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Coach Mom Newsletter - NOV 2010

A Note from Brenna

Dear Friends,

Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching, and this time of year brings thoughts of family traditions from childhood to present. This month I am pleased to introduce Suzanne Taylor, who has many great things to share with us about traditions and how they benefit our families.

Suzanne is the one who works each month to lay out newsletter content and make sure it gets to your inbox. She’s also the one who designed my website and designed each page with photographs she took of my clocks. Even my website “wall” is built from a photograph taken of a blank wall in my home. Isn’t that cool? The other neat thing is that God has reunited Suzanne and I after many years. In college, my triplet sister and I flanked each side of Suzanne in choir every day our last three years at OBU. We shared many great trips, inspiring moments and laughs together.

Now, twenty years later, Suzanne and I are members of the same church and she is my greatest helper, advisor, and encourager in helping me help moms. As I count all my blessings this year, Suzanne is on the list. I know she will be a blessing to you, too, as you read her ideas on family traditions.

Bless you and yours,


P.S. Watch for information on an upcoming MomsAway retreat that Suzanne and I are partnering to host March 4-6, 2011.

Family Traditions ... Or
The Way We Always Do Things

When I hear someone say family traditions, I immediately think of Tevye singing, “Traditions! Traditions!” from Fiddler on the Roof. I love his monologue: Because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything... How to sleep, how to eat... how to work... how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl that shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, "How did this tradition get started?" I'll tell you! [pause] I don't know. But it's a tradition... and because of our traditions... Every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.

That is what I love about traditions. They help us keep our balance. They teach us who we are, where we came from. Traditions are the ties that bind past generations to future generations. We can use traditions to speak truth into our children’s lives, to teach lessons, to build character. Our traditions define our family.

Each family has traditions, whether they have been purposeful in creating them or keeping them. They are the “But we always do it this way” moments in life. I heard it from my oldest child recently, “Why don’t we have waffles for breakfast on Saturday anymore? We used to always have waffles for breakfast on Saturday.”

For the most part, traditions fall into two categories:

  • Traditions of celebration – things we do around certain holidays, seasons or events in life; and
  • Life rituals – the everyday routines that are unique to our family, the day-to-day activities that provide consistency and security for our children.

Traditions of celebration mark the holidays and seasons, and Thanksgiving offers some great opportunities for establishing traditions. Some of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions:

  • Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • Say a special prayer of Thanksgiving.
  • Give “I’m thankful for …“ toasts before meals throughout November.
  • Write a thank you note to someone who made an impact on your life in the last year and maybe didn’t even know it.
  • Share favorite recipes with friends.
  • Light "Thank You" candles.
  • Go to a shelter and serve dinner.
  • Make a Thank You wreath by having everyone write down what they are thankful for on a fall leaf shape and attaching them to a grapevine wreath.

As wonderful as traditions of celebration are, I think our life rituals are probably much more important. These are the routines that teach our children about their family and their place in it. Here are some every day connections we have in our family:

  • Pray for each family member by name.
  • Snuggle in the morning and review dreams.
  • Check the calendar weekly.
  • Eat dinner as a family at least 4x a week.
  • Call Dad at work with special news or no news.
  • Say, “I love you because....”
  • Kiss good-bye; kiss hello; kiss good night; kiss good morning.
  • Give special hugs.
  • Hide to scare Dad when he comes home.
  • Skype with Dad when he’s out of town for work, have a long-distance dinner together.
  • Give special kisses: Eskimo, butterfly, puppy.

For a full list of A Year of Family Traditions and Life Rituals: Not Your Traditional Traditions, visit my blog themomspeaks.blogspot.com. Share your family traditions and rituals with me, too!

Hints for Starting a Family Tradition:

  • Be purposeful. The reason may be as simple as building family ties, but have a reason. Keep your purpose in mind as you plan the activity/celebration/tradition.

    Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV) says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” What better purpose for a new tradition or ritual than teaching our children to love God and obey His teachings?!

  • Be practical. Some ideas sound good on paper but may not work in reality. A family hike to look at fall leaves may sound like a good idea, but if you have a toddler who will tire out easily or a child with allergies to every known weed, tree and grass, it may not be a practical idea. Consider the realities of who your family is and your season of life when deciding on a new ritual or tradition.

  • Be personal. Make it yours. Put your unique spin on it. Meg Cox writes in The Book of New Family Traditions, “Take something from your family’s history or passions to create a ritual … that will be much more meaningful than a generic ritual because it is specific to you.”

  • Be prepared to let it go. Whether it is a family tradition that you brought with you from your childhood or it is a new tradition that sounded like a good idea, if it doesn’t work for your family, it doesn’t work. And it is okay to let it go, for a time (until your children are older) or forever.

    When we had our first child, my husband thought it would be a neat tradition to make Christmas ornaments as a family each year. Great idea; sounded like fun. The first year, I gathered supplies and planned the night. My husband ended up working late that night (and the next several), until I gave up and made the ornaments myself with the baby. The second year, the exact same thing happened. And the third … well, it turns out December is typically a busy month in my husband’s office, and our oldest was not especially the arts & crafts type. This was a tradition that did not fit, did not work.

    If it creates more grumbles than greatness, it is probably not worth the time and effort. Let it go.

Traditions and rituals are vital to our family health, to our children’s health. The more meaningful traditions a family has, the stronger the family. What traditions are holding your family together, making your kids feel safe and secure?

Suzanne Taylor designed and manages websites for International Baptist Church Ministries and Brenna Stull. She co-leads Mom Matters, a Bible study group for moms. Most recently, Suzanne has followed God’s prompting to plan get-away retreats specifically designed for moms, starting MomsAway Retreats. She is passionate about adoption, family traditions, and the needs of moms.

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A Simple Place to Start

One great life ritual to start today: family dinner. WebMD.com lists some super benefits.

10 Benefits of Family Dinners

  • Everyone eats healthier meals.
  • Kids are less likely to become overweight or obese.
  • Kids more likely to stay away from cigarettes.
  • They're less likely to drink alcohol.
  • They won't likely try marijuana.
  • They're less likely to use illicit drugs.
  • Friends won't likely abuse prescription drugs.
  • School grades will be better.
  • You and your kids will talk more.
  • You'll be more likely to hear about a serious problem.
  • Kids will feel like you're proud of them.
  • There will be less stress and tension at home.

For more information, read the complete article at http://children.webmd.com/guide/family-dinners-are-important.

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