A new year greeting and some wonderful tips from our Children & Youth Acquisitions Editor, Linda MacKillop!
Isn’t it wonderful that the Christian life allows us do overs when we’ve blown it or gone the wrong way? Fresh starts, as new people in God, form the very basis of our faith. We sin, repent, and become different people who make completely new choices, by God’s grace and power.
New Year’s Day gives us an official holiday for beginning again, allowing us to make some much-needed intentional changes. Maybe New Year’s resolutions aren’t really your thing, but why not consider introducing your kids to fresh starts?
Usually adults rule the New Year’s resolution game. On their own, kids don’t gravitate toward a list of changed behaviors or new habits. But they certainly watch their parents. What do our kids see us resolve to do in the coming year? Eat more vegetables? Go to the gym more often? Stop drinking soda?
And what do our kids learn about promise keeping and following through on commitments when they see us break our resolutions? Some resolutions might seem lightweight, but the weight of keeping our word before our children is much heavier.
In 2016, in addition to making and keeping our own resolutions, we can encourage our young ones to think about making some of their own fresh starts and following through on those commitments. Here are a few suggestions:
- Kids today struggle with serious anxieties and fears, often to a crippling degree. What if you helped them resolve to battle these fears and anxieties with God’s help? Maybe they’ve always wanted to try out for a play or sports team, but feel terrified that they’ll fail or hear they have no talent. As a parent, encourage them to step into their fear of failure. They won’t know if they’re any good unless they try out! But we also can help them learn it’s not the end of the world when they get a rejection. Often this is God’s way of directing our steps another way. Talk to them about handling failure with grace.
- Are they afraid to take the initiative in befriending someone? Challenge them to make an invitation.
- Maybe you’ve seen them slowly lean toward being some of the mean kids at school. New Year’s is a great time to help them take an inventory and make some changes. Sometimes the inventory needs to include their list of friends, who may not be the best influence on them. Help them consider cultivating healthier relationships in 2016, building friendships with people who share your family’s desire to love your neighbor.
- Do you and your children have an intentional spiritual and devotional life? Do you regularly make time to be with God? If not, here’s a great time to develop this discipline.
- Does your family spend way too much time looking at screens? Commit to more books, longer periods of interaction with each other, and less screen time. Agree on a certain number of books that you’ll both read over the coming year, and plan to discuss those books when you’re finished. Studies show today’s kids are a lonelier generation than past generations, and too much screen time is contributing to the feeling. Help them resolve to change this pattern.
- Consider creating a family generosity campaign where you collect goods for the poor, volunteer with refugees, or set aside a little money toward a ministry.
As you set aside a time to plan these resolutions with your kids, include a little fanfare like a special dinner or a private lunch, a journal entry, and a prayer to let them know making a decision toward change is momentous. Keeping promises and commitments is weighty. Most importantly, invite God into the decision, and ask Him to open your eyes to needed change. The goal is to develop lifelong habits, rather than brief resolutions that vanish when the fifteen pounds are gone from our waistlines.
And one year from now, may you find you’ve truly made changes and kept them. Happy New Year, everyone!