Guest blog post!
Dawn Whitestone parents two teenagers in Winter Park, Florida. In addition to mothering her children, she trains relational skills to organizations and individuals as the Chief Growth Catalyst for WhiteStone Professionals, LLC. Connect with her at www.WhiteStonePros.com.
Last night, my daughter came into my room and asked, “Mama, can we do blessings and prayers now?”
Blessings and Prayers.
Since my daughters were babies, we have had this nightly tradition. When they were young, we did it in their rooms. At some point, they grew big enough that we switched it to my room. Before lights-out, we pile onto my bed. Each, in turn, I look them in the eyes and bless them with a scripture chosen just for them when they were tiny. We bow our heads in prayer and thank God for at least one thing, big or small. Sometimes, we talk more. In fact, sometimes one daughter or the other will linger, allowing us to talk through something that may be bothering them. Often, it’s just a few moments to connect, wind down, and breathe together. Then we all go to bed. The whole process usually takes less than five minutes. Even after an exhausting day, I can do that.
Through ups and downs, joys and sorrows this has been our tradition. As a single parent, this connection with my kids has been an anchor for our relationships. No matter what has happened during the day, no matter how we may have argued or laughed, despaired or celebrated, we have come together before bed for blessings and prayers.
Through THRIVEtoday training, I have learned the importance of this little daily ritual for our relationships and for our brains. Gathering together nightly Forms Family Bonds. When I look each daughter in the eyes with love, I Share Joy with them. Taking a moment to be thankful Creates Appreciation. Just the fact that we gather and slow our pace before bed allows us to Quiet Interactively. So, even when we just take five minutes, we practice four skills together! And in those times when we linger and talk, we sometimes help each other Return to Joy from upsetting emotions, remember how to Act Like Ourselves, and have the opportunity to help each other See What God Sees.
This oldest daughter who came into my room last night is 18 years old, a senior in high school. She is in the home stretch, with multiple college-level classes, and she is EXHAUSTED. Last night at the dinner table, she could barely keep her eyes open. As I got ready for bed, I thought she was already asleep. I thought we would skip blessings and prayers for once, but she didn’t. This teenager sought me out. She wanted to connect. I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I count that as a win. And as a single parent, that is a championship level win!
Has it always been easy? No. Good grief, no! Both of my kids are teenagers! There have been nights when they rolled their eyes. There have been seasons when they couldn’t think of a single thing for which to be thankful, and I had to make suggestions. There have been nights when the relationship with one or the other was tense, and I wondered if I was utterly failing as their mom. There were times when I wondered whether they were getting too old for our little ritual. At one point, I tried to make it more interesting by coming up with new blessings. Both daughters refused that change! And so, night after night, year after year, I speak the same two scriptures over my two daughters.
For all families, rituals and routines are a good idea. For single parents like me, relational rituals are imperative. Our children experience so much instability. Relational rituals provide an anchor for them, a safe harbor when their lives feel stormy.
Do you have a nightly ritual with your children? It’s not too late to start!