“Family traditions are like spiritual and emotional cement in the foundation of a happy home. They create fond memories, and these memories bond us together as nothing else can. Traditions give children a sense of identity and of belonging.”
I started out with a natural, deep sense of love and desire to care for my children’s need and to protect them but I was a bit naive to anything more than that. It took me awhile to catch on, but through trial and error, a lot reading, having my own experiences and watching others I see how important it is to be INTENTIONAL when creating our own family and home environment. You can’t just sit back and let it happen. I needed to make it happen!
Lanea is our oldest daughter and therefore, she is also our guinea pig. ;) In our church 12 is a pretty special age as that is when the girls transition from the Primary program to the Young Women’s program and start to work on their “Personal Progress”. The boys at age 12, make the transition from Primary to the Young Men’s program, have the opportunity to receive the Priesthood and develop themselves in many ways as well.
As the oldest child, Lanea not only gets to be the guinea pig but she gets to set the standard for the rest of her siblings! When Lanea turned 8 and chose to be baptized we decided to celebrate that by instilling a tradition that would continue for the rest of our children. So… in this household for the 8-year-old birthdays we buy the child their own set of nice, leather scriptures, make them a baptism binder filled with baptism keepsakes and special family testimonies, take them to dinner with just our little family after their baptism and to a hotel for their actual birthday! Man! We set the bar a little high with this one but the kids know it is tradition and look forward to it now. At least we have 2 years between each kid to save for the next one.
My husband, Nalu and I wanted Lanea to always remember this special 12-year-old birthday and time of transition. At the same time we wanted to keep it more simple yet still meaningful. We have been in awe watching her change and blossom into herself. We wanted to celebrate her, to let her to know how much she is loved and to truly feel that we are there for her on this journey.
So… in this household for the 12-year-old birthday tradition we chose to get a babysitter for the other children, take this child alone on a special date with mom AND dad, let them chose where to go to dinner and then afterwards let them pick out a nice outfit to church that they can wear on the Sunday they transition to Young Women’s or Young Men’s.
I have read a TON of parenting books in the last 12 years as a mother. But because I love simple and practical truth that resonated and testifies to my spirit and my motherly intuition, I only have a select few favorites.
In one of my all time favorite parenting books called Three Steps to a Strong Family, by Linda and Richard Eyre, they say: “…the reasons to work at family traditions–because they offer opportunities to create memories, share love, and build strong bonds between family members. They will not only help your family life be more peaceful and rewarding, they will also give your children memories they can draw on no matter where they go or who they grow up to be.”
Gah!! Lanea only has 6 more years of “childhood” officially left in my home. I hope that when she leaves the nest to spread her wings she will have a solid sense of self, a wealth of special childhood memories (where life’s trials pale in the shadow of the good), as well as a firm knowledge that she has a family who loves her, cherishes her and will ALWAYS be there for her.
Though this 12-year-old tradition does include some spending I am convinced that meaningful traditions do not need to cost any money at all. This is encouraging to me as I prepare for future family plans and traditions. Sure now and then it might be nice to save for an special event or dinner out etc but that is not the point.
“Like habits, traditions are formed intentionally. They are not automatic, but require preparation, planning, and a combined effort… we would do well to recognize the energy and preparation it will take—realistically considering just how much we can commit ourselves to…
…don’t let the effort dissuade you from creating any traditions at all. Elder Richard L. Evans counseled, “Oh, parents, we would plead, give good and happy memories to your children—not pampering or overindulging, not satisfying everything they take a fancy to—but memories of love, encouragement, of peace and harmony and happiness at home—memories that will bless and lift their lives wherever they are, always and forever.” (Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, p. 128.)
Of course I didn’t make it into any of the photos. I need to better at doing that. But I was there. :) These father daughter photos were taken in Lahaina. Lanea chose to go to Kobe Japanese Steak House for dinner. She had never been and loved it! We ordered sushi from the sushi bar as well and had the teppanyaki. The garlic fried rice is a must!
Fortunately it was a wonderful night. Of course nothing goes exactly to plan but we are pretty go with the flow in our family so it’s all good. I am comforted to know we as a family are not bound by our traditions. That if they work out great but circumstances change moment to moment, year to year and no matter what happens our love for each other remains , we all understand and we can try again next time.
“As important as the establishing of any tradition, no matter how creative or enlightening the event itself is supposed to be, parents must never lose sight of the spirit in which the activity is conducted. How easily we overshadow the beauty of any special occasion when we allow force, anger, or impatience to intrude. If the children are not perfect, the food cooked just so, or the decorations quite what you had imagined them to be, remember how much more important it is that you are all together sharing this sweet tradition. And prepare a little better next time.” (Ensign Article, Mar. 1986, Traditions Worth Keeping.)
Raising a family is not always easy. I know that by putting Christ first in my life His plan for my family can develop. We can find joy in life’s ups and downs and look forward to being together for time and all eternity. But I must partner with Him and do my part!
“Since “no other success can compensate for failure” here, we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship.”-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
”It’s not so much the major events… as the small day to day decisions… that map the course of our living.“-President Gordon B. Hinckley
Now, going out to dinner is always nice. And buying a new outfit is fun but that is not what this tradition is about. It’s about the bonding! My favorite part was letting Lanea take the lead in our long conversations in the car rides to each location and as we ate or walked through the mall. Not having her other siblings around we could really get a glimpse into what is going on in her heart and mind. We also took this time to talk about and hopefully instil some values and eternal truths.
“The most important traditions are connected with the way we live our lives and will last beyond us as our children’s lives are influenced and shaped.” Cheryl C. Lant
“Moments are the molecules that make up eternity.“-Elder Neal A. Maxwell
I look forward to doing this tradition 3 more times with my younger children. But though these kinds of traditions are important and fun I realize that we still have to live out the rest of our 365′s. Every day needn’t be grand. We can live purposely in our simple every day and choose to see the magic in the mundane.
“We would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes and truly see the things that matter most… Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light it comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most… Diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world.“-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
(These inspirations and collected quotes are some of my favorites that I keep with me as reminders. Maybe they might be encouraging to someone out there as well… Opening quote from an Ensign Article, Mar. 1986, Traditions Worth Keeping. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/03/traditions-worth-keeping?lang=eng)