“Normalization” is the process by which kids come to own what they learn, and it’s our goal when passing on the faith to our kids. Sound complicated? It’s simpler than you might think.
by Heidi Indahl
My five-year-old gently folded her hands and bowed her head after a reminder from her well-meaning older brother that she hadn’t prayed before eating.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Our Father. Protect me from evil and give me some bread. n the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Spontaneous prayer from little ones gives such a beautiful peek into budding knowledge and understanding of their Catholic faith and traditions!
As a mom, I can find it difficult to let these sorts of prayers unfold on their own timeline. I occasionally find myself so wrapped up in making sure that my children learn their faith that I forget to let them experience its beauty and explore it in their own way. Kids are learning all the time, regardless of what we do. They see what we value and what we do and look for ways to make it their own. There is a technical education term for this: normalization.
Normalization is why I believe so strongly in the hands-on and experiential family catechesis that is promoted here at Peanut Butter & Grace. Not just those written by me, but by all of the contributing bloggers and editors. For every article that I contribute, I read half a dozen more. If you click on the Family Time button on the top of the blog and scroll down to “Pray with Your Kids,” for example, you will find dozens of articles on how to model and encourage your children to explore traditional Catholic prayer in simple, age-appropriate ways.
Most of the ideas can be implemented with materials and resources you already have available at home. Some are simply conversation starters to help build your child’s (and your own) awareness of prayer practices.
Occasionally I will hear resistance to the idea that it could be so “simple” to pass on the faith through modeling and conversations…but perhaps that is the beauty of it? The beauty is in the simplicity—as is the challenge. Children hold us accountable to every good and bad example we set for them. They will be normalized based on what they see as normal for their environment.
You will either normalize something or nothing. With a little intentional planning and effort, supported by the community of writers here (and their prayers!), you can choose to normalize the good, the true, and the beautiful.
How will you know this seemingly overly simple approach of modeling, hands on experience, and conversation is working?
Your children will tell you. They will tell you when they remind a younger sibling to pray before eating, even when mom forgot.
They will tell you when they pray for protection from evil and a loaf of bread.