Engaging Kids in the Joy of Christmas

Do your children believe that Christmas is a joy-filled holiday? Do you?

This time of year causes us to pause and reflect on our childhood—from the tinsel on the tree, shaking the colorful packages, maybe sledding or taking a drive to look at the lights, and the many dinners and celebrations. There may have been your performances at school or church, where you got to be a sheep or a donkey. Then mix in the carols, unique family traditions, scriptures, and whatever made the holidays special and meaningful for you.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have joy-filled memories of Christmas. And some dads are motivated to make up for that by giving their children the kinds of experiences they wished for, but never had. Nevertheless, all dads have a reason to celebrate this season and do so with a robust sense of joy. Being a dad at Christmas is a time to celebrate the gift of life and your role in nurturing the next generation.

Wherever you’re coming from, you can help create some unique and incredible positive experiences that will live on in your kids’ memories for years to come.

So, courtesy of the team at fathers.com, here are some ways to make the holidays more fun and memorable, based on your child’s age.

For babies and toddlers, make and do things they can touch and enjoy. The bright, sparkly decorations and other “Christmas things” around the house look inviting, but they’re often breakable, sharp, poisonous, or have electric current running through them; they’re off limits, and probably sources of frustration for young kids. So, make sure there are nativity scene figures they can play with, and some decorations they can touch and feel.

With preschoolers and early school-age kids, reading is a great idea. Read the Christmas story and get a variety of good books that reinforce what’s most important about Christmas: the gift of life through a child, giving to others, being thankful for what they have, while also giving you a chance to interact with them and bring them close to you.

For older elementary kids and pre-teens, tune in and capitalize on their interests, whether it’s music, crafts, food, going to a movie together, building a Lego creation, or having them choose a game they love (and of course you let them win at least once). Find ways to get their minds churning about the joys of Christmas based on their interests, and in doing so it will give you an opportunity to share with them your personal reflections about Christmas.

Then, with teenagers, get them involved in things that help, serve and encourage others. Let them reflect about people your family has helped in the past or need to encourage during the holidays. There are always places to volunteer for an afternoon, or have them take the lead in a family activity. You might even challenge the older kids to be creative and start a new Christmas tradition involving the entire family.

Dad, be purposeful in encouraging your kids to dive deep into the meaning of Christmas and why this season should be a time of celebration and renewal for everyone. Whatever your kids’ ages, make memories they will talk about for many years to come.

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There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.