There are 5 kids in our blended family. Their ages are 10, 7, 6, 5 and 4. We have been a family for a little over one year. I have learned that a blended family definitely comes with its challenges. It is important to remember that each kiddo has come from a broken family and because of this, there is already emotional damage that they, as young kids, are trying to understand and deal with. They go back and forth from each family environment, deal with missing the other parent while away from them, and find themselves upset and questioning why their original family fell apart in the first place. Their hearts are fragile and tender and some of what they are feeling emotionally, they aren’t even mature enough to fully understand. On top of that, they now have a new family, new siblings and they have to learn to grow and come together, while only spending half of their time within that new family environment. This definitely is something that takes time.
The biggest challenge that we have been facing this past year, while becoming a family, has been in the love department. It has been a struggle having the kids show love to one another. As parents and step-parents there can sometimes be challenges as well. How do you deal with your own kids’ fragile hearts, while also connecting with and loving the step children with full compassion and empathy as well?
It has been difficult and my hubby and I decided that it is time to focus on LOVE! We wanted to do more than just lecture the kids. They are encouraged all of the time to share, love, be kind. We decided to use 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as our guide and go over each separate section with the kids over a period of time. This would include discussing each section or verse, having specific prayers to coincide with each section or verse and using games and activities to also help teach the particular character traits to the kids.
First, we found this free printable of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. (There are several colors and designs to choose from) We liked the chalkboard subway art version. We ordered a 16X20 print at Walgreens and plan on hanging it up in the family room where it can easily be seen.
Tonight we went over the verses with the kids. We read through all of them together and then chose to have tonight’s discussion and activities center around “Love is patient, Love is kind.”
Here’s what we did!
Love is Patient! First, we went around the table and gave examples of what it means to be patient. We also shared some examples of what it is like to not be patient.
We then each said a quiet prayer, in which we focused on a family member who we felt that we were having a hard time with. Maybe we found ourselves angry with or bothered by that family member. Praying to ourselves, we asked for God to help us to be more patient with that particular family member.
We then discussed an argument all of the kids recently had. We discussed why the argument happened and how it could have turned out differently if everyone had been patient and kind instead.
I then introduced to them the patience project that we are all going to do together the next weekend that they are here with us. We are going to make rock candy/sugar crystals…or as I like to call it, “Patience Candy.” This is a project that requires patience, as it takes several days for the sugar crystals to form. I found this idea on the Kids of Integrity website. AWESOME site. I also found an example with tons of pictures on the Jojobei Designs blog!
We then moved on to “Love is kind.” We discussed what it means to be kind and how we can show kindness to one another. I then introduced them to the story, How Full is Your Bucket? I was able to find the story on YouTube, so we all sat and watched it. The story focuses on how we all have an “invisible bucket” that is filled up when others are kind to us. This same bucket becomes empty as others are mean to us. When our buckets are empty, we become sad and angry. It can be hard to show kindness to others when our buckets are empty. The good thing is that we can help to fill up our buckets as well. When we are kind to others, that kind deed also helps to fill up our bucket. For example, when we share with our brother, we add a drop into our brother’s bucket while also adding a drop into our own bucket.
I then gave each child an empty plastic container and showed them a giant ziploc bag filled with conversation hearts. The container represents their bucket. Each time they are kind to a family member, one heart is dropped into their bucket. This helps to emphasize that being kind to others, helps us to feel good as well. The goal is to fill up their container with hearts, each heart representing a kind deed, word, gesture. They will be able to compare their containers with one another and I am sure that it will become a bit of a competition to see who can fill up their container the fastest. Hopefully in the meantime, kindness will become a habit!
I plan on posting on each individual section or verse that we go over and share with all of you links to the sites I used for discussion, prayer and activities.
I would also love to know if you have done any sort of lesson or activity dealing with the love section in scripture. I would love your ideas.