Family as cornerstone of society: How to celebrate the birthday that means the most
When architects design a building, they take special care to create a strong foundation onto which they can build a strong structure.
Family is the cornerstone of society — and if we want to build a strong society, we need to create strong families.
One way to do that is by celebrating family birthdays.
Individual birthdays are certainly worth the hoopla (and this mother of four children knows that for sure!), but nothing is quite like an actual family birthday to solidify the home team.
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Some families choose to celebrate this day on the parents’ wedding anniversary, but even if you are parenting alone, keep reading — family birthdays can be for every family, no matter the size.
Here is how to do it.
Kids thrive on routine, predictability and consistency.
Just like singing a sweet song each night to conclude a bedtime routine or enjoying pizza together every Friday night, the family birthday can become an annual practice on your calendar.
It could be the day that you and your spouse met; the date of your wedding anniversary; the date on which you decided you wanted to grow your family in number — whatever it is, pick it and stick to it.
Your kids will learn to remember this date just like their own birthdays.
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One mom in Florida hopes that after she’s been practicing the family birthday tradition for April 19th throughout her kids’ childhood, they’ll have an extra skip in their step, whether they’re in college, at work or raising families of their own, every time the date rolls around.
Whatever date you choose, explain to your kids why the date is special.
This provides context — additional foundation material — to your kid’s lives.
More than just “Mom and Dad’s anniversary,” the Florida mom wants her kids to think of April 19, 2008, as the date Mom and Dad committed to be about more than just themselves.
“I want my kids to think about this date as a day they knew they were loved, thought about and prayed for — almost a full eight years before the first of our kid crew was born,” the mom said.
As parents know, love is born a lot earlier than the day a baby takes a very first breath.
Think about your family’s happiest moments.
What led to the joy? Was it playing a rowdy board game? Watching a funny movie? Baking delicious treats? Allowing your family room to become a fort constructed with sheets and pillows? Hiking in the woods?
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Whatever you do together as a family, the three key ingredients are to make it: 1) age appropriate; 2) different from the everyday; and 3) inclusive of all members of the family.
Here are a few more ways to make the family birthday stand out in kids’ memories.
Chances are your kids like desserts, so go to the bakery and let them pick out a favorite treat or bake one together.
If your kids enjoy plants, go to the grocery to pick some flowers to put in a vase — or go for a walk to make a neighborhood bouquet.
If your kids love doing a certain activity, do that activity all together — fully present — with the phone left in the car or home.
One family took everyone to a gymnastics opportunity — and they all participated.
If your kids love tea parties, put out special plates (they can be paper!) and napkins that correspond to whatever theme they are into at the moment (mermaids, unicorns, superheroes, etc.). Take turns toasting to what makes your family special.
If your young kids love playing dress-up, consider a family-wide costume theme. Kids will love that they don’t have to wait for Halloween to do it and that you are embracing to whatever their loves are at that moment.
One family had a daughter who was in a princess phase and a son who was all about camo. So the mom bought a queen’s dress on Amazon, the dad got a crown and a cape to wear atop a camo shirt as “camo king” — and their children had outfits to match for their “royal dinner.”
If your kids love campouts, make them happen — either in the backyard or inside the house.
Pitching a tent in the living room and “going wild” with a double-feature movie night and freshly popped popcorn while snuggling in matching pajamas is doable for even the biggest glampers.
Separation, divorce and death are realities of our world — and scores of parents do their best to love their babies, whatever their circumstances.
The Florida mom mentioned earlier shared that although she’s happily married now, she is sympathetic to the loneliness and hardship of parenting alone.
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“I myself grew up as an only child in a two-parent home that functioned more like a single-parent home, an awkward scenario in itself,” she said.
“It’s because of this that I have a special admiration for single parents who courageously shoulder the burdens that fully invested two-parent households still find taxing, even as a united couple.”
The family birthday can help provide a boost.
She continued, “When my parents’ anniversary would roll around every year, I was especially sensitive to the date, knowing that my mom wouldn’t receive the expressions of love I wanted her to experience from my dad. When I would verbalize that feeling, she bravely said, ‘Honey, I am so thankful for June 12, 1982. Without your dad, I wouldn’t have you.’ This planted a seed for me that later grew into the idea of the family birthday.”
Even if you can’t celebrate your wedding anniversary in the classic way, you can still find a way to help your kids know that they were conceived in love, that they were and are still wanted, and that Mom and Dad — even with their disagreements — 100% agree their kids were the best thing they ever created together.
Confident kids make for confident adults who are empowered to hold jobs, take care of families, pay taxes, vote in elections, roll with the punches and generally contribute positively to society.
Kids look to parents first as their source for that confidence, for a sense of security in a crazy world gone crazier.
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Today, it can be tricky to know which toys are OK for play, which books are appropriate to read and which neighbors can be trusted.
In an age full of question marks, parents can add an exclamation to their kids’ lives.
“Let’s celebrate family birthdays,” said the Florida mom.
American society will be the stronger for it.
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