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Tips for Doing Advent Devotions With Kids

Updated: Apr 11

I had an idea, and it was a great idea! My family was going to do something new that year. Every night, we were going to sit down at the dining room table and do Advent devotions together. I could already see how the night was going to go in my mind’s eye. It was going to be amazing. It was going to transform our family. We would sit down every night with the candle glow all around us, and peace would fall like leaves as we read Holy Scripture and learned about Jesus.

My children would be transfixed; they would receive every word; they would love every moment and thank me in the end for bringing them into this wonderful new Advent tradition.

The reality was that when I suggested devotions, they immediately started to whine. They didn’t want to do devotions! None of the kids could sit still. One of them slid off of her chair and fell onto the floor, screaming because I accidentally touched her candle. The other two fought over who got to light the candle. As my husband read Scripture, he was interrupted over and over again by a child who wanted to tell him about his favorite TV show.

When we finally made it through the liturgy and my husband closed us out with a prayer, instead of saying “amen” like the rest of us, my oldest son, who had been watching way too much college football with his father, raised his glass and yelled, “dilly, dilly!” I’m pretty sure he got that from a beer commercial. Nice. How did this happen? This was supposed to be a magical moment, and instead, it was a hot mess!

5 Practical Suggestions for Doing Advent Devotions with Your Children

1. It’s all about grace.

I try to think about Jesus if he were sitting leading the devotions.Would he get angry? Would he demand that they sit still, pay attention, and “get it”? Or would he, to borrow language from Luke 13:34, lovingly gather them in his arms, patiently answer their questions and laugh a whole lot?