Coming of age ceremony; 13th birthday

Our eldest son turned 13 recently and to mark the occasion we held a coming of age ceremony. We wanted to set this birthday apart as a symbol of stepping into manhood. While he is by no means fully a man, he is a young man and as such, this is an important occasion. Endless adolescence (often considered by our culture as a period of expected rebellion, irresponsibility and generally having a good time without any ties) is not something we want to encourage in our family. We want our children to use their young years (their youth) wisely and to grow in Godly character.

If you would like more information about coming of age ceremonies, check out another  post I have written, with book reviews and links to useful websites and this one for a girl’s version. Ours was a simple evening, with Fathers and sons invited for food (make your own stuffed potato bar), a campfire and some time set aside for the men to share letters of wisdom that we had asked them to bring along for our son to keep and learn from.

My husband had chosen bible readings and words of wisdom of his own to correspond with special gifts that we presented to mark the evening. These were a bible (true wisdom comes from God), a Leatherman (be prepared for the future that God has for you) and a survival knife (because it’s cool because you are dangerous now – your strength can be used to protect and serve, or to harm.)

Needless to say, he LOVED the knives, as did the other young men, but has also shown us that he has the responsibility to handle them appropriately. We still had an element of “just for fun” with the Millennium Falcon landing on his Planet 13 cake (warning: uncharted territory ahead) and the ice-cream Sundae bar for dessert, as well as plenty of time just to hang out and enjoy his mates. While we could have gone all out, we chose to keep it simple, knowing that we have 6 more children coming along behind him who we will also be celebrating this milestone with.

If you have any wonderful ideas for blessing ceremonies or the like, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfulness and gratefulness

We all want thankful children who notice the things others give to them or do for them and express this thankfulness freely and without being reminded to do so. We love it when others are grateful for the things we do for them and let us know. How intentional are we though when it comes to teaching our children the character quality of thankfulness?

Before Christmas, we talked a lot about receiving gifts, thankfulness and good manners in relation to receiving gifts. I have tried to take this one step further with the children by instilling in them the importance of giving thankyou cards. It’s almost a lost art these days. A quick email or phone call is easy to do and better than nothing, but it is so much more personal and special to receive a handwritten card of thanks.

A friend of mine always sends thank you cards, (well done Miss Jaq!) even after a visit for dinner. They are so pretty and such a bright spot in my day and I have endeavoured to make it a habit for myself and the children with varying degrees of success; in busy seasons it just sometimes gets away from me.

Yesterday we all sat down and had a card making session together (minus the baby and toddlers.) It was lots of fun and we all enjoyed creating a variety of designs. We used a bunch of pretty papers, some silver thank you stickers, flowers and butterflies and some coordinated card. My scrapbooking shape cutters came out, a stick of glue and some flowers and leaves we had previously pressed.

The result is a lovely collection of pre-made cards that will be ready and waiting the next time we need to thank someone. Now all I need to do is get better at actually posting the cards we do make…

Receiving Gifts, Thankfulness and Good Manners

With Christmas in just 2 days I thought it was timely to remind the children about thankfulness and gratefulness for what they are given. We spend a lot of time in the lead up to Christmas focusing on Jesus and the true meaning of the season, discussing how we can bless others and think of others first etc. but we are realistic and know that if there are presents involved, they are usually where the focus and excitement of the young (and not so young!) children will be.

Like many families, our children are very blessed to receive gifts from close and extended family on Christmas day and we want them to enjoy these, but at the same time remember the preciousness of the giver and the importance of showing thankfulness for what they receive.

A friend of mine (thanks Cherub) gave a group of Mothers and I some excellent suggestions a while ago about receiving gifts and how she has taught her children to show good manners and thankfulness when they receive their gifts. She has the child say thank you as they receive their present and take it to sit next to the gift giver to open it. The children know that it is considered good manners to open the card first and read it (or have it read to you) before opening the gift. Once open, they spend a little time looking at and playing with the item as well as thanking the giver with some specific comments before moving on.

I think this is a brilliant idea and we will be endeavouring to encourage our children to go through this process this year. We have talked about what to do and say (or not say!) in a variety of situations including:

  • when they already have the same item at home
  • the kinds of comments they can say to the gift giver once the present is opened
  • the importance of being truthful whilst respecting the thought, time, money and effort that the giver has gone to in order to give them their gifts
  • some tactful ways to respond when the gift is not something they like, want or need. Let’s face it, that happens at times.
  • guarding their facial expressions when they see the gift for the first time
We have perhaps not spent enough time on it to get perfect results, but we are hoping that our family members can take pleasure in the reactions of our children to the gifts they receive and the character that is displayed during this wonderfully exciting season.