Forced Family Prayer Pros vs. Cons


I’m absolutely disgusted at my fellow Catholics on this thread. Forcing an 8 year old child to kneel, while forbidding then to lean on anything, for an hour every day is extreme and I can definitely see how it could be very damaging to a child. That’s the sort of penance that only a mature Catholic should undertake. Is there zero common sense on CAF?!?!
I as an adult practicing Catholic would find it very difficult to kneel without any support (at least leaning my hands on the pew) for a full hour every day.


Comparing what the OP described to “eating vegetables” is ignorant at best.

Trying to gloss over what the OP described by saying “it’s not that bad” or “children need to pray” makes me shiver.

Defending the responses by saying “people on the internet are sceptical” is to turn from reality. The thread was started. People posted. It happened. Why make excuses for it.

Saying many CAF members are earnest Catholics is no excuse. The OP’s mother sounded like an earnest Catholic as well. People should just not respond if they cannot feel for the OP.


It’s because you did not start young enough to do it. I am not saying it is okay but it is something that was done in previous eras, and some families do it today.

We had a thread a few weeks ago where someone mentioned saying a family Rosary with their children sitting down, and a visiting older nun observed this and said, “When I was little, the children would have been taught to say it kneeling up straight on the floor.” This sounds abusive to us today but it is how children used to be raised. Parents in those days also did many other things that by today’s standards would likely be considered abuse or at least too much for a young child. It was a different era. It is possible this person’s mother was raised in that type of culture or era, and she felt she should raise her children the same way.

I see families today at prayer rallies where the entire family is kneeling up straight on a lawn for the length of a rosary. I know they didn’t just show up and be able to do that because it’s difficult to do. They are able to do that because they have been doing that as a family for years.


You see it as “making an excuse”.

I see your postings as being overly defensive.

Given that we are now arguing over this, I am even wondering if the original post was a troll post.



I know in Japan, a lot of kids aren’t taught how to sit in the traditional formal kneeling position called seiza. It’s something that people find humor in, where people’s legs cramp up and fall asleep because they didn’t get the practice as small children at kneeling correctly that their forebears had… :slight_smile:



Making children join the family in prayer is not an abusive action.

Having age inappropriate expectations for children can be abusive; parents should be reasonable in how long a child is expected to sit and focus and recognize it will not be the same as for an adult. Ignoring a child complaining of pain, absent a good reason to believe they are exaggerating or lying, is abusive.

And I’ll be honest, as the child of an emotionally abusive parent, family prayer can ring rather hollow. Not because it’s a bad thing per se, but because the parent has no real credibility to the child anymore. The benefit of religious faith passed on from the parent is significantly diminished in cases where the parent-child relationship is based primarily around fear.

It would not surprise me if that last was a major factor in your experience.


Sounds like you experienced spiritual abuse.


This does sound abusive. Is your mother still alive? Have you ever tried to discuss this with her now that you are an adult?


There is also neglect and emotional abuse, none of which leaves marks.


There are a lot of things that are legal that are still really bad things to do to a child.



Forced family prayer, that is done in a high-conflict environment, with other markers of abuse and/or controlling behavior, and an absence of love or affection is simply grotesque.


I’m with those posters who are shocked at many of the responses on this thread. This is really an upsetting thread.

It might be interesting for some of you to ask your 9-year-old child to kneel on a hard surface for one hour and pray the Rosary. I’m thinking you will change your opinion.

But here’s what I want to say to some of you who state that people can train themselves to kneel for long periods of time. That’s just not true. Not everyone can kneel, and there are people who will NOT be able to do it without pain because of their anatomy or certain physiological conditions.

I am in my 60s and have osteoarthritis in my knees (and need knee replacements). I used to be able to use padded kneelers in Catholic (and some Protestant) churches to kneel in prayer, but for the last 6 months, I’ve given up on even trying to kneel. It’s a major production, and I think that if anyone is watching my efforts to get down on my knees and then get UP again, they will definitely be distracted from their worship!

