling, so i’ll stop there, but my advice is, just educate yourself first, perhaps with those links i gave, and always first and foremost pray on it, because without God we can do nothing,
and the reason i say educate yourself first, is because your daughter is going to learn most from your own example,
although if i could make one more recommendation, get this book - amazon.com/gp/product/B0007J780E
my sister got that, and i read a little bit of it, and i can say that it is really the best book on raising our children to be Catholic that you can find, it is simple, but very effective and very informative,
it addresses on the concerns your having now, plus it teaches you how to help your children approach each of the sacraments, and how to raise them to be good Catholics overall.

as for some help in correcting your daughter on reincarnation, check out these short(but very good) articles -

so, i hope this helps, take care, and i will be praying for you and your daughter.

That’s a really nice idea. Might I add, too, that maybe instead of the mall where you’ll be surrounded by pop culture and materialism, you go to the park or someplace similar out in nature? Maybe that will inspire a conversation about the beauty of the world that God created and our place in it. All of us, kids and adults alike, need more time to reconnect with the natural world. (I say this as one who is waiting for some nice spring days to come along because I’ve been missing this sort of thing myself, and it even affects my spiritual attitudes! :whacky: )

Identity may very well be a part of it, and this too you can use as a teachable moment kind of thing. When the time is right, talk with her about the things about her that are unique. Point out how well that proves that God created each of us as a unique individual and Jesus died on the Cross and rose for each and every one of us. :thumbsup:

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