One way to fulfill this responsibility and to strengthen families in the process is to establish traditions. I love this thought that I came across a few years ago:
"Of course, the magic of tradition is the wonderful way it takes on a life of its own. The more times you honor it, the more powerful and meaningful it becomes. Shared ritual (be it sweet, silly, or sacred) has woven some of the shiniest threads through the fabric of our family. And I am grateful every day for the glow." (by GrannySue)
We developed many traditions over the years, but today I thought I'd focus on ones relating to education. We currently have four college students, and they didn't get there without some encouragement and help. I imagine many of you place a high value on education as well, so hopefully some of these ideas will help as you establish your own traditions. Most of them aren't terribly original, but I'm here to tell you that they work. Here are some of our favorite.
- Bedtime rituals involving stories - I read a lot with our first two sons, but by the time the next two came along, I was often exhausted at bedtime and story-time was the first thing to go. As they started school, I noticed that their reading ability wasn't quite as advanced as their older brothers, so I changed my ways and made the time to start reading again with the youngest two. It makes a difference.
- Library story time
- Play with letters and numbers
- Family scripture study - everyone takes a turn reading
- Read signs everywhere - My husband reads every word on every sign in every visitor center, museum, or nature hike placard. It drove the kids nuts, but now they do it themselves. That's a tradition!
Teach, Teach, Teach
- Family Home Evening
- Piano Lessons - In our family everyone knows where Middle C on the piano is. It wasn't always fun, but it was a tradition.
- Father's Interviews - held on a monthly basis to actively set goals in learning new skills such as budgeting, cooking, laundry, yard work, home repairs, auto maintenance - the possibilities are endless
- Use new skills to serve others
- "Do Your Best" - Our most memorable "education" tradition were the Report Card Dinners. We didn't believe in paying for good grades, we just wanted our children to keep improving and doing their best. After each report card we took everyone who had improved out to dinner.
- Help them explore career possibilities - It was also critical for us to emphasize the importance of being able to provide for a family, and well enough so that our sons' future wives would be able to stay home with their children. As one son mentioned to his new sister-in-law this summer, having a stay-at-home mom is a family tradition.
- Put God and family before school - In our family we attended our church meetings, including early morning seminary and Mutual activities, even if there was homework that needed to be done. That helped our children learn how to budget their time. Although I never told them they couldn't do homework on Sunday, they knew that Mom wouldn't help them on that day, because to me it wasn't keeping the Sabbath day holy. It worked for us. (And most, if not all of them, came to that same conclusion on their own. Put John 7:17 to the test.)
- Focus on being well-rounded - We encouraged extra-curricular activities.
- Attend events together as a family -such as concerts, plays, sporting events, awards nights, graduation, etc.
- Volunteer in the schools
- Value education - Let your children see you reading and learning new skills, and take "first day of school" pictures!
- Graduate from Brigham Young University - Of course, this may not be for everybody, but in our family that's the tradition. Five down, three to go!
We know that the education we gain on earth is one thing that we can take with us when we die. That's a wonderful, comforting promise. I also know that because of Jesus Christ we can spend eternity with our families, and that is an even more wonderful and comforting promise and blessing.
Here are links to a couple of previously written posts on my blog that explain some of our family traditions in more detail.
WFMW - Report Card Dinner (Feb 2011)
"The family is ordained of God." (Sept 2013)