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Ten Ways to Get Your Children Interested in the Divine Liturgy

From the blog, Fresh and Faithful

If you have children, you will know that they have relatively short attentions spans. No parent wants to be the one with kids that were obviously dragged there or with kids that are goofing off during Divine Liturgy. Hopefully these tips will help you from being parents of bored, uninterested, or misbehaving children.

1. Have your children follow along with the service book
It is hard for a child to pay attention if he or she has no idea what is going on.

2. Let your children sing in the choir if it is allowed
In one parish we went to, children were free to go back and forth between the choir and their parents. Even if they cannot carry a tune, nobody cares about pitch quality when they see a child eager to serve the Lord with their voice.

3. Teach your children about the saints
If your children are familiar with the lives of at least a few saints, they will have more people to look up to besides just you. Children also love to point out their patron saint in the icons on the walls and like to impress you by knowing facts about different saints. If your children are familiar with many of the saints then they are more likely to feel at home in a church whose walls are covered in icons.

4. Teach your children to reverence icons
This is especially helpful for the children that are one to two years old. My 18 month old loves to kiss the icons and point out Mary and Jesus. If they are too young and cannot possibly pay attention to the Liturgy, at least you can teach them to like icons and to recognize Mary, Jesus and possibly a few saints.

5. Don't let them bring toys or coloring books
Even though this may keep them occupied and quiet, it is the easy way out and can sometimes be distracting to others. Giving children other things to do during church teaches them that the Liturgy is for adults only and that is not what we want to be teaching our children.

6. Don't let them play outside or play in a nursery room
Of course, if they are being distracting, you should take them out but it should not be a fun thing. They should not be rewarded for their misbehavior by being allowed to play. This does not teach children to behave and have the proper reverence for God during Liturgy.

7. Get your children involved in other church activities
One church we went to used to make perogies every year and the children loved to help out. Whether it is getting involved in the church festivals, Sunday school groups, or community service projects, it is important that your children feel like they are contributing members of the church too.

8. Make sure that serving God is not just a Sunday thing
If the only time your family worships God is During the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, then it is a foreign thing to them and they are more likely to be intimidated than interested. Pray together as a family throughout the week, have an icon corner, read the lives of the saints around the dinner table, and get involved in community service.

9. Encourage your boys to be altar servers
This is a great way to get your children to participate in the Liturgy while also serving the church. It can also help them to learn more about the Liturgy.

10. Explain to them the reasons why we do certain things at certain times
It is one thing to be able to follow along during Divine Liturgy but, if a child does not know why they are doing something, then they are just going through the motions. This can be very boring for a child. If they knew why they are supposed to make the sign of the cross at the mention of the Trinity for example, then that would give their participation more meaning.