***See the all the tips from the Fantastic Family Series here.***
Will our children grow up to succeed… or fail? Will they learn to do what's right, even if we're not around?
Isn’t that the question we ask as moms (and dads)?
There’s so much we want to share, divulge and discuss with our kids, to help them grow up and make the most of their lives… but where do we find the time? And how do we make sure our children pick up on what’s most important?
We’re so busy, running here and there. How do we make sure that our kids are learning the things that are most important to us? Will they develop character? Will they grow up to be good people? Will they succeed in life?
We have to admit to ourselves that we can’t leave these things up to chance. It’s our job, as their parents, to provide guidance, direction and inspiration. It’s our job to share truth, nurture development and model values. It’s our job to give our children every chance at future success.
When our children ‘leave the nest’, will they make good choices? Will they be kind to others? Will they have the skills necessary to triumph?
What if there was a way to ensure a ‘yes’ answer to these questions?
How to get you kids to do what’s right… even if you’re not around
Raising kids who make good decisions -- even when mom and dad aren’t around -- comes as a result of creating a strong family culture.
No matter what, you’re creating a family culture, even if you’re not aware of it. Your family culture determines ‘how things are done’, or ‘just the way things are’. That family culture can embrace laziness or hard work; truth or falsehood; integrity or dishonesty.
The family culture gives individual direction to it’s members, even when they’re alone. It’s a compass that guides actions, but it only works if it’s an integral part of who you are and who your children become.
Creating it is up to you.
So how do you develop a strong family culture?
Your example -- and the learning environments and experiences you provide (or fail to provide) -- determine your culture.
We’ve already discussed some of those learning environments that can strengthen your family culture -- such as morning routines and rituals. Creating these regular settings and situations for learning, discussion and bonding are more powerful than you realize.
I want to expand on one of those learning environments today -- specifically one element of the Family Morning Routine -- the Morning Devotional.
By setting aside, planning ahead and being deliberate about the time we spend together as a family (especially if that time is limited) then we ensure that it’s time well used -- time together that helps us develop and strengthen our family culture, and work toward our long term goals.
The Morning Devotional is one of those times. When used properly, and with intention, this morning time together becomes a place where you can nurture your children, discuss ideas together, and create a strong family unit.
What does a Morning Devotional look like?
Ours takes place as part of our Family Morning Routine. It generally happens as we eat breakfast together. Based on
Every aspect of the Morning Devotional has a purpose and an intention, which all lead toward strengthening the family culture.
Here’s what our Morning Devotional looks like:
Prepare a healthy meal and eat together
Preparing meals together teaching our children ‘life skills’ and helps them to develop confidence. On their own, our children (those ages 7 to 11) are already capable of making cookies from scratch (without a recipe) and preparing a full meal as needed.
Preparing healthy meals ingrains the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Eating together provides an opportunity for bonding.
Praying together provides an opportunity for us to vocalize our gratitude, goals and desires, to offer thanks and to recognize the influence of God in our lives. It becomes a place where we can openly admit weaknesses, mention desired areas of improvement, and sets the intention for behavior, goals and attitudes for the day.
Memorizing things as a family is a powerful tool, not only for developing the muscle of your brain, but for instilling truth and values into the hearts and minds of your children.
When children are faced with the choice to be kind or to be selfish, the poem by Isaac Watts can remind them to ‘be ye to others kind and true, as you’d have others do to you’... but only if they’ve previously ingrained them through memorization.
We spend a few minutes during every devotional reviewing and reciting scriptures, poems and other items we want to know by heart.
Read and discuss together
Much of our devotional is devoted to reading together, and discussing what we read (or discussing books that we’ve read personally).
While reading 1493 by Charles Mann, I would share what I was learning with the family. While listening to the Wizard of Oz series (all 12 books) Kyah would tell us about the principles she learned. Very often I’ll read a blurb or two from The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy and we’ll talk about it (and offer praise or rewards for those who can remember who wrote A Christmas Carol or Little Women).
If there are new skills, talents or abilities you want to develop as individuals or as a family, the Morning Devotional is a perfect place to practice, plan and prepare. Many mornings we’ll conjugate Spanish verbs and practice conditional tenses and phrases. It's fun to learn something new together, and many mornings our 3-year old, or our 9-year old (who, according to him, doesn't 'speak Spanish') will remind us with "We need to do our Spanish!"
Take a few minutes tonight, before you go to bed, and decide what goal or two you want to begin working toward by taking a few minutes during the Morning Devotional each day. Commit to starting a Morning Devotional, if you're not already doing it.
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