How to Use Milestones to Affirm Your Child
Sometime soon one of your children will reach a milestone in his or her young life. How will you make the most of it?
Over the years I have told quite a few stories involving my youngest son, Chance. As hard as it is to believe, he’s 18 now and will be heading off to college in a matter of weeks. He’s going through a time of life when there are a lot of significant milestones.
Just a few months ago most of our family gathered for Chance’s 18th birthday—definitely a milestone event for any young person. Two of my adult children and their families were there, and it was quite a celebration.
Since Chance is moving quickly toward adulthood and facing some major decisions, we all gathered for a time of reflection and blessing for him. His mother and me, his brother and sister, as well as his brother-in-law and sister-in-law all took a moment to share some thoughts.
We spoke about memories we had of him; we talked about his character and what we admired about him; we quoted appropriate scripture verses; we gave our best advice for this stage of his life; we prayed for him and his future. Tears were shed, and there were lots of laughs and hugs.
And though I often do a lot of the talking at family gatherings, this time I kept it short and sweet, and mostly just sat back and took it all in. It was moving and affirming not only for Chance, but for all of us. For me, this is what “family” is all about.
There are milestones throughout childhood that are worth celebrating in special ways: significant birthdays, “firsts” and accomplishments along the way, or “just because.”
And dads, I hope you find opportunities to do similar things with your family.
Particularly, I hope you celebrate significant times in your children’s lives and add time for affirmations from family members as part of the festivities.
I described how we did it, and maybe some of those ideas will work for you, although I suggest you find ways to make it meaningful for your child and your unique family. That could include a gift or memento of some kind, a special food or location, or a favorite activity.
It really doesn’t have to be involved or extravagant. But include a short time of affirmation for your child, and let everyone else know what you have in mind so they know what to expect. You can plan it to a degree, or just kind of gather everyone together and let it happen. But if the purpose is to bless and encourage a child, then I’m confident the results will be good.
You might even get some people involved who can’t be there. Ask grandparents, aunts and uncles, coaches, mentors and youth sponsors to send a handwritten note of encouragement.
For some dads it might seem uncomfortable at first, but there are huge benefits. And even if your kids roll their eyes a little or don’t seem to get into it at first, make no mistake, dad: you’re helping to create an important memory, and you’re giving them a blessing that will live on into their future.
Could that work for you and your family? An opportunity like this is coming for one of your kids. Don’t let it pass without finding a way to affirm and bless your child.
Has your family done something like what I described? How did it go, and what are your suggestions?
• Make sure you’re blessing your kids regularly—not because of any event or accomplishment, but just because they are your kids. It can be simple and spontaneous, like: “I love you; you make me so happy.” “I’m so proud to be your dad.”
• When affirming your child—especially if it’s a formal blessing like I described—make sure there is direct eye contact and no distractions. What you’re doing is not a trivial gesture, but one that transmits your deep love and acceptance.
Written by Carey Casey