My oldest child started her Senior Year of High School this Fall. That means that she is one year away from heading off to college.
One year – that’s only 12 months!
But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth. D&C 93:40
After reading this passage, it made me look at the past 17 years and wonder if I’ve done that. Have I “brought her up in light and truth”? And what does that really even mean? I started by looking at the different traditions we’ve started with her. Some we have continued and others have gone by the wayside.
In 2010, Elder L. Tom Perry spoke to the students of UVU. He said:
At the beginning of the memorable musical Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, the protagonist, introduces his story by saying:
“In our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay up here if it’s so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word—tradition!
Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. … Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
When one thinks of family traditions, it usually is the ones geared around the holidays: family dinner, seeing the lights on Temple Square, baking cookies, visiting those without family. But what about the everyday traditions?
In a BYU Devotional in May 2010 titled, “A New Tradition”, Ed Adams said this;
“Traditions have the ability to bind us generationally. Most often we associate traditions with holidays and celebrations. But they can simply be the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, and information that moves from generation to generation. This can happen by word of mouth or by practice.”
When I was getting ready to be married, I thought about different traditions I wanted to start with the children that I would eventually have. I thought about different holidays, birthdays, and trips. Little did I know how different my life would turn out from what I originally thought.
When we started having children, we had already gone through the loss of jobs and our house. How could I even think of starting any new traditions because we had very little money? Don’t all traditions require money? When I had my second child I realized how naive this statement really is. It didn’t take long to realize that while my daughter was ahead of her age developmentally, my son was showing very slow development. It made me rethink what I considered to be important traditions. We still went and saw the lights on Temple Square, we baked cookies and had family parties. But, I had to make sure that my son wasn’t getting too overwhelmed by sensory overload. So, I decided to start with little things in the home.
President Harold B Lee has said: “The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.”
When the kids were little, I would spend a few minutes with each child – sometimes both together if time was tight. We would talk about the day, prepare for the next day- by talking about what has been planned (my son thrives on routine), read a book and then pray together. Now that they’re teens, we sit as a family and talk about the day, discuss plans for the next day and pray each night. Then we give them goodnight loves; “Goodnight, I love you, see you in the morning”. We then repeat the prayer and goodbye loves in the morning. “I love you, Have a good day, Bye!”
I have also learned that to be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. In my experience, baby steps were the best way to establish lasting traditions.
Here a few simple ideas:
Start by establishing daily, weekly and monthly traditions. They can include, but are not limited to morning, afternoon and evening routines or chores. Weekly Family Home Evening and meal prep. We especially like Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday. Having a monthly family council. Also setting time aside for monthly date night with your spouse and Temple nights. Your children need to see you continuing the traditions you keep with one another. “Generations are affected by the choices we make,” said Ronald A Rasband. Especially if that choice is to spend time in the temple together.
Just remember; they don’t need to be big, expensive traditions for them to be remembered or cherished. One favorite tradition is what we call the “Birthday Mirror.” One year, I wanted to publicly celebrate one of my children. So, the night before their birthday, I took some colorful dry erase markers and wrote all over their bathroom mirror, reminding them how excited I was that they were one year older. And it grew from there. We do this for each birthday, anniversary or the night before some big test, performance or competition. And anyone can initiate it and write on the mirror. Traditions, no matter how big or small, have a very special way of keeping favorite memories forever in our hearts.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6
I look forward to the next 12 months to continue keeping the traditions that we’ve already established with our family. And, my hope is that as my daughter moves on and starts her own home and family, she will bring with her some of what she has participated in with us.
Because in the end, as long as she knows who she is and what God expects her to do is all that really matters.
Staci Nay is a wife of 22 years to her eternal companion, a mom to two teens – one neuro-typical and one with High Functioning Autism. She struggles with depression and anxiety and is a survivor of emotional abuse. Staci loves the color purple and anything that contains caramel. She serves her family by feeding them yummy food and home-baked treats. She has a deep and unwavering testimony of her Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is through Him that she knows that her journey will all be worth it in the end.
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