Introducing God to Older Child


#1

We agreed it was time to bring God back into our lives and into our home. My boyfriend and I are using Advent to introduce our 10 year old daughter to God and the Catholic Church. My boyfriend grew up in the Catholic Church but was never confirmed. I was not brought up in a religious home at all.

We encountered something we did not expect to happen. On Saturday we started celebrating Advent and we explained to our daughter what it is and why we celebrate it. We have an advent wreath and candles and we even printed out simple prayers for when we light the candles. Well when we got ready to say the pray our daughter just burst out into tears and stated she didn't want to do any of these because is was strange. It took an hour to get her to stop crying and agree to listen and participate.

Our daughter is extremly intelligent/gifted in reading and writing among other things. She has never acted so defensive about reading or learning something new. We were literally stunned by her reaction. I blame myself for waiting so long, but when it wasn't part of my childhood and it's not till this past year that I wanted to join the Catholic Church. I can understand how all this must sound to her.

I printed out several prayers that most kids her age would know, the ten commandments, and vocab lists defining some of the most common words she will encounter, but we know she needs more then that. Can anyone recommend reading material for her to learn about God, the Catholic Church and so on. We believe once she becomes comfortable at home she will be more open and participate in Church services and classes. We don't think throwing her in now would benefit her at all.

Our plan is to join a parish and attend services regularly and next fall for us to start RCIA classes, so our family will be welcomed into the Church spring of 2012. At least I think thats how it will go!

Any input would be greatly appreciated!


#2

Faith is*** lived ***first. then learned.

my best suggestion is NOT to give her books and material. instead, build a faith life and live it. let her see her mother (and father? is your boyfriend her father?) have a prayer life, both individually and together. let her see her mother and father (?) read scripture, go to Mass, talk about the homily. let her see you live in obedience to God-- to be honest and humble and kind and chaste.

expect her occasional and respectful presence (my husband and i pray a lot with kids meandering in and out-- we dont require their presnece every time we pray) and invite her participation-- always invite her-- but don't push her to participation yet. you yourself have to learn to navigate the challenges of a life of obedient Faith. you want to get it settled in you first. pressuring her will result in missteps-- places where you've been imprudent and misguided. just learn your Faith, live your Faith; expect her occasional presence but don't pressure her participation.

if i were to leave any one book laying around in case she was interested, i'd leave Faith and Life Catechism (Ignatius Press) on the coffee table. if she's a good reader, i'd leave leverl 2. if she's a crackerjack reader, i'd leave level 4. and i'd practice prudence. i'd only offer answers if she had questions; i would fight the urge to over-teach. i would refer tho the book in tiny bits and pieces and leave it mostly alone.


#3

My bf is not her father. I have full custody, he is involed 5%, pretty much pays child support and sends a card once in awhile. I have been with my bf 2 years this month. We will have lived together for 2 years this spring/summer. We both work in public safety/civil service and own a small working farm.

We are definitely not pushing her to participate, but it's hard not be taken back by her tears. It has almost been a week since we started talking about God and she has come around to being interested in reading anything we can give her. She loves history and she is viewing the bible as a history book. She even told us it was the most read book in the world! She is in 4th grade and earlier testing this fall has her at post high school level of reading and comprehension.

Should I let her view all this as history and not push the religious card yet?

My bf and I do say small prayers out loud to show that it's not a strange thing to do and to show how easy it can be.


#4

She's 10. Of course she's crying. All of the sudden (in her view) the two adults in the world who seemed the most stable are suddenly gleefully awaiting a person who they've said or indicated didn't exist.

Since she likes reading. I would get books...but in no way indicated she needed to read them...only that they're around. A Catholic teen bible, Scott Hahn's "Father Who Keeps His Promises" books by Mark Hart and Bob Rice directed at teens and pre-teens. I'd put them in an innocuous place and not ask if she's reading them. If it appears like she's reading add more. Again, never asking. Actually, if she likes reading I'd just fill the house with good things...the chatechism, CS Lewis, etc. Let her see that God has always been there. I'd order a subscription to the Magnificat (daily readings with reflections) and Catholic Digest. A dictonary of saints...and plenty of Mary Fabian Windeatt books (the thicker ones, most likely)

Don't pressure her. This is extremely traumatic time...her whole world is upside down. Children have an innate sense of God when they are very young...a natural inclination that was probably driven out of her by your own ignorace. It's ok, you can't undo the past...you just have to gently let your daughter in on what's going on. She's her own person.

