Memories That Matter | Brian and Deborah McCrorie

family.jpgWho can ever forget Winston Churchill's immortal words: "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills." It sounds exactly like our family vacation. (Robert Orben) What kind of memories are you creating for your family’s future?  Memories do matter—they are part of the process in determining who your children will become.   This post is designed to give you a good foundation to create memories that matter. Good memories do not, however, come easily.  They demand work, time, creativity, and above all else determination.  So we want to challenge you make 7 resolutions today that will allow you to create memories that matter in your family and their future. Seven Resolutions Needed to Create Memories that Matter 1. Establish boundaries for your children’s lives. By setting boundaries you convey your love for them by saying, "I love you too much to let you grow up in any way other than the way I know will honor God and bless you." Boundaries are only as strong as you are willing to enforce them. In our home as in many, we employed the use of the "safety gate."  Yes, that plastic, expandable gate that could create a barrier just about anywhere needed, was a big asset to us in teaching our infants that boundaries are important and keep them from danger.  Unfortunately, once those barriers were removed, the result was often a trip to the doctor for stitches!  Kids learn the hard way, but boundary setting helped to lay the foundation of protective barriers in their lives.  2. Enjoy them. It's fun to have kids. Enjoy the time with them. Fill your home with smiles, laughter, and a little bit of craziness. In our home, we love to sit around the piano and sing together.  Sometimes, the boys just think it's time to tackle Dad, regardless of whether he is prepared or not.  Spontaneity has been a hallmark of our enjoyable family memories. 3. Expose your humanness to them. Let your kids hear you say, "I'm sorry; I blew it," when you make a mistake. Whether blowing your stack without all the facts, or saying something you later regretted, mistakes are part of parenting. Admitting your human inadequacies face-to-face teaches them by example. We have both tried at different times to teach our own children piano lessons.  While Dad is the more proficient musician, it is Mom that has the endurance to follow through.  However, there are just so many times that one can hear the wrong note before exploding in human agitation!  In those times, it has been important to own up to our own shortcoming and seek reconciliation. 4. Encourage them. Encouragement in regular and massive doses is probably the best thing you can give your kids to help them know you are on their team. Be a cheerleader for your kids. Keep searching for opportunities to encourage your kids – they need it so much. We have recently come to the final stages of potty training for the last of our five children.  Naturally, this time was the longest!  But what compelled our son to finally overcome his fear of sitting on the giant chair with the gaping, water-filled hole in the middle was the constant encouragement and celebration of his successes. 5. Physically express what you feel in your heart. It's a delight to hug a 2-year-old, but how easy it is to get out of that habit as the child enters the teen years. You can never receive too many hugs – no matter what age. When you express your emotion in hugs and tears, without fear of rejection, then your children will enjoy one of the greatest securities they can ever know. Our oldest son is now 10 years old; but in some ways, he has never changed.  When Dad has to go on a trip, Jonny will be the last one to hug Dad, over and over and over.  He finds his security of our relationship in that hug. 6. Examine your marriage regularly. You best communicate love when they see that the commitment Mom and Dad have to each other is so deep that they will never violate that commitment and leave the children to deal with the results. Appropriate, public display of your affection for each other in front of the children is a priceless investment of instruction in this kind of commitment.  Our four-year-old daughter Kayla may still say "Yuck!" each time her parents kiss each other "on the lips"; but she knows that we are committed to each other, and she expects that love to continue for all time. 7. Exercise great patience with them. It takes a lot of patience to be a parent. But God uses the hard times of family life to bind families together. One of our daughters was sexually molested as a very small child.  That extremely difficult circumstance turned into a testing of our patience.  We had to learn great patience in dealing with social workers, law enforcement, and the person who inflicted this crime upon our daughter.  There were times we would have liked to just "move on" but this was a matter that would take months and years to work through.  As a result of this patience through testing, our relationship with this daughter is rock solid. These seven resolutions will take take to implement and determination to follow through, but they will express real love and create memories that matter.  All too often the relationships between parents and children turn out like the one expressed in this letter: “Dear Folks, Thank you for everything, but I’m going to Chicago and try to start some new life for myself.  You ask me why I did those things that got me in trouble, why I gave you so much static while I was at home.  The answer is easy for me to give you, but I don’t know if you’ll understand.  