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.

 

 

 

 

 

Our treasure tree reward system

Character development is an ongoing focus in our house. We finished with the marble jar reward system several months ago now and the children have been asking for a while for a return to our praise plates (more on them another day.) Rather than go back to something we have already used, I decided to introduce a “treasure tree” which linked in very nicely with our reading of “The Treasure Tree” by John Trent.

Our treasure tree reward system.

The system is very simple. When the children demonstrate positive character traits they are given a leaf to stick onto the tree. Character qualities like unselfishness, kindness, generosity and the like are promoted and reinforced throughout the day. Flowers are given when all the children have displayed Godly character together. A great chart of character qualities including a definition and the opposite negative quality is available here.

All you need is a painted tree, a bunch of paper leaves, paper flowers and sticky dots or a glue stick to stick them on with. The dots allow us to keep track of how many leaves need to be earned to reach our family reward – once the dots are all used, the tree is full.

You may like to tie it in with scripture memory work and focus on bible verses relating to treasure such as Proverbs 7:1, Proverbs 15:6, Matthew 6:21 and Luke 6:45

For a full explanation of the difference between bribes, rewards and goal incentives please see my post on marble jars. We don’t always have a reward system operating, but we do use them every now and then when the tone of the household is becoming negative and the children are beginning to bicker.

Rewarding right behaviour is not enough though, we need to spend time teaching what Godly character looks like in action. We use bible study, good books, songs and discussions during morning circle time and discuss how we can display these qualities throughout the day. It’s one thing to talk about serving, showing kindness and loving others, it’s another thing to practice it!

The Treasure Tree

“The Treasure Tree” by John Trent is an introduction to the 4 personality types for children. It uses the 4 main characters of a lion (choleric), beaver (melancholic), golden retriever (phlegmatic) and otter (sanguine) to tell the story. The animals have to work together to overcome some obstacles and find the golden keys to reach their destination of the treasure tree.

The personality types are woven into the way the animals approach each situation and can begin to give your children an insight into why they each behave differently and help them to understand each other and get along a little bit better.

While no means a detailed overview of the personalities, it does provide a great springboard for discussion and helped us to lead into identifying personality and character strengths and weakness that each child needs to be aware of and work on.

The children loved it and asked for the next chapter every day, even though we were only reading from it once a week! I’m looking for something a little more meaty to go on with, but I would recommend this story as an enjoyable read-aloud and worthwhile discussion starter.

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