How is Lent going for your kids? Do they even know it’s Lent? Do they now hate Lent? Are they growing in their Lenten journey?
Even for adults, Lent can turn into a laundry list of robotic actions that fail to touch the heart. Or, a dreadful, joyless penance that makes us resentful, grumpy, mean and impatient.
“Replaced kids’ chicken nuggets with non-GMO vegan nuggets on Fridays…. CHECK.”
“Forced child to donate his quarter instead of buying a gumball, causing him to tantrum (in full view of all 192 Meijer checkout lines) while screaming over and over, ‘You are a mean Mommy!’ …. CHECK.”
Or, like our new year’s resolutions, something we gave up on within 24 hours.
But instead of simply checking the traditional Lenten checkboxes, what about tailor-making activities to your particular family, your particular children, your style and schedule?
- What is each particular child struggling with?
- What are some positive ways you can promote the virtue that child needs to win the struggle?
- Which of those ideas are realistic and doable? Which ideas will the child deeply engage in?
Only Moms and Dads can decide what’s best for their children, but in the meantime, here are 4 different ways to use our free & easy Affirmation Card & Envelope printable to help your child (age 7+) get to the heart of Lent. All you need: a child of writing age, a printer and some markers!
1. Prayer: Letter-Writing to God
This activity encourages children to share their most intimate fears, hopes and dreams with God.
Write a 3-sentence letter to God:
Sentence 1: Tell God one thing that made you happy or very sad recently. Or, tell God a big dream or hope you have for your future.
Sentence 2: Thank God in your own words for caring about what happens to you. If something made you happy, thank God for creating it and bringing it into your life. If you shared a hope, thank God for having a wonderful plan for your life.
Sentence 3: Ask God for something related to your first sentence. Were you sad because someone hurt you? You could ask God for a spirit of forgiveness, or for Him to heal your sadness. Do you have a big dream or hope? Ask God to help you see whether this dream is part of His will for you. Or, ask God to give you the grace you need to achieve your dream.
2. Fasting: Secret Acts of Charity
This activity encourages kids to see a connection between fasting and love for others.
Secretly fast from something today (or this week). Let a sibling play with one of your toys and don’t complain about it. Have 1 fewer tater tots than you want. Feed the dog without being asked. Keep it a secret! In the evening, tell God what you gave up, and who you are offering this sacrifice for. Write it down on a note card and seal the card. Save all these notes through Lent and read through them on Easter Sunday to see how many kind things God helped you to do this Lent.
3. Compassion: Writing Affirmations
This activity helps kids learn how to use words to build others up.
Write a supportive letter to the person who feels most left out and unhappy at school (even if you never deliver it), or think of a person you have spoken badly about in the past and write them an affirmation letter telling them what you appreciate about them. Or, write 1 affirmation letter for each member of your family, and deliver their notes into their Easter Baskets on Easter morning.
4. Gratitude: Thank Jesus for what He suffered
This activity helps kids to meditate on Christ’s Passion with compassion and gratitude.
Which Station of the Cross or Sorrowful Decade of the Rosary most helps you see how much Jesus loves you? Write a letter to Jesus listing what you think He suffered in that Station/Decade, thanking Him for what He experienced for love of you.