Remember when I was 6 or 7 years old, and I used to want you just to listen to me?  I remember all the nice things you gave me for Christmas and my birthday, and I was really happy with those things for about a week, but the rest of the time during the year all I wanted was you.  I just wanted you to listen to me like I was somebody who felt things.  Because I remember when I was young, I felt things.  But you always were busy.  You never seemed to have time.  Mom, you’re a wonderful cook and you always have everything so clean, and you were tired from doing all those things that made you busy.  But you know something, Mom?  I would have like crackers and peanut butter just as well if you’d only sat down with me a while during the day and said to me, ‘Tell me all about it.  Maybe I can help you understand.’ I think that all the kids who are doing so many things that grown-ups are tearing out their hair worrying about are really looking for is somebody who will have time to listen a few minutes, and who will really treat them as they would a grown-up who might be useful to them, you know.  Well, if anybody asks you where I am, just tell them I’ve gone looking for somebody with time cause I’ve got a lot of things that I want to talk about. Love to you all, Your Son.” The following list might provide some cloudseeding for a brainstorm or two of your own. Have some fun with your family! 1. Eat dinner together as a family for seven days in a row. 2. Read your kids a classic book (Twain's a good start). 3. Memorize the Twenty-third Psalm as a family. 4. Give each family member a hug for twenty-one days in a row (that's how long the experts say it takes to develop a habit). 5. Pick a night of the week in which the television will remain unplugged. 6. Go out for a non-fast food dinner as a family. 7. Pray for your spouse and children every day. 8. Plan a vacation together. 9. Take a vacation together. 10. Read a chapter from the Bible every day until it becomes a habit. 11. Sit together as a family in church. 12. Take an afternoon off from work; surprise your child by excusing him from school and taking him to a ball game. 13. Take a few hours one afternoon and go to the library as a family. 14. Take a walk as a family. 15. Write each member of your family a letter sharing why you value them. 16. Go camping as a family. 17. Go to bed early (one hour before your normal bedtime) every day for a week. 18. Take each of your children out to breakfast (individually) at least once a month for a year. 19. Turn down a promotion that would demand more time from your family than you can afford to give. 20. Exercise a little every day for a month. 21. Attend the parent/teacher meetings of each child as a couple. 22. Help your kids with their homework. 23. Put together a picture puzzle. 24. Take time during the week to read a Bible story to your children and then discuss it with them. 25. Tell your kids how you and your spouse met. 26. Tell your kids about your first date. 27. Do some stargazing away from the city with your family. Help your children identify constellations and conclude the evening with prayer to the majestic God who created the heavens. 28. Give the kids an alternative to watching Saturday morning cartoons (breakfast at McDonald's, garage sales, the park, chores, etc.). 29. Ask your children each day what they did at school (what they learned, who they ate lunch with, etc.). 30. After you make your next major family decision, take your child back through the process and teach him how you arrived at your decision. 31. Compile a family tree and teach your children the history of their ancestors. 32. Walk through an old graveyard with your children. 33. Play charades with your family, but limit subjects to memories of the past. 34. Schedule yourself a free day to stay home with your family. 35. Get involved in a family project that serves or helps someone less fortunate. 36. As a family, get involved in a recreational activity. 37. Spend an evening going through old pictures from family vacations. 38. Have a "quiet Saturday" (no television, no radio, no stereo…no kidding). 39. If your children are little, spend an hour playing with them — but let them determine the game. 40. Have your parents tell your children about life when they were young. 41. Keep mementos, school projects, awards, etc. of each child in separate files. You'll appreciate these when they've left the nest. 42. Give each child the freedom to pick his favorite dinner menu at least once a week. 43. Go over to a shut-in's house as a family and completely clean it and get the lawn work done. "If I keep my house spotless and dust free, and deliver crisp starched shirts and clean white socks, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another housewife.  If I cook well balanced meals, pack delicious lunches, and prepare gourmet holiday dinners with all the trimmings, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook. If I sew gorgeous window treatments, with matching fringed pillows and coordinating wall coverings, but do not show love to those who live therein, I am just another interior decorator.  Love puts down the dust cloth to hug the child.  Love rubs a back, kisses a bruised knee, and bandages a skinned elbow.  Love colors a picture, plays cowboys and Indians, and listens to endless stories.  Love is patient and kind, though weary and tired.  Love doesn’t envy another’s child who never seems to misbehave, or get puffed up on the one occasion when hers doesn’t.  Love doesn’t yell or swat but disciplines with control.  Cook, clean, and love.  But the greatest of these is love."

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