[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It is Summer… regardless of the occasional grey cloud in the Oregon sky. Temperatures are rising in contrast to the plummeting stress levels of students and teachers alike. And if you’re a parent, like me, then you are wondering how to intersperse some extra, memorable family time with the continued— never ending, always accumulating— routine responsibilities of adulting.
Here are a few quick tips to not sweat this Summer’s schedule while still helping your child develop cognitively, grow spiritually, and enjoy family!
- Memorable Moments are in the Mundane
In today’s culture, media markets Adventure! as the way to help your child be happy. According to the advertisements Adventure! can be individually enjoyed or enjoyed together as a family! (Most ‘Family’ cruises and resorts have kids’ clubs for the youngest, teen lounges, and adult mini-bars and dance floors. Or consider the recent commercial with the pre-teen daughter tweeting on her phone during the whole family vacation much to the dismay of her father. At the end he finds out she tweets “Best Vacation Ever.”)
A wise and wonderful mentor of mine reminded me as I lamented not having enough time or energy let alone resources to take my child on Adventures! saying, “Sure, it’s fun and good to create exciting activities for your kids, however, the things I and my kids remember most are the memories made during the day-to-day stuff.” So don’t stress about a big vacation. Slow down to enjoy making the moments you have right now fun and memorable. This might look like playing a game of peek-a-boo kisses with your toddler whose sitting in the grocery store shopping cart or letting them help make pancakes in the morning. Perhaps its racing each other to the car or starting to share a hobby together like gardening or woodworking or parkour. Don’t worry about affording the advertised Adventures!, or the clothes you wear, or the food you will eat [Matthew 6:25-34]. Instead, love one another fully by being present where you are intentionally interacting with the people there.
The other day I heard the complaint, “These kids are always tweeting and snap chatting! How are they ever going to learn to talk to someone they meet face-to-face?” First, I was impressed their knowledge of electronic communication didn’t end at texting. Secondly, I considered how many times I had heard this comment over the past decade. The answer to the question is, “By example and repetition.” If you are a parent, a grandparent, or simply concerned with the ramifications of our youths’ preference in mode of social interaction, then open up a conversation and talk to them… listen to them.
Multiple times God commands His people, “Teach [My ways] to your children.” [Duet. 4:9-10, Duet. 6:7, Duet 11:19.] The book of wisdom, Proverbs, echoes the command [Proverbs 22:6], and it carries through to New Testament [Matthew 19:13-15, 1 Timothy 4:10-11]. He prescribes talking about His ways always—at home and on vacation; when you are about to go to bed as well as when you wake up—talk about God. Here are a few deep but not necessarily profound concepts to talk about with your child:
- Talk about God’s goodness and the good things He created including you and your wonderful children. He made you in His image which means He wants you to create good things just like He does.
- Talk about God’s mercy and forgiveness. He made you in His image which means He desires you to be merciful and forgiving just like Him.
- Talk about how and why to have a right relationship with God. . . part of it is talking to Him with honesty and humility!
- Take cues from daily life:
- Walk About— While outside take notice of the birds, flowers, sunlight, and trees. Invite your child to enjoy and discover these good things in God’s creation with you. Then start sharing the story of God’s creation. When you are at home perhaps before you go to bed find and read Genesis 1 together.[Genesis 1 Bible story; Genesis 1 Youtube; Click Here for a Creation Story Chart where you can have your child draw or glue what God created each of the days.]
- Love—remind your child that you love them… even if its imperfectly at times. Love is the most important thing for us to show other people.
- “On The Drive Home” Q’s—each Sunday questions for your Preschool-4th Graders are posted outside your student’s class as well as uploaded to the Harvest App under Upstudy. Use these questions as a springboard to getting to know God better as family and exercising your faith starting on the home front.
- Star Gaze— If you happen to stay up late enough to be out among the stars invite your child to star gaze with you. Try counting the stars and share how the stars remind you of one of God’s promises to Abraham, Job’s lamenting and God’s response (try finding Pleiades, Orion, and the Bear and explain the constellations change with the seasons as God appointed them to do so), or simply God’s greatness.
Many times as parents we are pressured into simply keeping our child happy and healthy—in that order. If we are not watchful, then we become complacent and forget that it’s okay to let our kids get uncomfortable and be in turmoil at times. We tend to not think about the fact that they are going to inevitably fail and fall at some point, and we need to teach them how to do it while they are still in a safe place (home), with loving support (family), and reassured of a power that is greater than they have (hope in God).
So Talk. Let it get awkward; let there be silence during the processing and forming of thought. Talk.
- Get Involved Locally
As stated earlier, kids learn strongly by example. Yes, sign them up for camps and day events but also consider being a part of the event. Here’s a list of Summer events for the kids happening at Harvest [Click Here] as well as a link to be a part of the event yourself [Click Here]. Be sure to check out the church calendar for whole family events! [Click Here]
You got this!
Children’s Ministry Director
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