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Author Topic: Children Fasting?  (Read 5393 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ghazar
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« on: February 23, 2006, 05:50:46 PM »

Dear Brethren,

I think this Orthodox Family Forum is a great idea!

My question is this:  Do you know what age children are expected to keep the full fasts of the Church?  Also, do you know of any good links on such questions.  As the Great Fast approaches, we are trying to get our game plan together.  Thanks.

Ghazar
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2006, 11:30:43 PM »

This would best be addressed by your priest. I do not believe there is an official age, especially to keep the "full" fast. Children need more nourishment than adults to grow fully and healthily, and shouldn't be deprived of protein and iron and such from following the monastic fast unless the family is taking UTMOST care to provide all of the necessary nutrition. It is probably better for the child to have a minor food fast (no sweets, no snacks) while still eating nutritious food, and more of a fasting of the mind by removing TV, movies, and replacing it with family time, learning the scriptures, etc. By the time the child is a teen, old enough to take some responsibility for their own diet (rather than relying on a parent) perhaps it is time to begin the fast.
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Thomas
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2006, 03:40:42 AM »

Our children began with a gradual fast.  We provide them with soymilk fortified with Calcium once they were 3 y.o.on Fast Days---they like Soy milk to this day (the youngest is 23).  They ate breakfast and lunch at school but at night they ate with the family. On weekends, they enjoyed Hot oatmeal for breakfast, Peanut butter sandwiches with fruit for Lunch, and a fasting meal with the Family for supper. Luckily we enjoyed fasting foods and unusually, the kids did not like the "fake" meats so we ate good vegetarian caseroles and soups that offered a balance of protien and flavor. We assured the kids took a sublingual Vitamin B and a one a day children's vitamins during  Fasting periods just to be sure they were balanced enough.

I believe children can fast once over the age of three, and by the age of 8 they can start making choices at school thatlean more towards fasting.  Then there is always the home packed school lunch of  penut butter and banana sandwiches (a family favorite) and hot tomato soup in a thermos.

We find if you prepare the meal they will eat it and fasting becomes a part of their day to day life as an Orthodox Christian.

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Thomas
« Last Edit: February 24, 2006, 03:42:57 AM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2006, 10:48:48 AM »

I have a 9 year old sister and she is not very "ecclesiastically-inclined". She actually sometimes thinks God is non-existant and  I wondr how that is as we've always taken her to church for sunday school, liturgy, communion etc. It's rare when we miss Sunday Liturgy. I think it is because of all the video games we used to let her play. It took over her entire being and we used to think that since video games were intended for children, there would be no violence gore, sex, or rudeness. Now we know better and check the ratings. The only game she's really allowed to play that is violent is "StarWars Battlefront" (as it does not involve physically killing others).

I don't want to make this fast something intoleable- does anyone reccomend a certain fast? Perhaps a fast from video games?-shes now only allowed to play on weekends.

Are there any Orthodox children's prayers for Lent? If not, I could always take the regular Lenten prayers and butcher them linguistically for the sake of the child.
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2006, 10:53:20 AM »

Our priest encourages children over the age of 7 to begin fasting. I think it would be proper to start teaching children about fasting as young as two or three and encourage them to to abstain from sweets or TV as a first step. If your family has just converted and have never fasted before, begin fasting gradually and with the help of your priest.
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2006, 12:08:15 PM »

Ironically enough, my family is not a convert. We're "cradle" as its called but my family members don't know much about church stuff. My mom knows the bible quite well and the sacraments, and I know the liturgy well as well as a basic outline of church history and some chant but thats about it- nothing compared to ppl who have went to Holy Cross or St. Vlad's.

