Remember what it was like to be a kid? Take a few minutes and think back. It may help your parenting in ways you never expected.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of Christmas when I was 12. I don’t remember many elaborate gifts. In fact I recall only one—a shiny, red tape-recorder with a microphone.
Long after the presents were put away and the wrapping paper picked up, my family and I sat around our kitchen table recording silly stories. I was a reporter, and I interviewed my parents and younger brother.
Though only snatches of their crazy comments come to mind, recalling the laughter we shared warms me up faster than a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day. It also gives me ideas of gifts to give to my own children. No, not a red tape-recorder, but time, silliness and laughter.
Sometimes the best ideas about parenting don’t come from manuals. Instead they come from remembering what it was like to be a kid.
Remember That Family Activities Are Fun
Recalling the past for the purpose of gaining encouragement and receiving direction isn’t something new. In Deuteronomy 32:7, Moses urged God’s chosen people to look back and remember. “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”
So why is looking back so important? Remembering is like a personal history lesson in which you examine your own life and use it as a reference to guiding your future. As writer Charles G. E. Chilton says, “Would we know the value of the present? Ask the past.”
Thinking about her favorite childhood memories, Twyla Klundt, mother of two, realized that spending time with her family meant more than anything else. “My favorite childhood event,” Twyla says, “was spending every New Years Eve bowling together. I felt part of something bigger than myself. I felt special.”
Twyla’s husband, Kenny agrees. Shared moments were what mattered most when he was a child. “My favorite time was riding horses with my dad,” Kenny says.
Thinking back on what they enjoyed as kids gives the Klundts ideas for things to do with their own family. But they admit that following through requires sacrifice. “Even though time is what matters most, it’s the hardest thing to give,” Twyla admits.
Remember The Things You Wanted To Do Differently
Looking back not only helps us know what to do, but what not to do. “My husband and I both felt our parents were so busy with life that they didn’t have time for parenting,” says Crystal Andrews, mother of three. “They did their thing and we children did ours. So, Mark and I decided early on that we wanted things to be different with our kids.”
Determined to build strong relationships, Mark and Crystal work hard to be available. “We focus on spending time with our children whether it’s taking long car trips or just reading together in the evenings.” Today, when the Andrew’s children share their own favorite memories, they talk about times spent with Mom and Dad. Making family a priority is paying off.
Remember To Be Creative In Showing Your Love
In his book, How to Win Grins and Influence Little People (Honor Books), author Clint Kelly says that children and teens need to be shown how much you love them. “These memories can outweigh the fears in life and keep hope in sight.”
Some ideas from Kelly’s book include:
• Have a candlelight dinner for your child. Say, ‘This is a rare event only reserved for a special guest.”
• Write up a resume of all your child’s accomplishments, both big and small. Look it over thoughtfully and say, ‘I’d hire you in a second!”
• Put a note of praise in a bottle and float it in your child’s bath water.
When you work to create special times for your kids, you’re fashioning a lifetime of memories in the process—memories that will make your children look back and smile. In my case, the red tape recorder was misplaced long ago, but the memory of the laughter my family shared will never be lost.