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What do Catholics think about making First Holy Communion at 8 years old?

(35 Posts)
PrincessFiorimonde Wed 24-Apr-13 23:55:58

I'm a lapsed Catholic. My brother and sister-in-law are believers. I respect their beliefs, although I don't share them. But my niece is shortly due to make her First Holy Communion. If you are a Catholic, you will know that she will be dressed in white, probably wearing a veil, looking like 'a little bride of Christ'. She is 8 years old, and (in my opinion) obviously too young to decide anything for herself apart from trying to please her parents on this score.

I'm uneasy about this. Of course, I won't say anything directly, as she is not my child.

But, really, is this the right thing to do for a child at such a young age?

LynetteScavo Sun 12-May-13 13:17:44

DD will be making hers while she is still 7. Do I think it,'s too young? Yes. Would I tell her she should wait a year or two while al her friends at school have theirs and she wouldn't be able to take communion while her peers did. No.

I also think confirmation in y6 is too young.....I feel it's only done because they are all about to g off to high school, with maybe only 1 out of 60 DC going to a Catholic high school.

The white dresses don't bother me. I think they look like little girls in white dresses......more like bridesmaids rather than brides. [ hmm]

The priest in the big fat gypsy program was lovely. I could google what it was he said exactly, but he was spot on.

MareeyaDolores Fri 03-May-13 01:19:28

blush BTW, the caricature of that type of non-believing is my fear if I mess up for my dc, rather than a comment on anyone here

MareeyaDolores Fri 03-May-13 01:19:23

sieglinde, that's probably often true, but clearly there was a problem for icb.

And tbh, 'being told again and again what the acceptable answers are' would be enough to turn anyone sensible off religion entirely,
which is something I really don't want to do...

I want the dc to have real faith that sustains them through life, and if that's not possible, a 'real' agnosticism (or atheism, I suppose), born out of their own deep thought and conscience.

Not for me to overdo 'religion' so they lapse into a lazy, culturally-determined, materialist approach to life, instead of using the brains God gave them wink.

sieglinde Wed 01-May-13 14:59:36

Maree, my sense is that the people-pleasing stuff wears off quite fast unless reinforced by real nagging or worry by parents.

MareeyaDolores Wed 01-May-13 13:46:17

Thanks ICB, for the input from another viewpoint.
Not worried by DS, he was wanting FHC for himself, but I will take extra care with dd as she might well be at risk of wanting to people-please

sieglinde Wed 01-May-13 13:35:07

ICB, I think we ALL care what people think, and I am a champion fibber about how life is going, mainly because I don't like asking people for anything. But maybe because my parents were different denominations I always felt free to walk away form being RC - and I did walk away for some years.

Totally agree. IMHO commerce is now probably a bigger and more grinding threat to children than most religion.

ICBINEG Wed 01-May-13 12:26:28

Maybe it is just a personality thing...I have always cared far to much what other people think. I have recently found myself lying to all and sundry about how well work is going...and feeling the old dread of not being the person I know I 'should' be....

FWIW I am sure that some kids do have deep faith...and I think they would probably find it even if no-one showed them...I just believe that everyone should have the space to work out the most deeply personal aspects of themselves without being told again and again what the acceptable answers are.

I wonder if we couldn't produce a generation of adults who were truly more centred and self-confident if we stopped telling are children who they should be and creating conflict. Of course that would involve banning advertising, as well as church etc. so it might be tricky.

sieglinde Wed 01-May-13 12:20:06

ICB, huge hugs. I think it's brave of you to say all this. FWIW, I think my dcs know that I would/will love them to bits whatever faith - or lack of faith - they espouse, but I also accept that they are wired to please me.

I'm also really sorry you feel so damaged - that's the part I don't quite understand from my experience. IMHO, quite a lot of childhood is pretence - not telling granny she is boring, pretending to like improving walks better than tv... I don't think I feel damaged by any of this. I just shrugged and said, life, huh? Not perfect... grin But I totally see that YMMV.

ICBINEG Wed 01-May-13 00:49:38

Thank you - I am....although apparently a thread like this can get me stupidly worked up again. I should know better and stay away from this whole area....

Sorry for derailing, I hope you found some clarity.

PrincessFiorimonde Tue 30-Apr-13 22:33:44



I am really sorry to hear you had such a difficult time over this. And I don't wish to upset the other thoughtful people who've taken the trouble to post on this thread - but I can see your point very clearly about not wanting to feel 'other' from your family at such a young age. I wish I had words to help how hard that must have been for you.

I hope you are in a happier place now.

ICBINEG Tue 30-Apr-13 12:22:36

At 6-7 I knew perfectly well that I didn't believe in god. But I also knew I didn't want to be 'other' from my family, and certainly didn't want to be the damned immoral unbeliever I heard so much about. So I gave all the right answers and pretended my heart out.

You could have wound me up and sent me out to convert the heathens etc.

So did my parents think I was a believer? And mature enough to make decisions about my 'faith'? Probably.

Did I actually have any? no!

Did it damage me to spend years of my life pretending to be something I wasn't and hating myself for not being what I was supposed to be?

Well the answer is probably plain to see in the fact I am on this thread at all....

So please at least consider the possibility that you are forcing your ideas onto a child that will be damaged by the whole environment you put them in.

And please don't think you can tell that your child really has faith. All you can tell is that they either have faith, or want you to think they do. the extend to which your child will believe you when you say that you will love them no matter what is also variable, but may depend on how much time they spend listening to people saying the opposite (ie. that they are damned/immoral if they are atheist, gay, feminist etc).

