We are a family who…
How would your teen answer this question?
…goes on camping adventures.
…on Thanksgiving served the meal to the homeless.
…eats dinner together as often as possible. For special dinners we light candles at the table.
…planned together and went on big hiking adventures together.
…watched every Marvel movie opening weekend.
…did a book club together.
…had a special birthday plate for someone’s birthday.
…baked Christmas cookies for every neighbor. We had a huge production line of cookie making.
…did a summer mission trip together five years in a row.
…goes rollerskating every Sunday. (My son is actually doing this with my two grandchildren.)
Or would the story your teen tells about your family be…
…alone with our screen time.
…went to all of my games but I don’t think my parents really wanted to be there.
What story are you choosing to tell with your family?
To do this intentionally and with priority is giving your teen a gift. You are giving them an identity. This is who my family is. This is who I am. This is who my family believes I can be. As you know, one of the important identity markers of adolescence is answering the question of “who am I?”
Think about your beloved teen being 25-years old and experiencing an existential crisis, because this happens. A job has gone bad. A relationship has ended. Loneliness is overwhelming. Your beloved can think back to this identity forming time and think, I come from a family who rollerskated together. I have good memories. I have people who want to be with me.
This is your gift for that time. Alongside your prayers; your phone calls; giving your beloved the appropriate space to fail; and listening well and knowing when to not speak. These things can make you feel so unsure as a parent as you watch your 25-year old struggle. But if you have given them this family story—or legacy—you can have confidence in that.
Hence you start this now. And you bring your faith near to this story you want to create.
You can teach your faith to your teen. You can do the daily devotions and daily prayers with your teen. I do suggest this because there is an everyday-ness to faith. But you do know that a living faith is more caught than taught. A living faith becomes contagious when faith fits into this beautiful story that is lived.
You feel inadequate passing on your faith to your teen? Intentionally create your family story and bring your faith alongside of it.
Because one hour on Sunday church attendance is not growing faith in our teens. Sadly, youth group attendance is not doing so well either. We so dearly want our teens to take their faith decisions into adulthood.
Two tips for this family legacy you will be creating:
- This plan doesn’t get sacrificed for another schedule. Sports takes second. Youth group takes second. You are a family who (you fill-in-the-blank) and that is the story you will tell with your schedule.
- Give your teen some ownership in this legacy. Say you try serving Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter. Sit down and have an honest conversation about how your teen felt about it? Did he/she miss time at grandma’s? Did he/she miss your Thanksgiving stuffing? Is this something he/she wants to do again? Tweak and get buy in and plan for the next time. And the next time. May this be something your beloved tells his/her friends about for the next 40 years. And then does with his/her own children.
You can start this now. Start brainstorming.
Bonus question: What would answer to that question about your own family growing up? I came from a family who…