My husband loves to do clever things all the time—pranks on the kids, jokes, etc. He also likes to do special things for the kids—and let them know that he was thinking of them. (Not just that Mom thought of a special thing and had him “sign on” for it!) I love this about him, and it makes our kids feel so well-parented by BOTH parents.
I have talked at length about our Christmas Eve celebrations, games, food, and tradition. One newer tradition that we began a few years ago with all of our olders (who are now all olders!) is the Pass and “Steal” Grab Bags.
One thing that draws high school and college kids like nothing else is food. Seriously. Food. Especially boys.
As I’ve already mentioned, preparing and/or buying kids’ favorite foods and treats is a great way to their hearts. Smile (See Kids’ Faves worksheets available here for free!)
And, as I’ve already mentioned in our “Continue With Earlier Traditions,” we always invite all of the kids over for our decorating night Thanksgiving weekend.
Here are some tips from our decorating night:
Christmas story read aloud was truly one of the highlights of our year. I collected beautiful, amazing picture books that we read out of each afternoon during story time. Then as the kids got older, I began collecting story “collections” or “anthologies” to read short stories aloud at the dinner table, during unit studies, before bed, and while traveling by car. Still today we read aloud at least one Christmas story on family decorating night and one story on our family Christmas even—with all fifteen of us gathered around. We never tire of the same heart-warming stories year after year (though when the kids were younger and still at home, we did many, many different stories).
When you need to get things done might seem like a strange time to recommend as a talk time, but hear me out on this one.
Not long ago, my twenty-one year old son stopped by as I was cleaning vegetables. He said, “Oh, you’re cleaning veggies. Remember when we used to bring a big tub of fruits and vegetables into the living room and we three boys would gather around them and peel, slice, dice, stem, and “julienne” pounds of produce while you read out loud to us for hours.”
“I’ll never forget,” I replied, getting a little misty-eyed.
“I just don’t feel like I can tell you anything.”
“You judge everything I say.”
“I know you won’t want to listen to this.”
These are all phrases that our preteens, teens, and young adults might say to us—IF we do not open our hearts to them early and often, creating a safe place for them to talk to us.
A pivotal, crucial time to talk to our kids is when they need a safe place to talk.