We are nearing the holiday season and I have so many memories of setting the table for Thanksgiving, searching the house with my sibling to determine where our parents hid the Christmas gifts, and watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” to jump-start the holiday season. Setting traditions are a vital because it “creates family bonds, provides a source of identity, teaches values, connects multiple generations, passes on cultural or religious heritage and creates memories for your children” (Passing on Family Traditions). With the the “busyness of life”, however, it can sometimes be a little difficult to become intentional about creating memories. What’s interesting is whether we are intentional or not, we are leaving something to our children. The question is “What Are We Leaving?” Are we being intentional in creating healthy family traditions? Are we being intentional in showing our faith walk? And are we being intentional in breaking bad money habits and showing our kids how to build wealth.
At times, all of this can be overwhelming, but I am learning not only to pass on our faith, family and financial legacies, but to build upon it and ensure our children are in a better position in each area of their lives. So, here are 14 ways to leave a legacy to our children.
- Eat Together. There’s nothing like having chats around the dinner table. From talking about school, work, friends or just life, family dinner is always a great way
- Cook Together. It does not have to be a gourmet meal, my boys love to help when we are making our own pizzas or even cookies. It is a great way to get them involved in the kitchen.
- Game Night. We recently bought UNO cards and OMG, each one of our boys inherited me and my husband’s competitive spirit including our four-year old. Even if we do not have a “scheduled” family night due to all the other “schedules” during this time of year, if the boys still have 30+ minutes to chill before heading off to bed, the whole family will play a game of UNO and let me tell you, it gets real in the Turner house! 😊
- Memorable Vacations. Since we are still digging away at our debt, we try to keep our vacations simple, yet enjoyable, educational yet fun. So, the boys absolutely love going to the Zoo every year. It’s one of our traditions. We have also visited Aquariums, Museums, Amusement Parks but of course, there’s nothing like just letting the boys play in the hotel pool (they had more fun in the pool than at Disney World, who knew?).
- Holiday Traditions. One of my favorite holiday traditions growing up was eating a huge meal on Christmas after opening gifts while staying in pajamas all day long. We would eat, watch movies, take a nap, come back and eat, watch another movie, eat again, and so on…Although we have started new traditions for our household (i.e. making hot chocolate, popcorn and watching a Christmas movie on Christmas Eve), these are the fond memories I have as a child and hopefully, we are creating fond memories that our children will talk about later in life as well.
- Family Bible Study. Although growing up I did not always like having Family Bible Study because it always seemed to take place during Part 2 of a movie series I really wanted to see. Plus, it did not help that my brother would take FOREVER reading his part of the Bible Story; however, this one tradition is where we learned how to pray, learned about the Bible and understood why we believe what we believe. Going to church helped in all of the above, but it was at home where we learned it first. So now, every Sunday before we all head to bed, my husband ensures we all read a passage in the Bible together (everyone takes turns), he asks questions about the story we just read, and pray together. This tradition is what shaped me and my sibling’s faith and hopefully will do the same for our boys.
- Attend Church Together. There is nothing like attending church together as a family. From hearing from our Pastor or allowing our children to learn on their level during Children’s Church, it is always good to hear one voice, get clear direction and ascertain how it all applies to our lives as a family.
- Discuss Sermons & How it relates to us. We typically do this during Sunday dinner. We talk about what we learned in service or Children’s church and ask each other questions. It is another great way to help our children understand the Word.
- Be the example. The best faith tradition any of us can ever set, is not only to say we are people of faith, but to show we are people of faith. As a child, I do not remember seeing my parents curse out a family member, go off on a waiter or lie to a bill collector. They were our first role models and they were not perfect (like the rest of us), but I cannot recall a time when their words did not match their actions. Now, I know for a fact I have some work to do as a parent. We are not perfect by any means, but we try to be intentional in ensuring our faith talk lines up with our faith walk. And when we do miss the mark, we go back to correct it in front of our kids and sometimes to our kids. They are watching and mimicking not just what we say, but what we do. Be the example!
- Earn Money. Our boys can earn money by doing certain (additional) chores around the house. If they do not work for it, they do not earn money for it. This act is to teach them responsibility. And let me just say, at times there are weeks that go by where no one earns any money. No work, no pay!
- Give, Save, Spend. When our children earn money, they have to divide it up into these three categories: Give, Save, Spend. Give goes to church and to help others in need; Save gets put into their individual savings account; and they can use their Spend to purchase whatever they want. This teaches them how to manage their money.
- Buy own toys, games, etc…If we go to Walmart, the mall or the grocery store and the boys have “spend” money, they can bring it to make purchase. They can also put their money together and make one purchase (i.e. video game) or they can save their “spend” money for a few months and make a big purchase. The point is, I do not buy toys, games, etc… during the year, if they would like to get a particularly toy or game, they have to save their spend money or put it on their Christmas list. This teaches them to only spend what the have, how to save to get what they want and how to work together to make a purchase they all want.
- Discuss ways to earn money. Lately, we have been discussing various ways the boys can earn money on the weekends and over the summer. We are trying to help them think outside of the box to earn money, so they too can “get their side hustle on” too!
- Teach (and show them) how to be grateful. This act can be difficult because we live in a society where it is “all about me”, therefore, teaching anyone the importance of gratefulness is challenging. So, one tradition we began doing that I picked up from my sister years ago is “High/Low”. Every evening, usually around the dinner table, the boys have to tell us a “High” for the day (something that went well or something you were grateful for) and a “Low” for the day. This simple tradition is teaching them to find the good in any part of their day. Yes, their “Low” may have been they did not get to go outside for recess due to rain, but their “High” may have been getting an “A” on their spelling test. The rule is they do not always have to have a “low” each day, but they always have to have a “high”.
Being intentional on leaving a faith, family and financial legacy is pivotal to ensure the next generation is better off than our generation. Yes, the act of planning, then creating these traditions can be cumbersome, but I can truly say, just by looking back on my own life, they are rewarding. So grateful, my parents passed along their faith and family traditions to us. Now it is our turn to maintain, improve and include more traditions, memories and family legacy to pass on to our children. We are going to leave a legacy, the question is, what are we leaving?