Don't change things too quickly. Don't take away books or movies she loves. Don't wake her up at 7am for mass on Sunday. Don't change her life in any way...let her decide to change her own life when she's ready.


#5

You can find some good resources here:

comcenter.com/category/SA020/RCIA-for-Children-and-Teens-and-Catch-up-Catechesis/

The Ligouri "Journey of Faith" is particularly good b/c it's in a little magazine/newletter format for kids.

Also on the Communication Center site you can get a child's bible.

You might also check into your parish library to see if they have videos you can check out-- there are great bible story videos that can introduce your daughter to the basics.


#6

Hi,
how much background knowledge does your daughter have about God? Have you explained to her that He is the Creator of everything, and loves us, and we can talk to Him, etc..? It might have been strange to her because she wasn't sure what this is all about...

God bless :)


#7

Thank you for the resources!

We are not forcing her at all. We have talked about God and how he is always there ready to listen to her and how he helps us and is with us when we are sad or angry or happy. We are taking it slow with her and letting her enjoy Advent and ask questions as we go along.

She is looking forward to having her own reading material to read and figure stuff out on her own. We are encouraged by this!


#8

I agree, living a Christian life is more important than books and stuff. It would be a good idea to ease into it without pushing. I know some things that would work but it would take a lot of effort on your part and you may not even know what I'm talking about if I said them. One example, is to draw correlations of secular things we see to Catholic/Christian traditions. Santa Clause = St. Nicolas. Expose her to shows about Saints is another example where she can see what some of the great Saints accomplished in the face of adversity. Discuss the existence of God and let them know that you let them down not teaching them about Christ. Honesty is best in these situations. My son was 11 coming into the Church. But he had a Christian background, bible verse competitions and all too. His initial knee jerk reaction was fear and strange. But he quickly adapted to it once he learned more.

One thing I would do in particular is learn about some of the women Saints so that you can both learn together. Point out the Virgin Mary for one. Learn about Terese of Avila, and Terese of Liseux (the Little Flower). Edict Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta). Learning together can be a wonderful way of easing into something. Try reading about the tradition from a source that elevates it to the dignity it deserves and watch a movie that centers around it first. Then say something like "wouldn't that be kind of neat to do". One tradition you could help ease her into it is setup a place in the home where you can gradually add religious art to expose her to it more. Explain the reasons for your belief in Christ. Not all in one setting. Trying lighting the Candles by yourself. Ask her to just listen. I'm just brainstorming.


#9

If your daughter absorbs the lessons, don't be surprised when she starts asking why you and your boyfriend aren't married instead of living together! Sometimes kids will bring up some rather uncomfortable issues in their innocent questioning...I don't know if you have other threads here, are you in the process of exploring an annulment and re-marriage? I'm glad you two have decided to open yourselves to the love and mercy of Christ, that's wonderful!

Honestly, though, if she's never even heard about God in the context of her daily life, it's going to take some time and adjustment...and you can't start as if she is a toddler with simple Bible stories, since she'd probably feel insulted by this. Do y'all go to church with her?

Her tears may not be defensive ones, perhaps it was a sign of the Holy Spirit opening her heart and also giving you a sign that she will be a believer. She interpreted it to mean she felt strange but a soft heart is a teachable heart. Just a thought.

And, I would be very honest with her at all points. I mean, she doesn't need ALL the particulars of your lives, but what you do tell her, let it be honest. It's very important that you model the best of what Christianity and Catholicism are.


#10

Oh she has already gotten onto my bf about putting a ring on my finger. She wants the marriage just as much as we do. It will happen in the next couple years. Neither one of us have been married.

She has gone to vocation Bible School in the summer and we attend Christmas Mass with his family. She has been to different churchs for various things weddings, Girl Scouts, and services. She "knows" who God is, she doesn't understand "who" he is and "why" people worship him.