But here’s the thing, friends–I have had painful knees all my life. I can remember as child being unable to do certain things that my friends could do (e.g., sitting on my knees, like the Asians do when they eat)–my knees just wouldn’t bend to get into that position! And all through junior and senior high school, I referred to my “trick knees.” because they would often hurt, and sometimes would collapse at unexpected times, and because it was very painful for me to wear certain shoes (like any shoe with heels) that put more pressure on my poor knees. I was actually on the Varsity volleyball team for all four years of high school, but I couldn’t get into my knees, so I learned to serve really well and that was my position–there were times I would serve 21 straight killer serves without hurting my knees!

I don’t think I"m unique. I think a lot kids have painful knees–these are the kids that prefer to sit and read, or play a musical instrument, rather than run and do sports. (I did ride my bike a lot as a child and teen–that didn’t hurt my knees and still doesn’t.) They are also the kids who are at risk of gaining too much weight because they can’t do some of the physical activities that other kids do. And weight juts makes the knees worse.

Maybe the OP was made like me–cricky-cracky knees?


Not a comment on anyone in your family, but bad parenting is exactly zero reflection on the truth of the faith.

What you are called to do now is never to do that to anyone else, forgive your mother from the heart and pray for her, then move on and grow in faith, hope and love.


I apologise for not addressing the “kneeling for an hour” part. Yes, while parents should teach their children to pray, they should do it in a way that is appropriate to their age eg just Three Hail Marys daily instead of the full 5 Decades of the Rosary. Making you kneel for an hour, as a child, all the while not being able to lean on anything, is just overkill, in my opinion.


To the OP–I’m really sorry that this happened to you when you were an innocent, trusting child. Your mother sounds like someone who was very mentally or emotionally ill, and had a warped idea (perhaps because of her illness) of what it means to train children up in the way they should go.

There are so many loving, pain-free, age-appropriate ways for parents to train children how to talk to Jesus. I’m so sorry that your mother didn’t use these gentle, loving methods to teach you the joy of prayer. I’m so very sorry. My heart is broken for you. I believe that dear Mary, the Mother of God, prays constantly for you and others like you who were raised in abusive homes. I know for a fact that my mother, who is in heaven, and was raised in a poor home with an abusive father is praying for you right now and will keep praying for you…

Yes, it’s abuse, physical and psychological. ANYONE who thinks that your mother was “leading family prayer” in an appropriate way is very wrong. Family prayer is loving, age-appropriate, and restorative to everyone in the family. It can also be a little wild and funny, but the parents should never punish a child for being a child and getting tired, cranky, bored, or tearful. The child should be gradually trained over the years to spend more time in prayer, and offer deeper prayers and praise to God, perhaps on the knees or even prone on the floor if the child is able to get into these positions without undue pain.

The key word is “gradual.” If kneeling is done during the family prayer time, it should be for a very short duration while the children are little, and increase gradually as the children get older and stronger.

So yes, you were abused. But that being said, you have to find a way to be healthy emotionally and mentally. Don’t give up and don’t resign yourself to a life of pain. I hope you are able to work with a good counselor and get to a place where you have joy and peace in your life, and perhaps someday you will even be able to whisper a prayer to Jesus, Who loves you so very much. .


I’ll admit that I’m rather jaded when it comes to threads like this. There’s so many drive-by posters who just want to say “Catholics are mean,” and that’s it. I’ve also heard a lot of exaggerated stories, and not just from one side, of the “walking 15 miles to school in the snow barefoot” variety.

The OP was initially reluctant to provide much context and that made me suspicious, so I tried to tease out more specifically what he meant and about the context. I’ll admit I’m still skeptical based on the responses, even though I do know spiritual abuse is real.

You’re right that situations like this are best handled by a professional.


NOT when your still home and being TAUGHT!

PRAY very much, it’s a sure path to eternal heaven,

Way to GO mom!



It looks like the concern isn’t simply that the prayer was being forced, but that the focus time was inappropriate for the age, and that the position caused pain that was being dismissed.

Many actions that are appropriate in general, can be inappropriate if abused.

Expecting a young child to kneel for an hour, without support, though?


I would call it forced - exactly.


Sound cultish to me but “suffering” is a noble thing.

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