So, raising kids is a hot mess for just about anyone. The first kid comes and you know exactly what you are doing. Shoot, if you are a young parent and taking human development at RCC, then you know for sure what is going on. Right? Well, that was me about seventeen years ago. I knew everything. I even told my kids Santa died a long time ago and that he wasn’t real when they were three. I didn’t want my kids believing in Santa more than Jesus or even worse, believing in Santa, finding out he was fake, and then thinking Jesus was fake too. Gasp. Do you know how many Grandparents and friends I upset because of this? Well, let me just confess that the next year, when they forgot everything they ever learned when they were three, Santa was back in the picture. Now, I am not saying that you should or should not include cultural celebrations or stories in your life…I am just saying that sometimes you have to let children imagine, explore, and to be ignited creatively.
Right now, I have a seventeen year old, a fifteen year old, a thirteen year old and a three year old living under my roof. The Easter bunny is a fun way to celebrate spring. However, Easter is a very solemn and serious time, perhaps the most important time of the year. Easter is when our savior was brutally beaten and murdered. How, do we let the Easter bunny trump that? How do you teach that to a three year old? We have a cultural, religious, dilemma on our hands. So, here are some of my thoughts on how to deal with this:
Teens: Have them look to the more serious and joyous events of Easter. Make it a month long time of worship. Help them to understand Jewish history and holidays. Help them understand Ash Wednesday, Lent, and the Passover. Let them actually participate in the month of Easter. It is important for teens and older kids to understand the seriousness of the leading events, the crucifixion and the betrayal. It is more important for them to understand the joy and importance of the resurrection. Here are some ideas:
• Easter April 24 (Ash Wednesday March 9)
-Lent: Lent is a time for prayer, self-denial and giving to prepare ourselves for the commemoration of the resurrection of Christ. Decide to give up something meaningful for Lent. If your family does it together, it will be a memory that lasts.
-favorite food, meat, candy, junk food, facebook, television, video games, straightening irons, texting, ipods, favorite clothing items, favorite shows/cartoons, etc.
-Read the different accounts in the Bible of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Matthew 27:27-56, Mark 15:21-38, Luke 23:26-49, and John 19:16-37.
-Find ways for kids to serve. Let them donate time, talent, and elbow grease. They can do yard work for the elderly, babysit for single moms, clean a busy mom’s house, or anything they can think of. Doing something for someone else for free is always a sacrifice for a kid.
-Creative stuff: write poetry concerning the crucifixion, resurrection, or even from a different point of view, draw or paint after reading the story, have them journal or write a letter to Christ, Have them draw their hands and write inside of them thoughts concerning Christ, service, his love, his sacrifice, and how they can have hands for Christ.
-and, well, if you are ready for it, watch The Passion of the Christ together.
Kids: Include the cultural stuff. Celebrate spring. Have them do fun activities that correlate with spring. Use this time of the year to help convey God’s creations and the beauty they hold. Also use this time of the year to explain God’s love for his creations and that he sent his son to keep us close to his heart. We can celebrate spring as the new life Christ gives us because of his sacrifice. Remember anything you do with your family shows God’s love. If you are uncomfortable with the Easter bunny, omit him. If you like the story, maybe celebrate the basket on a different day.
-plant gardens or planters
-discuss the Creation story and how God created our world and how we can take care of it. Read children’s books or children’s Bible account of creation.
-go to a petting zoo to see baby animals
-make crafts to help kids understand that Jesus loves them, and that they can show God’s love with their attitudes, actions, and life. Examples:
– example, paint a palm and stamp it on paper, draw hearts and put we show Jesus’s love with
-Make bunnies or other animals using hands in different shapes with paint or markers
-make sugar cookies with Easter themes
Easter is an important time for us as Christians. It is important that our children have their priorities in order. There is a time for the Easter bunny, Yoda, Batman, Santa and Phineas and Ferb. The story of Christ, his teachings, and his life is not meant to be a part of our day, but an underlying part of the fabric of our lives. He is not seasonal or cultural. He is not a fairy tale or a Saturday morning cartoon. Christ is in us. He is in our actions, our thoughts, our hearts. Have a family meal, dye some eggs, discuss Christ everyday. Celebrate Him in everything, everyday.