June 24, 2014

Childhood Anchors

Independence Day is right around the corner.

My family celebrates the occasion with my husband’s parents - sleeping over for a night or two, visiting the local water park, and enjoying the annual patriotic concert and fireworks display in a neighboring town. It’s an important tradition we’ve kept for 12 years running now, with no end in sight.

We have two other summertime traditions as well. First, my kids have attended one week of Christian day camp every year for the last nine years. Second, we’ve escaped as a family for a week’s vacation at a beautiful northwoods Bible camp every year for the last eight. Both events are once again on this summer’s calendar.

If you read my last article, you know I favor giving kids plenty of unstructured time to create and explore, especially during the summer. Kids really do need unprogrammed (unplugged) free time in order to maximize their multiple intelligence strengths and inherent genius qualities.

But they need traditions as well – regular events that will serve as memory anchors to their childhoods, grounding them to the their parents, siblings, and family history. And summer is a great time to build a few such traditions into any family unit.

Your traditions will look different than mine. Perhaps your family likes to camp. So instead of spending a week in a “civilized” cabin as we do, you’ll hike into the wilderness and pitch a pup tent. On the other hand, maybe you’ve been blessed with the time and finances to travel internationally once a year. Maybe you aren’t able or don’t wish to spend time with extended family. But you have strong friendships at church or in your neighborhood, and you’ve developed traditions – monthly barbeques around the fire pit or weekly game nights ­– with those folks.

Traditions do change over time. For example, we’ve had to adjust our Independence Day activities to accommodate my father-in-law’s health needs. And my kids will “age-out” of the day camp program they currently attend – the second one we’ve utilized over the years – after next summer.

But what’s important is continuity over time for as long as each activity is viable. If kids can look back to several years of camping at the same venue or biking the same trails, their childhood anchors will hold fast even as the winds of time push them on toward adulthood.

Photo Credit: Adrienne


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