Childhood is a time for children to enjoy and be at play, and to grow strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults. It is a precious time in which children should live free from fear, safe from violence, and protected from abuse and exploitation.
What is the definition of childhood? It is:
the state of being a child
the idealized world of childhood
the age span ranging from birth to adolescence.
What can we do now to build a great childhood for our kids?
Two Things Needed to Build a Great Childhood
We believe there are two important components to building a great childhood—Culture and Memories.
On this week’s podcast, I (Suzanne) interview our two oldest daughters, Mollie & Madeline.
I asked them what they remembered about their childhood and what they are doing to build a great one for their own sons.
In our book, Crazy Cool Family, we talk about building a family Culture, which includes:
Here’s an overview of what we discussed:
What’s something we did or how did you grow up feeling encouraged?
Mollie: Every time we came home, Mom would always ask a million questions to help us process (she called it “washing the world off” of us.) I felt encouraged that she stayed up late and took the time to ask questions.
Mads: My parents showed up and attended as many events as they could (sporting event/play/dance recital)…even when it was inconvenient!
How did you feel safe in your childhood?
Mollie: Our parents didn’t fight in front of us. They disagreed and we knew they weren’t always on the same page, but they didn’t raise their voices or yell. And they didn’t talk bad about each other. We were never a concerned there was a problem in their marriage.
Mads: We always felt included. Our parents would share honestly about their struggles, whether it was financial issues or big decisions that they were facing. We could include them in our conversations because we felt they included us in their lives.
What does discipline look like in building our young family?
Mads: Discipline was intentional, not out of anger.
Mollie: They were articulate in their consequences. They knew us well enough not to just dish out the same punishment for every single thing.
How did we build unity in our family and how can other families do the same?
Mollie: When we took road trips, we weren’t allowed to use our devices or disconnect from the family with our headphones. We had to interact with everyone in the family.
Mads: They had us unified on the same things, even with the toys that we shared. We all tried out the same sports. Now, the fruit is we can all play basketball and can remember playing together with our dollhouses, sports, etc. We have things in common to talk about and to play with.
What are some of the things you remember that built your childhood memories?
Mollie: We played with dolls for many years. We’d split the dining room down the middle, and we’d play with dolls and dollhouses. We constantly used our imaginations.
Mads: They let us decorate our rooms whenever we wanted. It was a dream bedroom for any child who was obsessed with babies. We spent so many hours outside – we used our imagination, set up obstacle courses, swam in the pool, and played outside even when it was so hot outside.
On behalf of all children, what do parents need to know to make their child’s childhood the best?
Mollie: Listen to your child. Give them the opportunity to explain why they want to do what they want to do. Get to the root of what they want. Give them the opportunity to appeal. Say yes as much as you can but explain the why behind a “no” answer. If your kids keep asking for something, ask them the “why” behind that desire.
Mads: Don’t be too busy as parents to miss out on their childhood. Make memories with them. The more kids our parents had, the more our parents did miss out on some things we did. Don’t be on your phone as much! Play with them. Delay dinner if needed. Don’t let your schedule get in the way of time with your kids. Be okay with putting down your devices and things not going according to a plan.
Mollie: We were visiting Madeline in Arkansas a few months ago, and Bash decided he didn’t want to be in the pack-n-play anymore late at night. Madeline scooped him up, moved her furniture out of the way, and played with him at 11 p.m. at night. Bash thought it was hysterical! I learned to not care in that moment about what time he went to bed. He was making memories with his aunt and that was most important in that moment.
What are you doing in Bash and Truett’s lives now to build his childhood?
Mads: Slowing down my own life and agenda to make memories with him. But also to let him explore and celebrate him. If he’s emptying out the cabinets, sit down with him and celebrate all that he’s exploring at the time. And also to encourage him to learn to put things away…to not be frustrated in his “kid”-ness but joining with him in his explorations. He celebrates life easily, and I want to cheer him on through his whole life.
Mollie: Use words to speak life. When we’re doing something difficult in life, we’ll pray with him over the situation. We talk about how God uses our brains to advance the gospel and to explain that’s why we read. We spend time outside because that’s God’s creation and shows how big and amazing God is. We create experiences that will help influence his world-view.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if your kids grew up and said, “My parents really know me! They explored, celebrated, and joined me in all the different experiences of my life.”
Pay attention to your kid, get to know them, and then do something that shows them that you know them and love them.
Go build a great childhood for your kids!
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].