I came across a parent resource that I thought was very helpful, and wanted to pass it along to you. I followed the article's pattern, but inserted my own stories.
When we hear the word "initiation," we might think of college fraternities, the military, and difficult physical challenges; but most simply, the act of initiation is to invite someone into a new way of living that will affect his or her future. Parents and mentors can actively create moments of initiation that will lead their children or mentees towards healthy growth and development
An initiation into adventure
In our hearts is a desire for action and adventure. My boys and I still love exploring new places, wandering up creeks and jumping off rocks. Last summer we found a large rock on the Cassatot River in Arkansas. We hurled our bodies off of it into the river's refreshing waters twenty feet below. I could tell that Caio, my youngest (10 at the time), wanted to participate, but was nervous. I knew he could do it; so we found a spot that was not as high from which we could practice. After two jumps and some encouragement from big brother and me, he was confidently launching himself from the rock's pro level. By encouraging a healthy sense of exploration and tolerance for risk taking in our children, we can help set them on a path of leading fulfilled, purposeful lives as adults. When we include our children in our adventures and help them discover and pursue their own, we are inviting them into a life of excitement and fulfillment.
Question: What does adventure look like for your family?
An initiation into love
Initiating kids into a life of loving others is critical for their emotional health as adults. An unbalanced desire to raise tough and resilient kids can mean we overlook teaching them about loving others well. Claudia, the boys and I talk about love often. Sometimes we tease about crushes and discuss romantic love; and other times we talk about how we can love each other and friends well. We even talk about what it looks like to love strangers. Caio once commented on a boy at school who was a bit annoying. Rather than just telling him not to talk about people that way, I told him I thought I knew what he meant because I remembered a friend in 6th grade who was also a bit obnoxious. I then told him that now that I have gotten older, I understand people better and sometimes they can't help it. I asked Caio, "Is there something that you do that I or mom or Tomas get annoyed by but you can't help it?" Caio made a connection and now has more compassion and tolerance for this boy. They have even become friends. In our conversation I was inviting Caio to love the annoying kid. Now chances are, if your parents didn't express love well, you may struggle in similar ways. Initiating your kids into romantic love and friendship starts when you recognize that they have the capacity to understand what love is. This initiation is founded on open and honest conversations and setting an example of how you as parents love each other, friends, and kids well.
Question: What did love look like in your home while you grew up? How did your parents show and expressed love? How has your experience impacted the way you expressed love to your children?
An Initiation into Learning
Leaders are learners, and I want my kids to have a heart for learning. They may not love school; but I want them to be curious about the world and find ways to learn new things as they grow. To initiate Tomás into learning when he was curious about the Rubik's Cube, we looked up YouTube videos on how to solve them. We took notes and practiced (a lot). It was cool that he saw me learn something new and that we learned it together. I remember thinking that my dad knew everything until one day I saw him following a step-by-step guide on how to rebuild the transmission in our family vehicle. His example helped initiate me into lifetime learning. Curiosity and discovery are encouraged when our kids realize we can always learn something new -- and it is incredibly healthy to bond over learning new things together.
Question: How do you model continuous learning in your life? What are three things you would like to teach your kids this summer?
An Initiation into Leadership
When they are adults, I hope my kids will become people who others look to as leaders in their homes, careers and communities. At Caio's (Kie-O) birthday party we put Tomás in charge of games. We let him pick and plan the games. We bought the supplies. He created a circuit of games where our guests and birthday boy competed for points. He even made a trophy that he spray painted gold for the winner. Claudia and I sat at the dining table enjoying the sounds of the cheers and screams. Caio's friends had a blast and think Tomas is SO cool. Tomás took pride in his hosting efforts. In order to initiate our kids into leadership we have to let them lead and give them leadership opportunities. I will say that I had to spend some time cleaning up silly string, apples, marshmallows and ribbon from all over my back yard, but it was worth it. Oh, and we bribed Tomás with twenty bucks to get the ball rolling :)
Question: Is there a leadership opportunity that you can give your child?
An Initiation into Service
We can teach our children important lessons about loving others through service. One day during the snow storm, we volunteered our family to help at CitySquare. We ended up sorting and organizing the clothes closet. To be honest, our boys weren't jumping up and down with joy. However, this experience provided an example for them and opened up conversations about serving others and serving our community. While at times it is difficult to initiate our kids into service, this is a battle Claudia and I are willing to fight. Teaching and modeling that our lifestyle should be about someone and something other than just ourselves is so important, especially as followers of Jesus.
Question: Write down two ways your family can serve this month. When and where will you serve?