Marian Devotion for the Imperfect Family

"Marian devotion for the imperfect family" by Megan Swaim (

Copyright 2018 Megan Swaim. All rights reserved.


As a Catholic mom, I really want to foster love and devotion to the Blessed Mother in my family, but sometimes I have a hard time getting over all the hurdles that make it seem an impossible task. Maybe you have a little one like my two-and-a-half year old who screams “No Hail Mary!!!” at night prayer, or perhaps your toddlers also use their little wooden rosaries more as physical weapons than spiritual ones. You might be a tired mom like me who knows that even suggesting a decade of the Rosary will be met with the meltdown to end all meltdowns and so you give up before you even start. Is that you?

One of our biggest hurdles to Marian devotion as a family is my tendency towards perfectionism or even scrupulosity. I get so frustrated when it just doesn’t work the way I wanted, and I don’t think it’s “good enough.” But that’s just crazy talk because Mary is a mom. She doesn’t need it to be perfect; she just wants us. What mother would reject a half-wilted dandelion presented with a smile from her child?! Indeed, those offerings given in love are sweeter than a dozen roses.

When I start to doubt if our family attempts at prayer are good enough, I remember the scribbled drawings hung with pride on my fridge. Mary loves us where we are right now, and is ready to meet us and help us grow. So wherever you are starting is a good start! Just like our children grow in their maturity and ability, we also will grow in our prayer and in our devotion to Mary. It’s okay to start small; do what you can with your family right now.

Here are just a couple of ideas that have helped our family of little ones grow in their love for Mary:

  • Learn Marian hymns and sing them together. We started this when our first was very small. On the way to bed at night we would sing part of a Marian song and stop to kiss a picture of Mary that hangs outside our daughter’s room.
  • Use images to teach little ones about the Mysteries of the Rosary. I like to print off pictures of the mysteries, or use icons or holy cards, so my children can hold them and look at them. Sometimes we spend more time talking about the picture than we do praying the Hail Mary’s, but they are actually meditating on the mysteries when we do this!
  • Find an alternative to count out the decades if rosary beads don’t work. I hope we’ll eventually be able to use actual rosaries soon, but for now we need something else. My new favorite is using little flameless tea-lights; they love turning them on and the little lights keep their attention. It also helps us to set a tone of prayer and reverence.
  • Let your kids get creative and give little “gifts” to Mary. Whatever little things your children like to make for you, encourage them to make something for their Heavenly Mama. We’ve taken dandelions to the Grotto, and offered Mary finger paintings and even a beaded bracelet.

What is one thing you can do in this season of life to grow in Marian devotion?

Copyright 2018 Megan Swaim.


About Author

Megan Swaim is an Indiana girl on an east coast adventure. A former high school youth minister, she now gets to minister full-time to her three young daughters and her husband Josh. Megan spends her days homeschooling at the kitchen table, drinking iced coffee, and exploring coastal Virginia.


  1. Loretta Pehanich on

    Great ideas and great picture, Megan! I like the tea light idea best.
    I also tried letting the kids say whatever they wanted on each rosary bead, such as, “I love you, Jesus.” Sort of a new version of a Divine Mercy chaplet perhaps?

  2. I recognized that statue from the Notre Dame Grotto right away! You daughter kissing it is just precious!
    My son will be graduating from there next weekend.
    Thank you for the Marian tips, I love the tea light idea.

  3. Tami Urcia on

    I love these ideas, Megan! Thanks for sharing and for reminding us our attempts at devotion don’t have to be perfect.

  4. I have to confess that when we said the rosary with very young children, we really didn’t expect much. The rule was you have to stay in the room and not be disruptive. Once they were able to color we would use the rosary coloring books for their”meditation.” Everyone could hold a rosary or not. My goal was to get the rosary said. And we would say the whole thing. Anyone who was tired could lie on the floor and even fall asleep. Teens needed to participate. Seems like every family should just do what works for them. Love your ideas, Megan. (And, yes, this is Mike B’s mom.)

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