How Much Of The Easter Story Should I Share With My Children?

by Easter

I remember the first time I introduced my oldest child to Easter.

It was Good Friday, and my wise-for-her-years two year old was asking about what was special about the day. So I took a crucifix down from the wall, and let her hold it. I touched Jesus’ hands and feet, and invited her to look. Although she had seen crucifixes all her life, she had never really looked at the reality of the image. I watched her little eyes grow big as she observed “Jesus’ boo-boos”. Gently, I explained, “God loves us so much. He died because He loves us. But guess what? After 3 days, Jesus rose from the dead to save us!” My heart welled up as I watched my little girl give Jesus a big hug.

Walking into any large-scale store during early springtime, our children might get the idea that Easter is about bunnies, chocolate, and Easter Eggs. While these mostly worldly traditions are fun to indulge in, as Catholics, we want our kids to truly know what Easter is about. But the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is not as innocent as hollow chocolate, and parents of young children might be concerned about the gruesome nature that the reality of Jesus’ suffering brings to the minds of our innocent ones.

How do we teach our children about Easter?

First, get familiar with the Gospel story yourself. Simplify the story in your mind: God made us to love Him and be with Him forever, but we sinned, and separated ourselves from Him. God wanted to fix that relationship, so He came as a Man, as Jesus. He died for us on the cross to save us from our sins. Then, He rose again! Now we can be with Him in heaven forever. 

Next, ask the Holy Spirit to be with you. Our job as parents is to lead our children to Jesus, and sharing this story is part of our call. God desires our children to know Him and love Him more than we do, so know that He will be with you as you share. 

For very young children, begin by introducing something they can touch, rather than simply telling them the story. Small children do not yet have the mental capability to pay attention to words spoken aloud for very long, so giving them a tactile item works best. If you have a crucifix in your home, take it down and let them hold it. Remember that these young children do not yet have a good grasp on what death or suffering is, so do not try to go into depth. Keep it simple and focused on the resurrection. 

You might say something similar to the language I used with my daughter, “Do you see Jesus’ boo boos? On His hands and feet? You can touch them. People hurt Jesus, and He died. His friends didn’t think they would see Him again. But do you know what happened after He died? He rose again from the dead! That means He wasn’t dead anymore! Easter is when we celebrate Jesus being alive.”

We can turn their attention to this reality throughout the year, especially at Mass where a large crucifix is present. Be conscious of questions about Jesus’ death, and try to direct it towards joy at the resurrection, For example, “Yes, Jesus did die. But then what happened? That’s right, He rose again!”

As our children get older, they will be able to better understand the weight of suffering and death. Continue to share the Easter story with them, and add on to the story as they mature. Remember that you don’t need to have all the answers, and that the Holy Spirit will help you as you introduce your children to Jesus. The beauty of the Gospel is that the Lord continues to reveal new things about His suffering, death, and resurrection to us throughout our lives. We may even end up learning something from our kids!

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