Parents, you have the opportunity to shape and create memorable moments your children will think about for years. A few years ago, I read The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. If you’ve read Parenting beyond the Rules, then you know I write about how we can create defining moments with our children. I was doing this when my children were young, which is why I enjoyed reading the book. It affirmed much of what I believed about memory-making. I knew childhood memories were important. I also knew most of my childhood memories were ones I did not want to remember. Actually, there are very few childhood memories I care to remember. That is why I became so passionate about creating memorable moments with my family.
What do I mean by creating defining moment? It is something intentional that we do. It’s paying attention to the things your child does or says and positively commenting on them. Creating a memorable moment isn’t something we ignore and hope they remember. Instead, we can help focus positive attention on the event they are experiencing.
Shaping your children’s memories isn’t an attempt to write the story you want but to bring awareness to a positive moment they will reflect on later in life.
“Memory believes before remembering begins.”
Think about that for a moment. Memory believes before knowing remembers. Your kids will draw off the memories you help them create today, the good and the bad. So, naturally, we want our kids to think back on their childhood with fondness.
Creating Memorable Moments
We make memories every day. Some are lasting, and others are forgotten. So, if we are constantly making memories, how can we create memorable moments that your children will dwell on?
Memories come in a variety of ways. But in this episode, I talk about three ways you can create defining moments.
The memories associated with traditions will help your children focus on things they do that bring them joy and delight. Traditions can also make your child feel strong or proud of themselves. Children thrive when they have a bank of positive memories to look back on.
Traditions are the repeated activities a family or group of people do together to create shared meaning about such interactions. For example, birthday celebrations, group camping trips, holiday gatherings, or reaching a milestone are a few of the traditions we can establish to create memorable moments.
Repeated actions can be ordinary actions the deepen the shared experience to increase meaning.
Rituals are religious or solemn ceremonies consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Rituals can be added to a tradition to enhance its meaning further. They might include praying together before meals or at bedtime. Taking flowers to a friend who is not feeling well. Going around the room and saying something positive about the person next to them.
One ritual we had was to stop and pray for the people involved in an accident. My kids still pray for others when they see an accident on the side of the road. This simple act made an impression on them. It didn’t cost anything, but it did make them consider what others might be going through.
Creating memorable moments can happen by performing tasks that make a family run smoothly. They feel part of something greater than themselves. By assigning tasks to each member of the family, children quickly learn that they are needed. Cleaning the kitchen, folding the laundry, working in the yard are all ways our kids express themselves.
I’ll never forget when my oldest child decided to eat a worm while we were raking the leaves. He wanted to get a reaction from his siblings. They didn’t disappoint. We were all grossed out. We still laugh about that. Some of your children are like that too. They will do things when everyone is working on a task to make others laugh or get attention.
When you assign tasks to your children, it is critical to observe attitudes and ask why they do or don’t enjoy their tasks. You will get more cooperation from them if they know you are interested and willing to adjust the assignment based on their feedback.
Family tasks do more than provide an opportunity to create defining moments; they teach your children valuable skills they will use later in life.
It does take some preplanning on your part, but your efforts will pay off when your children are older. They will not understand all the work you put into creating events or planning family gatherings while they are young but think long-term. So what will they remember about the season of life they are living in right now.
Traditions, rituals, and family tasks can be a catalyst for meaningful and positive memories. You can ensure the memories they access are rich and vivid and frankly easy to think upon and as a mom and a dad. The ability to create those defining moments serves as a transmitter of meaning.
I want to encourage you to start today, whatever your children’s ages, to be intentional about creating defining moments they will, one day, share and reflect on. So that instead of thinking about all the difficult situations they had to overcome, they’ll think about the family activities that added joy to their childhood.
References and Links
The following may contain affiliate links.
- Get the book The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
- Knowing Your Strengths Part 1 – ETB #71
- Knowing Your Strengths Part 2 – ETB #72
- Knowing Your Strengths Part 3 – ETB #73
- Knowing Your Strengths Part 4 – ETB #74
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