First FYI Wednesday Answers: Marisa’s children and prayer question.

Vicky (19) relating her first remembrance of God, about age three:

I remember thinking that He would keep all the babies in a pocket next to his heart and he would hand pick the parent of each child. I believed that he would sit on his throne in heaven looking down on everyone and that you had to ask him to be able to get a gift or to do something, in sense believed him to be my father. I remember not being scared of him because I know he loved(s) and cared(s) for me. Also not being as curious of him as I was when I was a  young teenager. He made the world make sense for me.

I have asked fellow Catholic moms for questions that they might have on such questions about motherhood and spirituality, children’s  spiritual development, finding time for yourself, or just to learn more about Spiritual Direction; I have received four: Thank you so much, a great start.

From Marisa, she asks: How do you encourage children to pray when they don’t believe it works? Thank you!

Thank you, Marisa.  Since I am no sure the ages of the children it might be helpful to review their spiritual development.

The “global” stage – Infant to seven zzzzzz
  • Does not differences between religious faiths
  • Can appreciate religious symbols and rituals but,
  • Don’t connect to God
The “concrete” stage – Eight to 12 zzzzzz
  • Still very grounded in the concrete thought
  • Beginning to develop a greater sense of spiritual identity based on:
    • personal experience
    • religious practice
  • Rituals effective in helping children understand religious themes.
The “personal connection” stage – 13 -18 zzzzzz
  • A feeling of personal closeness to God
  • Budding actual relationship
  • God becomes a confidante

Reference: David Elkind, Ph.D., professor of child study at Tufts University

Now how can moms help their children develop a relationship with God?

Parents with children ages birth to 5
  • Participate as a family in rituals and practices that engage the five senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.
  • Adapt your religious and spiritual practices to match your child’s developmental abilities. Children this age may only be able to sit 10-15 minutes (or less) at one time. Offer a quiet activity or book to keep your child engaged.
  • Encourage your child to talk about her interpretations of spiritual or religious concepts, asking questions to clarify comments, rather than judging what she says.
Parents with children ages 6 to 9
  • Together, read stories and enjoy music and other creative arts that have religious or spiritual themes.
  • Make conversations about spiritual matters a part of your family life.
  • Spend time regularly with other parents and families who share your spiritual beliefs, practices, and priorities.
Parents with children ages 10 to 15
  • Encourage your child to take part in positive peer groups that reinforce and nurture his spiritual commitments.
  • Talk with other parents (including parents of older teens) about your family’s experiences with religious and spiritual commitments.
  • Keep talking with and listening to your child, even if she says things about religion or spirituality that worry or disappoint you.
Parents with children ages 16 to 18
  • Model spiritual beliefs and practices that are important to you. At this point in parenting, actions often speak louder than words.
  • It’s okay for your teen to seek out adult mentors with deep spiritual commitments or practices, even if those practices differ from your own. Exposure to different cultures and belief systems can help him evaluate and define his own

Note for moms of teens: Be open to following your teenager’s lead if she/he introduces you to spiritual passions and commitments that are important to her/him, but are different from yours. If she/he moves in directions that cause you concern, share your perspective and listen to what she/he has to say.

Now I would ask what has happened, a divorce or death of a significant person in the children’s life; because this can break the bond of trust that is developing.  It is important to talk with the children to help them process what has happen.  Children will by nature think that they have somehow created the situation, helping them process out what happen and how they were not responsible can help rebuild a relationship with God.

You might want to get the Prove It book series by Amy Welborn.  Amy Welborn is an American Roman Catholic writer and activist, as well as a public speaker. Formerly, she was a theology teacher at a Catholic high school in Lakeland Florida and served as a parish Director of Religious Education; here is her website

Marisa, I hope this helps.

Reference: Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence at


Next answer to question 2:  When did Jesus knew.

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Is a spiritual director working helping moms find God in the everyday. She has been a spiritual director since 1998: worked as a Director of Religious Education for Holy Cross Parish(2000-2005), was Director of Project Rachel, a healing ministry for Post Abortive women(1999-2000). Patty worked a social worker for Catholic Social Services (1988 - 1995) Then studied for spiritual direction at the Dominican Center of Religious Studies, DeWitt Michigan

She is married 20 years and has four children

She has a BS/BA in social work from Aquinas College, CSD Certified Spiritual Director

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