We’re continuing our discussion from last week on how to build a great childhood for your kids. On this week’s podcast, I (Suzanne) interview our third and fourth daughters, Macy and McKenzie.
I asked them what they remembered about their childhood and what you can do right now to help build a great childhood for your kids.
We believe there are two important components to building a great childhood—Culture and Memories.
In our book, Crazy Cool Family, we talk about building a family Culture, which includes:
Here’s an overview of what we discussed:
How did you feel when it comes to culture? How did you feel encouraged when you were little?
Macy: I grew up with very little self-esteem. I was chunky as a little girl and looked very different than my sisters. I always say I grew out before I grew up. My sisters constantly encouraged me and helped me pick out my outfits to help me feel better. I received a lot of encouragement from my family when it came to how I looked and how I felt about myself and boosting my confidence.
Kenz: My love language is quality time. Looking back, the greatest places of encouragement for me is the time that my parents and family spent around each other and with me.
How did you feel about safety, and how did the culture in our home make you feel safe?
Kenz: A phrase that comes to mind is ‘being comfortable in our own skin.’ We never were made to feel like we were shamed for not being a certain way or like a certain person. Instead, we were told our identity in God. We learned to see ourselves through how God viewed us, not how the world defined us. We felt fully accepted.
Macy: Safety is one of my biggest needs. When I think of safety, it falls into two categories: physical and spiritual/emotional. Our home was a place where I felt physically safe, which also led me to feel safe to share spiritually and emotionally. I could open up and share my heart because the physical safety was met first.
What’s a situation where you remember being disciplined?
Macy: Dad was more of the disciplinary figure. I felt like discipline was always fair. My parents created a culture of fairness for all of us. The discipline bonded us together even as siblings.
Kenz: I don’t remember the things that I did that caused me to be disciplined, but I remember the change that happened afterward. I now see how God disciplines and loves me and parents me. I encourage you to see discipline as a bigger picture and to have higher thinking. See discipline as a way of loving your children. It’s more than just about the small act. You want them to know the consequences of their harmful actions. Discipline must be done through love and relationship.
Macy: Never discipline your children through withholding relationship from each other. Don’t distance yourself emotionally or relationally from your children.
What did unity look like when you were children?
Macy: We did everything together. We all went to each other’s sports games. It wasn’t a choice, nor was it seen as a bad thing. It’s just what we did as a family. “Our siblings were our inner circle.”
Kenz: We were unified by the way our friends were brought in to our culture. Our siblings were our best friends. We did things with friends, but our friendships with our siblings had a higher importance. “It’s in the life-on-life where the unity was found.”
What does it take to build a great childhood? What do you remember that helped to build your childhood?
Kenz: Your children don’t have exposure unless you give it to them. They don’t know what they don’t know. Expose them to museums, relay races, cooking classes, sign languages, art, etc. See where their curiosity leads and discover with them. Learn more through library books, help them discover and try new things. One of my favorite quotes is, “Knowledge is not just in your brain but what you experience.” Set up experiences for them to discover and learn. Own your child’s hours. Give them time to learn a new skill, and let them decide if they want to continue with what they enjoy.
Macy: We had so much fun in our backyard, playing on the trampoline, in a fort, in the shed. Everything was a game, and we would use our imaginations together. Your kid will be a leader if she can learn how to generate fun, play, and creativity. Structure is great, but we shouldn’t have to entertain our kids the entire day. We want them to be able to play and come up with creative ideas. There should be no game that’s too silly. Unstructured play was a big deal in our family.
What do parents need to know to help them build a childhood for their kids to make it the best it could possibly be?
Kenz: Don’t put your children in a box. Give them space to be creative and be shaped. God’s mercies are new every morning. Take that same promise, and believe each day brings new opportunities for them. In other words, don’t put labels on your kids. Things change and your kids will change and progress over time.
Macy: Vision is powerful. Tell your kids the ‘why’ for what they should do, and help them build their own vision. Responding with “…because I said so!” is not vision, it’s a cop-out. Giving the ‘why’ helps them with the ‘what.’
Macy: We encourage you to keep going. Summer can be challenging. Your children are little pictures of God’s kindness and creativity.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “The days are long but the years are short.” This is a precious time you have with your kids. One day, you’ll look up and they’ll all be grown!”
Don’t let a day go by without letting your child have a big, fat belly-laugh. Laughter is the most powerful culture changer in your family. Laugh a lot together!
Go be crazy!
If you have a question or a parenting issue that you’d like us to discuss in a future podcast, email us at [email protected].