Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to Pray a Family Rosary: 7 Tips for Real Life Families

Praying the Rosary together as a family is a beautiful thing - but it's very intimidating too!  It's a big (and long!) prayer!

Will my kids pay attention for that long?  Will we get through the first mystery before my toddler starts screaming?  Will my teenager even want to say it with us?  How will we ever find the time?

The simple answer is accept God's grace, have fun, and let go.

Here are 7 tips that have helped our busy family of five to start praying the Rosary together.  (And in all reality, these ideas will work for praying any and all prayers together as a family - not just the Rosary!)

Start small.
You first need to ask yourself: what is your ultimate goal?  Do you want to say the Rosary together as a family once a week?  Or everyday?

Once you have your answer, set smaller goals to get to to your final goal.  Maybe you should start by saying one decade a day or the whole Rosary together once a week.  Starting small will help you from feeling overwhelmed or defeated if you're having trouble reaching your final goal right away.

Know your family's limitations - and adjust.
If you have small children with short attention spans, then consider saying 1 decade at a time. 
Also, it's ok to break up the Rosary throughout the day.  Say one decade before breakfast, one before lunch, and so on.  Or make sure that your family Rosary stays under 15 minutes.

If you have older children who are in a lot of activities, maybe saying it in the car together works best for you.

Every family will have obstacles.  Work around them - don't let them become stumbling blocks to your prayer life as a family!

Don't force it.
Praying together as a family is a gift.  Don't speak about it as if it's draining, a requirement, or (even worse) a punishment.

Growing up, my parents always said, "We get to pray the Rosary, go to Mass, go to Adoration, etc."  It was never "we have to..."  Lead by your positive and joyous example!

Below I have posted a few affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking one of those links.  I have only shared products that we use and love.  Please see the disclosure page for more info!

Make it fun.
This is easy for little ones!  Let them play with the Little People Nativity Scene during the Joyful Mysteries.  Give your baby a big toy rosary to chew on.  My kids love holding a plastic statue of Mary while we pray.  My 4 year old daughter loves using Rosary Roses to count out each Hail Mary.

The next three tips will also help to make praying together as a family fun for parents and kids of all ages:

Appeal to the senses. 
Make it visual.  Use a book or watch a video of the Rosary that has beautiful pictures.

Pray before your home altar.  Or place a statue of Jesus or a Crucifix on your coffee table and pray around it.

Think about your environment.  Dim the lights.  Pray by the light of a real or battery operated candle, twinkle lights, your Christmas tree, your fireplace, or a bonfire outside.

Use the resources available.
There are so many wonderful resources out there!

We love the book Mary Holds My Hand for reflections on the Rosary for kids.

For beautiful meditations on the mysteries for older kids and adults, I love Praying the Rosary with St. Josemaría Escrivá.

For reflections on the mysteries of the Rosary (for moms and by moms), my favorite book is Rosaries Aren't {Just} For Teething.

My favorite (free!) app is Relevant Radio.  They have several versions of the Rosary - long and short, with or without background music.  (The shortest one is 17 minutes long and the longest is 28 minutes.  They are located under "Audio Prayers".)

And my favorite Rosary CD is The Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and Music by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  The music is absolutely beautiful!  (This is perfect for praying the Rosary in the car!)

I haven't found a great video yet.  We had an awesome one growing up, but now I can't find it anywhere.  Please share if you have a favorite (DVD or YouTube).  I'm still on the hunt!

Our daughter loves praying with her Rosary Roses!

Make it your own.
Get your children personally involved.  Have everyone choose their own prayer intention for that particular Rosary or decade.

Let everyone pick out their own rosary.  My daughter wants something beautiful (like Rosary Roses!) or her favorite color - pink.  My youngest wants the big chunky toy rosary because he just wants something to chew on!  They get more excited about saying it if they love their rosary.

Once your kids know their prayers, they can lead a decade.  We still need to help them count out the 10 Hail Marys, but our kids (ages 3 and 4) love to lead a decade.  They get so excited when it's their turn! 

Don't sweat it.
Our kids don't always listen or participate.  But as long as they're being respectful (like not swinging their rosary at their sibling's face) then we let it go.

But the best advice is to "give yourself grace" and to remember that God does too.

I'm a cradle Catholic, and I've never been a part of a family Rosary that has looked like a picture out of a magazine.  And that is perfectly fine.

The most important thing to God isn't that you're all kneeling or saying every line of every prayer in perfect reverence.  You're praying together as a family, and that's what is beautiful to God!

How do you pray together as a family?  What tips do you have for keeping your family united in prayer?

Happy Ash Wednesday, and may you have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

What is the Rosary?  Here is how to pray this beautiful devotion!

You may also like:

Our Catholic Quiet Bag for Kids to Help Them
Stay Quiet at Mass and Adoration

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