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6 Simple things Sally and I did in raising our kids

February 26, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how often people ask us how we raised our kids: Beccy, Libby and Sam. As with all things, you sort of just learn as you go, right? I mean, I dropped our kids on their heads as much as any dad. ūüėČ

But over time, we learned to do a few things that set a certain atmosphere in our family for raising our kids that really embraced the spirit of¬†unique, but not independent. Our motto was that we traveled as a pack. With most kids, it’s about rhythm and routine and ¬†here were a few of the things we did that our family, in reflecting on them, highlighted as some of the most important for them:

  1. Special plate.¬†Once a week we’d let the family decide who had really had the hardest week. Whoever it was, for that meal they got to have the special plate reserved for that meal.
  2. Affirmation dinner.¬†Once a week we’d each go around the table and spend time saying what we really appreciated and valued about each other. What did we admire? What did we enjoy? Like? Were impressed by?
  3. Daddy’s breakfast.¬†Each Saturday, I’d take one of our kids out to breakfast and they got to choose where they wanted to go. When they were little kids, it was MacDonalds. For reasons beyond my understanding, they thought it was¬†the coolest place in England.¬†Fortunately, as they got a little older, it trended towards nicer places. I think one of the favorites was Cafe Rouge.
  4. Two family touch points a day.¬†No matter how early we had to get up or if we had to delay dessert, we always were around the table together for breakfast and for dinner. It was a non-negotiable. Sally and I felt it was incredibly important that we be the primary disciplers of our kids and we simply couldn’t do that if we didn’t have regular and consistent face time with them.
  5. Public Affirmation.¬†I would regularly say in front of whatever congregation I was leading that our family being healthy and well was my #1 priority. Yes, the church was important, but not more important than our family. Each of us have three sermons; the first is your marriage, the second is your kids and the third is what you might be giving on any given Sunday. And if those first two aren’t happening, the third doesn’t matter. I really felt our congregation needed to know that and be reminded of it regularly.
  6. Involving them in decisions.¬†We’ve moved a decent number of times over the last 30 years, and from an early age, we wanted our kids to be involved in those decisions. So when Sally and I felt the Lord was calling us to Arkansas for a few years in the early 1990’s, we made sure to involve the kids in it. So we went to Libby and Beccy (Sam was barely crawling at this point) and told them there was an opportunity in Arkansas and we wanted them to pray about it and let them know what Jesus was saying to them about it. We gave them a day and when they came back, they had some of the most remarkable experiences praying and it really served as a confirmation that this was the next step for our family.

There were lots of things I’m sure we could have done better along the way, but these things really served as the kind of railings to the life of our family, the things that helped shape our kids and create the atmosphere in our house we wanted to see.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 1:05 pm

    Mike, I whole-heartedly agree about the family meal times. This cannot be over-stated. I am afraid that the “fast-food” mentality has crept into families, and that too many dinners are eaten in the car on the way to the next activity. I want to tell parents to SLOW DOWN and ENJOY your kids – don’t settle for just ENDURING time with them. Children are truly a blessing and a treasure from the Lord; be intentional every day to build relationship with them! How else will you have a spiritual voice?
    The other thing family dinner *at the table* does is teach your kids table manners, how to have conversation, and how to clean up the kitchen. Even young children can be a part of planning the menu and engage in the shopping process. It’s never too early to teach your kids healthy eating. Your children are worth far more than a 99 cent happy meal!!
    Don’t get caught up in the ba-zillion activities mindset that the world bombards us with —- stay your course, and realize that intentional parenting is an investment with benefits quite literally out of this world!

  2. David permalink
    February 28, 2012 10:31 pm

    Wow. So good.

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