Let the celebration commence! The last school bell of the year has rung and children have bolted out the doors for the freedom of a sweet summer. Visions of sleeping in, staying up late, vacations and a host of other fun activities undoubtedly are swirling in their minds right now.
As parents, we only have 18 or so of these summers with our children. As a result, we want them to enjoy their freedom. But these long hours also are optimum times for us to continue to instill values in our children. After all, we’re not simply caring for children; we’re raising the next generation of leaders.
Here are a few ways we can make this summer count in the development of our children’s lives while keeping the fun spirit of the season:
Experience something new together. Nothing stimulates growth like trying something new – learning a new skill, going to a new place or trying a new activity. New things bring a sense of excitement and energy. They bring people together. Problem-solving skills and family bonds are strengthened when we’re faced with something new such has how to navigate around a city or how to do a certain task.
Extra credit: Include children early in choosing something new. If they’re hesitant about new adventures, including them early on in the decision making helps them conquer any fear they may have.
Serve together. Part of our role as parents is to help our children understand the world around them and their role in it. For Christian parents, this means helping them see the needs of others and serving as Christ does. These opportunities can be as simple as serving weekly in a food pantry or a local Buckner ministry location (visit our Volunteer Central for summer volunteer opportunities). Through service, our children’s capacity for compassion, empathy and faith expand.
Extra credit: For older children, serving through a mission trip beyond your area can change their life as well as the life of your family. Visit buckner.org/missions for opportunities to serve in the Rio Grande Valley or overseas.
Encourage spiritual disciplines. The end of the school year is hectic for many of us. Schools throw celebrations. Families throw parties. We have graduations to attend. Gifts to buy. With all that going on, it’s easy to fall out of the habit of reading the Bible, praying and even going to church. The calm of summer can be refreshing. Let it wash over you as you delve back into God’s word and encourage your children to do the same. When they see you making it a priority in your life, they’ll make it one in theirs.
Extra credit: Have a weekly Bible study as a family. It might sound difficult or even scary, but there are hosts of materials out there to help make it happen. If you don’t know where to start, call your local church for recommendations and materials they may have.
Talk. This may seem overly simplistic, but communication is the key to any relationship. Have dinner together. Go on vacation together. Serve together. Go on a hike together. Do nothing together. The key here is to spend time with your children, getting to know them better and letting them get to know you. You’ll be surprised how much wisdom you have to share. Your presence alone will speak volumes.
Extra credit: Keep a journal of your summer. Record the special moments you have with your children. At the end of the summer, pull it out and look at it as a family, remembering and reliving each moment. Not only will it be a great memento for you, it lets your children know how much you enjoyed spending time with them.
With a little intentionality, this can be a summer your family will never forget. We’re praying it will be!