Today, March 1, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the days and times of penance for members of the Catholic Church. Kids may be too young to to understand and participate fully. But parents who observe the Lenten season can use it as a teachable moment on discipline, devotion, and sacrifice.
Perhaps the best way to begin is to explain why you go through fasting in the first place. The simplest answer: It is a way that Catholics remember and live out Jesus’ love and sacrifice.
Penance doesn't have to be about consuming food, of course. You can talk to your child to go on a "spiritual fast" with you. How? Limiting screen time sounds like a reasonable and worthwhile endeavor to undertake this Lenten season, not just for grown-ups but kids as well. It’s a penance where the whole family can participate. You can allot the time spent on video games and social media on bonding activities like taking trips to the park while you talk about the different forms of sacrifice and love.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle encourages the faithful to donate to the Fast2Feed program of the church from money that’s saved from eating smaller meals. “In this season of Lent, we are especially called to imitate the generosity of God, particularly toward the poor and disadvantaged,” Tagle said in a pastoral letter as reported by the Inquirer.
If you've always wondered about when to abstain from meat and fast from meals, here's an infographic that you can show to your child as well.