PrincessFiorimonde Tue 30-Apr-13 12:02:30

Thanks for your responses. As I said before, you've given me a different perspective, which is always good.

I didn't know that about the Orthodox church.

MareeyaDolores Mon 29-Apr-13 21:30:16

My Orthodox friend thinks Confirmation and Communion should be at Baptism and we're cruel and weird to make children wait so long before they can participate fully in the life of the Church...

The RC Church actually agrees with her, at least in the case of children who are not expected to survive to the 'usual' ages of Communion and Confirmation

MareeyaDolores Mon 29-Apr-13 21:20:28

DS1 understood properly, and made up his own mind at 8. ATM, DD just wants the dress hmm

sieglinde Mon 29-Apr-13 11:31:00

Given that you think religion is rubbish anyway, why do you object especially to a 6-year-old's religion?

Let's face it - there are many many aspects of life about which a six-year-old has no choice - including Key Stage One tests, sharing a bedroom, being dragged to Grandma's, and in my house eating greens. Religion is only one of them. Later, she will have a choice, and she will make it.

You don't actually know my daughter, who has never in her life been a cardboard cutout ANYTHING. I find your patronising attitude to children dismaying. They are perfectly capable of making up their own minds.

Moreoever, this is another case where you don't understand that Catholicism is about GOING TO MASS and receiving the other sacraments. There is no alternative, private, later-in-life kind.

And no 6-year old should be deprived of the delights of story and imagination in the interests of 'facts'.

ICBINEG Sun 28-Apr-13 23:33:41

6,7,or 8 is too young to be in church, let alone pretending to sign on the dotted line for life....

I'd say stick with the facts until they are old enough to have some good interpretation of media skills and a fair stab at actually making their own mind up.

If they are going to be catholic, they will find the faith when they are old enough to understand what they are looking for.

I have it on strong authority from at least two priests that 'God doesn't want cardboard cut-out Christians', how can a child be anything else?

sieglinde Sun 28-Apr-13 16:22:49

I don't get why this bugs people so much. It's as if they feel FHC is like marriage. But surely, OP, if you yourself can lapse, so can others, whether they make their FHC at 8 or 80?

MY dd made hers at 6. She was ready.

hiddenhome Fri 26-Apr-13 13:06:20

Ds2 will be making his FHC this year and he's really looking forward to it and feels ready (he's more religious than we are tbh). If he chooses, he can be confirmed when he's a teenager.

In the Orthodox churches, babies are baptised, have FHC and confirmation all at the same time as infants.

NotTreadingGrapes Thu 25-Apr-13 16:28:42

<waves to summerrain>

No bride of Christ-ing here (southern Italy) either. Dd is going to be head to toe Monsoon party frockery with a tunic thingy from the parish on top.

Gingerdodger Thu 25-Apr-13 15:35:16

The dress issue is always interesting (so much easier with boys). White dresses and veils often look beautiful and are traditional (maybe more so than for brides which only became popular in Victorian times). Sometimes the dresses are just too adult, it is that part I am less comfortable with rather than them being white. It seems to go in fashions, a few years ago a lot of the girls at FHC had very fancy dresses which seemed too grown up too me but in recent years they seem to have gone back to being little girls dresses again, some with veils, some not.

Whenever I find myself humphing I am reminded of watching an episode of 'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' (the only one I have ever watched as I really wasn't comfortable with the stereotyping). Some little girls were doing their FHC and were dressed in very adult ways and elaborately. The priest was asked what he thought and he just said they were who they were, were just in keeping with their culture and all welcome to God's table.

Bunbaker Thu 25-Apr-13 14:20:37

We didn't do a party or presents for FHC. We didn't do it for DD's confirmation either. She did get two presents, but I didn't get her anything. After the service there were cakes and drinks in church for half an hour and then we just went home and had a normal Sunday.

MyNewCatIsFab Thu 25-Apr-13 14:14:13

On the age thing. Obviously wil be dependent on the child but one of my sons, at 8, decided that he didn't believe and didn't want to make his first communion. School and priest were perfectly ok with that, in fact seemed pleased that he had considered it and was making a conscious choice not just viewing it as a party and how much money he would get in presents.

MyNewCatIsFab Thu 25-Apr-13 14:05:10

I'm a lapsed catholic in Scotland, children go to catholic school. In our diocese the children wear albs when making their first communion. It's hard to describe if you don't know what it is. It's a unisex item which is plain cream coloured, bit like a monks habit, with a cord tied at the waist. Then there is a tabard over the top with some embroidery on it.

This was not popular with a lot of the parents in our school when it was brought in about 10 years ago and they resisted it but the diocese won. I think they wanted to bring he focus back to the spiritual side and away from the focus on big dresses, kilts and limos. The children can wear what they like underneath but in church they all look the same.

Bunbaker Thu 25-Apr-13 14:04:43

"To someone used to the traditions of the C of E it seems very young."

Our C of E church does first communion at around 7, DD was 6. Our church is high church so it may make a difference. DD has just been confirmed at the age of 12 and really enjoyed the confirmation prep lessons because we have such a fabulous vicar.

They don't do the white dresses and veils thing at our church though.

Annunziata Thu 25-Apr-13 13:58:15

I think it's fine. They are definitely old enough to voice their opinion by that age. I honestly don't get the big fuss about the dresses, and I'm from an Italian family so used to white suits, lace, etc.

The parties I do think go over the top.

It's not a bride of Christ- that's a nun! (AFAIK)

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