Should children give up something for Lent?


#1

With Lent nearby, are any of you asking your child(ren) to give up something as part of the Lenten sacrifice?

I have 2 Godchildren (my niece and nephew), and since they don't live with me, I will suggest they try not to partake in junk food or not play internet/video games. They are 9 and 11, and more than old enough to attempt to participate.

Myself as an adult, plan to give up my 2 largest vices: junk foods/crisps and chocolates. The only day I will have chocolate is my birthday cake for my birthday which always falls during Lent.


#2

I think it’s a very good idea because they will start learning about sacrifice from early age. Since they are children it shouldn’t be something that could affect their health, like giving up some types of food. Toys and similar things - yes, that would be sacrifice to a child.


#3

yes in answer to thread title, but not necessarily by instructing them as to what they should give up, any more than what prayer they should say or what acts of charity they should perform. The lentent disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (or works of mercy) should be presented for what they are, interdependent, and the children led by example rather than direct instruction. The most helpful way is for the family do discuss what they can do together. Also for children it will be more beneficial, and more likely to be sustained if they choose one specific thing to give up (one favorite TV show or one favorite snack, rather than all TV or all snacks), one prayer to say (an extra Hail Mary each day rather than a whole rosary), and one act of charity each day (invite somebody to sit next to you in the lunchroom, kiss your mom goodbye each morning, help your little brother get dressed). As with any spiritual practice the best choice is one that is doable.

This is a good time to encourage them to look through toys they loved but no longer play with to give to charity. You would be surprised by what courage and sacrifice children can show when invited to consider this (and how clean your basement or playroom will be).


#4

[quote="MissRose73, post:1, topic:230704"]
With Lent nearby, are any of you asking your child(ren) to give up something as part of the Lenten sacrifice?

I have 2 Godchildren (my niece and nephew), and since they don't live with me, I will suggest they try not to partake in junk food or not play internet/video games. They are 9 and 11, and more than old enough to attempt to participate.

Myself as an adult, plan to give up my 2 largest vices: junk foods/crisps and chocolates. The only day I will have chocolate is my birthday cake for my birthday which always falls during Lent.

[/quote]

I think asking a young child to give up all video games for Lent is a little severe. And I really like the recent emphasis on making a positive change instead of mere deprivation - such as performing an act of service for a family member, or doing charity work, etc.

My pastor always tells the story of how, as a child and young teen, he would give up chocolate for Lent every year, and then totally gorge himself on Easter to the point where he would throw up. He says the resultant over-indulgence kind of canceled out any good effects from the deprivation, and he urges us to put more thought into our Lenten experience than just the first impulse to give up dessert.

Why not encourage your godchildren to substitute an act of charity for every hour or two of video games they play?

Of course you realize that their parents are the main influence and if there is no support for doing Lenten acts of charity, your recommendations will probably fall on deaf ears...


#5

[quote="MissRose73, post:1, topic:230704"]
With Lent nearby, are any of you asking your child(ren) to give up something as part of the Lenten sacrifice?

I have 2 Godchildren (my niece and nephew), and since they don't live with me, I will suggest they try not to partake in junk food or not play internet/video games. They are 9 and 11, and more than old enough to attempt to participate.

Myself as an adult, plan to give up my 2 largest vices: junk foods/crisps and chocolates. The only day I will have chocolate is my birthday cake for my birthday which always falls during Lent.

[/quote]

Since you don't live with them, I wouldn't suggest giving up video games. It sounds like a really good idea, until you realize that Mom or Dad then will become entertainment coordinators. If Mom or Dad want them to do it, great, but I wouldn't suggest it.

I would suggest, instead of giving something up, to do something extra. Maybe as their Godmother, you could give them a saint book to read during lent. Or maybe you could find a devotional for children.


#6

There are traditionally three things we should do for lent: extra sacrificing (eg fasting and "giving something up"), extra almsgiving, and extra prayer. Children should be taught all three things at a young age. So yes, they should give something up, they should also do more prayers, they should also do something to help the poor.


#7

I am planning to ask my children (7 & 12) to give up 20 minutes or so each day during Lent to pray the Rosary. I plan to join them in this "sacrifice" which (I hope) will make it "fun".

They already don't eat/drink "junk food". They do play video games quite a bit but that is actually family play time in our house as my wife and I play the games with them. I don't think I'll ask them to give up playing with Mom and Dad :)

I like the idea a few posts up that now would be a good time to look through toys and choose some for GoodWill... I think I'll talk to my wife about that tonight.

God Bless


#8

yes, we always have the children in my family give up something, usually its sweets and tv which they don't watch much anyways. They also participate in abstaining from meat on Fridays.


#9

[quote="deo_adiuvante, post:8, topic:230704"]
yes, we always have the children in my family give up something, usually its sweets and tv which they don't watch much anyways. They also participate in abstaining from meat on Fridays.

[/quote]

Not trying to pick on you, just to ask in general, if your kids don't watch TV much anyway, how is that a sacrifice or an act of penance to give it up? Shouldn't it be something that really "costs" them something? That would be like me saying, "OK, Jesus, I'm going to give up tofu for Lent!" Since I never eat tofu I don't even have to think about it or crave it.


#10

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:9, topic:230704"]
Not trying to pick on you, just to ask in general, if your kids don't watch TV much anyway, how is that a sacrifice or an act of penance to give it up? Shouldn't it be something that really "costs" them something? That would be like me saying, "OK, Jesus, I'm going to give up tofu for Lent!" Since I never eat tofu I don't even have to think about it or crave it.

[/quote]

no I understand, but since they only get to watch one thing every week it is quite dear to them:shrug:


#11

I don't think we necessarily need to discourage the idea of giving up things based on what we think the kid can handle. When I was 12, I gave up snacking in between meals/junk food/dessert/pop/kool-aid/etc. for Lent. And at that time, I had never heard of the "Cheater's Lent" (;) whereby one partakes of what they gave up for Lent on Sundays) and I was likewise unfamiliar with the fact that Solemnities (like St. Joseph and the Annunciation) dispensed one from fasting. So I went the whole time only drinking water (lots of water) between meals.

That Lent was probably one of the best spiritual experiences of my childhood. Grant it, I was a tad chubby at the time and had some weight I could afford to loose, but I am thankful no one tried to discourage me from taking on "too much."


#12

I think it depends on the children's level of faith formation.

After all, the purpose of Lent is not just to penalize oneself but to offer penance. But if the child has not yet developed a sense of penance, then being made to 'give up' something (for what will seem a VERY long time to them) just because Mom and Dad say so, will seem like only a confusing punishment for them. IMNAAHO

ICXC NIKA


#13

Lent should be about giving up something that is difficult. I find giving up difficult, so....I give up giving up! (kidding).

I think you can give kids IDEAS of what to give up, but ultimately it must be THEIR decision, not yours; otherwise, they are simply following "orders", not really "giving up" of their volition.

Don't their parents practice the Lenten sacrifices?


#14

My birthday is during Lent, too. It kind of stinks. Oh well.:shrug:


#15

When I was a kid we were always required to give something up for Lent. It was expected at home and at school, so I have no problem expecting my children to do something for Lent (either giving something up, doing something positive or doing daily prayers). I tend to expect them to actually stick to what they give up, which causes some headaches with grandparents and whatnot. "I understand that they gave up sweets, but making an exception for chocolate with grandma every Saturday should be okay." No, it shouldn't, because then they miss the whole point. For the record, this is an argument I've had every year for at least twelve years now, and I expect to be having it again this year.

I have all our kids abstain from meat on Fridays, even though the younger ones are technically required to do so. I'd rather get them in the habit now and try to have it stick.

I do like the idea of having them go through their old toys during Lent.


#16

[quote="Gordon_Sims, post:15, topic:230704"]
When I was a kid we were always required to give something up for Lent. It was expected at home and at school, so I have no problem expecting my children to do something for Lent (either giving something up, doing something positive or doing daily prayers). I tend to expect them to actually stick to what they give up, which causes some headaches with grandparents and whatnot. "I understand that they gave up sweets, but making an exception for chocolate with grandma every Saturday should be okay." No, it shouldn't, because then they miss the whole point. For the record, this is an argument I've had every year for at least twelve years now, and I expect to be having it again this year.

I have all our kids abstain from meat on Fridays, even though the younger ones are technically required to do so. I'd rather get them in the habit now and try to have it stick.

I do like the idea of having them go through their old toys during Lent.

[/quote]

'
Technically, Sundays are not Lent, so they are a "free day".


#17

Our kids learn that fasting (giving something up or limiting something, as a discipline to free ourselves from it), almsgiving (doing for others or giving material help to those in need), and prayer are the pillars of Lent...provided these are done in a penitential spirit, because we want to reject sin and choose God, instead. Kids ought to know that not all dieting is fasting and not all fasting is dieting. Intent makes a big difference.

Presumably if you are a godparent, you're close to the parents? Helping children to prepare for Easter is primarily their obligation. As godparents, after all, we are supposed to help the parents, not supercede them.


#18

I had planned not to preasure my kids to "give up" something. My 7 year old came home from school and announced she was giving up TV (not going to be an easy thing for her) and giving up computer games on Fridays. My 12 year old has said she's giving up chocolate and limiting computer games...

I am SO proud of them and glad that my wife and I decided on spending the money on Catholic School :)

God bless teachers!!!!


#19

You know, until a few years ago, I had never heard of this! I am not sure if it’s a regional thing but when I was a child, Lent was Lent, Sundays and all, from Ash Wednesday right through Easter Sunday. No exceptions. No “free days.” All deprivation, all the time.

:slight_smile:


#20

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:19, topic:230704"]
You know, until a few years ago, I had never heard of this! I am not sure if it's a regional thing but when I was a child, Lent was Lent, Sundays and all, from Ash Wednesday right through Easter Sunday. No exceptions. No "free days." All deprivation, all the time.

:)

[/quote]

I get the feeling that it's not only regional but a recent innovation. We certainly never had Sunday dispensations when we were kids so when my mom started doling them out on Sundays and then Saturdays to my kids, I was a little shocked. She claims now that it was that way when she was young, but if that was so I'm not sure why my siblings and I weren't released from our Lenten obligations on Sundays. I'm of the mind that it's 40 days of Lent, not 34 or 28 days of Lent. It certainly doesn't hurt my kids (13 or not) to observe Lent on Sundays.


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