I love my kids. We have three and they are all a joy and a delight. Now of course that isn’t to say that I never want to scream at them, lock them in their rooms or pour cold baked beans on their heads… yes, cold baked beans. We’ve all had those days if we dare to admit it, haven’t we? when something minor has been the absolute last straw and if a can of cold baked beans happened to be in ones hand at that precise moment… you know what I’m saying, right? and no, I haven’t ever actually done it, but I may have thought it. May.
Anyway, slightly digressing. So, yes I love my kids. Always have done, always will but if I’m honest before we really met Jesus my relationship with them could have been better. Now maybe that is because we had our youngest two, two years apart and so we did go through the phase of two sets of nappies in varying sizes, sleepless nights with a baby and an equally restless toddler (with eczema), and an older one too… plus work issues and all sorts, but I do think that knowing Jesus, knowing the God of love, has had a huge impact on how I love my kids.
So for various reasons we’ve been thinking about how we parent our kids and wanting to make some changes. Now this is not about them really, they are really lovely kids and we are really proud of them and have never had any real issues with them (they are now 18,10 and 8), it’s more about us and thinking about how we were parented and how that affected us, and more importantly how God has impacted our lives and wanting more of that for them. So over the last few years we’ve been looking at the way we parent and how we teach them about God in particular. There have been challenges, there have been highs and some lows, but one thing I am so stuck on, is for our faith to be the same in our own personal lives as it is in our family life, as it is in public. So my kids know that we pray every day and we pray with them each day too. They know that if they are ill or struggling with something, one of the first things we’ll do is to pray. But they also know that we’ll do that for others too, that we are not afraid of our faith. They know that God is not just an old guy in the clouds with a beard but someone that they can know and love for themselves.
So, one thing we did last year was to all get together to do a ‘family charter’ (for want of a better name) and we stuck it up on the wall (until the blue tack gave out and it fell down…). It covered all kinds of things from how we work together as a family, to what we could do together for days out. So today we re-did it (about 18 months since we first did it). There’s not many things that you can do with an 18, 10 and 8 year old together (and if I’m honest the 18 year old may not have been initially keen…) but actually it was fun for everyone. I love watching how the kids interact with each other. So often they just wind each other up (hey, we’re Christians, not perfect…) so when they find some common ground or something to laugh about together it is just lovely. Last time they decided they would set up an ice cream company together. That never actually happened (shame really, I rather fancied the peanut butter and nutella flavour…) but the fact they loved discussing it together was really great. In actual fact we looked through last years over lunch today before we started and we found that most of the things on it we had done, or at least tried to do! Some work may be needed on what time drum practice may begin in the morning…
As our oldest continues to freak us out by her age we are acutely aware that she may not be at home for much longer. I can’t even begin to think about how I will handle that when the time comes, but for now I want to make the most of having her at home. Having time for us to be as a family, all together, is so precious. And of course naturally at her age she’d rather be spending time with her friends than at home with all of us and I am just grateful that she wants to be here at all. At her age I was desperate to get away from my family, which eventually resulted in me going to the furthest place I could get – Australia – for a year. So I was aware today that come next year if we look at this again she’s unlikely to be with us, and certainly as days out as a whole family go, these will begin to diminish, so it was just great to all be together today.
I love that this idea has also enabled everyone to take a part in how the family ‘runs’. It’s not just my husband and I saying ‘right let’s do this today’, we often refer to the charter and what their suggestions were. And in terms of how we work together it’s great to remind them, (and them us) of what we wrote down – my oldest often reminds me to have a sense of humour which appeared on last years charter (unfortunately we had a rule about not vetoing what someone else had written…). This time we also made it a bit smaller so that I can print out out a copy for each of them to have in their rooms.
|the finished article…|
It’s also actually quite fun to do, coloured pens, stickers, glitter glue etc…! although I’ve got to admit I’m slightly alarmed by the number of countries that have appeared on this years charter, including Australia and India – they may be slightly disappointed when we look back on it and reflect next year! (Equally hoping it’s not prophetic and God hasn’t got some kind of crazy mission plan for us all).
And here is the finished articled for 2014. So let’s see where we go with it…