The family rosary.
Something every good Catholic family knows they should do but are we brave enough to try? Seriously. It’s intimidating and easily the type of thing that goes wrong once and you’re saying things like, “Never again!” “Why do I do this to myself?!” “This has GOT to be time off of purgatory!” Hearing of fellow parents struggling through a family rosary always has me like . . .
But here are a few tips that can hopefully make the experience less stressful for you.
1 – Just One Decade
One decade should last you right around 5 minutes max (that’s factoring in the extra time it takes to do ANYTHING with kids!). Take a few extra seconds to read the scripture verse to help your child meditate on the mystery as they pray.
2- Use Coloring Sheets
Children pray through experience and play. Help them enter into the mystery by printing off coloring sheets of each individual mystery or our coloring sheet of a Rosary on which they can color a bead for each prayer. You can download the PDF of that Rosary coloring sheet here – Rosary Coloring Sheet
3 – Use Pictures
Print off color pictures of each mystery so that the kids have a visual to help guide their meditate. Ask them questions about what they see in the image. Who is there? What are they doing? Encourage them to imagine what the people were thinking or feeling in that moment.
4 – Let Them Lead
Depending on your child’s age, you could let them offer their own intentions or lead a Hail Mary. Offer to write it out on a sheet of paper so they can read it if that would make them more comfortable. Especially if you have older kids who groan when you mention a family rosary – giving them a leadership role can help.
5 – Set the Stage
Light a candle, sing a Marian hymn or start off with a few moments of silence. Make sure there is a sacred and prayerful atmosphere to help them realize that this time is special and set apart from their normal activities.
6 – Let Them Play
If all else fails, or if your children are still little, let them play quietly while you pray. They are still hearing the words and becoming accustomed to praying as a family.
How We Currently Roll
Honestly, we are in the “Let Them Play” stage. Both of the kids have their rosaries (wooden ones we were given at their baptisms) and we all start off sitting nicely on the couch. As soon as Lucy has lost interest in chewing on her Rosary, she goes off and plays. David will usually last about ½ way into the first mystery and he is off. Then Dakota and I finish the Rosary ourselves without making a huge fuss. The only thing we won’t allow is loud musical toys. We try to encourage them to play with more “religious” toys like their saint peg dolls or read a book out of their mass bag. But if they want to play quietly with cars or little people, we’re cool with that. The goal right now is just for the kids to grow up hearing the Rosary prayed frequently. Honestly, I have no idea what age we will actually “require” them to remain sitting nicely. Probably sometime before first communion/first confession/the age of reason.
A few weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner and a Rosary. We had some coloring sheets for the kids that I found on Pinterest and as soon as the kids were done they played. The playing wasn’t very quiet, but with 6 kids 4 and under I’m not sure we could have reasonably expected much more.
And that really gets to the heart of it, I really believe that reasonable expectations are the key here. You know your kids. If the only time they sit still for more than 5 minutes is when they are asleep, they probably won’t sit still through a Rosary and THAT’S TOTALLY FINE! Be patient with them and be patient with yourself. The worst thing that could happen is they think of praying the rosary as “that time when Mom and Dad are super stressed.” Take a deep breath and rest in the fact that you are leading your children (slowly but surely) to the arms of the Blessed Mother and have confidence that your efforts will be fruitful – even if it is slow going.
If it’s older kids who are giving you trouble – be assured – when I was teaching I had 5th graders who struggled sitting through the entire rosary. And honestly, as an adult sometimes I get to that 4th decade and think to myself “Am I really ONLY on the 4th decade?” What I do for myself when I get “bored,” and something I think is very appropriate to teach middle school and high schoolers is start a Rosary of gratitude. For each Hail Mary, I thank the Lord for something. Or I offer each Hail Mary for an intention or person. A couple Hail Marys in and that is usually enough to get my focus back where it needs to be.
I hope this was helpful for you and has provided you with the inspiration to start praying occasional (or frequent!) family rosaries.
Let me know in the comments tip was the most helpful!
Are there any struggles with the Rosary that we didn’t cover here? Let me know that too!