Q: Looking back, what was a creative way you used to pass along your core values and beliefs to your kids?
A: In 10 Questions Your Kids Ask About Sex, we share one of the ways we have set out to earn the respect (and ear) of our kids. It is by placing our TradeMark™ on their hearts and lives with:
Traditions- things you do year after year to reinforce core principles.
Memories – once-in-a-lifetime events that mark a moment or drive home a point.
Mom and Dad—you do make a difference! It is never too late to start a yearly tradition. What child doesn’t like a party or a present? When you connect a principle to be taught with a positive experience, it will become imprinted on your child’s or teen’s heart and mind. It can become a touchstone they come back to in the middle of decision making later in life.
Traditions: We will just mention two:
- Learner and Leader Day- the week before school begins we have a fun family day, then negotiate a privileges and responsibilities contract. (The chart, list of things kids can do at different ages, and how we reward our kids for being Learners and Leaders is all found in 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make). The plus side of having a yearly tradition like this is our kids thought it “normal” to make contracts, set goals, negotiate new privileges—and eventually the privilege of dating became one of them!
- Christmas Blessing– Each year at our Christmas dinner we say a blessing over our kids-each one—as individuals. We compliment them, share a verse or quote that they embody, then we pray for them. Often the character qualities that eventually become vital in the area of relationships were some of the earliest we complimented: honesty, delayed gratification (patience), kindness, etc.
Jesus used traditions such as taking the disciples to the temple regularly. When he later called himself “the Lamb of God” they understood he would be sacrificed.
Memories: These are once in a lifetime ideas which are often connected to a rite of passage. Here are a few ideas: (for a full list see 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make or 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex) . Often these Rites of Passage are gender specific:
- Modern Day Knight celebration is when you as a parent prepare a son to become an “adult.” This marker of growth is often accompanied by a party with friends and family. Since we had all sons, our celebration was a “Walk into Manhood”. One son, a quarterback, invited mentors to the football field for a walk up and down the field then BBQ; another, who loved his truck, had a “Drive into Manhood” at a race track and mentors walked the race track and poured wisdom into his heart. The last was an “On Target for Manhood” held at a shooting range accompanied by dinner.
- Modern Day Princess party: In Pam’s book, Raising a Modern Day Princess, founder, Doreen Hanna and Pam share numerous ideas to mark a teen girls’ transition into being a grown up. The process may include a simple tea with her mentors or a Sweet 16 celebration but with a Biblical, meaningful twist. Often girls enjoy these parties together. As a group they can go through the Becoming a Modern Day Princess girls journal, and all the parents can pitch in to celebrate, bless and pray for their daughters.
Another resource we recommend to you that we developed as youth pastors, and then also used with our own kids is the Teen Relationship Contract. At age 11 or 12, each of our tweens completed their first contract (a Bible study and Q and A workbook they fill in), and they were rewarded with a dinner out with mom and dad. (This dinner often included more dialogue and discussions on love, sex and relationships). Each year we would then take each son out solo for a meal and they/we could add more privileges to the contract, ask questions, make adjustments, raise accountability, etc—whatever they needed to be more successful in the guy-guy relationship area.
Jesus set the example of a memory when he took some of the disciples to the mount of transfiguration and revealed his glory! The memory stuck with them years later as they traveled preaching Christ’s resurrection.
Try to leave a TM on your child this year—it is so worth it!