Are Your Easter Traditions Leaving a Legacy of Faith?

Easter Traditions Leaving Legacy of Faith- (2)

We live in a time and place in history that makes living a routine lifestyle extremely difficult. Yet research reveals that one of the most important ways parents can build faith and values into their children is through traditions and rituals. When night-time prayers, shared meals, and service to others are sincerely offered and become routines, the values behind these activities sink in more deeply.

So, carving out the time to weave these rituals and traditions into the fabric of their lives “impresses” children with the values taught by the rituals. This makes it far more likely they will embrace those values.

Why Do Kids Obsess Over Video Games?

During my recent reading of “Boys Adrift” by Dr. Leonard Sax, I came across a letter that really grabbed my attention. The letter’s author is a 27-year-old doctoral student at Notre Dame — oh, and he’s addicted to video games.

I don’t think you understand the computer game phenomenon when you talk about it sapping the motivation of male 20-somethings. That’s only part of the picture. The other part is that I don’t mean that people are playing Battlefield 2 because they wish they could be shooting lots of people. But they do wish they could be doing something that mattered. When they’re playing that game, they can, for a few hours, feel like they’re doing something significant.

When I started grad school, I had a rough first year or so. Many times I came home feeling like I was never going to be any good as a scholar, like I had no hope of ever actually doing anything significant, or making any serious contribution even just in the academic community. But I could turn on the computer and play X-Wing and feel like I was helping to defeat the Galactic Empire. If you want to feel significant, feeling like you just destroyed the Death Star helps for a little while. ….

…[T]here is also, in many games, beauty and adventure. In Morrowind, you can wander through a really beautiful, detailed, vivid world. Now, I prefer reality. But I live in South Bend, Indiana. There aren’t lots of places to hike or even to walk. …

Of course I agree that people should stop wasting time in front of the PC/Xbox and go do something real. But in order to treat a problem it may be helpful to know something about how it seems to those who suffer from it.

Richard R., Notre Dame

From Richard’s letter, we can learn several important things about how to thoughtfully and gracefully talk with our kids about video games:

Building the Family Team: A Solution to Chore Wars

7-year-old Bryce was a master “chore evader.” When asked to help with chores, this distractable drama king would slump over and whine, “But I wanted to play!” His parents, Sandy and Jeff, had run out of ideas and came to me (Lynne) for help.

When kids begin chore wars, often the most effective response is not declaring war but shifting perspective and discipling children through the process. In this case, I helped Sandy and Jeff develop the following practical plan as they shifted their efforts from focusing on “How do we stop the complaining and get some help?” to “How can we use this opportunity to build character and even faith?”

Dealing With Rejection: A Surprising Use for a $20 Bill

Kids are rejected from every side. Sometimes the rejection or criticism comes from a teacher that just doesn’t “get” your kid. Sometimes it comes from an angry family member. Sometimes it’s rejection from peers, gossiping, getting picked last in gym class. These daily rejections can erode our children’s sense of being loved and valuable. Being thoughtful about how to counter rejection will help your kids learn to weather the storm.

The following is an activity you can do with your kids to help them understand.

How to Turn Misbehavior Into Success!

jonathan horton gift gone awry

Few watching Jonathan Horton faithfully anchor the 2012 US Men’s Gymnastics team would guess that, apparently, he was quite a squirrelly youngster! But “squirrelly” is definitely the right word — as a commercial that aired during the Olympics describes, a young Jonathan Horton once climbed to the top of a shelf in the middle of a store!

Can you imagine how most parents would react? “Get down from there RIGHT NOW!” “I can’t believe you!” “You’re GROUNDED!” Much scolding and punishment! And if the Hortons had reacted that way, we probably would not have heard of Jonathan Horton.

“Why Can’t You Just Do What I Say?”

I’m often tempted to deal with my children in ways that gain immediate results. While this might get me what I want in the moment, it often leads to greater frustration later because I didn’t really teach the value behind the behavior.

Forced instant compliance often leaves my children feeling powerless, and maybe angry, and makes it harder the next time I deal with the issue.

It is much more helpful to think long-term, focusing on my children’s independence. It helps me to ask this question: “What skills and values am I building now, that will guide my child through adolescence and adulthood?”

Here’s a story we heard from Tara, a mom who used a long-term perspective regarding guiding her son’s choice of music:

A 3-year-old Broke Our Hearts

Eli and his single mom Kari lived with us for 3 ½ years. We took them in, believing that God could use us to strengthen and prepare them for life’s next chapters.

Though raised in a Christian home, Kari struggled greatly with anger and shame, and often looked to Eli to meet her needs for love and security. She was often impatient and harsh when his frustrating toddler behaviors failed to meet those needs. In sometimes volatile interactions, the unspoken messages she communicated to him were, “You’re a failure (at meeting my needs).”  “You’re a problem.” “Your feelings don’t matter, only mine.” Eli usually reacted with more defiance, and their interactions spiraled downward.

kari-n-jacksonsOver the years we had the privilege (and challenge) of being the “Grace Incubator” in which Kari and Eli could both experience God’s grace when they struggled. We all learned to give each other grace when we were selfish or irritable, and to communicate peacefully through our conflicts. The predominant core messages that Eli began to receive from his mom as she grew insightful and gentle in her interactions with him shifted to “I’m here for you (not vice versa).” “You are loved.” “You’re important and your feelings matter.” It was a joy to watch this amazing growth in her, and the way Eli blossomed as a result. We all supported these messages in a variety of ways by helping him express his feelings, experience the joy of serving others, grow in skills and responsibility, and learn about God’s incredible love for him.

On June 9th Kari and Eli started their next chapter. Kari married Adam, a great guy from Louisiana, and the next day she and Eli packed up to start their new life in the deep south.

What You Really Need for Mother’s Day

Hint: It’s not flowers, or chocolates, or a day at the spa!

Mother’s Day. The one day a year when we moms are officially recognized for working our fannies off to be “all things to all people.” The other 364 days a year we wear dozens of hats, from cook to maid to referee to vivacious romantic partner. But on Mother’s Day, we wear crowns, glowing at the cute homemade cards and graciously accepting the affection and gifts that are showered on us.

The problem is that by the end of the week the cute cards are crushed under an avalanche of junk mail and the flowers have wilted, but the stress of parenting is alive and well. One mom described her daily stress: “I feel like I’m a sponge, soaking up everyone’s tension.” How can we keep a peaceful heart and sense of worth on the days when we’re tempted to feel less like a queen and more like a kitchen maid?