Plus my sister doesn't like food that much. She'd rather snack on junk food all day than eat one decent meal. Of course we don't let her do that. The priest has given her a blessing for her to do a fast other than related to food because of it.
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2006, 02:31:12 PM »

When I have kids, I think I'm going to regulate fasting for them a little differently to how my parents did for me. Before I actually studied Orthodoxy, I had a very legalistic type conception of fasting. Fasting was not about sacrifice and self-control, it was simply about "you can eat this" and "you can't eat that", and I always managed to find ways of getting around certain foods via technicalities e.g. we had this fantastic "fasting cheese" that tasted better than the real deal, it was unbelievable! I would like my children to understand the essence of fasting through experience; i would like that very essence to be instilled in their minds, their conscious and their hearts from the earliest of their years, rather than it being something they read about later on and try to adapt to. As such, I think for their first fasting years at least, that I will be more concerned with teaching them to abstain from the foods they love the most, even if those foods do not technically qualify as non-fasting foods (such as candy for example). I would furthermore still allow them to eat of those non-fasting foods that they require for their concentration, focus, strength, and health (though upon certain conditions), until they're able to better appreciate the value of such food. For example, I may allow them to have meat for the sake of keeping up their protein levels, though I would teach them to abstain from the type of meat that they would really enjoy such as a McDonald's burger, or chicken nuggets. As another example, I may allow them to have milk for the sake of keeping up their calcium levels, though I would teach them to abstain from say chocolate milk, or chocolate in general.

This, ofcourse, is simply my personal opinion on the matter, and one that I would consult with a spiritual adviser first.
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2006, 03:17:08 PM »

Since i dont appear to be able to edit, here

to take some responsibility for their own diet (rather than relying on a parent) perhaps it is time to begin the (FULL) fast.

Bringing elements of the full fast into play earlier is of course possible/preferential, IMO.


But I know of a family who followed strict fasting to a t with all their children from infancy on up after their conversion to Orthodoxy--and their children were described to me as "hollow-cheeked, pale little silent waifs." Making sure you raise your children to be healthy takes utmost priority, and adapting the way you bring fasting into their lives must first reflect that responsibility.
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2006, 01:34:01 PM »

Choirfiend,
Wow, that's actually disturbing.  I've always heard that the fast is lessened for small children. I can see some nightmare scenario where child protective services gets called in!  I know that some vegans start their kids out on a vegan diet from infancy, but they tend to be pretty well-informed about nutrition.  What eventually happened to these kids?  Do you know if their priest knew about this?  I cannot imagine a priest allowing fasting to be used to underfeed kids.  What misunderstanding of fasting!
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Rachael weeping for her children, for they are not


« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2006, 01:05:31 PM »

I dont know, it was a comment made by some of their relatives...And I think their church did know about it, because the parents, iIrc, were following a "traditional" spiritual father's directions. Maybe it was a misunderstanding, maybe the concern was valid...but that sort of situation is the example of the misapplication of fasting for children.
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2006, 10:11:02 AM »

This was adressed, sort of, in church on Sunday.  Fr talked about fasting and guidelines, and also discussed ways of easing into it if you've never done it before.  I have, as you know a lot of small kids.  I also have a non orthodox husband and oldest daughter.  I have been trying to figure this out, reading and I may alos go talk to Fr about it too.  Our main problem is that nobody in this family cares for fish.  Except the odd fish n chips.  Plus I found out that the reason I have been feeling so bad is that I am severely anemic! So medically I was told to eat meat(though they do have me on iron therapy).  I just havent figured it all out yet.  For now my kids are drinking their milk, eating their normal food.  (not a lot of meat really, we can't afford it) I am having them give up something, though, my 10 year old volunteered to give up video games...that should be interesting!  I

One kid I talked to Sunday says he likes Lent because of all the pasta they eat. lol!
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2006, 10:51:19 PM »

At our church, to be in full good graces, the age is 9 for the same fast as adults.  

Come on, guys, it's not that bad.  My kids can hork down a billion calories in nuts in less than three minutes.
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2006, 01:06:39 AM »

Quote
Come on, guys, it's not that bad.

Exactly.  I have no opinion as to when kids should start to fast, as I've never really given it much though since it will be years before/if I have to deal with that issue.  But on the general issue of the fast, it's not that bad.  I am sort of amazed at how so many people on this board can whine so much about the fast.  Our fasting diets are probably much better than many people's diets around the world.  FWIW while on the fast I feel better, lighter and more energetic.  
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« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2006, 02:46:02 PM »

I don't think there is a particular age where children should start fasting. All kids are different, a priest that i know has a daughter who is 5 years of age. She is very very mature for her age and understands things that are told to her. Knowing her, she fasts and understands what she is doing, whereas other five year old children are not as mature and are still learning how to speak properly. Those kids would not be ready to fast.

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