The tears have yet to return. She is comfortable with what she has learned up to this point,


#11

I don't mean to come across as uncharitable, however, if you're living with your boyfriend and your daughter obviously knows it, then you really need to correct that situation first. You said she's smart. My 9 year old can tell you which commandment is being broken and does when he sees or hears about something like this. Your daughter needs to know that chastity is important for her own self-esteem base on the dignity of a person.

It sounds like you're giving her mixed messages and that will only come across as insincere. Trust me, she'll see right through you and is unlikely to take anything about God as serious as she would if you lived it first. She may not take anything you tell her serious until you show her by example. Please, for the sake of your daughter move out NOW for her sake. Boyfriend bears no weight. Husband does. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Unfortunately many guys feel "why buy the cow when you get the milk for free". As much as I hate the sound of this saying it does get the message across. Don't you worry about premarital sex with your daughter? If I were a woman, I'd be paranoid. I already know guys from my youth where my fraternity brother was living in and getting it from both mother and daughter. Not that's what's going on, but it seems wise to open your eyes to God for direction on this one. The only way you're going to teach her is if you practice it, up front. Now, not later.

I'll be praying for you this Advent. My relationship with my dad was strained at best after discovering the hypocrisy of his example compared to his words. In fact, I barely spoke to him the last 20 years of his life. My situation was different but you still have much to iron out before trying to spoon feed her the faith. Good luck though and I do wish you success. Just kick out the BF or move out. Insist on chastity. if the guy won't do that then her really isn't interested in commitment.


#12

I have a ridiculously bright 7 year old who's just now being exposed to the Catholic Church. He's gone to other churches and been involved but Catholic customs are brand new to both of us these past few weeks as my husband is a brand new revert.

Take it slow with her. Definitely go easy on heavy reading material until she's ready. Something I did here was instead of bombing our son with "to do" lists, I pulled out a rosary along with a sheet of how to pray it and just started praying it out loud with a smaller rosary for him to use and another prayer sheet next to me.

The first day he sat and stared at me as if I'd grown another head. The second he tried to follow along but didn't say anything. By the fourth day he was doing entire decades on his own!!!

The tears are normal - she's at a confusing enough time in life right now!!! :) This is where the "live the faith first" comes in handy. If she SEES you doing it as an observer, she'll likely become interested in doing it herself. Stand STRONG in your new faith and let her see that.

Also, see if there's some kind of youth event coming up at the end of Advent for the kids. I know our CCD group is planning a party. Perhaps she could attend something like that and meet Catholic peers her age. :) Seeing the religion through a peer's eyes rather than having it just come from Mom and "hopefully soon to be step-dad" can be a huge help.

You, your boyfriend, and your daughter will all be in my prayers.


#13

[quote="skc2010, post:10, topic:221509"]
Oh she has already gotten onto my bf about putting a ring on my finger. She wants the marriage just as much as we do. It will happen in the next couple years. nt,

[/quote]

Dear Friend, It's wonderful that you're coming into the church as a family.
My suggestion is, to focus on your own faith first, and then when your daughter sees that you sincerely believe what you say, she will take it seriously.
When you say you will get married in the next couple of years, that's saying you'll get around to obeying the commandments when it's convenient. My suggestion would be to speak to a priest soon, and ask him to help you with your situation. I would not ask your boyfriend to move out, but hopefully you will not have to wait until you have gone through RCIA to get married. Perhaps you will need to get married civilly, then have your marriage convalidated once you join the church.
You have only a few short years until your daughter hits the teens, and that can be a difficult time, when you may have less influence on her than you do now.
Actions speak louder than words.
God bless.


#14

Moving out is not a choice, I can list the reasons why untill I am blue in the face, so I will spare myself the headache.

I have no interest in planning a wedding right now. We want to enjoy the engagement, plan the wedding we both want, and celebrate it with our friends on family.

I fail to see how I have broken any of the Commandments. I may be guilty of sexual immoralities but not adultery. When the time comes I will speak to my daughter about such things and hopefully instill strong values in her so she can make good choices in the future. That's the best any parent can hope for.

We don't lie or hide things in our family. We expect an honest aswer from an honest question.

I am well aware of the saying "why buy the cow if the milk is free." I know people who have this view, male and female. That saying does not apply here, it never has nor ever will.

I appreciate the prayers!


#15

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