PART I – The Red Plate – Creating meaningful positive family traditions
People often ask me “How do you do it?” How do I spend so much focused time with my family, at work, training for marathons and with philanthropic causes and still manage to make the time high value and high quality? As I’ve talked about in a previous blog, it is all about living with purpose.
We tend to live in a microwave and fast-food society where we want everything immediately and as cheap as possible. But throughout my life I’ve found that enduring results and reward actually come through consistently doing the right thing with consistency over a long period of time. A good family friend, Tommy Thompson, said to me when our eldest son, Braden, was just 6 years old, “You can never really have quality time with your children unless you have quantity time with them, because you never know when the quality moments will sneak up on you.” There is nothing fast or microwaveable about that.
Early on in our sons’ lives, I decided as a father it was going to be important to establish traditions that could be carried through each of our children’s lives and then be passed down through generations. These traditions would build character, intelligence, values and a heritage. The traditions would also foster a high degree of self-worth and create precious moments with our children.
This is the first of a series of blogs that talks about these different traditions my wife, Shawntel, and I have developed and why I believe they have had a positive impact on our children’s lives and our own as parents.
We have a special red plate that says, “You are special today.” It has become a great symbol in our household. This red plate is placed where our sons sit at the table on days we feel are special or significant for them – it can be a birthday, a graduation, special sporting event or accomplishment, or it could even be the day of a doctor’s appointment. When one of our boys is going to be celebrated, he comes to the table and see the plate in his spot. Immediately, a smile brightens his face because he knows that this morning is his morning. He will get his favorite breakfast and everyone in the family will take a turn telling him why he is special to them. Watching our youngest son wait in anticipation as his older brothers talk about how he is important, valued and unique, creates a sense of happiness, confidence and great worth in him. These moments cannot be replaced or overvalued. Even my wife, Shawntel, and I have come to be excited when we see the red plate at our spot on the table. There is rarely a red plate day without tears of joy.
As a parent, it is vitally important to develop habits that will keep you on purpose with your children. The red plate is an easy way for us to focus on the accomplishments and joys of each of our uniquely special children. Over the years, I passed this tradition on to many of my friends and family. They now use it as their own and it has been so rewarding to hear their positive stories that accompany this new tradition that has been established in their family. This tradition has created such incredible reward for both our children and for us as parents throughout the years.
Do you have a tradition like this in your family? Tell me about in the comments!
Next week, I will elaborate on our family’s traditions and what we actively do to make our family time valuable and high quality.