Today we ate lunch on the floor. When I said, “Why don’t we eat on the rug today?”, the kids were squealing with delight. I didn’t offer this because I was trying to be a super fun mom. I did it because the kitchen table was littered with craft supplies. I just didn’t want to clean it up before we ate!
As we lay on the floor talking, the kids asked about Fifi and Fluffy. Fifi and Fluffy are a fictitious dog and cat I made up when my daughter was potty training. In order to keep her sitting on the potty, I’d tell her stories about Fifi and Fluffy. Basically, the animal duo would just do what my daughter had done that day, but told from their perspective, she thought it was riveting! (And in turn, stayed on the potty!)
Today, I told the kids a story about how Fifi and Fluffy built a clubhouse and had a picnic inside it (my kids have a fascination with clubhouses). After my story, my son told one about two frogs. Then my daughter told one about her cousins. There weren’t the most interesting stories, but it was so fun watching them show off their story-telling skills in front of each other.
Now, I don’t know for sure, but I think when they have their own kids, they are going to be telling Fifi and Fluffy stories. It’s just one of those things that our family does. We tell stories. About made up dog and cat best friends.
Those little funny traditions that only you do, the small unspoken rules, the that-is-so-us words you say, songs you sing and jokes you laugh at are more than good memories. They bind you together as a family. They make unbreakable, bungee-corded ties between your kids, your spouse and you.
When those ties are tightly woven, I believe you’ll see them strengthen as the years go by. And when your kids are venturing out on their own, making choices alone and wavering between two options, they will be more apt to choose what you would choose. To make the choice that would please and align with your family. (So, you better be making good choices yourself!!)
I’ve always loved this story from Dr. Kevin Lehman: He said a young girl was asked if she wanted a cigarette. She replied with, “We Crayburns don’t smoke” and walked away. It was easy for her to reject the peer pressure because she was so assured in who she was and with whom she belonged. Her Crayburn family didn’t smoke, she was part of that family, so she didn’t smoke. It’s who she was.
I think to help your kids to align with your family, choose siblings over school chums, love and follow your faith comes not always through rules, training and modeling, but through some fun, crazy family traditions and memories.
Here’s a few fun ideas from some of my favorite friends about how they promote belonging in their family …
- Signing “I love you”
- Gas Station Coffee on Christmas
- Playing Cards in a Tinfoil Box
- Fine China on Birthdays
- Leaf-Pile Jumping on Birthdays
- Saturday Morning Pancakes–for the entire neighborhood!
- The Five Year Old Trip
- Clash Clothes Day
- Milkshake Mondays
Seriously, did you click on all those? Because they are awesome!
How do you promote belonging in your family?
|Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at OhAmanda.com and Impress Your Kids. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!|