Saturday, May 17, 2014

Summer Parenting

by Andrew Cromwell

Summer is upon us yet again. Kids are counting down the days until school is out. Last season’s swim trunks and pool towels are seeing use once again. In our house, even the parents are excited about the break from the routine of homework, lunch preparation and daily school drop-offs and pickups. But I remember how this goes. 

A few weeks into the break, the initial excitement will wear off and the words “I’m bored” combined with long stares at any parent within line of sight will be uttered, not once but over and over again. Parents, who were initially thrilled for the break, will suddenly long for the structure of school and homework and routine and will begin counting down the days until school is back in!

Now, I don’t believe it is a parent’s responsibility to keep their kids entertained every moment of the summer. Actually, a healthy dose of boredom is good for every kid, especially if they can’t fill the boredom with video games or iPads or TV. Who knows, they might actually have to use their imaginations and creativity and get outside and get dirty.

But summer does provide us with an opportunity to spend time with our kids, create memories, and even implant some important things inside of them. There is much to be said for unscheduled time, and I am not suggesting that you need to turn into a summer camp coordinator and schedule every moment with games and crafts carefully culled from your favorite Pinterest boards. I do suggest that you be intentional about this summer.

Being intentional means that you have a plan. If you don’t have a plan, the summer will be gone before you know it. Here are three ways you can plan for a great summer:

First, plan to spend time together. For some families, that means actually going somewhere on a vacation. For others, that simply means doing things together at home. Wherever you are, swim together, play board games together, go on walks down to get ice cream or a cold drink, stay up late and watch movies, and on and on. As a parent, resist the urge to let the kids always go off and be on there own, do what you can to be together.

Second, plan to do something new. Don’t let the summer go by without having at least one new experience with the family. Go somewhere different and do something different, don’t just do the same old thing. This doesn’t even have to cost money. Learn how to make hats out of newspaper, make one for everyone in the family and make them wear them for dinner one night. Go on a hike together. Walk through a new neighborhood with the family. Cook a meal together. Just make it something new.

Third, plan to talk about real life. There are so many important things to talk to your kids about — money, sex, love, God, dating, and how to treat people are just a few. Your kids need your guidance on these issues, even if they’re not asking you. And talking with them about these things doesn’t generally work very well if it means sitting them down and announcing, “We need to talk about SEX!” (or whatever topic). This is not something you can force, but if you think about two or three things that you want to communicate to your kids this summer and then look for opportunities—opportunities not to lecture but to share—then you will see them. 

So what’s your plan for this summer? Ephesians 5:16 says, “make the most of every opportunity…” Don’t miss the opportunity this summer presents to you and your family. God wants to draw your family closer, use you to guide them and most of all, He wants you to have fun!

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