What started out as a conversation about putting up a swing set in the backyard turned into a conversation about building something.
There was talk of power tools and large pieces of wood. I’m pretty sure I even heard a grunt or too.
It seemed like the perfect project for father and son to start when grandpa came to town.
Three generations. Wood. Power tools.
My mother-in-law and I watched from the window as our men worked on the “treehouse” also known as the 8th wonder of the world. We tried not to laugh as they measured and drew diagrams and leveled the ground and measured again… all day long.
They were building something to last.
Grandpa left and every other night or so, my two boys went and worked a bit on the treehouse. As I watched father and son, I could see they were building much more than something in the trees. They were making memories, sharing stories and building a relationship that would last through the storms of life. Something sturdy.
Just like Grandpa did with his son, I’m watching my husband do it with ours. Teaching and guiding.
Since the family is God’s means to tell His story, our goal is to build a strong family who lives with intention and isn’t sucked into doing what everyone else is doing just because it’s a cultural norm. We spend quality time together. We keep important things important and we try not to chase what doesn’t matter.
Here are 12 other things we are trying to do to strengthen our family :
1. We have a family mission statement.
2. We resist spending money we don’t have. Kids watch you even if you don’t realize it. We try to be an example of someone who has good spending habits. And if we should overspend, it’s important to attack the debt immediately because debt becomes an encumbrance.
3. We tell our kids no if what they are asking for or wanting to do isn’t right for our family. We strive to be intentional with our choices.
4. We expect our kids to work. Hard work creates a sense of pride and ownership. It encourages kids to work for what they want. Don’t just buy them everything. Keep a job jar in the kitchen and reward their effort.
5. We decipher between needs and wants. There’s a lot of pressure as parents to give our kids the best of everything but it’s important to determine what your kids really need. Never skimp on what God says they need unconditional love and grace. Laugh every day and be grateful.
6. We make family meals a priority.
7. We don’t overschedule our kids. It’s not uncommon to hear moms in my community talk about shuttling their kids around for hours every day after school. I think kids need unscheduled time at home. We limit activities outside the home.
8. We encourage alternative choices to what others are doing.- Challenge your kids to creatively express themselves and think outside of the box. One example that I loved was a group of kids giving the $100 to charity that they would have spent on a homecoming football mum. They let everyone know by wearing t-shirts that said so. There’s nothing wrong with a mum or splurging for a special occasion but the average family spends a thousand dollars on prom. I think money can be spent more wisely.
9. We limit screen time (video games, computer, and TV). There are different ways to do this: You can set a certain time limit for each day, make it weekends only, or have a “no technology day” once or twice a week—whatever works for you. At our house, we limit the kids to thirty minutes of individual screen time a day. We try hard to enforce this during school and are more lenient in the summer. Last year, we started screen-free Sundays. When we told our kids, they flipped out. Their reaction reinforced exactly why we needed to do it. The key is consistency. Before long, we noticed our kids expected it. But we aren’t legalistic about it. Some of our best memories are when we break our own rules and pile on our bed and watch a movie together on a Sunday afternoon.
10. We expect more from our kids than culture demands. Society says kids need stuff and all teens are lazy. We read the book Do Hard Things as a family. The authors, Alex and Brett Harris, challenge kids to live above what the world expects of them.
11. We let our kids make their own mistakes and see ours. We don’t fix everything. It’s important to teach children responsibility by letting them fail sometimes. If we always rush to bail them out of problems and mistakes, they will continue to make them.
12. We splurge. It’s fun to surprise the kids every once in a while by breaking one of the rules.
Last weekend, my guys went on a father son retreat in the woods. They returned dirty and tired, mosquito-bitten and sunburned.
I didn’t hear much about the trip, but this framed prayer to God that they wrote together, turned up a couple of days ago on the counter.
I cried as I read it because building a life and legacy together is a beautiful thing.
Oh, and about that treehouse?
My mother-in-law was right. It is the 8th wonder of the world.