27 February 2012 ~ 4 Comments

What Really Matters

I really liked the way this chapter got practical.  While some of this stuff they talked about seems really simple things many families already do (creating rituals at Christmas, for example), seeing those items as important parts of faith development is very good information.

I am struck that many of our families, including my own, would be hard pressed to find the kind of whole family friendships/community that is described in the chapter.  As part of confirmation at Saint Michael families are asked to find a mentor for their sixth grader, and many families have a hard time coming up with the right person.  I think the kind of community described in the chapter is extremely rare in our culture (though I am aware of a few instances of this type of community).

I also liked the way that the authors approached many of the challenges of parenting, including focusing to much on the results of academics/sports.  Both of the authors are the typical “type A” high achievers, and seem to have a healthy approach to their own identity and therefore can write about their child’s identity and activities with a high level of differentiation (knowing where they end and the other begins, while remaining closely connected).

What practical findings/suggestions stuck out to you?

I’ve copied the headings from this chapter, since it basically a good outline of what they said.


Sticky Findings

Identity Formation Is Affected By Brain Development

Identity Formation Is A Long And Winding Process

Students Often Shelve Their Faith For A Time

Sticky Faith Made Practical

Remember Youth Child Is God’s Beloved Creation

Treat Each Child As An Individual

Use Your Community To Develop Personal Identity

Use Rituals To Reinforce Identity

Help Your Child Grow Through Hardship

Use Extracurricular Activities To Explore Identity

Affirm Character Growth More Than Academic Achievement

Model A Relationship With God


Finally, I want to thank you for sharing highs and lows.  It helped me feel a little more connected to you.

4 Responses to “What Really Matters”

  1. Andy 28 February 2012 at 2:44 pm Permalink

    High this week: spending the weekend alone with Aubrey while Gayla traveled to a baby shower, Low was earlier in the week when Aubrey woke up sick and we had a very short night, and shortened my workweek.

    As I continued to think about this chapter I am reminded of a talk given by one of my professors Andy Root.

    Root lays out some really interesting sociology around the family over the last couple hundred years. He reminds us that we used to live in small homes, with extended family, and everyone went into the family business.

    Could you imagine how silly this chapter would seem to a family on a farm (or tailor shop or general store) in Dallas 200 years ago (honestly it’s easier for me to picture this in the midwest somewhere, but I’m trying to be contextual) This family likely had very distinct cultural patterns tied to their ancestors, they depended on the land in seasons in a way that forced them into celebrating and suffering together. Spending time together would not have been a special effort at all. The young men would be mentored by the older men in the family business, and the “side by side” conversations that go with that would be more valuable than any business lesson. The young ladies would have had their own mentors building their self confidence, teaching them important skills, listening to them.

    BUT, more than just strong family and cultural values, these people were bound together in a way that is hard for us to imagine. They had to stick with each other through their junk (emotional, financial, relational, etc) in a way that we simply don’t have to today. If we don’t want to go into the family business, we have thousands of options (the family business is actually probably not an option). Even after we’re done working (as in old age), our options are infinite compared to 150 years ago.

    So, in being bound to each other our ancestors unintentionally lived a theology of the cross- I will be with you through your junk and the messiness of your life, in a way that we have to be incredibly intentional about. For them, there was no decision or option to stick with the family. When we stick with the family or engage with each other or go out of our way to give attention it’s a decision. We have to be intentional about living a theology of the cross, earlier generations just did it.

    I think this change in lifestyle over the generations also has significant developmental implications, including when we consider someone an adult.

  2. Noralyn 1 March 2012 at 3:32 am Permalink

    There are many things I liked about this chapter. As I look over what I underlined or wrote notes about in the book, I re-read the section on the family tree in relation to building a community of healthy, God-focused people in the lives of our children. I am blessed that my daughter has so many people that love her, solid Christian people, and that she is comfortable sharing their faith lives. She is comfortable in many church environments and faith traditions. This gives me some level of comfort that if she feels constricted in her faith environment, that she might seek Christ in a different environment, but still seek Him.
    The small acts that the authors talk about are building “capital” too. The time we spend talking at night, tucking into bed, and praying togheter is time I cherish, and hope to bank on when those future nights of anger and frustration push us away from each other.
    Part of our family tree is tradition. My daughter loves tradition. We pray the same night prayer I prayed as a child…all of her cousins do. We sing the same advent songs and prayers. Much of our tradition has to do with prayer and family life together. It is nice to know that though she is an only child, she fits like a finger in a glove of any of my sibling’s families. I was reminded regularly of my place in God’s kingdom by my mother, who even in her exasperation with her 6 kids could not be far from God when she cried out “Child of God, an heir to the kingdom of heaven” (which meant we were in deep trouble and she was calling on God to give her strength with us). A child of God… I was assured of that even in my worst behaviors and it is something I try to assure my daughter of as well.
    Lows this week – still unhappy co-workers. There is a cloud over us.
    High this week – walking in this beautiful weather.

  3. Greg 1 March 2012 at 4:56 pm Permalink

    Loved this chapter because it took me to the core of the partnership between parents and church. I love being an Episcopalian for some of reasons that I see obliquely discussed in the book – namely the recognition of a long formation process and the use of ritual to support faith and identity.

    I believe the shape of my Episcopal style of faith is worth preserving in my kid and so the Episcopal Church helps me to form my child by offering what I call “Heritage Events”.

    I have not been long enough at my church to see all of the offerings, but Heritage events would include: Feast of Lights, Evensong, Easter Vigil, Advent/Lent Home Communion, All Saints Day and the like.

    My challenges: 1) homework is king on the weekdays and sometimes that means we miss an event 2) not all of Heritage events are perceived by my kid as fun or even exciting.

    I, as a parent, need to be reminded that if I desire to form an Episcopal kid I need to make use of these ritual opportunities…..I will have to bring my family because because they form us as an Episcopal family. Love the book – it calls me to be better than I am.

  4. Christi 3 March 2012 at 9:18 pm Permalink

    I like this chapter as well. For our children, who attend an Episcopal school, daily chapel is mandatory. Plus we attend church on Sundays. How many childen grow up attending a worship service 6 days per week? Even 10%? What a blessing to have both SMAA and ESD partner with me to raise our children up in the Episcopal tradition. We use both communities to help them develop their personal identities.

    I also like the point when they said that people grow best when they have a blend of support and challenge. We need to let our kids take risks and be challenged.

    High for the week — Seeing and hearing Fr. Mark on Wednesday.

    Low — Didn’t really have one. Just wish the pace would slow down just a bit.

Leave a Reply