It is back to school season. Your kids or grandkids might be enjoying the fun of new school supplies, cool new backpacks, lunch boxes and water bottles or maybe feeling the thrill of that fun new back to school outfit or uniform. But you, as parents, might be excited for back to school time for an entirely different reason!
In our books for parents (10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make, 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex, Got Teens? and Raising a Modern Day Princess) we encourage parents to leave their TradeMark [TM] o their kids and grandkids with
Traditions: Those yearly look forward to moments or activities
Memories: Those once in a lifetime experiences or Rites of Passages
Here are 3 powerful ideas to consider and implement as your kiddos head back to school:
- Create Character: Our Back to School tradition was the yearly “Learner and Leader” Day. It was a day we set aside to negotiate privileges and responsibilities for each child. We also selected ONE character quality to focus on for each child, each year and selected a verse to pray over that child connected to that leadership trait we would be reinforcing all year. You can read more about our “Learn, Leaders who Love God” parenting plan in our book 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make. Our goal with Learner & Leader Day was to create a system for solidly placing the baton of faith, values and character to the next generation. (It is fun to now watch our grown children create their own version of Learn and Leader Day and their own Back to School Traditions. (Download a copy of the Learner and Leader chart for your child, or pick up a copy of 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make and get the list of “What Chores Kids Can Do at Each Age and Stage”)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalms 139:13)
If you asked us the three best choices we made in raising our kids, it will include:
(A) Faith – Pray for your kids and teach them how to have their OWN relationship with God.
(B) Family– Create a family identity by using traditions like Learner and Leader Day, Rites of Passage, and shared meals, and memory making experieinces etc.
(C) Fun– Weave activities your kids love into all of this. Reward church attendance with paying for them to go to an enjoyable youth camp; Make family devotions a creative hands-on experience; Schedule fun memory making activities. (Yes, let the kids pick and plan some of these!)
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalms 139:14)
- Prepare the Plan: Our friends Deanna and Jon Ramsey take a night out with their children and host a goal setting session. Deanna shares, “I love seeing them dream and plan and look forward with anticipation of a great year to come!”
After the children are done with writing their individual goals, the family then has a conversation about how they can help each other achieve those goals.
You might recognize Deanna and Jon because they have also been the musicians at some of our marriage events, and they are frequent hosts at Forest Home Family and marriage camps. Deanna is also a popular speaker and musician for women’s conferences as she shares with hope and humor how their family kept making the next brave and right choice when husband, Jon, was stricken with a life threatening illness.
The Ramsay’s thrived during this difficult season because they maintained routines, rhythms, and faith traditions despite the hardship. Deanna’s parents held a similar goal-setting night for their children while growing up, now Deanna and Jon are building on that foundation of faith with their children. At the goal-setting night, the Ramsey’s also created and shared with the kids, a “So You Have Free Time?” –a list of healthy, quality activities for kids other than being on media. And a “So You Wanna Make Some Money?” –A list of chores kids can do to earn extra money.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. (Psalms 139:15)
- Celebrate Their Uniqueness: Our friends, Tammy and Chris Morgan are the leaders for Fellowship of Christian Athletes at University of Louisville. When their daughters head back to school, they celebrate the day with baking a cake, and it often reflects a love of that girl. In our years serving in youth ministry and our own parenting experience, we observed that celebrating a child’s unique talents, strengths and loves gives them a strong sense of understanding who God made them to become and what God what God would be calling them to do. A cake is a simple and affordable celebration and because it is a rare treat to have sugar in a family that is very athletic, healthy and eats clean, it is rare, so it makes the celebration uniquely special too.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book, before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psalms 139:16-17)
Find (or create) traditions that resonate with you or your family– then live and love them year after happy year!
Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, Co-directors of Love-Wise and authors of 45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti